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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In this essay, the author examines and evaluates Schopenhauer’s arguments for the theses that (1) our experience of our own willing or wanting various things is in a fundamental and thoroughgoing way different from all of our other experiences of the world, indeed, as he says, “different toto genere” (in every way); (2) our experience of our own will is our only experience of things as they really are as opposed to the way they usually appear to us, somewhat distorted by the structures we impose on them in the normal process of experiencing the world; and (3) our understanding of how things in the world are causally connected is necessarily based on our experience of the causal efficacy of our own will, the experience, for example, of being able to raise one’s arm when one wants to. The author concludes by arguing that although Schopenhauer’s primary metaphysical thesis—namely, that the ultimate reality is “will”—is quite unconvincing, his epistemological thesis—namely that we inevitably must conceive of all natural forces based on what we experience in ourselves as will and thus as variant forms of the will, is completely independent of his metaphysical thesis and possesses considerable plausibility.

Keywords: Schopenhauer, will, thing-in-itself, causality, natural forces

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