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Eternal Justice

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The concept of eternal justice was developed by the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. Instead of an afterlife to explain how eternal justice can be served, for Schopenhauer, the world itself is the, “Last Judgment.”[1] All the suffering and misery in the world is balanced by all of the guilt. Schopenhauer reached his conclusions through philosophical investigation. He later discovered that similar teachings were found in the Hindu scriptures of the Vedas.[2]

To better understand Schopenhauer's thoughts on Eternal Justice, one has to gain a clear understanding of Schopenhauer’s philosophy as a whole.

Kantian influences[edit]

Schopenhauer was heavily influenced by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. In his preface to, “The World as Will and Representation” Schopenhauer urges the reader to have an understanding of Kantian philosophy before proceeding to read his book. (See Transcendental Idealism for more on Kant.)

Schopenhauer’s Philosophy[edit]

Following in the footsteps of Kant, Schopenhauer makes a distinction between, appearances and things-in-themselves. Unlike Kant, who held that things-in-themselves can not be known to us.[3] Schopenhauer held that one can have some understanding of the thing-in-itself through introspection. Because one's body is a physical object in the world, one can look inside oneself and find a clue to the underlying reality behind the world. Schopenhauer claims, “this thing-in-itself, I say, this substratum of all appearances, and therefore of the whole of Nature, is nothing but what we know directly and intimately and find within ourselves as will.”[4] This will is a blind, restless striving for life, existence and self-assertion. “Constantly wishing and never being satisfied.” “It is free. It is omnipotent.”[5] This will is the underlying reality in everything and is one. (It is important to note that Schopenhauer thought Kant to be wrong to use the plural, things-in-themselves. For Schopenhauer, there can only be one undifferentiated substratum, the thing-in-itself.)

In his discussion on eternal justice, Schopenhauer summarizes his philosophy as follows:

“The world in all the multiplicity of its parts and forms, is the appearance, the objectivity, of the one will to live. Existence itself, and the kind of existence, both as a collective whole and in every part, proceeds from the will alone.”... “The will appears in everything, just as it determines itself in itself and outside time.”


  1. Schopenhauer, Arthur, "The World as Will and Representation Vol. 1 § 63."
  2. Schopenhauer, Arthur, "The World as Will and Representation Vol.1 § 63."
  3. Schopenhauer, Arthur, "On the Will in Nature."
  4. Schopenhauer, Arthur, "On the Will in Nature."
  5. Schopenhauer, Arthur, "The World as Will and Representation Vol.1 § 63."

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