Letters From the Editor


Lunch break. I’m lying on the couch in my living room, all the lights are on, I’m reading Bryan Magee’s description of Schopenhauer’s philosophy as it differed from Kant’s, in Confessions of a Philosopher, an awesome book about Magee’s life. The window by the dining table is open. The street outside is quiet, and the weather is very nice, a reprieve from the heat that’s bothered us since the rains stopped two weeks ago, there’s a good breeze going through the apartment.

Here is the paragraph I’m reading (discussing how Schopenhauer stood apart from Kant’s view that rationality is the foundation of ethics, saying rather that ‘the roots [of morality] lie outside the phenomenal world’; i.e., outside the world we experience, and that which we may observe and perhaps know):
Noumenally, in the ultimate ground of our being, outside space or time or embodiment, it is impossible that we should be differentiated. Therefore we must all be ‘one’ in the sense stipulated earlier. So there is an ultimate sense in which if I hurt you I am injuring myself as well as you; if I do you an injustice I am sinning against myself as well as you. This, said Schopenhauer, is the explanation of morality, because it explains the compassion, fellow-feeling, disinterested concern for others, which as it were lie between us and morality, and on which morality is based, and which would be unintelligible if you and I were ultimately separate.
As I finish the last sentence, two men walk by under my window. One says, with a squeaky Brooklyn accent, ‘She may – she may not have any morals about you, but you, you’ve got morals about her, I can see it…’


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at rosecransbaldwin.com. More by Rosecrans Baldwin

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