Abstract

Arthur Schopenhauer did not believe in soul. However, he explained that every living thing is possessed by a will. Will is universal. Suffering is universal. Even so, he thought it ethically wrong to cause undue suffering to any person or animal. As a student of Buddhism, Schopenhauer was intrigued by the Buddhist belief in rebirth. I will explore how both Schopenhauer’s idea of the ever-present will and Buddhist rebirth are similar in their concern with and for continuity. For Schopenhauer, continuity is will and for Buddhism, as Frank Hoffman (1987) explains, “continuity is without identity of self-same substance” (p. 53). If all living things are attached by continuity whether by will or “without identity of self-same substance” then what is foundational to the beginning of an ethics of existence is the valuing of that which is attached by continuity, and this includes both human and animal life.

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