- Schopenhauer, Arthur
- Arthur Schopenhauer Kathleen M.Higgins Despite a recent surge of philosophical interest, Arthur Schopenhauer remains one of the most underappreciated philosophers of modern times. He has arguably had a greater influence on subsequent philosophy and intellectual history than any other figure. The richness of Schopenhauer’s thought is suggested even by a perusal of the intellectual world’s reactions. Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Richard Wagner, and Woody Allen all claim him as their intellectual and/or spiritual ancestor. Such influential concepts as Wittgenstein’s “family resemblance,”1 Nietzsche’s “will to power”2 and “eternal recurrence,”3 and Freud’s “libido”4 all develop from ideas originally suggested by Schopenhauer. Yet Schopenhauer’s philosophy has often been dismissed as being of mere historical interest. One explanation is that Schopenhauer is an emphatically systematic thinker. In claiming that his philosophy is an “organic” whole, composed of elements that stand or fall together, Schopenhauer invites the reader who rejects a part of it to reject the theory in toto.5 In light of his insistence on complete resignation, extreme asceticism, and sexual abstinence as the only alternative to a life of futile struggling, many readers understandably balk at embracing his theory wholesale. Another explanation for Schopenhauer’s unpopularity is the reaction of many readers to his personality. Bertrand Russell, who criticizes Schopenhauer’s philosophy for “inconsistency and a certain shallowness,” seems most indignant about Schopenhauer’s character. After complaining about the internal tensions in Schopenhauer’s doctrine of resignation, Russell continues: Nor is the doctrine sincere, if we may judge by Schopenhauer’s life. He habitually dined well, at a good restaurant; he had many trivial love-affairs, which were sensual but not passionate; he was exceedingly quarrelsome and unusually avaricious. On one occasion he was annoyed by an elderly seamstress who was talking to a friend outside the door of his apartment. He threw her downstairs, causing her permanent injury. She obtained a court order compelling him to pay her a certain sum (15 thalers) every quarter as long as she lived. When at last she died, after twenty years, he noted in his accountbook: “Obit anus, abit onus.” [“The old woman dies; the burden departs.”] It is hard to find in his life evidence of any virtue except kindness to animals, which he carried to the point of objecting to vivisection in the interests of science. In all other respects he was completely selfish.6 Russell’s sense of virtue is probably quite different from Schopenhauer’s. But even if Russell is not entirely fair in his attack, Schopenhauer’s biography suggests grounds for ad hominem attack. Russell’s anecdote alone suggests an impulsive, willful personality, a matter worth comment in one convinced, as is Schopenhauer, that Will is the fundamental metaphysical principle of the world.7 Schopenhauer’s system and, in particular, his denunciation of sex as the focal expression of the will and guarantor of human unhappiness prompt Nietzsche to remind his readers: In all questions concerning the Schopenhauerian philosophy, one should, by the bye, never lose sight of the consideration that it is the conception of a youth of twenty-six, so that it participates not only in what is peculiar to Schopenhauer’s life, but what is peculiar to that special period of his life.8 Whether or not one considers such ad hominems to be legitimate in philosophical argumentation, Schopenhauer’s writings present a psychological puzzle.9 Although misanthropic and barbed in his tone, Schopenhauer advocates an ethic of compassion. Despite his elitism, he insists that all individuals are manifestations of the identical Will. Consistently analyzing the world’s phenomena as manifestations of futility, Schopenhauer nonetheless describes them with voluptuous enthusiasm. He displays great wit and insight into human behavior—and yet he shows no sign of self-irony. Perhaps it was this last feature of Schopenhauer’s work that moved the youthful Nietzsche to describe him as motivated by the need “for love above everything else.”10 SCHOPENHAUER’S LIFE AND WORKS Schopenhauer’s biography at least sheds light on his intellectual breadth. Schopenhauer was born in Danzig on 22 February 1788 to a cosmopolitan couple, consisting of Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, a prominent merchant, and Johanna Henriette Trosiener, a successful novelist. Heinrich’s penchant for travel and unconventional views on schooling led to Schopenhauer’s receiving a rather nomadic education. He lived in Hamburg from ages 5 to 9, spent the following two years in France, and subsequently spent two more years traveling the world with his parents and sister, briefly attending a British boarding school in Wimbledon. As a result of this globe-trotting lifestyle, Schopenhauer developed fluency in several languages and his own predilection for travel. Schopenhauer’s father died, apparently through suicide, when Schopenhauer was 17. Schopenhauer briefly attempted to fulfill a promise to his father that he would become a merchant; but concluding after two years that this career choice didn’t suit him, he abandoned that career for classical studies. He began these at Gotha, but transferred to Weimar, where his mother lived. Schopenhauer and his mother were constant antagonists who could not bear to live in the same house. Indeed, Schopenhauer’s misogynist comments, directed in particular at the modern “ladies” of Europe, may stem from this relationship to his mother.11 Despite his dislike for her, however, Schopenhauer frequently visited her and her salon during this period, which included some of the most celebrated literary figures of the time (Goethe, Schlegel, and the brothers Grimm among them). When he received his considerable inheritance at the age of 21, Schopenhauer began medical studies at the University of Göttingen. His growing interest in philosophy prompted him to transfer to the University of Berlin, where Fichte was professor. Schopenhauer found the lectures of both Fichte and his colleague Schleiermacher wanting, however, a conclusion reiterated in footnotes to virtually all of his subsequent works. The proximity of battle during the Napoleonic Wars prompted Schopenhauer’s next move, to a small town called Rudolstadt, near Weimar. There he wrote his dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (1813), which was awarded the doctorate by the University of Jena. Schopenhauer’s private printing of the thesis did not win him a large readership. Nevertheless, Goethe read and praised it. In response to their subsequence conversations, Schopenhauer wrote a short book entitled On Vision and Colors (1815). After returning to Weimar and briefly living with his mother, Schopenhauer completely severed his relation with her, never to see her again. He moved to Dresden, where he wrote the central statement of his philosophical theory, The World as Will and Representation (1818). The book was by no means a bestseller, but Schopenhauer’s publication record was strong enough to gain him a lectureship in philosophy at the University of Berlin. Hegel, object of Schopenhauer’s considerable scorn, had inherited Fichte’s chair. By scheduling his courses at times when Hegel was also lecturing, Schopenhauer forced his students to choose between himself and Hegel. The predictable result was that the students chose Hegel, with the consequence that Schopenhauer’s lectures were canceled. The independently wealthy Schopenhauer never again sought an academic position; indeed, he consistently disparaged academic philosophy in his writings. The cholera epidemic that killed Hegel in 1831 inspired the somewhat hypochondriacal Schopenhauer to make his final move, this time to Frankfurt. He devoted his remaining years to writing and traveling. His works of this period include “On the Will in Nature” (1836) and “On the Foundation of Morality,” which were conjoined in The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics (1841); the second edition of The World as Will and Representation, together with a second volume of supplementary essays (1844); a revised and enlarged edition of On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (1847); and a collection of essays entitled Parerga and Paralipomena (“Supplementary Works and Omitted Material”) (1851). Schopenhauer lived to see his works become popular in his waning years. He died on 21 September 1860. SCHOPENHAUER’S GRAND SYNTHESIS Schopenhauer’s principal statement of his philosophical system is The World as Will and Representation, Volume I. Although he added subsequent essays in the years following its publication, these only elaborated on positions he initially stated in that volume. Schopenhauer never disavowed any detail of his initial formulations. As he announced in his Preface to the book’s second edition: “I have altered nothing.”12 Schopenhauer’s Preface to the first edition of The World as Will and Representation reveals a demanding author. Schopenhauer insists that the book is the development of a single thought, and that the first chapters depend as much on the last as the other way around. Hence, he insists that the reader must read the entire book twice. In addition, since he is presupposing the work he had done in his dissertation, Schopenhauer also requires that his readers be familiar with On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (and ideally with On Vision and Colors as well). Finally, he requests that the reader have thorough familiarity with the writings of Kant, and preferably with Plato’s dialogues and the Upanishads as well. These last requirements give a hint as to what will follow. Schopenhauer’s system aims to synthesize the philosophies of Kant, Plato, and India (in particular Buddhistic philosophy). The common denominator of the three is a distinction between the world of everyday appearances and a truer reality, ascertainable by the human mind. In order to accomplish his grand synthesis, Schopenhauer has to modify considerably the works from which he draws inspiration. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that for all his curmudgeonly complaints about most other human beings, Schopenhauer expresses awe for his heroes.13 (In fact, he decorated his rather sparse living quarters in Frankfurt with a bust of Kant and a statue of the Buddha.)14 The essential moves involved in Schopenhauer’s synthesis are as follows. Schopenhauer accepts Kant’s distinction between the phenomenal world and the noumenal world. The former is called, in Schopenhauer’s idealistic scheme, the world as representation, for it is composed of objects constituted by the forms imposed by the conscious mind. The noumenal world, or thing-in-itself, is the reality underlying the world as representation. Schopenhauer disagrees with Kant that the thing-in-itself is inaccessible to us. Instead, he points out that each of us, in our own case, recognizes an immediate reality behind the phenomenal behavior of our own body. This inner reality is “will.” Schopenhauer extends this inner reality to all phenomena, concluding that “Will” is the thing-in-itself.15 Although the entire phenomenal world is a manifestation of “Will,” Schopenhauer maintains that the Will manifests itself to various degrees in different types of things. He invokes the Platonic Ideas (or Forms) to account for the different forms of the Will’s manifestation. Following Plato, he argues that everyday human awareness usually focuses on particular things, not on their eternal, universal prototypes. However, in aesthetic experience, the individual sees the object as the Platonic Idea, and in the process raises him- or herself to the condition of “the universal subject of knowledge.” In aesthetic experience, the willful character of our inner life is silenced. Aesthetic experience, therefore, affords the human being brief moments of inner peace. Schopenhauer places high value on inner peace, and this valuation prompts him to incorporate insights from Indian philosophy into his system. Although the Will is the fundamental metaphysical principle behind all phenomena, its internal struggling character ensures that its phenomenal manifestations will themselves be characterized by struggle and suffering. Schopenhauer follows Buddhism in concluding that the only way to stop suffering is to stop desiring. Hence, he contends that resignation and the asceticism that arises from it are the only alternative to a life of continuing suffering. Resignation is the outlook attained by the human being who fully grasps that the same Will is the inner reality within all phenomena. When one has fully incorporated this insight, one is no longer capable of competing or struggling with other phenomena. One achieves in this case the ideal that lies at the core of all religions—the ideal of compassion toward all other beings, in the full recognition that all are, in reality, one. THE WORLD AS REPRESENTATION AND THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON Let us now consider Schopenhauer’s system in more detail. Schopenhauer begins The World as Will and Representation with a clear statement of his idealism.” ‘The world is my representation’: this is a truth valid with reference to every living and knowing being, although man alone can bring it into reflective, abstract consciousness.”16 The existence of the world as it appears to us—the world as representation—is entirely contingent on consciousness. True to his word, Schopenhauer begins his analysis of the world as representation by presupposing the account that he had given in On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Indeed, he asserts the world of representation is entirely governed by the principle of sufficient reason, a principle which he simply assumes. This principle, although variously formulated, essentially contends that there is a sufficient reason for every phenomenon. In one formulation Schopenhauer states that the principle holds that “every possible object… stands in a necessary relation to other objects, on the one hand as determined, on the other as determining.”17 The principle of sufficient reason establishes that all objects that are represented for the conscious mind stand in a nexus of connection with one another. Thus, every represented object can be entirely explained in terms of its relation to other objects. In his dissertation Schopenhauer describes the different forms that the principle of sufficient reason takes in relating the four possible types of objects to their grounds. The four types of objects he analyzes are those of being, becoming, knowing, and acting, a list which he takes to be exhaustive of possible objects. By considering these sequentially, we can observe much about the structure of the Schopenhauerian world as representation. As representation, the world is subject to the Kantian forms of intuition, time and space. These are forms essential to the constitution of all objects by consciousness, and they individuate the world into particular, individual objects. For this reason, Schopenhauer sometimes refers to time and space as the principium individuationis (the principle of individuation). He also designates them “the ground of being” because of their fundamental role in securing the possibility of the world that we perceive. When Schopenhauer considers the principle of sufficient reason as it pertains to “being,” he has time and space in mind. The principle of sufficient reason pertains to our intuitions of time and space by establishing that positions within time and space exist in a nexus, mutually determining each other. In other words, the location of objects in time and space can be determined only in relation to other locations. Schopenhauer takes the existence of mathematics to reflect the lawlike interrelation of positions in the time-space continuum. Arithmetic focuses on relationships within time (for Schopenhauer sees it as originating in counting, which deals directly with succession in time). Geometry focuses on relationships within space. Geometric proofs depend on the principle of sufficient reason, for they draw on the fact that certain relationships imply others. The representations of consciousness include both intuitive and abstract representations. Among the objects that are directly intuited are both objects of perception and the conditions of their possibility. These latter include time and space, and also causality. The law of causality is the form that the principle of sufficient reason takes in connection with perceptual objects, whose character Schopenhauer analyzes in terms of “becoming.” Causes, for Schopenhauer, have to do with changes of states over time. In order for change to occur within time, something must undergo the change. Schopenhauer considers the persisting object of change to be matter. He even defines matter as “the perceivability of time and space.”18 Matter and causality are conflatable, for “matter is absolutely nothing but causality…its being is its acting.”19 The “acting” that concerns Schopenhauer in this connection is the action of perceptual objects on our bodies. By means of these effects, we come to know causes. Causes provide the ground for given states of perceptual objects. Thus they are the form of connection that the principle of sufficient reason provides between representations of this type. One might ask, at this juncture, how we come to know causes. Schopenhauer, like Kant, contends that perception is intellectual, for it essentially involves the understanding as well as sensation.20 But Schopenhauer’s conception of understanding differs from Kant’s. Kant considers the understanding to be the faculty that applies principles of judgment to representations. Schopenhauer considers the understanding to be a faculty that leaps from a represented effect to its cause. At times Schopenhauer argues that apprehension of causality is the sole operation of the understanding.21 Schopenhauer attributes understanding to animals, as well as to human beings, maintaining that the “most sagacious animals” (e.g. dogs, monkeys, elephants, and foxes) give us an accurate picture of what the understanding can achieve without the assistance of reason.22 Because causality is among the forms that constitute the world as representation, the world as representation exists only insofar as the understanding of at least one animal or human being is in operation. Reason is the faculty, uniquely possessed by human beings, that enables them to form abstract representations, or concepts, the third possible object of consciousness that Schopenhauer considers. Concepts are “representations of representations.” Thus, they are derived from perception. Many particulars (known through perception) can, at least in principle, be thought under a given concept, for concepts are essentially abstract and universal. Any concept can therefore be said to have a range. The faculty of judgment determines the relations among the ranges of various concepts. “Knowing” is a matter of determining the truth of given judgments. The principle of sufficient reason ensures that every true judgment can be referred to a ground, and that truth can be established by this means. The particular form of the ground for a judgment depends on the type of judgment being made. Logical truths are grounded in other judgments; material truths are grounded empirically; transcendental truths are grounded in the conditions of the possibility of experience; and metalogical truths are grounded in the formal conditions of thought (the laws of identity, excluded middle, and contradiction, and the principle of sufficient reason). Despite the fact that Schopenhauer credits judgment with the ability to interrelate concepts in a way that yields knowledge, he has little enthusiasm for the abstract articulation of such relationships in logic. “It is merely knowing in the abstract what everyone knows in the concrete.”23 Logic has no practical use, although Schopenhauer is willing to declare it “perfectly safe.”24 The only useful role of logic, according to Schopenhauer, is to assist philosophers in gaining insight into the nature of reason—and this should be their concern in their logical investigations. The fourth type of object that Schopenhauer considers to be governed by the principle of sufficient reason, the object of “action,” is the self as a willing being. In this case, the ground of action is a motive. Motives determine only the external results of willing—actions within the world as representation. The inner reality involved in willing will be discussed in connection with the world as Will. In every case, the principle of sufficient reason pertains only to objects in the world as representation. It does not govern the thing-in-itself. Schopenhauer utilizes this distinction to dismiss a number of traditional philosophical positions. Among these are all views regarding what Schopenhauer calls “the foolish controversy about the reality of the external world.”25 Because causality operates only within the phenomenal world, i.e. the world as representation, Schopenhauer argues, causality obtains only between objects, not between subject and object. The real object is always a representation of consciousness. Therefore, it is nonsense to seek (as do all who concern themselves with the problem of the external world’s existence) a “real” object outside the phenomenal realm.26 Schopenhauer dismisses materialism on similar grounds. The materialist attempts to explain consciousness by reference to a prior material ground. But “matter” is, as we have seen, one of the forms fundamental to the thinking subject’s capacity for representation. Without the thinking subject and the forms that it uses to constitute its representations, “matter” evaporates.” ‘No object without subject,’ is the principle that renders all materialism for ever impossible.”27 THE AMBIVALENCE OF REASON Reason affords the human being unique possibilities, unavailable to animals. Through reason, human beings can transcend their own understanding. Unlike animals, who are motivated only by what they perceive directly, humans can be motivated by abstract ideas. They are also able to choose among motives because reason can represent several simultaneously. This transcendence enables the human being to have a sense of time, and to plan for the future. The use of words as tokens for concepts, an essential characteristic of rational beings, facilitates the formulation and preservation of knowledge, which in turn can be put to use in actualizing human plans. Schopenhauer is less enthusiastic about reason, however, than most of his fellow philosophers. Reason introduces error, care, and doubt into human experience. By virtue of reason, human beings can lose touch with their perceptions and behave much more foolishly than animals can act. Along with consciousness of time, reason produces consciousness of death, and the dread that goes with it. Schopenhauer considers reason’s proper role in human experience to be relatively modest. Rational knowledge fixes “in concepts of reason what is known generally in another way.”28 Thus, reason does not, strictly speaking, yield knowledge; instead, it reproduces perceptual knowledge in an alternative form. The value of reason’s alternative mode of formulation is primarily that it enhances the communicability and preservation of knowledge. The price, however, is a sacrifice of some of the fineness of perceptual knowledge, such as that which an expert billiard player or musician can employ in practice. The concepts of reason are also insufficient to produce art, which depends on the artist’s perceptual acumen. Even in behavior, the concepts of reason are deceptively clear, lacking the finegrained character of perceptual knowledge. Schopenhauer concludes that reason, while essential and useful in human life, must never gain the upper hand over perception. In this, he opposes not only the philosophical commonplace that reason is the pride of humanity. He also opposes the common ethical view that reason should be entrusted with control of one’s behavior. Reason is so far from being a trustworthy guide in behavior that Schopenhauer considers it to be an essential presupposition of folly. He analyzes the ludicrous, the ground of all humor, as arising from the incongruity of reason’s concepts in relation to real objects. Behavioral foolishness, like other forms of humor, occurs when one interprets an object in terms of a single concept, but suddenly perceives that the object has one or more characteristics that are incompatible with that concept. Thus, to appropriate a joke from Kant’s Critique of Judgment, the man who complained about the mourners at his loved one’s funeral, on the grounds that they kept looking happier the more he paid them to look sad, makes a conceptual error. He interprets the mourners’ expressions as being the services for which he pays them, and he ignores the fact that their expressions might literally “express” their pleasure at being paid.29 Building on this analysis, Schopenhauer labels “foolish” those principled moralists who see reason as the appropriate ethical guide: Pedantry…arises from a man’s having little confidence in his own understanding, and therefore not liking to leave things to its discretion, to recognize directly what is right in the particular case. Accordingly, he puts his understanding entirely under the guardianship of his reason, and makes use therefore on all occasion; in other words, he wants always to start from general concepts, rules, and maxims, and to stick strictly to these in life, in art, and even in ethical good conduct…. The incongruity between the concept and reality soon shows itself, as the former never descends to the particular case, and its universality and rigid definiteness can never accurately apply to reality’s fine shades of difference and its innumerable modifications. Therefore the pedant with his general maxims almost always comes off badly in life, and shows himself foolish, absurd, and incompetent. Even Kant, whom Schopenhauer largely admires, is convicted by this analysis: We cannot entirely exonerate Kant from the reproach of causing moral pedantry, in so far as he makes it a condition of the moral worth of an action that it be done from purely rational abstract maxims without any inclination or momentary emotion.30 Schopenhauer’s insistence on the primacy of perception over reason extends to his analysis of science. Science aims at complete knowledge in the abstract of some particular species of objects. It is concerned with the form of knowledge, for it aims at facilitating and completing (i.e. systematically connecting and hierarchizing) what is known about its objects. Perception, however, being the ultimate source of knowledge, is also the basis of science. All scientific evidence derives ultimately from intuitive perception. As a systematic employment of reason, science is subject to the limitations inherent to abstract thought. Frequently, science makes use of proofs, which involve the deduction of new consequences from previously accepted propositions. Proofs do not establish the certainty of their conclusions, for the truth of a conclusion depends on the truth of the premises. The conclusion of an abstract chain of reasoning, moreover, is never really new knowledge; it is only an exposition of what the premises already imply. “Proofs are generally less for those who want to learn than for those who want to dispute.” Schopenhauer is so thoroughly convinced that reason is subordinate to perception that he believes that every truth ascertained through proof or syllogism is, in principle, recognizable through direct perception as well.31 He recommends a strategy of teaching geometric truths through direct observation of geometrical figures. This he prefers to Euclid’s method of proof from axioms, “a very brilliant piece of perversity.” Schopenhauer likens Euclid’s approach to “a conjuring trick” that brings truth in “almost always…by the back door, since it follows per accidens from some minor circumstance.”32 Through direct perception we can see both that something is so and why it is so, according to Schopenhauer, while with Euclid’s method, we see only the former. Science, insofar as it aims to explain things, is concerned ultimately with the principle of sufficient reason. Explanation establishes the relations of phenomena with one another, a relation always determined by the principle of sufficient reason. In every case, however, the systematic pursuit of explanation stops, confronted either with the necessary truths fundamental to our basic forms of knowledge or with “an accepted qualitas occulta (‘occult quality’), which is entirely obscure.”33 Primary concepts of science, such as weight, cohesion, and chemical properties, as well as the inner nature of a human being, are all qualitates occultae. Such occult qualities establish the limits of every science. Schopenhauer sees these as indications of the thing-in-itself, which appears in them. The thing-in-itself is the inner reality that science cannot explain. It is thus the absolute limit that science cannot penetrate. THE WILL AS THING-IN-ITSELF, THE INNER LIFE OF OBJECTS Schopenhauer’s account of the world as representation presupposes a third-person point of view. But what is the real significance of the world as representation? Schopenhauer observes, regarding the world’s phenomena, that “these pictures or images do not march past us strange and meaningless…but speak to us directly, are understood, and acquire an interest that engrosses our whole nature.”34 Yet if we restrict our attention to what Schopenhauer considers in his account of the world as representation, our interest in these phenomena is mysterious. Our own position seems a bit like that of a man who, without knowing how, is brought into a company quite unknown to him, each member of which in turn presents to him another as his friend and cousin, and thus makes them sufficiently acquainted. The man himself, however, while assuring each person introduced of his pleasure at meeting him, always has on his lips the question: “But how the deuce do I stand to the whole company?”35 The key to resolving this question regarding our relationship to phenomena is the status of our own bodies. Each of us is not merely the consciousness for whom the world as representation exists. We are not only consciousness, but embodied. The body to which each consciousness is attached has an odd relationship to the world as representation. On the one hand, the body is itself a representation, which behaves much like other representations. On the other hand, the body seems to be moved by an inner mechanism. This inner mechanism, according to Schopenhauer, is aptly designated “will.” Schopenhauer takes sexual desire to be a paradigmatic manifestation of this inner will.36 The will is demanding, persistent, discontented, and perpetually goal-oriented. Insofar as one has desires, one has will, according to Schopenhauer. The will connects us to the world as representation; it gives us “interests.” We take an interest in our world because it provides objects, instruments, and obstructions in connection with our various desires and projects. The individual’s direct knowledge of his or her body has two aspects. The individual experiences inner acts of will; yet these acts of will are simultaneously acts of the body. Schopenhauer concludes that the body is “nothing but the objectified will, i.e. will that has become representation.” From the point of view of the world as representation, it is “the immediate object,” but from the point of view afforded by one’s inner awareness, it is “the objectivity of the will.”37 Schopenhauer indicates several corollaries to his principle that the will and the body are one. First, willing and acting are one and the same. “Only the carrying out stamps the resolve; till then, it is always a mere intention that can be altered; it exists only in reason, in the abstract.”38 Second, pleasure and pain are not representations, but impressions of the will through the body. Such impressions are pleasure when they accord with the will, pain when they contradict the will. Third, every emotion, which Schopenhauer defines as a “vehement and excessive movement of the will,” directly “agitates the body and its inner workings,” thereby disturbing its vital functions.39 Fourth, one cannot separate one’s knowledge of the will from one’s knowledge of the body and its individual acts in time. Thus, one cannot observe one’s will as a whole, in its timeless reality.40 Schopenhauer considers the individual’s direct knowledge of the will within the body to be knowledge of what the body is in itself. In this respect, our bodies afford access to the thing-in-itself, the realm that Kant denies to knowledge. Schopenhauer’s approach here raises a conceptual problem. He accepts Kant’s claim that the thing-in-itself does not admit of plurality. Yet in appealing to each individual’s insight into the inner mechanism of his or her own body, Schopenhauer seems to have indicated an “inner reality” that still admits of plurality. He goes on to argue that the inner life that each individual recognizes in the body is a single life common to all. But how do we get from the plurality of inner “wills” to the unified thing-in-itself? Schopenhauer’s statements regarding the relationship of particulars to the Will are not particularly illuminating: “only the will is thing-in-itself…. It is the innermost essence, the kernel, of every particular thing and also of the whole.”41 Schopenhauer’s argument for extending the concept of “will” to refer to the inner reality of all phenomena is similarly problematic. He defends this move by arguing that one has only two options. Either one can account for one’s unique access to the inner life of one’s own body by claiming that it is the only object that is both will and representation. This course would amount to solipsism, or theoretical egoism, the conviction that one’s own being is the only real being. Or the individual can assume that all objects have a similar inner reality, and that while one’s relationship to one’s body is unique, the body itself is not. Serious theoretical egoism being a form of insanity, Schopenhauer dismisses the former alternative as a view that requires “not so much a refutation as a cure.”42 He concludes that one is warranted in granting to every other phenomenal object a reality comparable to that of one’s own body. Thus, Schopenhauer exends the term “will,” which seems apt for the inner life of our own bodies, to refer to the inner nature of all objects. Schopenhauer’s primary defense of this extension is that we have no better alternative. He believes that we naturally tend to anthropomorphize our world because anthropomorphic metaphors convey the most to us. “Will,” accordingly, conveys more to us than any other term we could use. “Force” might be thought a viable alternative. But we have no insight into the basic forces of nature at all, Schopenhauer insists. They are qualitates occultae, completely unfathomable to us. By contrast, the word “will” refers to the most distinct form in which the reality underlying all phenomena appears to us. Thus, “will” is the most meaningful term we could use to name the inner reality of all things. Schopenhauer considers the inner reality of other phenomena to be thoroughly comparable with our own. “Spinoza (Epist. 62) says that if a stone projected through the air had consciousness, it would imagine it was flying of its own will. I add merely that the stone would be right.”43 Schopenhauer points out, however, that in calling the inner nature of all objects, including inanimate ones, “Will,” he does not mean to attribute sentience and conscious motives to all of them. Will operates differently in different types of objects. Only in humans and animals does it employ motives determined by knowledge. The stimuli that prompt most organic processes and the causes that occasion inorganic ones are mechanisms that do not involve knowledge. Nevertheless, despite the differences among these forms of causation, the Will is operative through all of them. NO FREE WILL Because he believes that motives determine the will in human beings, Schopenhauer denies that human beings have free will. An individual’s actions are completely determined by motives in conjunction with his or her character. Schopenhauer follows Kant in distinguishing the empirical character, the character of the individual as it appears in phenomenon, from the intelligible character, the character as it is in itself, outside of time and space. Schopenhauer considers the latter to be a timeless, unalterable act of the Will, which is manifest in empirical behavior over time. The empirical character accurately objectifies the intelligible character: “the man…will always will in the particular what he wills on the whole.”44 But it does this gradually; and the precise forms through which it manifests the intelligible character are in part determined by the entirely contingent features of circumstances. Given that the empirical character, motives, and one’s actions are all among the objects of representation, causality obtains among them. Hence, in principle, a causal account can be given to explain any of an individual’s actions. However, in practice such accounts are limited. In the first place, human beings possess more striking individuality than do any other kind of beings. The range of human characters is considerable. Hence, one needs considerable knowledge of a particular person’s character, in addition to knowledge of the motive, in order to predict what that person will do in a given case. Moreover, the knowledge that one can have is knowledge of the empirical character, which is not the character of the individual in itself, but only the appearance of the latter over time. In the case of those whom we have known well for a long time, we may be fairly competent predictors of behavior. But we come to know the empirical character only through its actions, after the fact; thus, our knowledge is limited. This is as true of one’s own character as of any other individual’s. Knowledge even of one’s own character is a considerable achievement. Schopenhauer labels such gradually accumulated knowledge of what one wills and what one can do “acquired character.” Such knowledge enables one to direct one’s actions consistently and effectively toward satisfaction of one’s will, for it allows one to recognize in advance what courses of action are worth attempting, given one’s own limitations. Our ignorance, even of our own characters, leads many to believe that human beings have free will. Because we lack sufficient information to predict our own and others’ behavior accurately, we cannot see that it follows absolutely from the interaction of character and motive. Moreover, because we engage in deliberation, the abstract contemplation of multiple motives, each of which recommends a different course of action, we tend to feel as though the ensuing action is in suspension until we choose. “But,” claims Schopenhauer, this is just the same as if we were to say in the case of a vertical pole, thrown off its balance and hesitating which way to fall, that “it can topple over to the right or to the left”…this “can” has only a subjective significance, and really means “in view of the data known to us.” For objectively, the direction of the fall is necessarily determined as soon as the hesitation takes place. Accordingly, the decision of one’s own will is undetermined only for its spectator, one’s own intellect, and therefore only relatively and subjectively…. In itself and objectively, on the other hand, the decision is at once determined and necessary in the case of every choice presented to it.45 The true situation is reflected by our own attitudes regarding freedom. Schopenhauer observes that everyone considers himself to be a priori quite free, even in his individual actions, and imagines he can at any moment enter upon a different way of life, which is equivalent to saying that he can become a different person. But a posteriori through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but liable to necessity; that notwithstanding all his resolutions and reflections he does not change his conduct, and that from the beginning to the end of his life he must bear the same character that he himself condemns, and, as it were, must play to the end the part he has taken upon himself.46 The explanation lies in the fact that as individuals our actions are completely determined by our characters and a motive. However, because our own inner reality is the Will, which is not constrained by causality, we feel the Will’s freedom within ourselves and mistakenly associate it with our own individuality. What the Will freely does, however, is to assign to each of us a character, which we have no power to alter. We are also incapable of explaining why an individual has the particular character he or she does, for the Will is not subject to causality, and thus is not constrained by anything in its selection of this character. Thus, no explanation can be provided as to why an individual is motivated by the particular motive he or she is. Our account of human behavior is necessarily limited. In this respect, human behavior is akin to the behavior of everything else in the phenomenal world. All rests on qualitates occultae which cannot be further illuminated. PLATONIC IDEAS We have already observed that Schopenhauer’s account of the unity of the thing-in-itself does not square easily with the plural points of departure we are told to use to infer it. Schopenhauer touches on the problem of bridging the noumenal and phenomenal realms in his appeal to the Platonic theory of the Forms, or “Platonic Ideas.” Schopenhauer attempts to clarify the Will’s relationship to its plural manifestations by arguing that it does not make sense to say that “more” will is in the human being than in the stone. “More” and “less” depend on the spatial form in which the representation appears and have to do only with the will’s objectification, not with the Will itself. The inner life of each thing is “present whole and undivided” within it.47 However, it is appropriate to say that the Will is objectified to a higher degree in the human being than in the stone. The Platonic Ideas are the immediate objectivity of the Will at particular grades, or degrees. The Platonic Ideas are for Schopenhauer, as for Plato, the unchanging eternal patterns, or Forms, in which the innumerable, transient particulars of the phenomenal world participate. Every particular Idea, in Schopenhauer’s usage, is a definite “grade of the will’s objectification…related to individual things as their eternal forms, or as their prototypes.”48 These are, according to Schopenhauer, intuitively graspable by perception, not mediated by the abstractions of reason. The “location” of the Platonic Ideas in relation to the noumenal and phenomenal worlds (i.e. the world as Will and the world as representation) is a bit confusing. The Platonic Ideas are outside time and space, and hence not in the world as representation. On the other hand, they are multiple, while the Will is not. Perhaps the best way to understand the Ideas’ “bridging” of the world as Will and the world as representation is to envision the Ideas as windows through which the Will has access to the world as representation. Of course, the world as representation is entirely a manifestation of the Will, according to Schopenhauer. Thus, the window image is misleading, in that it makes the world as Will and the world as representation seem more distinct than they are in Schopenhauer’s scheme. Although the Platonic Ideas and the thing-in-itself are not identical, Schopenhauer considers them “very closely related,” being two “paths leading to one goal.”49 He concludes that the most paradoxical concepts in the thought of Plato and Kant—the Forms and the thing-in-itself—are thus reflections of essentially the same insight: the inner meaning of both doctrines is wholly the same; that both declare the visible world to be a phenomenon which in itself is void and empty, and which has meaning and borrowed reality only through the thing that expresses itself in it (the thing-in-itself in the one case, the Idea in the other).50 The unity of the Platonic Idea in all its phenomena is, according to Schopenhauer, what is meant by “a law of nature.” Laws of nature relate the Idea to the forms of representation. Because both the Idea and the conditions of its representability are constant, a law of nature holds for all the phenomena it governs, without exception. What acts in any such case is an inexplicable natural force. The “cause” involved determines only when and where a particular natural force has the occasion to exhibit itself in a particular piece of matter. The Platonic Ideas, according to Schopenhauer, comprise a hierarchy of discrete levels. The “lowest” grades of the Will’s objedification are the universal forces of nature. Among these are gravity and impenetrability, which govern all matter. Schopenhauer also includes “rigidity, fluidity, elasticity, electricity, magnetism, chemical properties, and qualities of every kind,” forces that govern some pieces of matter but not others.51 Individuality is a function of the hierarchy of the Platonic Ideas, such that the higher grades of the Will’s objectification exhibit more individuality than the lower ones. Accordingly, higher animals have more individuality than lower ones. In the lower animals, one sees no trace of individuality, but only the general character and physiognomy of the species. Plants have little individual character, according to Schopenhauer, while inorganic objects have virtually none. Human beings have more individuality than anything else in nature. Individuality is so extreme in human beings that every person can “to a certain extent” be described in terms of a particular idea. Schopenhauer identifies this “Idea” of the individual as the individual’s intelligible character, the result of a unique act of the Will outside time. Nonetheless, Schopenhauer insists that human beings manifest a common form of humanity. Perhaps the best way of integrating these two claims is to see the “special” Ideas of each individual human to be facets of the more encompassing Idea of humanity. Indeed, Schopenhauer indicates that individuality in general amounts to partial expression of “the whole of the Idea.”52 Because the same Will manifests itself in all Ideas, all phenomena manifesting the Ideas have an inner relationship with one another. One consequence is that the forms of the various plants and animals all bear a kind of analogy with one another. A family likeness prevails even between the Ideas of inorganic phenomena. Schopenhauer points to the analogies that can be observed between electricity and magnetism, and between chemical attraction and gravitation. The levels of the Will’s manifestation are also mutually dependent upon one another. The Ideas form a pyramid, with the Idea of humanity as its culmination. The manifestations of the higher Ideas, accordingly, presuppose the manifestations of the lower in external nature. Hence, the human being depends on animals; animals depend on other animals and plants; the plants need soil, water, sun, etc.; and all of nature depends on the inert mass of the planet. Every phenomenon adapts itself to its environment, while its environment similarly adapts itself to each phenomenon. This interdependence of all phenomena in nature reflects the fact that “the will must live in itself, since nothing exists besides it, and it is a hungry will.”53 Despite such analogies, however, Schopenhauer insists that the Ideas should not be conflated with one another. Indeed, phenomena of different Ideas can be seen as essentially at war with one another. Throughout the organic world, one organism eats or somehow assimilates another: “every animal can maintain its own existence only by the incessant elimination of another’s.”54 The struggle among the various kinds of phenomenon assimilated in the organic body exemplifies a more basic struggle, that inherent to the nature of the Will. The Will, as Schopenhauer conceives it, is fundamentally at “variance with itself.”55 Even matter exists by virtue of a struggle among forces of attraction and repulsion, manifested as gravitation and impenetrability. Although the unity and oneness of the Will are manifest in the mutual adaptation of all natural phenomena, the harmony goes only so far as is necessary for “the continuance of the world,”56 which requires only the continuance of species, not that of particular individuals. The essential struggle among all phenomena corresponds to the fact that the Will operating within them is blind. Even in beings that have knowledge, knowledge is originally and fundamentally an expedient of the will. Only rarely, in aesthetic experience and ethical insight, does human knowledge do anything but assist the fulfillment of the will’s demands. Thus, humans, too, with rare exceptions, struggle endlessly with other phenomena. Although the Will struggles continually, we are not in a position to say why the Will wills. Even to ask the question is to confuse the Will with the phenomenon, for it amounts to asking what causes the Will’s willing. Nothing can cause the Will’s willing, for the Will is not determined by causality, which is only a form of the Will’s objectification in the world as representation. As thing-in-itself, the Will is groundless. Schopenhauer concludes that the Will is aimless, and that aimless, endless striving is also characteristic of its manifestations. AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE Aesthetic experience provides, for most individuals, the sole respite from “the penal servitude of willing.”57 According to Schopenhauer, aesthetic experience involves direct knowledge of the Platonic Ideas. Because these Ideas are not subject to the principle of sufficient reason, they are not objects of knowledge in the phenomenal world. The individual is manifest as an individual only within the phenomenal world, however. Schopenhauer concludes that the Ideas can only become objects of knowledge “by abolishing individuality in the knowing subject.”58 This is what aesthetic experience accomplishes. Schopenhauer describes aesthetic experience by means of a contrast with everyday experience. In everyday experience, the individual experiences his or her body as existing in a world of other objects that stand in various relations to it, and by means of it, to the individual’s will. The other objects of the phenomenal world are conceived by the individual as either potential means or potential obstacles to the fulfillment of the will’s desires. These objects are known, in fact, only in terms of their relations to other manifestations of the will—for accounts in terms of the principle of sufficient reason are essentially relational accounts. Aesthetic experience alters the individual’s perception of objects and the individual’s awareness of self. The individual ceases to be “merely individual” and becomes “a pure will-less subject of knowledge.”59 In aesthetic experience, the subject is no longer concerned with relations between his or her body and other objects, but instead restfully contemplates the object alone, outside of all relations. This contemplation is not mediated by abstract concepts; instead, one devotes one’s mind entirely to perception of what is present. The distinction of subject and object drops away in this state of absorption; one does not differentiate the perceiver from the perception. In aesthetic experience, we are appropriately said to “lose ourselves.”60 The “knowledge” involved in aesthetic experience does not involve knowledge of an object’s relations. What is known, instead, is the Idea of the object. The object is rendered universal in this experience, for it becomes, for the perceiver, the eternal form of the will’s objectivity at its grade. The subject, at the same time, also becomes universal as the “pure will-less, painless, timeless subject of knowledge.”61 Both subject and object have passed beyond the forms of the principle of sufficient reason. The timeless Idea that is the object’s prototype becomes present to the observer as a timeless intellect, no longer engaged in projects of the will. In arguing that aesthetic experience undermines desire, Schopenhauer accepts Kant’s claim that aesthetic experience is essentially disinterested. Nietzsche indicates the controversial nature of this claim in his caricature of Schopenhauer’s aesthetics: Schopenhauer speaks of beauty with a melancholy fervor…. Beauty is for him a momentary redemption from the “will”—a lure to eternal redemption. Particularly, he praises beauty as the redeemer from “the focal point of the will,” from sexuality—in beauty he sees the negation of the drive toward procreation. Queer saint! Somebody seems to be contradicting you; I fear it is nature.62 Nietzsche rejects Kant and Schopenhauer’s characterization of beauty as inspiring contemplation that is “disinterested,” arguing that nothing is of greater interest to human beings. Although Schopenhauer follows Kant in his analysis of aesthetic disinterestedness, he breaks from Kant in his analysis of the difference between the beautiful and the sublime. According to Kant, appreciation of the beautiful and appreciation of the sublime involve different mental operations and even different faculties. Schopenhauer, by contrast, insists that the beautiful and the sublime differ rather slightly. Both aim, in his view, at contemplation of the Idea within phenomena. The difference between the beautiful and the sublime lies only in the contemplated object’s usual relationship to the will. In the case of the beautiful, the object contemplated seems almost designed for willless contemplation; its form is so well suited to the human senses that it invites tranquil observation. In the case of the sublime, however, the contemplated object has, by its very nature, a hostile relationship to the observer’s will, and the observer is consequently aware of some inner aversion to it. One can achieve aesthetic contemplation of the sublime, therefore, only by means of forcibly subduing the will’s aversion. In the case of the beautiful, on the other hand, the object itself soothes the will, and no effort is required to silence it. Schopenhauer concludes that the beautiful and the sublime are two ends of the same continuum. Besides paradigm cases of each, certain cases fall in between. These Schopenhauer considers relatively sublime. For example, even the aesthetic appreciation of radiant sunlight on a snowy landscape is somewhat sublime; one must forcibly resist dwelling upon the inhospitable temperature of the snow in order to enjoy the visual spectacle. Like experience of the beautiful and of the sublime, in Schopenhauer’s analysis, aesthetic experiences of nature and art are essentially kindred. Art is “the work of genius.”63 Genius is a pre-eminent talent for engaging in aesthetic contemplation. The genius is able to “grasp the Idea of each thing, not its relation to other things.”64 Because this process involves forgetting one’s own personal concerns, Schopenhauer describes genius as “the most complete objectivity, i.e. the objective tendency of the mind.”65 The genius’s talent is possessed in some measure by all human beings. According to Schopenhauer, this is why the average individual is able to enjoy art. In art the genius communicates his or her own recognition of Ideas. Aesthetic pleasure is always a matter of grasping the Idea, whether the phenomenon contemplated is a natural object or an artwork. For most individuals, however, “the Idea comes…more easily from the work of art.” This is because “the artist, who knew only the Idea and not reality, clearly repeated in his work only the Idea, separated it out from reality, and omitted all disturbing contingencies.”66 Through this analysis of the artwork, Schopenhauer suggests criteria for evaluating art. Good art is produced when the artist works from direct perception of the Idea, not from conceptual recipes. The success of an artwork also depends on the artist’s technical skill at communicating this direct perception to the audience. Like many aestheticians of his own and the previous century, Schopenhauer hierarchically classifies the types of an. His criterion for classification is the significance of the Platonic Ideas that are focal within a given medium. Thus, the arts that invite contemplation of the lower Ideas are ranked lower than those that invite contemplation of the higher Ideas. Architecture is assigned the lowest place in Schopenhauer’s hierarchy, because it brings “to clearer perceptiveness some of those Ideas that are the lowest grades of the will’s objectivity.” Among these, he includes “gravity, cohesion, rigidity, hardness,” and also “light, which is in many respects their opposite.”67 Architecture reveals the way in which these basic forces oppose one another. Thus, rigidity opposes gravity in certain constructions. Schopenhauer classifies “artistic arrangements of water” on the same level as architecture, for fountains bring into prominence the Ideas of fluidity and gravity, again Ideas at the lowest grades of the Will’s objectivity. Landscape gardening and landscape painting comprise the level above architecture and fountain art in Schopenhauer’s scheme, for these reveal the Ideas of the vegetative world. The next level includes animal painting and animal sculpture, which reveal the Ideas of animal life. Historical painting and sculpture reveal the Idea of the human being, and hence these occupy a still higher level. But a fuller revelation of the Idea of the human being occurs in poetry, where the principal object is the human being “in so far as he expresses himself not through the mere form and expression of his features and countenance, but through a chain of actions and of the accompanying thought and emotions.”68 Schopenhauer believes that the most profound insight into humanity involves awareness that the same Will wars against itself in the conflicts among human beings. Presumably, this is why he classifies tragedy as “the summit of poetic art.” Tragedy aims at “the description of the terrible side of life,” and it reveals the profound insight “that what the hero atones for is not his own particular sins, but original sin, in other words, the guilt of existence itself.”69 Optimally, tragedy can bring home to its audience the true character of our interactions with one another. In the best type of tragedy, characters as they usually are in a moral regard in circumstances that frequently occur, are so situated with regard to one another that their position forces them, knowingly and with their eyes open, to do one another the greatest injury, without any one of them being entirely in the wrong.70 Thus far, no mention has been made of music. Schopenhauer sees music as being entirely unlike the other arts. All other arts aim to facilitate perception of the Ideas, on his account; but music copies the Will directly. As a consequence, “the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts.”71 Not at all concerned to represent specific phenomena, as do the visual arts, music transcends particularity even in emotional expression: Therefore music does not express this or that particular and definite pleasure, this or that affliction, pain, sorrow, horror, gaiety, merriment, or peace of mind, but joy, pain, sorrow, horror, gaiety, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without any accessories, and so also without the motives for them.72 Because the world as representation itself, taken as a whole, is an objectification of the Will, music and the world have a parallel relationship to the Will. Thus, Schopenhauer concludes that a complete philosophy of music would “also be at once a sufficient repetition and explanation of the world in concepts, or one wholly corresponding thereto, and hence, the true philosophy.”73 Schopenhauer elaborates on this suggestion by indicating points of analogy between features of music and characteristics of the world. These depend, to a certain extent, on the structure of the music with which Schopenhauer was contingently familiar. Thus, he compares the relatively hierarchical relationships among voices common in Western music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to the hierarchical relationships among Ideas. The low voices, like the lowest Ideas, provide the ground on which all the others depend. Schopenhauer compares the melody to “the intellectual life and endeavor of man,” for unlike the inner voices in his analogy (which he compares to animal and vegetable life), “melody alone has significant and intentional connexion from beginning to end.”74 Despite Schopenhauer’s analysis of music as a copy of the Will, he believes that music, like the other arts, affords escape from everyday awareness, which is constantly driven by will. This is because music expresses the nature of willing in universal form, without concern for particular phenomena. In this respect, the insight that music affords resembles that which Schopenhauer sees essential to ethics, the insight that the phenomenal world, with its apparently separate objects and individuals, is an illusion that veils the transcendent nature of the world. LIFE IS SUFFERING Because all individuals, and indeed all living phenomena, are objectifications of the Will, their essential tendency is to will. Striving continually, living beings gain one objective only to strive anew for another. Dissatisfaction of one sort or another characterizes life from beginning to end. The life of all humans and animals “swings like a pendulum to and fro between pain and boredom, and these two are in fact its ultimate constituents.”75 Analyzing all striving as essentially “need, lack, and hence pain,” Schopenhauer concludes that life is essentially suffering: The life of the great majority is only a constant struggle for this same existence, with the certainty of ultimately losing it. What enables them to endure this wearisome battle is not so much the love of life as the fear of death.76 Schopenhauer contends that fear of death is irrational. Only the human being as phenomenon is transient; as thing-in-itself the human being is eternal. Nevertheless, this is rarely consoling to the individual, who most often takes individual existence (understood through the forms of the world as representation) extremely seriously. Thus, the life of the individual human being is for the most part perverse and pointless: The life of every individual, viewed as a whole and in general, and when only its most significant features are emphasized, is really a tragedy; but gone through in detail it has the character of a comedy. For the doings and worries of the day, the restless mockeries of the moment, the desires and fears of the week, the mishaps of every hour, are all brought about by chance that is always bent on some mischievous trick; they are nothing but scenes from a comedy. The never-fulfilled wishes, the frustrated mistakes of the whole life, with increasing suffering and death at the end, always give us a tragedy. Thus, as if fate wished to add mockery to the misery of our existence, our life must contain all the woes of tragedy, and yet we cannot even assert the dignity of tragic characters, but, in the broad detail of life, are inevitably the foolish characters of a comedy.77 Sexuality, which most pointedly displays the Will in human beings, exemplifies this connection between desire and suffering. The Will deludes the individual into imagining that gaining the beloved will result in happiness. In fact, however, the Will is only concerned with the preservation of the species, not with the happiness of the individual. Thus, while human sexual desire is extremely individualized, it is motivated only by the Will’s concern that the species propagate a new generation of healthy children with relatively standard traits.78 Schopenhauer concludes that the embarrassment surrounding sexuality stems from guilt at renewing the world’s suffering by contributing to a new generation. If…we…contemplate the bustle and turmoil of life, we see everyone concerned with its cares and troubles, exerting all his strength to satisfy infinite needs and to ward off suffering in many forms, yet without daring to hope for anything else in place of it except just the preservation of this tormented existence for a short span of time. In between, however, we see in the midst of the tumult the glances of two lovers meet longingly; yet why so secretly, nervously, and furtively? Because these lovers are the traitors who secretly strive to perpetuate the whole trouble and toil that would otherwise rapidly come to an end. Such an end they try to frustrate, as others like them have frustrated it previously.79 SALVATION AND MORAL GOODNESS The affirmation of the Will-to-live, which is fundamental to all living beings, necessarily results in a life of suffering. The only salvation from suffering, according to Schopenhauer, is the denial of the Will-to-live. This is possible only for human beings, for human beings alone are capable of inner knowledge into the reality behind phenomenon. In rare individuals this knowledge becomes so completely absorbed that particular phenomena come to seem merely illusory. In such a case, these phenomena no longer provide motives for the will. When this happens, the will is quieted, “and thus the will freely abolishes itself.”80 The suffering Will itself, in such an individual, attains peace. The saintly individual, therefore, fulfills the ultimate aim of the Will (the cessation of struggle), but precisely by denying the will within. Although Schopenhauer’s formulations of such ascetic salvation sound negative, the insight motivating the holy life is essentially the same insight that motivates all virtuous behavior. The basic knowledge fundamental to both is the knowledge that the Will driving all phenomena is essentially one. When one perceives this truth, one is no longer motivated to do wrong, which Schopenhauer describes as being the denial of the will in another individual. Egoism, the source of all wrongdoing, arises from the delusion that one’s individual, phenomenal existence is tremendously important. Perception of the truth—that the same will is manifest in all beings— dispells this delusion. Such perception, however, admits of degrees. Even the bad person, who is so little in control of the will within that he or she chooses to violate the will in other individuals, has a pained awareness that such action is wrong. This is because every individual dimly grasps that such action violates one’s own true being. The person who recognizes the Will’s oneness to a somewhat greater degree is just. Such a person refrains from affirming his or her own will at the expense of any other individual’s right to a similar affirmation. Moral goodness, in Schopenhauer’s analysis, stems directly from knowledge and its quieting effect on the will. Schopenhauer denies that universal moral principles have any value, for virtue is achieved individually by means of insight. One might wonder how beings without free will can achieve moral transformation by means of insight. Schopenhauer’s answer is that while motive and character together determine action, change of knowledge produces a change of motive, which in turn affects the action that results. All repentance arises from a change of knowledge, not from a change of will. When one recognizes that one has used an inappropriate means for obtaining one’s object, for instance, this knowledge results in a change of behavior. In the case of radical transformation toward virtue, Schopenhauer would argue that one has recognized that no action directed against another’s will could possibly enhance one’s life. Hence, any such action is no longer seen as a viable means to achieve one’s ends, so one comes to avoid such actions. The good person goes further than the just person and is moved to compassion for all sentient beings by the recognition that they are all phenomena of the same will. A truly noble person “makes less distinction than is usually made between himself and others,” and thus displays concern for others of the same degree as that concern directed toward the self.81 Such individuals have penetrated the principium individuationis, which creates the illusion of individual separateness. The ultimate penetration of the principium individuationis is achieved by the saint. A saint has seen through the delusions of the phenomenal world and responded with so much compassion that he or she no longer wants to have any part in inflicting suffering. This self-abolition of the will is the course taken by mystics of all traditions, according to Schopenhauer. No longer motivated by phenomena, these holy individuals abandon the usual expressions of will in human life. Thus, they abstain from sex, adopt voluntary poverty, fast, and in general mortify the body, which is objectified affirmation of the Will. Their entire existence is characterized by renunciation of the will, and their lives are models of resignation. True salvation stems from this complete denial of the will.82 At its extreme point, the result is the extinction of character, for no motive still stimulates willful action on the part of the saint. The saint’s will evaporates. But in addition, with the evaporation of the will, the entire world as representation, with its inherent distinctions among objects and individuals, vanishes. What remains is “empty nothingness” which the Buddhists have labeled nirvana.83 This nothingness is not, however, absolute. Indeed, the saints and mystics of the ages have described their state as full and blissful. Schopenhauer observes that we conceive of their condition as nothing only because our world of suffering and struggle complete absorbs us: we have to banish the dark impression of that nothingness, which as the final goal hovers behind all virtue and holiness, and which we fear as children fear darkness…. On the contrary, we freely acknowledge that what remains after the complete abolition of the will is, for all who are still full of the will, assuredly nothing. But also conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies is— nothing.84 SCHOPENHAUER’S INTELLECTUAL LEGACY Schopenhauer did not really expect his theory of resignation and denial of the will to inspire enthusiasts. Indeed, he prided himself on his renunciation of popularity with his contemporaries.85 Nevertheless, Schopenhauer would presumably be gratified by the extent to which his ideas have assumed prominence. Most strikingly, Schopenhauer’s conviction that knowledge is subordinate to will—as well as his suggestive remarks on the unconscious—have taken root in contemporary psychological theory. In these respects, as well as in his focus on the body as a philosophical starting point, he reverses Cartesianism and influences much twentiethcentury thought. Schopenhauer is also pioneering in developing a systematic philosophy that is completely disconcerned with theology. His pessimistic theories offer a critical response to German romanticism within its own century. Schopenhauer is also closer to the following century in valuing and engaging in comparative studies of the philosophical traditions of the East and the West. Finally, although the ethical claims that he would endorse are relatively traditional, Schopenhauer’s denial of the efficacy of moral maxims and universal principles precurses later radical critiques of morality in general. Ironically, given his doctrine of renunciation of the will, Schopenhauer’s writings reveal an insatiable zest for life. Impatient with virtually all of his contemporaries, Schopenhauer seems nevertheless to delight in description and to take pains to move others through his prose. Perhaps his clarity of insight into phenomena is Schopenhauer’s greatest philosophical legacy. Schopenhauer lends us his own perceptions of the world. Fittingly, in one who elevates perception over reason, Schopenhauer’s perceptions continue to provoke and inspire many who reject every detail of his philosophical system. Although his system is “ingeniously elaborated,”86 his perceptions are brilliant. NOTES 1 See Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, 2 vols, trans. E.F.J.Payne, Vol. I (New York: Dover, 1969), hereafter referred to as WWR, I, pp. 96–7, 154. 2 See ibid., pp. 326f. 3 Ibid., pp. 280, 283–4, 324. 4 See ibid., p. 330. 5 Ibid., p. xii. 6 B.Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1945), P. 758. 7 The German word “Wille,” like all German nouns, is consistently capitalized. Payne, in his translations of Schopenhauer, consistently translates this term as “will,” with the “w” in lower-case type. I shall adopt the convention of using “Will” to refer to Schopenhauer’s metaphysical principle and “will” to refer to the individual will in my own discussion. In citations from Payne’s translations, however, I shall follow his usage. 8 F.Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals, in The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, ed. O.Levy, Vol. 13, trans. H.B.Samuel (Edinburgh: T.N.Foulis, 1910), p. 132. 9 For a sympathetic discussion of the tensions within Schopenhauer’s personality, see T.Mann, Introduction to The Works of Schopenhauer, ed. W.Durant (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1928), pp. xvii-xxi. 10 F.Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator, trans. W.Arrowsmith, in Unmodern Observations, ed. W.Arrowsmith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 176. 11 See Schopenhauer, “On Women,” in Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays, 2 vols, trans. E.F.J.Payne, Vol. II (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974), hereafter referred to as PP, pp. 614–26. There, after insisting that women have no talent for the arts, Schopenhauer compares contemporary “ladies” to “the sacred apes at Benares who, conscious of their sanctity and invulnerability, think that they are at liberty to do anything and everything” (p. 622). He also contends that unlike men, who feel rivalry only for other members of their profession, women feel hostility for all other women. The explanation he offers for this alleged phenomenon is that “with women” professional jealousy “embraces the whole sex since they all have only one line of business” (p. 619). Copleston observes that Schopenhauer’s experience of women other than his mother was also “of a character hardly calculated to generate a real respect for and appreciation of the other sex.” See F.Copleston SJ, Arthur Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism, Bellarmine Series, XI, ed. E.F.Sutcliffe SJ (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1947), pp. 39–40. 12 WWR, I, p. xxii. 13 This is reflected by his choosing to open his Appendix to WWR, I, entided “Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy,” with Voltaire’s comment: “It is the privilege of true genius, and especially of the genius who opens up a new path, to make great mistakes with impunity” (p. 413). This sentiment contrasts markedly with Schopenhauer’s assessments of virtually every other philosopher in the Western tradition, with the exception of Plato. Consider, for example, his remarks on Aristotle in “Fragments for the History of Philosophy”: “The fundamental characteristic of Aristotle might be said to be the greatest shrewdness and sagacity combined with circumspection, power of observation, versatility, and want of depth. His view of the world is shallow, although ingeniously elaborated.” PP, I, p. 47. 14 P.Gardiner, Schopenhauer (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963), p. 21. 15 Julian Young has recently taken issue with the standard reading of Schopenhauer, which interprets the Will as the thing-in-itself. According to Young, the Will is another aspect of the thing-in-itself’s appearance, but not the thing-in-itself. See J.Young, Willing and Unwilling: A Study in the Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (Dordrecht: Nijhoff, 1987), pp. ix, 32ff. 16 WWR, I, p. 3. 17 Ibid., p. 6. 18 Ibid., p. 8. 19 Ibid., p. 8. 20 Kant also claims that perception involves imagination as well as understanding. Schopenhauer focuses exclusively on understanding when he considers the role of the intellect in perception. 21 See WWR, I, p. n. For an analysis of the many additional operations that Schopenhauer implicitly assigns to the understanding, as well as a comparison of Schopenhauer’s analysis of perception with Kant’s, see D.W.Hamlyn, Schopenhauer, Arguments of the Philosophers Series, ed. T.Honderich (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980), pp. 18–22. 22 WWR, I, p. 23. 23 Ibid., p. 45. 24 Ibid., p. 46. 25 Ibid., p. 13. 26 Schopenhauer does, as we shall see, believe that a thing-in-itself exists over and above representation. But the thing-in-itself, independent of the principle of sufficient reason, does not admit of duality. Hence, we cannot construe the thing-in-itself to be the realm of “real” objects that are only represented in the phenomenal world. 27 WWR, I, pp. 29–30. 28 Ibid., p. 51. 29 See I. Kant, Critique of Judgment, trans. J.C.Meredith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), pp. 199–201. 30 WWR, I, p. 60. 31 See ibid., p. 65. 32 Ibid., p. 70. 33 Ibid., p. 80. 34 Ibid., p. 95. 35 Ibid., p. 98. 36 Ibid., p. 330. 37 Ibid., p. 100. 38 Ibid., p. 100. 39 Ibid., p. 101. 40 Schopenhauer also considers the validity of physiognomy to be a corollary to the principle that the body and the will are one. See WWR, I, p. 225, and Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, trans. E.F.J.Payne, Vol. II (New York: Dover, 1958), hereafter referred to as WWR, II, pp. 421, 598–9. See also Schopenhauer, “On Physiognomy,” PP, II, pp. 634–41. 41 WWR, I, p. no. 42 Ibid., p. 104. 43 Ibid., p. 126. 44 Ibid., p. 292. 45 Ibid., pp. 290–1. 46 Ibid., pp. 113–14. 47 Ibid., p. 129. 48 Ibid., p. 130. 49 Ibid., p. 170. 50 Ibid., p. 172. 51 Ibid., p. 130. 52 Ibid., p. 132. 53 Ibid., p. 154. 54 Ibid., p. 147. 55 Ibid., p. 147. 56 Ibid., p. 161. 57 Ibid., p. 196. 58 Ibid., p. 169. 59 Ibid., p. 178. 60 Ibid., p. 178. 61 Ibid., p. 179. 62 F. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, in The Portable Nietzsche, trans. and ed. W.Kaufmann (New York: Viking, 1968), pp. 527–8. 63 WWR, I, p. 184. 64 Ibid., p. 188. 65 Ibid., p. 185. 66 Ibid., p. 195. 67 Ibid., p. 214. 68 Ibid., p. 244. 69 Ibid., pp. 252, 254. 70 Ibid., p. 254. 71 Ibid., p. 257. 72 Ibid., p. 261. 73 Ibid., p. 264. 74 Ibid., p. 259. 75 Ibid., p. 312. 76 Ibid., pp. 312–13. 77 Ibid., p. 322. 78 Schopenhauer elaborates a theory of sexual attraction based on the principle that opposites attract. Opposites attract, according to Schopenhauer, because the Will aims to produce children that correspond more or less to the Idea of humanity. Thus, it tries to prevent individuals who are too similar from mating, lest they reproduce offspring who are too extreme in certain characteristics. See “The Metaphysics of Sexual Love,” WWR, II, pp. 531–60. 79 WWR, II, p. 560. 80 WWR, I, p. 285. 81 Ibid., p. 372. 82 Schopenhauer sharply distinguishes denial of the will from suicide. Suicide, in his view, is an extreme expression of affirmation of the will and no salvation at all. See WWR, I, pp. 366, 398–9. See also Schopenhauer, “On Suicide,” PP, II, pp. 306–11. 83 Schopenhauer’s assessments that life is suffering, and that only an end to desire would put an end to suffering, are directly taken from Buddhist thought. For some of Schopenhauer’s remarks on Buddhism, see WWR, I, p. 356, and II, pp. 169, 463, 508, 607f. 84 WWR, I, pp. 411–12. 85 See ibid., p. xxi. 86 See PP, I, p. 47. 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