One of the most coherent philosophical texts I ve ever read This is an important one because its at a turning point for many fields of science and it clears up a bunch of what Kant wrote I liked how it was equal parts transcendental idealism but also draws heavily on Buddhism, Christian mysticism and Hinduism Yet the man comes at it from an atheistic point if view, devoid of thr so called freedom of the will His definition of the will is unmatched and it s a key tenant of his philosophy and many s to follow Just a thought I also think his fluency in Latin gave him an edge in developing his philosophy as it s the form he read of many sacred doctrine. Okay, I ve just finished rereading The World As Will and Idea for the second time and am determined to make this comment amusing, if not outright fun Schopenhauer s masterwork goes this way 1 Kant had almost everything right when he said that we live in a reality of mental representations phenomena and are incapable of connecting directly with the underlying things in themselves noumena.2 HOWEVER, Schopenhauer knows what the basic thing in itself is It s Will Will in the rocks, the seas, everything material and everything organic, you and me, too.3 It remains somewhat unclear to me exactly how Schopenhauer can know this if he agrees that mortals cannot transcend the phenomenal, but he makes a comprehensive case for the one ness, the unity, of all that exists, attributing a grand fatality to it that sweeps us along In fact, he would say we don t exist to be swept along, we only think we do, because we are inseparable from the Will, and can only rarely, under special circumstances, deduce its own existence through such things as art and the suppression of our own feeble will Be ye Shakespeare or be ye an ascetic, ye shall know that what we see is us, and what sees us is us, and what is going on is that the Will is working its wonders through and around us More explicitly, Schopenhauer cites the Chandogya Upanishad Thou Art That Tat Tvam Asi 4 So dial back to the 60s and remember Ram Dass and everyone like him and then consider the fact that these colorful folk were completely anticipated by Arthur Schopenhauer, a 19th century German philosopher who was not really very colorful and never danced with flowers in his hair.5 The first two books of The World as Will and Idea are laborious We get the amendments to Kant and we get a trip back to Plato s Ideas The third and fourth books are spectacular If you are an artist of any kind or a connoisseur of any kind, you will find that Schopenhauer makes a wonderful case for why you are enad of writing, painting, and most of all, music We are talking about negative capability here the gift of genius that enables an individual to be than a single consciousness but rather a wide range of roaring consciousnesses, in effect, the full tumult of creation Goethe, Beethoven, name your greatest hero 6 Now, such apex moments and figures don t last and aren t commonplace, as we know So here we get Schopenhauer the pessimist telling us that we are mere incidental twitches in Will s fury His advice, then, really, is to abandon all hope and accept the truth of illusionthe illusion of gain, of desire, of immortality, of personal autonomy A certain kind of Christian or Buddhist or hippie would know that the world is suffering, not fight it, and seek to aline herself with nothing which is Schopenhauer s last word 7 I would raise a question or two or three My first question would be whether Schopenhauer s Will couldn t just as well be called Being My problem with Will is that it implies volition, as in pursuing an end My second question would be whether the reality of human experience having and raising children, doing useful work for oneself and others is necessarily as grim and pointless as Schopenhauer submits And my third question is whether it isn t rather ironic that to be an accomplished artist or devoted ascetic requires immense will The blank page and empty stomach in the morning are not comforting company it takes as much ferocity of intent to write as it does to go without eating.8 There is one other book, and perhaps only one other book, that struck me as even bleak and depressing than The World as Will and Idea That is Consilience by Edward O Wilson, a materialistic interpretation of the unity of knowledge But Schopenhauer s work is the greater intellectual triumph Wilson rides the back of science Schopenhauer rides the wings of pure thought What s unlike his European predecessors, Schopenhauer easily and readily and correctly connected East and West. The Nineteenth Century Idealist Philosopher And Precursor Of Freud The World As Will And Idea Holds That All Nature, Including Man, Is The Expression Of An Insatiable Will To Life That The Truest Understanding Of The World Comes Through Art And The Only Lasting Good Through Ascetic Renunciation Unique In Western Philosophy For His Affinity With Eastern Thought, Schopenhauer Influenced Philosophers, Writers, And Composers Including Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Wagner, Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, And Samuel BeckettThe Work Presented Here Appeals Not Only To The Student Of Philosophy But Everyone Interested In Psychology, Literature And Eastern And Western Religion This Paperback Edition Is The Most Comprehensive Available And Includes An Introduction, Bibliography, Selected Criticism, Index And Chronology Of Schopenhauer S Life And Times my favorite part in schopenhauer is his discussion of music, in which he qualifies leibnitz s aphorism that music is an unconscious exercise in arithmetic whereby the mind does not know it is counting with the claim that music is the unconscious exercise in metaphysics in which the mind does not know it is philosophizing i also like it when he draws parallels between indian philosophy and descartes Amazing, many answers to be found by reading Schopenhauer What a crabby old fart This book is the keystone of his entire thought At times, old Schopie is so pessimistic that you can t help laughing Unlike usual philosopher, he writes decently, and the book is quite easy to read His insight on art and genius seem to me to be spot on. Without greater length than is conducive to a website like this, one cannot thoroughly review such a profound work Thus, I will only make some comments The book is not voluminous, but it is deep and wide in subject matter It is a book to mull over Some say Schopenhauer is redundant, but rather than saying the same things than once, he uses multiple examples to support his arguments I find these numerous examples helpful and part of the philosopher s artistry.A little about Schopenhauer sandwiched between two, popular thinkers, Kant and Nietzsche, sits a clearer and quotable writer, a pragmatic philosopher who also dealt with metaphysics, and a greater influence on authors, musicians, and artists in general Some may overlook or discount him He does not purport a system for academics to disentangle His pessimism has been panned as depressing or futile.But to me Schopenhauer is a superior realist who can live in a world of ideas He presents problems for humanity and offers solutions They may not be solutions many folks would like to try indeed, Schop did not practice aestheticism, though he prescribed it as a way to escape the suffering of the world His writing is always refreshing, insightful, and spot on in how he comes to his solutions There is truly original thought here If one were to chart his influences and those he influenced, the latter list would be far longer than the former He is present in the work of Darwin, Freud, Tolstoy, Nietzsche, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Mann, Richard Wagner, Edgar Saltus, Ivan Turgenev, Oscar Wilde, Carl Jung, Dostoevsky, William Faulkner, Einstein, Joseph Campbell, Joseph Conrad, Kurt Vonnegut, and Thomas Ligotti, to name only some heavyweights Now, for the book itself The Will is not only energy All living things, and even non living objects, are manifestations of the Will Kant was right, that we cannot know the thing in itself wholly However, through one s consciousness in relation to the body, in voluntary and involuntary movements and processes, we can gather an idea of the Will, which does the moving and motivates all action, and the Will is the thing in itself We intuitively relate all objects around us and everything we experience only as far as how they relate to other objects, and especially how they affect us, how we perceive them.The Will is in eternal flux thus, the world is in eternal flux This takes us back at least to Heraclitus, but we need reminded every few centuries it seems.Without a subject to acknowledge and play by the same rules as an object, the object is nothing The world is full of many subjects and many objects We are subjects to objects which are subjects to us Objects don t know firsthand they re objects Pretty much everything, save humans, thinks it is a subject and that everything else is an object We are both and they are both That is the only way it works The subject and object are mutually dependent.A sensation should not be held as the cause of, or come from, an object, but as merely something that our senses, one of them at least, has sensed We only know that an object is real because it stimulates at least one of our senses.Our objective comprehension is subjective.When we say something is matter we not only say that something exists but also that it is perceived.An easy starting point to ponder the Will involuntary acts of the body unwanted thoughts, innate desires, absent minded gestures of the hands while speaking.The Will, apart from the body, is still only knowable abstractly This means Kant s thing in itself, as unknowable, still holds much validity.The Will is present in non living objects It gives objects their particular qualities In living things, the Will can be subordinated in a overt manner A stone rolls down a hill, an animal hunts its prey both are manifestations of the Will Gravity does not cause the stone to fall to earth The cause is the stone s proximity to the earth Gravity is always there.Causality is only present in time and space Gravity, the Forms, and all energy is eternal and exists outside time and space Schopenhauer s Will takes Plato s Forms and expresses them in the myriad replicas we see in time and space Though we harness fire electricity, etc, these things would exist if we did not harness them Nature s laws sometimes seem extraordinary to us, but they are not The laws are consistent We become shocked when we see a natural phenomenon that is new to us, but we should not be It has always been so and will always be so when circumstances dictate.Animals must eat plants and one another Everything preys on something and or is preyed on by something This displays the constant strife, the essential discord, of the Will The Will feeds on itself Humanity devours itself Everything is trying and striving to express its highest Form, and to do so generally impinges on the striving of something else.The Will as the force propelling evolution is something Schop explains, without of course ever using the word evolution.Our actions are guided by motives which are guided by the Will The Will wants to exist, strive, thrive, and live.Nothing, not gravity, a stone, an insect, or a human ever reaches a final goal All is merely eternally becoming The Will is pure desire In humans, the intellect must be called on to temper the Will The Will does not plan It desires its motives can be hidden.Human disposition is always cycling through three states of emotion desire, momentary satisfaction, and boredom Two of the three cause pain and suffering, and the other is ephemeral.Schop says the Kantian thing in itself is the Will, but not a realized objectification of the Will It is the becoming part of the thing, since Kant s thing needn t take any form Kant s unknowable thing is partially knowable, and it is knowable by knowing thyself.Everything we see is only a copy of an Idea Form , coming and going in time and space.Knowledge can break free from the Will When an individual is involved in, producing or contemplating or executing, something artistic, the individual breaks free from the awareness of time and space thus, it can break from the Will.Schop describes losing individuality as perceiving the object as the Idea, without relationships to other things subject to causality An individual can become a pure subject of knowing This respite from the Will is fleeting, though One must sustain this higher level to produce art.On nostalgia we look back on things and see them in an objective light We forget all the worries and troubles we had in those times The time elapsed separates us from our old subjective selves, even though our current selves are as subjective as ever.Beauty can facilitate our transference from subjective knowledge of particular things to the objective contemplation of Ideas.In music, melodies represent the great striving and gratification of the will Catchy, short melodies in dance music mimic everyday pleasures Winding, meandering melodies with painful discord and sustained, languid notes show sadness and tragedy, while gratification is expressed when the music falls back to the key note.Like in Buddhism and Hinduism, in Schopenhauer we are taught that the best way to live would be by denying the Will by using the intellect, knowledge, art, and wisdom to totally set oneself free from cravings and desires But Schop knows that, for the most part, this is impossible for most people.I will leave off with a few quotes from the gloomy philosopher and some from others he used in this most remarkable philosophical masterpiece Schopenhauer The world is my idea The body is a condition of the knowledge of the Will Genius is the clear eye of the world The Principle of Sufficient Reason is thus again the form into which the Idea enters when it comes to the knowledge of the subject as individual Often we don t know what we wish or what we fear For one wish that is fulfilled there remain at least ten which are denied on literature Man s unspeakable pain and misery, the triumph of malice, the tyranny of mere chance, and the irretrievable fall of the just and the innocent, are here presented to us and in lies a significant hint as to the nature of the world and of existence Optimism is not only a false but also a pernicious doctrine, for it presents life as a desirable state and man s happiness as its aim and object Starting from this, everyone then believes he has the most legitimate claim to happiness and enjoyment If, as usually happens, these do not fall to his lot, he believes that he suffers an injustice, in fact that he misses the whole point of his existence Agrippa von Nettesheim It is us he inhabits, not the underworld, nor the stars in the sky The spirit who lives in us makes those Plato What is that which always is, and has no becoming And what is that which is always becoming and never is Time is the moving picture of eternity Goethe No ill can touch him who looks on human beauty he feels himself at one with himself and with the world To fix in lasting thoughts the hovering images that float before the mind Thomas Paine It is only a short step from the sublime to the ridiculous. Definitely a worth while read Although it was very thought provoking, I didn t feel it meshed well with my understanding of the universe and life Essentially Schopenhauer s thought is that the ultimate underling reality that governs everything in the universe is the Will Not individual will, but this sort of ominous Will of the universe Sort of like the Brahman in Hinduism Like in the Hindi teachings Schopenhauer suggests that his work illustrates the importance of Removing the veil of Maya ignorance and then you can face the ultimate truth, the Will You can very easily notice the influence of eastern thought on his work if you d studied Hinduism and Buddhism Although I don t feel that Schopenhauer s view of reality is in fact accurate, I highly recommend that one read this work as it is cited very often in various other works and it is indeed interesting to consider and study I haven t read any of his other works so maybe there is truth to be found there than in The World as Will and Representation If nothing else, this work inspires one to look up and read the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita or Vedanta and other Hindi works for a better understanding of Schopenhauer s inspiration You can freely read much of these on project Gutenberg s website www.gutenberg.org One thing you won t get from reading their works, however, is an insight into their lives For that you ll want to checkout Wikipedia or autobiographical published work if any After that, you may want to read other s interpretations, criticisms, and commentary of the work in order to gain insight. There s plenty about the content of Schopenhauer s work here on Goodreads and elsewhere online I won t add to it What I will say is that Schopenhauer was the most honest and sincere of the great thinkers While other philosophers in the western canon offer ideal worlds, pure reason, knowledge of God, aesthetic affirmation, concrete moral values, and mystical shades of Being, Schopenhauer deals earnestly and sensitively with the causes of wordly suffering, the wellsprings of human motivation, and the route to exaltation There s no other major thinker whose work connects so directly to the reader s experience of life Schopenhauer was free from both financial necessity and academic imperatives, and so he described in his books the world just as he saw and felt it without worrying about pleasing an audience he was passionately committed to what is true His pessimism turns some people off, of course, but it s simply not possible to point to any of the examples of worldy suffering that Schopenhauer describes and argue that they re not true Nor is it possible to argue that Schopenhauer s account of the source of that suffering is mistaken Indeed, his argument that optimism is actually a deeply wicked position to hold is irrefutable For that reason, he should be respected as much as he respects the reader with his honesty Another commenter in this thread used the word cynicism to describe Schopenhauer s thought there are many cynics in the history of philosophy Schopenhauer is not one of them The World as Will and Idea is nothing if not a passionately sincere work That sincerity, combined with the beauty and clarity of its style and the brilliance of Schopenhauer s metaphysical system, makes it one of the very greatest books.One final word..Schopenhauer s work is not off limits to those without any academic philosophical training, but I would recommend doing two things before tackling this tome first, get the Penguin Essays and Aphorisms of Schopenhauer, read RJ Hollingdale s excellent introduction, then read the book second, look around online and try to familiarize yourself with the basic ideas of Kant s philosophy Wikipedia is all right for this Just get a working knowledge of Kant s notions of noumena phenomena, theory of perception, categories of the understanding, that kind of thing, and that will prepare you for Schopenhauer s refinement of Kantian idealism Some knowledge of Plato will help too. Can t say I quite made it all the way through Yet, his work constitutes a breath of fresh air After reading all too many postmodern philosophers Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard, etc Schopenhauer makes what seems to be a bold statement objective facts can be known by digging beneath interpretations, yet most people never do this precisely because it takes an extreme amount of effort Therefore, the human experience of reality tends to be ethereal, and appears to be nothing than willling various illusory ideas that are taken to be reality he is definitely not saying everything is an idea, the world is unknowable being disinterested is practically impossible for the vast majority of people, which means that only an elite few who have trained philosophers, scientists, etc will ever have access to objective reality To the great majority of people purely intellectual pleasures are always inaccessible One interesting point beautiful passage that really ushers in Nietzsche s Eternal Recurrence although Schopenhauer should be partial credit for that concept Suppose we were allowed, for once, a clear glance into the kingdom of the possible, and over the chains of causes and effects if the earth spirit appeared and showed us in a tableau all the greatest men, enlighteners of the world, and heroes whom chance destroyed before we were ripe for their work then showed us the great events that would have changed history, and brought us periods of the highest culture and enlightenment, but whihc the blindest chance, the most insignificant accident, hindered at the outset lastly the splendid powers of great individuals that would have enriched whole epochs, but which, misled either by error or by passion, or compelled by necessity, they squandered on unworthy or unfruitful objects, or even wasted away in play If we saw this, we would shudder and lament at the thought of the lost treasures of whole period of history But the earth spirit would smile and say, The source from which the individuals and their powers proceed is as inexhaustible and boundless as time and space no finite measure can exhaust that infinite source therefore undiminished eternity is still open for the recurrence of any event or work that was nipped in the bud p.107.
Johanna Schopenhauer and the older brother of
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