In the very briefest sense, Schopenhauer claims that: (1) existence is a mistake; I have summarized and commented on his nihilism and pessimism in these previous posts: “Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, ‘On the Vanity of Existence’” This is how Schopenhauer’s philosophy is interpreted in the way that not only simplifies but even completely distorts the ideas put forward by this great thinker. 1873.] To follow this book's interpretive route, one must accept that Schopenhauer elevated to the heights of his metaphysics a principle that he abhorred, using it self-consciously as the basis of his conception of Will as thing-in-itself. In a book that aims to emphasize Kantian influences, the chapter on Schopenhauer's aesthetics stands out for its absence of any extended discussion of the influence of Kant's aesthetics on Schopenhauer's. By accentuating the significance of Kant's doctrine of radical evil, Kant and Schopenhauer emerge as kindred spirits. A thoughtful reader offered a rejoinder to the conclusion of my recent series on life and meaning. Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you, The goal is to show that Schopenhauer's philosophy grew out of Kant's, looking back from the 19th century to identify informatively an influx of Kantian themes into Schopenhauer's philosophy. Well Schopenhauer died sane at least. Dennis Vanden Auweele, The Kantian Foundation of Schopenhauer's Pessimism, Routledge, 2017, 242pp., $149.95 (hbk), ISBN 9781138744271. When the ascetic denies the will, this amounts to a small reduction in the energy of Will itself, like a sunspot upon the shining sun, the darkness of which represents a cooler area. pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer chiefly expressed in his essay, “On the Sufferings of the World.” If the world is full of suffering and misfortune, as Schopenhauer argues, then we must find ways of dealing with this painful world. He states, for example, that "the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae is an invention from the childhood of philosophy that has long since been exploded," that "only ignorance and want of culture could continue to speak about a freedom of a person's individual actions, about a liberum arbitrium indifferentiae" (On the Basis of Morality, §20, §10), and that "it will probably never be possible to convince the masses of the invalidity of this concept, but at least scholars should beware of speaking about it with so much innocence" (On the Freedom of the Will, Section IV, "Predecessors"). For to will nothingness is still a willing. Copyright © 2020 Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews I have a first addition book by this author anyone interested to purchase? How do you suggest I proceed ? The second conception is independent of rationality and has an individualistic orientation: it is the mere capacity to will this or that at some time, without any regard to consistency, rules, maxims, regulations, laws, principles, and such. He detested puerile arguments and wanted to get the gist of things. Required fields are marked *. This reading can be traced back to one Gottlob Christian Storr (1746-1805), who published a number of notes to Kant's first edition of the Religionsschrift, entitled Annotationes quaedam theologiae ad philosophicam Kantii de religione doctrinam (1793). Vasalou carefully and subtly unpacks and analyses the elements of Schopenhauer's conception of philosophical practice, suggesting that it is fundamentally and demonstrably an aesthetic practice. (4) life is essentially suffering and suffering is evil; . Vanden Auweele gives an individual-centered reading of ascetic awareness, stating that the ascetic transcends suffering and becomes absolutely free, with no further significance beyond the individual's liberation. (3) the best thing for humans is non-existence; In The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, Dale Jacquette assesses Schopenhauer's philosophical enterprise and the astonishing implications it has for metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, logic, science, and religion. In general, ancient Greece is a good place to start the search for a philosophy of happiness because, according to Schopenhauer, the Greeks agreed on one thing: the task of practical reason is to figure out the best kind of life and how it can be achieved. Moreover, consciousness makes the situation worse, as conscious beings experience pain when thinking about past regrets and future fears. The time period in question begins with his move to Weimar in November 1813 soon after receiving his PhD in October, and ends with his bitter quarrel and permanent estrangement from his mother in May 1814, at which time he immediately moved to Dresden where in 1815-1817 he lived next to the Sanskrit scholar, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832). My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road. Often meaningless or lacking in meaning? It also builds its argument upon a reliable epistemological framework for understanding Schopenhauer's various conceptions of knowledge. “Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Sufferings of the World’”. This is despite how Schopenhauer's metaphysics -- considering especially how the history of philosophy unfolded through Nietzsche and 20th century existentialist philosophy -- was so far ahead of its time in its non-rational vision of ultimate reality, that it left him as a philosophical loner during the first half of the 19th century. He thinks of life as a pendulum swinging between pain (when we want something but don’t have it) and boredom (when we have something and no longer care much about it). Schopenhauer's philosophy is well known for a deeply ingrained pessimistic quality. In contrast, Nietzsche adopted a philosophy that said yes to life, fully cognizant of the fact that life is mostly miserable, evil, ugly, and absurd. But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll, . I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!) However, some of the philosophers of existential doctrines like Heidegger, Sartre and Nietzsche can also be added to the list. The discussion then proceeds as a general exposition of Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory. My only comment/question is there is no last word in philosophy. This will is the substance of our subjective life, and equally the substance of being as such for it is a restless urge, a constant movement beyond itself. Schopenhauer believed that since our intellect imposes difference on the … In its most extreme form, asceticism leads to a voluntarily chosen death by starvation, the only form of suicide that is immune to moral critique according to Schopenhauer. it will be leaving my home. Arthur Schopenhauer, the quintessential philosophical pessimist. Vanden Auweele concludes by stating that Schopenhauer's presentation of the ascetic endpoint is "cynical, almost even snide: we ought to distance ourselves from reality and from ourselves to such an extent that there is no reality or self to which to relate" (p. 227). Why should one even bother, if we all are going to die one day? Another way to understand ascetic awareness -- one where interpretations of the above kind cannot arise -- is to appreciate that the ascetic, like everything else, is a manifestation of Will as the thing-in-itself. This is why Schopenhauer’s named his book The World as Will and Representation. In an 1851 letter to Johann Eduard Erdmann, Schopenhauer wrote that during the 1813 winter in Weimar "the orientalist Friedrich Majer introduced me, without solicitation, to Indian antiquity, and this had an essential influence on me.". For Schopenhauer, aesthetic experience leads us into a transcendent, painless state where, as he states, "the wheel of Ixion stands still" (WWR1, §38). On the negative side, we implicitly learn that understanding the historical source of Schopenhauer's notion of the senseless and irrational Will requires us not to rest easy with simply magnifying Kant's conception of Willkür. Whether Kant's doctrine of radical evil as stated in Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793) is consistent with the rest of his philosophy is a controversial matter, but if one accepts it and -- as we see in Schopenhauer -- develops a philosophy that dissolves individual freedom, immortality of the soul, God, and the kingdom of ends, then little moral hope is likely to remain for earth-bound, instinct-driven, human beings. Kant's moral theory upholds the belief in individual freedom, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who serves to coordinate happiness with virtue in an ideal end-state. for more see my meaning of life series on the blog. The "in itself" of "reality" is Will, though, and according to Schopenhauer the artistic genius apprehends not Will directly, but the immediate objectifications of Will, namely Platonic Ideas. Like the Buddha, Schopenhauer would tell us to cut down exponentially on our desires because they are what cause our unhappiness. Kant planned a reply to Storr but never explicitly delivered this. The title of Dennis Vanden Auweele's book raises one's curiosity. The above posts describe the basics of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, which is the most sustained defense of pessimism and nihilism of which I’m aware. He was a great admirer of Kantian philosophy and more specifically his ideas about the thing-in-itself and transcendental idealism. Jacquette analyses the central topics in Schopenhauer's philosophy, including his so-called pessimistic appraisal of the human condition, his examination of … we end up in Schopenhauer with an all-powerful faculty of choice that self-expresses without the normative control and restraint offered by rationality" (p. 113). In contrast, Nietzsche adopted a philosophy that said yes to life, fully cognizant of the fact that life is mostly miserable, evil, ugly, and absurd. Subscribe to ReasonandMeaning and receive notifications of new posts by email. The chapter on Schopenhauer's philosophy of religion contains as well an informative historical observation worth quoting in full: Kant's talk of rational faith is, in Schopenhauer's view, a "strange hermaphrodite or centaur", or a "kind of Gnostic wisdom" (WWV2 185) . He concludes that "Schopenhauer's philosophy is Protestant Christianity without Christ, God or grace" (p. 224). The "Schopenhauer-as-Orpheus" theme is not rendered explicit in the book, but it is implicit in the discussion and is there for others to pursue. By looking at the world as chaotic, unorganized, and not making much sense, we can … Am I truly prejudiced and not open to the thought that life is a blessing? Vanden Auweele's second entrance into Schopenhauer's pessimism is through the notion of freedom, understood in terms of a conflict between two kinds of freedom -- rationally-grounded and non-rationally-grounded -- that Kant sets forth. Hey, anyone knows where Nietzche wrote that comment about Schopenhauer? Secondly, I fear that I am drawn to the pessimist’s view of the world rather than their thoughts being chosen because it stands above all other philosophical view points. Liked it? (5) this is the worst of all possible worlds. In it he advances an unequivocal pessimism in response to my (qualified) notions of optimism and hope. In the midst of this exposition, there is an illuminating reference to the Greek myth of Orpheus, whose music was so enchanting that it brought Ixion's wheel to a stop. “Life is a sorry business.” – Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer was a great 19th-century philosopher whose life experiences resulted in him adopting a pessimistic attitude towards life. Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for Death “, Noonan: “An Almost Absolute Value in History”, Warren: “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”, Williams: “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia”, Steinbock: “The Morality of Killing Human Embryos”, Kass: “Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology & …”, Lauritzen: “Stem Cells, Biotech & Human Rights …”, Mappes: “Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using …”, Dwyer: “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, & Social …”, Dickinson: “The Brain is wider than the Sky”, Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”, Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, ‘On the Vanity of Existence’, Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Vanity of Existence’, Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, “’On the Sufferings of the World’, Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Sufferings of the World’, Summary of Marshall Brain’s “Robotic Nation”, A Philosopher’s Lifelong Search for Meaning, Summary of Bill Joy's, "Why the future doesn't need us,”, Summary of Aristotle's Theory of Human Nature. Placing him in his historical and philosophical contexts, David E. Cartwright tells the story of Schopenhauer’s life to convey the full range of his philosophy. Unlike other presentations of Schopenhauer's philosophy that identify aesthetic, moral, and ascetic awareness as the ascending road to enlightenment, it importantly adds religious awareness into the sequence. Ascetic awareness "numbs the will to life to sleep" (p. 207) and involves the "narcotic silencing" of the will (p. 142), as if it were mainly an anaesthetic. This book is valuable in helping us appreciate that there is a strong Christian dimension to Schopenhauer's philosophy. I have no chair, no church, no philosophy, Too late for me in being ascetic. There is some insight in this observation. Kierkegaard argues that this pessimism is actually a backwards optimism, a tacit pursuit of happiness. Since Will has no consciousness, though, it makes no sense to speak of it as "choosing" anything. Schopenhauer’s philosophy is essentially a single thought: the metaphysical essence of the world and ourselves is expressed in will. Arthur Schopenhauer and Hartmann can be considered as the main pro-pounders of this philosophy. In practice, Schopenhauer clearly enjoyed life belying arguments that his philosophy leads to a pessimistic life. Schopenhauer’s Pessimism : Aphorisms on Morality and Happiness Arthur Schopenhauer attempted to deepen the practical philosophy of Kant in his Aphorisms on wisdom of life. Stumbled across this blog while browsing. Vanden Auweele states nonetheless that "Schopenhauer metaphysicalizes Kant's power of choice and . Connections to morality are severed -- "the saint is no longer compassionate and is not motivated to undo other people's suffering because of being completely withdrawn from the world" (p. 218) -- to the point where ascetic consciousness as "the highest good" loses its moral significance, aside from how the individual ascetic no longer suffers. Learn how your comment data is processed. Most of the 19th-century idealists did read Kant as such. The Christian dimensions of Schopenhauer's philosophy are important to highlight -- Schopenhauer tends to have more Christian imagery and thematics in his writings than those from other religions -- but this should not diminish the significance of how immediately after Schopenhauer read sections of the Bhagavadgita in December 1813 and the Upanishads in March 1814 his writings assumed an atheistic tenor, no longer consistent with his earlier self-references in his manuscripts as an "illuminated theist." However, I think the nothingness that Schopenhauer talks about could also be interpreted as similar to Nagarjuna’s “emptiness” or Meister Eckhardt’s “nothingness beyond god”. This is an individual person's radical capacity of free choice, the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae, as Schopenhauer calls it, the Willkür, as Kant calls it, and absolute freedom, as Sartre calls it. Becker felt that most of humanity shuts off much of their awareness to self protect from the brutal facts of reality. . Of course, Nietzsche argued that Schopenhauer’s view of the world says more about Schopenhauer than it does about the world. I finally also have come to the conclusion that asceticism is the best way out of such a problem as being born into a world of suffering. It remains that Will as thing-in-itself is non-rational, absolutely self-determining, and acts insofar as it manifests or objectifies itself. I’m too much of a mess but if I could have one wish for another life if that be our fate it would be a favorable rebirth in a really wholesome monastery and at least 6 hours of meditation a day and the most of the rest at work in the garden, far far away from the madding crowd. If nothingness is inevitable anyway, then Nietzsche’s stance of affirming life seems like the only reasonable and most noble response. The upshot of Schopenhauer's philosophy is a dark, and profoundly pessimistic, picture of the human condition wherein redemptive possibilities must rely solely on human consciousness, on the denial of the manifest world, and on self-abnegation or complete suspension of the will-to-live through that freedom which consciousness is. Upon this interface, Vanden Auweele develops a comprehensive survey of Schopenhauer's philosophy that reviews his epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, religion, aesthetics, and asceticism with an eye towards introducing Kantian themes for comparison, contrast, and further illumination of Schopenhauer's views. Schopenhauer's philosophy has in recognising the world's absurdity a certain acceptance and jouissance. The image of Orpheus confirms that the Greek myths recognize a relationship between aesthetic experience and the reduction of the suffering that arises from unfulfilled desire. and his Pessimistic Philosophy. Vanden Auweele's second entrance into Schopenhauer's pessimism is through the notion of freedom, understood in terms of a conflict between two kinds of freedom -- rationally-grounded and non-rationally-grounded -- that Kant sets forth. We are forever searching for a kindred spirit. Arthur Schopenhauer 's pessimism comes from his elevating of Will above reason as the mainspring of human thought and behavior. In other words- does this pessimism fit my bleak view of human nature and the world rather than challenge the notion that all is well with the universe. Perhaps his recommendations for living have the potential to be useful for those who would normally run a mile from advice on how to be happy. Schopenhauer himself, however, regarded the concept of the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae with hostility, tracing it back to the Book of Genesis and blaming it as the philosophical source for all of his troubles with academia. Schopenhauer was willing nothing, rather than not willing at all. Your email address will not be published. These can be understood as contending conceptions of freedom as self-determination. The pretty standard interpretation of Nietzsche. Thank you. The will, as thing-in-itself, lies outside of the principle of sufficient reason (in all its forms) and is thus groundless (though each of the will's phenomena is subject to that principle). Schopenhauer's peculiar historical position renders him appropriate for this kind of study: his methodology in The World as Will and Representation (1818) adheres to Aristotelian logic, as does Kant's, and never steps squarely into the early 19th century German idealist style of dialectical reason. Furthermore, Schopenhauer says, with the exception of Plato, they all equated this task with providing a guide to a happy life. Firstly, thank you for writing / creating content such as the above. 165-166). What can I learn more about this? Schopenhauer’s pessimistic vision follows from his account of the inner nature of the world as aimless blind striving.Because the will has no goal or purpose, the will’s satisfaction is impossible. Schopenhauer the pessimist is famous. Accessibility Information. Your email address will not be published. The only art that is in direct contact with Will on Schopenhauer's view is music. “Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, “’On the Sufferings of the World’” Pessimists, though, will recognise a kindred spirit when they hear his views of people and the world we live in. Vanden Auweele states that "I do not believe that Eastern wisdom has a privileged place as a formative influence of Schopenhauer's philosophy" (p. 13). Or is there? Absurd (roughly) as defined by Camus. There are occasions, though, where the conceptualizations are confusing. From the standpoint of Schopenhauer interpretation, perhaps this book's most questionable aspect is its understanding of the culminating point of Schopenhauer's philosophy, namely, ascetic awareness that arises from the denial-of-the-will. ISSN: 1538 - 1617 (2) there is no meaning or purpose to existence; When he first read Schopenhauer in 1865, he was so receptive to this philosophy that he felt as if Schopenhauer wrote just for him. While Cioran from his teenage years onwards never wavered in … I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange, Schopenhauer believed that desires cause suffering and, consequently, he favored asceticism—a lifestyle of negating desires or a denying the will similar to the teachings of Buddhism and Vedanta. He sought to teach us how to live tranquil lives, despite this terrible chaos. Reviewed by Robert Wicks, The University of Auckland. Unlike the compassionate person, whose field of moral activity is worldly and who helps reduce the suffering of other individuals, the ascetic strikes not at instances of suffering in the spatio-temporal world, but at the ultimate source of suffering, namely, Will itself, working with moral profundity to reduce suffering at its metaphysical root. He didn’t just bask in unhappiness! By clearly showing what makes up the ‘pessimism’ of a ‘pessimistic religion’, Schopenhauer’s own philosophical pessimism can be clarified since he posits a strict correlation between the truth of (proper) philosophy and (pessimistic) religion. Schopenhauer’s work was dense and his language assertive. This is one of the book's leading pessimistic affinities between Kant and Schopenhauer. Second, Schopenhauer’s philosophy appears to have an internal inconsistency: According to Schopenhauer, life is suffering; faced with this fact, he proposes Indian asceticism as the proper response: we ought to deny ourselves the will-to-live. The chapter on Schopenhauer's ethics also draws a resonant connection to Schopenhauer's account of the disgusting in art, where it points out that, on a broader level, feelings of disgust are definitive of Schopenhauer's considered moral attitude towards Will as thing-in-itself, since Will is the ultimate reason for the existence of suffering (p. 142). Schopenhauer’s advice is interesting because it is so incredibly contrarian. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. The ascetic condition is consequently the highest and most hopeful good that a person can achieve as a living being in the hellish spatio-temporal world, for it dissolves the individual self for the sake of quietistically diminishing the morally repulsive energy of Will as thing-in-itself. Second to support Dr John Messerly on Patreon the list reasonable and noble. Come listen all! arthur Schopenhauer 's aesthetic theory one transforms the world... 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