Quaternion of the Examples of a Philosophical Influence: Schopenhauer-Dostoevsky-Nietzsche-Cioran

by Daria Lebedeva (Author)
©2016 Monographs 150 Pages


The philosophical influence is a concept, a methodological tool and a process worth inquiring, because it sets the frame for the philosopher’s contribution into tradition. This study takes a close look at the philosophical influence on the dependence and inter-dependence between ideas and concepts, currents and tendencies and the experiences that every philosopher inherited from past tradition. It also presents four philosophers in order to identify the roots of influence: Arthur Schopenhauer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche and Emil Cioran.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • 1. Theorizing philosophical influence: Philosophical Influence or War and Peace of the Ideas/Concepts under One Auspice
  • 2. Arthur Schopenhauer: if not a total pessimist, but the influential figure for the modern pessimism
  • 3. Fyodor Dostoevsky: if to philosophize on suffering human condition, so to the highest forms
  • 4. Friedrich Nietzsche: if to philosophize with a hammer, so till the end
  • 5. Emile Cioran: coming after not as a parodist, but as an inheritor
  • Epilogue
  • Bibliography

← 10 | 11 →Introduction

The research intention includes the presenting philosophy as a continuation of the interrelations and inter – influence of the ideas, concepts, currents, and tendencies. So, the very issue of influence in the domain of philosophy – philosophical influence as such – is seen as distant from so to say cases of influence in poetry or literature. For instance, following Harold Bloom’s terminology, poetic influence is a psychological-filled painful breakage with the past tradition where newcomer in battle – with own fears, uncertainties, and ambitions –traces the own trajectory in tradition. If to prolong the dependence of an author on own psychological states the literary influence will sound in similar way, whereas the issue of philosophical influence – at least in the present work – is to be viewed and examined without references to the psychological states of mind of the authors.

So, it is needed to highlight that philosophical influence is a transmission of ideas and their post- books life and covering into new wrappings and forms; this is an unalloyed form of development, relation, and interrelation between concepts in the state of pure kingdom of abstractive reasoning. Thus, philosophical influence – trying to formulate the definition from the opposite – does not imply any inquiry on events experienced by philosopher and emotions occupied mind of philosopher in the period of being under influence that further the very process might configure the adopted ideas and concepts.

So, the philosophical influence dealing with the abstract issues searches for the foundations of the every period, current and tendency in philosophy. The discovering of the roots evidently implies the unveiling of the past. Influence in the time dimension is the signs of past growing up in present predicting the content of the future.

The significance of the research includes the accentuating of the issue of philosophical influence as a separate theme assisting to view the entire philosophy as an outcome of the multi-faceted and diverse interweaving of the ideas, concepts influential one on another. As a separate problem of research, the philosophical influence has not widely been formulated yet. The field of testing is the selected tradition of combination of pessimism, nihilism as the main sides of philosophizing covering the time span of 19-20th century with the brightest examples of Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Emile Cioran. The chosen quaternion might be seen through the prism of the issue of philosophical influence: the four philosophers originate from the particular ← 11 | 12 →tradition that embraces the currents (where Dostoevsky is considered as one of the founders of existentialism), they are additionally united by the usage of the similar conceptual apparatus (each of them amplifies the adopted concepts): the issues of suffering, meaninglessness of the life, reevaluation of values, spirituality, spiritual rebirth, and etc. All of them in a way having endured the terra of influence, still were looking with uncovered sympathy back to the history of philosophy, preferring the period of Antiquity. The accentuation of exactly this period in the history of philosophy is more than necessary, for the tradition of 19-20th century pessimistic and nihilistic thinking moves away the irrelevant hypotheses on the birth of such type of thinking as pessimistic exactly in Modernity.

Methodological framework elaborated in the work is based on the following instructions: concerning the adaptation of concepts but not the examples of presentations of the philosophers to use exclusively the prime sources, to identify the significant concepts for the whole philosophical teaching, to find out the roots of them – the influential source, to trace the development of the concepts within one book or the whole corpus of heritage, to work step-wise on the budding of new layers of meanings and interpretations, and finally, to approach to the shedding a new light on the interpreted concepts.

The very search – identification – of the roots of influences in philosophical writings assists to strength the accent on the validity and inner steadiness of tradition vis-a-vis the presence of the domino-like dependence between old and new concepts. In this respect, tradition is seen as a reconciliation of the tension between old and new terms, where every piece of work written in the past and even slightly mentioned one term as an effluence of light from the closed door still testifies the place of birth of this term in the past and its only re-appearance in the present. Thus, the language of the work is replete with the following key words: philosophical concepts and ideas, borrowed or adopted and prolonged consequently; master-pupil relations; clash or balance of old and new tradition, and etc.

Mechanism of philosophical influence implies the hermeneutic tips to read carefully the philosophical texts: the influence and interconnections have occurred through links between personalities to the very connections between concepts. Precisely, here the philosophical discourse begins, it sprouts up the links between concepts since without concepts, notions and invented phrased the philosophical corpus is empty as flesh without soul, as one “disposes philosophy of its jargon1” in the same moment one leaves it useless and dustless as old-fashioned coat in the wardrobe, as a result, philosophy remains wordless, ← 12 | 13 →“beyond words – in catalepsy or the skull’s grin2“. The concepts begin to be connected, imitating and paraphrasing with each other, lightly changing the sense that later after deeper changes makes the new appeared concept to be almost unrecognizable.

These are the gradual instructions of methodological framework:

  1. The search for the significant influence;
  2. To clarify the sources of influence: surely one book influenced the subsequent ones; (the situation of almost impossibility to avoid imitating – as light and unconscious repetition – and plagiarism – conscious repetition).
  3. The repetition, imitation of the adopted concepts: various sides of clinamen;
  4. The adding of the new components to the adopted material: in what degree – how far – a disciple has proceeded further than a master.

For instance, to clarify the second point I would like to refer to Schopenhauer, who in essay Authorship defines three kinds of authors: the first one are those who write without thinking on subject, grasping the ideas from memories and reminiscences; the second category covers authors who think on subject while they are writing; and the third category – the rarest one- about authors who think on subject before writing. But even writers who think on subject - Schopenhauer states not without regret – “extremely few of them think only about the subject itself3”, and the very intention to think before writing still requires the referring and subsequent rereading other’s authors thoughts on subject, and as result writes are trapped “under their influence, and so never, in any real sense of the word, are original4”. It is definitely misleading for a writer to suppose that the latest books on the subject are the right point of departure: that they worth detailed reading and citing, Schopenhauer argues. As if the time has stopped and the books of previous ages are not available anymore, as if there is only one option to follow Enlightenment’s bias on the superiority of progress, that subsequent is better than previous, and in this respect, previous is thus out-of-date, biased and fatigued as subject. Therefore, the old good books begin to be replaced by new ones appeared on the wave of instant popularity, when new author in order to find own place in tradition begins with a loud and boasting voice to minify the truth admitted long ago.

← 13 | 14 →So, qua motto: to read only original, not to double repetition, not to read new books where the content of the old is paraphrased, so to back to the dusty classical books on the shelves. The work that is valuable indeed is that work that entirely springs from author’s thought, that is a fruit of own considerations on preoccupied subject: “author’s words;” Schopenhauer accentuates “and the value of these will lie either in the matter about which he has thought, or in the form which his thoughts takes5”. Albeit, the public in its majority prefers to entertain itself with the biographical facts of author’s life in the time of writing work or in similarities of the main heroes with the folk tradition, and so on. For this case, Schopenhauer draws the following analogy:“To give such preference to the matter over the form, is as though a man were to take a fine Etruscan vase, not to admire its shape and coloring, but to make a chemical analysis of the clay and paint of which it is composed6”. In other words, he astonishes, how far away from the core of the work the common reader might be detached, using a superficial and momentary interest in the matter than the form. Qua another motto: to keep in writing as sincerely as possible the superiority of a form over a matter; so, writing is to show author’s style that as a real face when copying and imitating even classical or up-to-date examples is like wearing a mask. So, as it is seen in this passage Schopenhauer giving advice on the best way of writing and distinguishing the categories of writers could not but to add on the necessity to look back to the ancient examples worth constant referring, in other words, that the influence still matters, but with sine qua non - influence of the best canons- is methodologically useful.

Interestingly enough, Schopenhauer in another essay Thinking of Oneself undermines the necessity of reading books authored by others, i.e. not advising new writer to read old writer’s book understanding by a harmful possibility to find oneself under the influence of already read thought and to block the new thoughts to appear. This is primary because reading is a repeating other’s thought  – in most cases false and misleading thoughts- the very habit accustoms one to repeating instead of thinking for oneself. In terms of a philosophical influence, such kind of advice is of a revolutionary kind: since the abovementioned instruction of a preferable reference to the old books is totally discarded. As if the contemplation - the knowledge acquired entirely from the sources of reflection a kind of way of life and way of thinking closer to an ancient sage – turn to be ← 14 | 15 →highly valued and preferred and is remained to be the only one available source of knowledge.

In simple formulations, the method of philosophical influence might be encapsulated in the following actions: reading of chosen authorities or influential sources – retelling, analyzing, adopting the parts of the sources – approaching to the renewed interpretations, thus, the very action of reading is highlighted. The chosen tetrad of philosophers in this work has not randomly been glued up, for every one of them contributes to the more or less similar way of thinking in the vision of man, meaning of man’s life and the world, morality and religion, progress and regress. Still the sign of equality cannot be put for where for instance negation is met: it is presented with the different degree: for instance, Cioranian misanthropy and Nietzschean hopes for bearing the better type of man.← 15 | 16 →


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (October)
critique of Enlightment nihilism pessimistic thinking critique of morality
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 150 pp.

Biographical notes

Daria Lebedeva (Author)

Daria Lebedeva holds a Ph.D. from the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. Her main fields of research interest are history of philosophy, religion, and culture.


Title: Quaternion of the Examples of a Philosophical Influence: Schopenhauer-Dostoevsky-Nietzsche-Cioran
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152 pages