Schopenhauer's Critique of Nationalism

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In his own era, Arthur Schopenhauer was criticized for his conspicuous lack of patriotism. The critics were correct in the sense that Schopenhauer was a lifelong anti-nationalist in a period of rising cultural and political nationalism. This article reconstructs Schopenhauer's critique of nationalism. First, it articulates his double ethical and intellectual case against the idea of the nation as a community supposed to give shape to the allegiances and obligations of its members. Second, it turns to his critique of teleological national history, according to which nations are collective agents with a single fate. Third, it reviews his caustic criticism of the increased importance of the vernacular in scholarly communication and the early Germanist attempt to establish an exclusively German literary canon; to Schopenhauer, nationhood was not even a useful category of cultural appreciation. Through this reconstruction, Schopenhauer emerges as a fierce anti-nationalist who systematically questioned the importance of the nation as a supposedly cohesive community of solidarity and mutual care, a unified collective political and historical subject, or even a meaningful cultural or literary phenomenon.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Norberg, J

Published Date

  • July 1, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 95 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 276 - 292

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1756-1183

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0016-8831

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/gequ.12281

Citation Source

  • Scopus