Schopenhauer’s Ethics of Patience. Virtue, Salvation, and Value

Author: Jordan, Neil
This work explores Schopenhauer’s ethics and central aspects of his philosophy of value, discussing his conception of the individual character, his determinism, his depiction of the states of virtue and salvation, and the value that life has when understood in Schopenhauer’s terms. The book also investigates the nature and depth of Schopenhauer’s pessimism, and the extent to which it is rooted in his metaphysics.


“Schopenhauer deserves to be regarded as a moral philosopher of the first rank, one whose virtue ethical stance is systematically integrated, in an original manner, with his wider metaphysics and psychology. Readers of Neil Jordan’s book – an engagingly lively and lucid work of scholarship - will find themselves in a better position than they previously were to appreciate the basis and the importance of a great thinker’s moral philosophy.” – Prof. David E. Cooper, Durham University

“. . . offers a penetrating and rigorous critical exposition and analysis of the central themes in Schopenhauer’s ethics, thus fills an obvious gap in Schopenhauer scholarship.” – Prof. Alex Neill, University of Southampton

“Particular noteworthy features of the book are certain original lines of interpretation that it opens up. Jordan has a new approach to the question of how character is formed for Schopenhauer – a vital question given Schopenhauer’s insistence on the centrality of character in determining action, but also a perplexing question given his often-stated view that character is a timelessly existing essence. Jordan challenges conventional readings of the way in which will manifests itself in human action in Schopenhauer’s account; he gives an original discussion of Schopenhauer’s notion of salvation, showing clearly its metaphysical and ethical implications; and, perhaps most interestingly, gives an analysis of virtue as primarily a cognitive capacity. This challenges the frequent assumption that for Schopenhauer the central factor in virtue, namely compassion, is simply a matter of a disposition to a certain kind of subjective feeling. In all these respects the book offers new and well argued lines of interpretation.” – Prof. Christopher Janaway, University of Southampton

"[This] book is clearly written and well-argued." -- Koenraad Verrycken

Table of Contents

Foreword: Professor David Cooper
List of Abbreviations of Schopenhauer’s Works
1. Introduction
The Structure of the Book
The Willing Subject, Action and Pessimism
2. The Theory and Role of Character
Causation and Necessity
Motivation, Determinism and the Illusion of Freedom
Character and the Challenge of Virtue
Intelligible and Empirical Character
Immutability, Character and Action
3. Heredity and The Metaphysics of Sexual Love
Love, Passion and the Sexual Impulse
The Will, The Species and The Dupe
Heredity and the Operation of the Will
Heredity: Character and Intellect
Freedom and the Formation of Character
Virtue and Individual Difference
4. Virtue
The Nature of Compassion
Moral Insight
Egoism and Compassion
The Nature of Moral Knowledge
Motivation and Compassion
Malice, Moral Difference and the Possibility of Virtue
Morality and Value
5. Resignation and Salvation
The Saint’s State of Resignation
The Genesis of Resignation I – Agency
The Genesis of Resignation II – Knowledge and Freedom
Mystical Consciousness
The Will and the Possibility of Salvation
Metaphysical Implications
Ethical Implications
6. The Value of Life
Fear of Death and Instinct
Why Do We Fear Death?
Consolations: Unreality and Immortality
Consolations: Justice, the Benignity of Death and the Worthlessness of Life
A Possible Response: Suicide
The Worthlessness and Pointlessness of Existence
The Nature and Depth of Schopenhauer’s Pessimism
What Value(s) Can Life Hold?
Moral Considerations
7. Conclusion