Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Felmon Davis




morality, ethics, self-image, metaphysical view, viewpoints


The aim of this paper is to explore the construction of morality or ethics. Specifically, this paper addresses the different ways we are able to view ourselves in this world and the impact each view should have on the overall construction of morality. For example, we can view ourselves from within our individual perspective, and can also view ourselves from an abstracted view, as one amongst many. The former view may give us reason to only be concerned with our own suffering, while the latter possibly gives us reason to be concerned with the suffering of all. These conflicting claims lead to the question of which viewpoint should be given weight in the construction of morality or ethics. In order to explore this issue and draw general conclusions, I am proposing that these different viewpoints be analyzed from a metaphysical standpoint using Schopenhauer’s metaphysical view of the World as Will (the “in-itself”) and World as Representation (the illusory world we perceive). We find that Schopenhauer’s proposed morality of compassion is constructed based on an assumption that morality should be constructed to strive towards or touch the “in-itself” or World as Will. However, his morality of compassion leads to pragmatic difficulties that may be resolved by the inclusion of the World as Representation in his construction of morality. Thomas Nagel’s conception of the subjective and objective viewpoints will be used in this analysis to present the importance of not overemphasizing or leaving out any viewpoints in the construction of morality.