Schopenhauer and Indian philosophy: On the limits of comparative thought

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Schopenhauer was one of the first Western philosophers to appreciate the significance of Indian philosophy. He comments on "the admirable agreement" between his own thought and the teachings of Buddhism, and he praises the wisdom of the Upanishads as among the most profound productions of the human mind. But how accurate is his grasp of Indian philosophy? In this essay I focus on three significant points of comparison: compassion, the illusory nature of the individual, and the value of life. To what extent are these themes shared by Schopenhauer and Indian philosophy? To what extent is Schopenhauer's account at odds with prevailing Indian views? Schopenhauer's philosophy raises significant questions concerning the limits of cross-cultural appropriation and encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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