Schopenhauer, the Philosophy of Music, and the Wisdom of Classical Indian Philosophy

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Among Western philosophers, Schopenhauer is one of the few who seeks to clarify the nature of music, and its effects upon us. He claims that music is the most important of all the arts; and he argues that music is a kind of metaphysics that allows us to experience the ultimate reality of the world. In this essay, I evaluate Schopenhauer’s philosophy of music in the context of his overarching philosophy. Then I discuss the relevance of traditional Indian philosophies -- including Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism -- which Schopenhauer recognized as forerunners to his own philosophical system. Here, the discussion of Om is particularly important. Schopenhauer’s discussion of music is insightful. But his insistence on the priority of the will is problematic. I suggest another perspective on willing, ultimate reality and music which follows the classical Indian philosophies that he affirms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)899-915
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy


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