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The Birth of Individual Life Concepts: The Influences of Arthur Schopenhauer’s Buddhism on Eduard von der Heydt’s Collection of Buddhist Art
Petra H. RÖSCH
Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne
Keywords: Schopenhauer, Eduard von der Heydt, Monte Verita, Buddhology
Abstract: The paper traces the influence of Buddhist religion and philosophy mitigated through Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) on nineteenth and early twentieth century alternative thinking and new life concepts in Europe. Many German scholars were inspired through Schopenhauer to study Indian philosophy and literature, incorporating Buddhist concepts into Western thinking and translating the first Indian Buddhist texts into German, like those by Paul Deussen, Georg Grimm or Karl, Eigen Neumann. Schopenhauer and these early German Buddhologists had also a considerable impact on the collector and banker Eduard von der Heydt (1882–1964). Like many other intellectuals, artists or members of the bourgeoisie and upper middle classes, he was searching for a new and modern way of life. Taking Eduard von der Heydt as a case study, the paper will show how during the early twentieth century, Buddhist thinking initialized by Schopenhauer took root in Germany. It will also demonstrate how various life-reform movements and alternative ways of life superseded the conventional and restricted life-style of the nineteenth century and inspired von der Heydt to set up his life and art at his private Buddhist paradise on the Monte Verita in Switzerland.