Supernatural Schopenhauer: A Critique of Paranormal Reason


  • Vincent Le


Schopenhauer, Hereditary, Ari Aster, Supernatural, Paranormal, Occult, Horror, Transcendental Philosophy.


Schopenhauer is known for developing a critical philosophy that sees space, time and causality as phenomenal appearances masking an eternally indivisible will at the telltale heart of all things. He is also known for granting art a privileged place in his philosophical system as the means of summoning the will lurking behind the world of representation. What is much more esoterically known is that Schopenhauer conferred an equally, if not even greater importance, on paranormal phenomena insofar as he believed them to betray something otherworldly haunting the outer edges of all possible experience. I thus propose to elucidate Schopenhauer's transcendental deduction of the existence of the supernatural by aligning it with the will in itself as it breaks with our representational forms of space, time and causality. This will naturally seem absurd to modern, scientifically-minded readers, and we shall see that there are indeed inconsistencies in Schopenhauer's supernatural beliefs that keep the paranormal phenomena he describes beholden to the very representational forms they purportedly defy. I nonetheless want to defend Schopenhauer's account of the supernatural, albeit not for its metaphysical pretentions, but for inadvertently proffering a transcendental aesthetics that would use art, and particularly works of horror, as an esoteric means of conjuring that which is occulted from the world of appearances. In particular, I look at Ari Aster's 2018 supernatural horror film Hereditary as a case study of how horror can paradoxically capture through our means of communication the very breakdown of all communication. Not only is Schopenhauer's transcendental philosophy then already a horror story, but horror stories provide their own transcendental critiques in confronting us with monstrous abominations and mind-bending realities capable of ravaging our souls along with everything we hold dear.

Author Biography

Vincent Le

Vincent Le is a catastrophe-drunk philosopher and PhD candidate at Monash University. He has taught philosophy at Deakin University and The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy. He has published in Hypatia, Cosmos and History, Art + Australia, Å um, Horror Studies and Colloquy, among other journals. His recent work focuses on the reckless propagation of the will to critique.




How to Cite

Le, V. (2021). Supernatural Schopenhauer: A Critique of Paranormal Reason. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 17(1), 453–470. Retrieved from