Ethics in Schopenhauer and Buddhism

Hutton, Kenneth (2009) Ethics in Schopenhauer and Buddhism. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the following thesis I outline Schopenhauer’s ethics in its metaphysical context and in contrast to ethics based on egoism. I look at criticisms of Schopenhauer’s philosophy which have emerged quite recently, and some of which (if valid) would undermine Schopenhauer’s compassion-based moral theory. I have explained these criticisms and offered a defence of Schopenhauer. In order to take up Schopenhauer’s claim of affinity with Buddhist philosophy, I outline first of all early Buddhist then Mahāyāna ethics focusing on the latter’s central idea of compassion.

It has been suggested by some scholars that there are specific problems in Buddhist ethics which undermine the idea of compassion and I explain, then attempt to counter, these claims with specific reference to Śāntideva and his rejection of egoism as a means of acting in a moral way or of finding liberation from suffering. I then address recent criticisms of Śāntideva’s Bodhicaryāvatāra, especially the idea that the specific role of compassion in his ethics and its soteriological role are illogical – an idea which I argue against.

Finally I compare the core ideas of Schopenhauer’s solution to the problem of suffering with what seems similar in Śāntideva. In doing this, I examine whether or not Schopenhauer is right in claiming convergence between Buddhism and his own philosophy, especially in the area of soteriology as it relates to ethics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Schopenhauer, ethics, idealism, German idealism, compassion, comparative philosophy, buddhism, mahayana, santideva, Madhyamaka, Asian philosophy, Western philosophy, comparative ethics.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Supervisor's Name: Schmidt-Leukel, Professor Perry
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Dr Kenneth Hutton
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-912
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 02 May 2018 12:10

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