How Schopenhauer dismisses the philosophers on love

Schopenhauer is an independent thinker.

He proves it once again by dismissing in turn the philosophical conceptions of the love of his predecessors.

The analyses of (names have been put in bold in the text) are thus evacuated:

  • Plato
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Immanuel Kant
  • Platner
  • Baruch Spinoza

These are all authors to whom we refer you to dig deeper into this theme of love.

One cannot doubt, therefore, from the facts I have just recalled, either the reality or the importance of love; so, instead of being astonished that a philosopher has not feared, for once, to make his own this eternal theme of the poets, one should rather be astonished that a passion which plays in the whole of human life in a role of the first order has not yet been taken into consideration by philosophers and has remained until now like an unexplored land. Plato, especially in the Bank and the Phaedrus, is the one who has dealt with the question the most: but everything he says on the question remains in the realm of myths, fables and fantasy, and refers only to Greek pederasty. What little Jean-Jacques Rousseau says on this point in the Discourseon Inequality is false and insufficient. Immanuel Kant treats the question, in the third section of his essay Onthe Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime; but his analysis is superficial, for lack of knowledge of the question, and is thus partly inaccurate. As for Platner’s examination of it in his Anthropology (§§ 1347 ff.), everyone will find it weak and without depth. Baruch Spinoza’s definition deserves to be reported for its extreme naivety, if only for the sake of pleasure: “Amor est titillation,concomitante idéa causa externe.” [Love is a tickling, accompanied by the representation of an external cause](Ethics IV proposed. XLIV, dem.) We see that I have neither to use my predecessors, nor to fight them. The exam question imposed itself on me and took place in the whole of my conception of the world. I can hardly count on the approval of those who are dominated by this passion and who try to express the violence of their feelings by the most sublime and ethereal images: my conception of love will seem to them too physical, to material, so metaphysical and so transcendental as it is at the bottom. Let them consider beforehand that the cherished object which today inspires them madrigals and sonnets, if it had been born eighteen years earlier, would hardly have obtained from them a glance.

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and as Representation, Chapter “XLIV: METAPHYSICS OF LOVE”

General Knowledge: Love