Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) attended the University of Göttingen where he studied metaphysics and psychology. It was here that he first found philosophical inspiration in the works of Plato and Immanuel Kant, two men who would have significant influence on Schopenhauer's work. One of the best known nineteenth-century philosophers, Schopenhauer published "The Basis of Morality" in 1839 as a response to a question posed by the Royal Danish Society of Scientific Studies. The work was written in four sections: the first part provides Schopenhauer's answer to the Society's question as well as an interpretation of western ethics; the second section is a criticism of Kantian ethics; the third lays out the construction of Schopenhauer's own ethical theory; and the final section examines the metaphysical foundations of ethics. As a whole, the work is an extensive discussion of compassion as the basis for morality, and the will of human beings to be unselfish.
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