Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar (Tuesday - Week 8, MT22)

Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar

According to Schopenhauer, the goal of politics is to produce the appearance of moral justice. Political society once perfected, in other words, would be outwardly indistinguishable from a world where justice governed the inner disposition of every person. This goal, he argues, can be achieved by means of a social contract based on an enlightened form of rational egoism. In previous work, I have questioned whether even the mere appearance of moral justice can arise in this way from egoism. In this paper, I reformulate this problem and propose a solution that repurposes an item from Schopenhauer’s own moral philosophy: namely, his views on the role of principles in moral life. Schopenhauer’s views on moral principles provide the scope for an alternative social contract, I argue, which is not egoistic but compassionate in character. Such a contract would guarantee at least the appearance of moral justice, and perhaps more, thus meeting the minimal goal of politics. Apart from this one fundamental modification, much of the rest of Schopenhauer’s political philosophy and its principles can remain intact on this proposal.

Post-Kantian European Philosophy Seminar Convenors: Joseph SchearManuel Dries, and Mark Wrathall