Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Schopenhauer: Religion and Philosophy

Religion is the philosophy of the masses, while philosophy is the religion of the intellectuals. This point is made by Schopenhauer in his work Religion: A Dialogue, which is a debate between two characters Demopheles, who is a theist, and Philalethes, who is anti-religion. Here’s a sample of the lines that Demopheles speaks: “Religion is the metaphysics of the masses; by all means let them keep it: let it therefore command external respect, for to discredit it is to take it away. Just as they have popular poetry, and the popular wisdom of proverbs, so they must have popular metaphysics too: for mankind absolutely needs an interpretation of life; and this, again, must be suited to popular comprehension.” In Religion: A Dialogue, and other works, Schopenhauer goes against the vision of absolute atheism, which was articulated by the Enlightenment philosophers in the eighteenth century, and was being popularized by the left Hegelians like Feuerbach and Marx in the nineteenth century, and, recognizing the need for harmony between science and faith, like Kant, who he regarded as a great philosopher, and the movement of German Idealism (spearheaded by post-Kantians and right Hegelians), with which he is often associated, he argues that both religion and philosophy play an equally important role in man’s life.

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