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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers Schopenhauer’s relationship to Jews and Judaism through the concept of “metaphysical anti-Judaism”—a concept that distinguishes Schopenhauer’s more abstract and theoretical attitude about Jewish religion in his references to “Judaism” and “theism” from his more personal sentiments that he might have had for or against Jewish people as living individuals. Through a survey of his remarks on Jews and Judaism across his writings, the essay shows that Judaism—a religion that Schopenhauer conceives of as the monotheistic “father” religion from which Christianity and Islam were derived—has no proper place in his world-outlook, not necessarily because of any personal anti-Semitic under- or overtones but because it negates his most fundamental and metaphysical dogmas that had been developed by him virtually from the time that he had begun writing. In his later writings, however, Schopenhauer expresses negative sentiments against Jewish people in a number of passages. He was, though, less of an anti-Semite than he was an anti-Theist who defied all monotheistic religions. Schopenhauer’s foremost target was theism, but as its first historical and cultural manifestation, Judaism became his chief enemy. Overall, he expresses both utter rejection and sincere appreciation of Judaism, which reveals his attitude to be deeply ambivalent and inscrutable.

Keywords: Schopenhauer, Jews, Judaism, anti-Semitism, Spinoza, Nietzsche, monotheism, theism

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