Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Schopenhauer: Religion and Philosophy

Religion is the philosophy of the masses, while philosophy is the religion of the intellectuals. This argument is made by Schopenhauer in his novella 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 this novella, Schopenhauer goes against the vision of absolute atheism, which was articulated by the Enlightenment philosophers in the eighteenth century. He recognizes the need for harmony between science and faith, and argues that both religion and philosophy play important roles in man’s life.

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