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Metaphysics

Arthur Schopenhauer – Dylan

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Schopenhauer_1852.jpg

“The world is my representation”

Welcome to the magnificent world of Arthur Schopenhauer, where all things are meaningless and we are doomed to be internally frustrated for the rest of our lives… while you’re here, why not grab a guitar?

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 12, 1977, in Gdansk, Germany. From day one Schopenhauer’s father had intended for young baby Arthur to take over the family’s merchant and ship owning business when he was older, which is why he had given him a name that was spelt the same in German, French, and English, giving him a head start on all the other baby will-be merchants. But as his young childhood of traveling through Europe gave him a thirst for, and went into university to study once his father had passed away. In university he began thinking of ideas that were contrary to the ones that were forced upon him in childhood. Terrible experiences at a boarding school in Wimbledon had turned him away from Christianity for the rest of his life, and thus began his journey into other ways of thinking.

Schopenhauer’s main concept into the metaphysical word was his interest and dissection of individual motion, which he called “the Will”. His concept of this Will was largely based off of Immanuel Kant’s concept of “thing-in-itself.” But while he did take inspiration from this, he did not fully agree with Kant. Schopenhauer described the Will as the thing that drives us, but also what brings us down. He said that the our individual “will to live” is what is the root cause of all human suffering, and we are all ultimately slaves to it.  This was as I said in contrast to Kant’s view on the root of human drive being much more optimistic. With his visions of this Will being the root of all human life, he viewed world as a lonely night drive with absolutely no breaks and no meaningful end in sight. He saw the world as one with no God to be comprehended and the world being ultimately meaningless. His main conception and most detailed description of this and other metaphysical ideas take place in his book Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, translated into the English as The World as Will and Representation. He says that unfulfilled desires cause pain and suffering, and most desires go unfulfilled.

Immanuel Kant, a man who Schopenhauer both agreed and argued with.

Basing off his idea of the Will, he also accepted another one of Kant’s views on the world, which is the double aspect view of the world. Which is, as he believed, the phenomenal, which is the world of experience, the one that we can view with the senses that we have, and the noumenal world which is the one that we can not experience with our senses. He that phenomena was the way that our brains perceived the nomunea. Neither cause each other but are just simply the way we perceive one another. The quote at the top of this post describes his view of the phenomenal world.

Now, when I was discovering all of this about Schopenhauer, I pegged him to be a very gloom and doom type person, who would not at all be interested in art, entertainment, aesthetics, or anything of the likes whatsoever. So it became quite a shock to me when I found out that art and aesthetics in general were very important to Schopenhauer, and an integral part of the human experience in his mind. He said that art was a way in which you are able to escape the pain and suffering of being driven by the Will. He admits that while it is only a temporally release, he said that the act of artistic and aesthetic appreciation, the will vanishes from the consciousness. Schopenhauer also viewed music as the purest art form because through music, one could view the will as an individual object itself. It allows us to be able to step outside ourselves and view the “will” from another point of view. He influenced many artists and people interested in the arts in his time, and even nowadays he may be seen to some artists as a man who fought for the important of the arts in culture, and who wanted to show everyone the vitality of music in the world. Metaphysically speaking, he saw the arts as the gateway between phenomenal and the noumenal worlds.

Here is a great video and song that shows the influence that Schopenhauer had on the arts, and gives a great explanation of Schopenhauer as a whole at the same time:

I personally have very conflicting thoughts about Schopenhauer’s ideas. But even so, as I continue read more, I can’t help but becoming insanely intrigued at every corner. I can not say that I agree with his pessimist views on the world and human drive, and how all human suffering is caused by this. But I think that in terms of his views on the arts, and their importance to the study of metaphysics, I would have to agree with him. I personally find art as a sort of an “escape”, and personally do see art as being a bridge between the world we perceive with our senses, and the other form of the world that we can’t perceive, whatever that may be. I agree with the idea that there could be more to it then what we perceive right in front of us, and that we may not be able to perceive these things with the senses we have. Among the countless things surprised me while reading about Schopenhauer, was that he believed compassion to be the only truly morally good drive. I wasn’t surprised by this because I disagreed that compassion was a moral drive, but rather because it just showed me the complexity of Schopenhauer’s thinking. I was amazed at just how surprised I was at each time I would read something new about him, because it was always a much more different idea than what I would have thought he would say. Schopenhauer was a thinker who covered many aspects of metaphysics, and really tried to get down to what reality real is. And whether you agree with his ideas or not, the amount of influence he had on other thinkers and the world around us is something that is truly amazing.

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Discussion

10 thoughts on “Arthur Schopenhauer – Dylan

  1. Hi Dylan,

    Great post – another thorough effort that engages, educates, and raises a few interesting strands of discussion that will likely follow Metaphysics into our Epistemology Unit (where I think Kant will probably loom quite large…).

    While I am at a loss for how to articulate myself here, I am curious specifically about the intersection of Shopenhauer’s “will,” the existence of phenomenal and noumenal stimulation, and the representative power of art (especially music) to move beyond the concerns/suffering provided by our conscious minds. In addition to offering escape from the will, is the power of art such that we are able to transcend merely phenomenal (sensory) experience, and express/experience more unconscious forms of communication/representation?

    Music may clearly be sensory in that we appreciate it with our senses; but there is something *else* that happens with particularly moving songs or performances. Is there anything in Shopenhauer’s ouvre that alludes to what this might be?

    One of my friends, Jowi Taylor, made this fantastic documentary for the CBC on six different cultural aspects of music, some of which might be of interest to you (whether because of Arthur, here, or otherwise). This is the only episode I could find publicly online, but it’s a good start: http://thirdcoastfestival.org/library/777-re-sound-129-the-nerve-show

    Update: Ah, here we go – the whole six part series: http://www.prx.org/series/31214-the-nerve-music-and-the-human-experience?order=oldest_first

    Enjoy!

    Mr. J

    Posted by bryanjack | October 11, 2013, 6:14 pm
    • Thanks Mr. J! I think that Schopenhauer believed that the will was the root of the phenomenal world, as is one of the things that traps us to the world of representation, and since he believed that the full engrossment in an artistic activity was the way to free us of the will, he thought that art was a way to experience more of the noumenal world as you said. Art in his mind was definitely away for us to “escape” the phenomenal world and transcend into other more unconscious realms realms of experience. I completely agree with you. There’s definitely some sort of experience that happens when listening to or playing music that brings you to some sort of different state that goes beyond the things that the senses are perceiving at the same time. I know that these ideas were mentioned sparsely in some of his works, but here’s a quote from him that I think sums up his whole view on the whole transcendental value of art (specifically in this quote, music):

      “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

      And thanks for the link! I’m excited to check it out, I’m sure that its going to be very interesting.

      Thanks a lot Mr.Jackson!

      Posted by dylanaraki | October 12, 2013, 4:40 am
  2. Hey Dylan,

    I wanted to start off saying that I love your introduction, it really draws the reader in and make them more intrigued. It’s a foreshadowing of what the rest of the post is going to tell us and that’s quite appealing.

    I think “the Will” is an interesting concept. I have to say, I do agree that it is our drive; however, I don’t agree that it’s what brings us down. I think it could depend on the type of person you are. Quite certainly we can say that people have different amounts of drive. For example, the magnitude of desires may be different, or outcomes may hold different meanings. Think of that one person we all know though, the one with so much drive and so much accomplished already that it’s quite inspiring but also quite concerning because if they can overcome their “Will” does it make them happier, or more frustrated in the end?

    I’d personally be more frustrated. If I’ve accomplished everything and literally had everything I’d ever dreamed of, I’d be bored. I think “the Will” could lead us to believe that life isn’t fair, but really, what if it’s what let’s us keep living? Because of “the Will” we’ll always be striving for something greater which could lead us to experience more. Isn’t what makes us alive, our experiences? I can see where Arthur Schopenhauer was coming from though and I guess it really just depends on the type of person you are.

    Finally, the idea that aesthetics let us “escape” is one that I fully agree with. I think anyone who’s experienced it knows what Arthur Schopenhauer and yourself are talking about.

    Overall, great post. You did an amazing job getting Arthur Schopenhauer’s points across and really let us see what his ideas were and how they affect society in general. That first picture is pretty cool too. He look like a groovy dude.

    Great job,

    Aman

    Posted by amanmonkey | October 13, 2013, 12:15 am
    • Thanks Aman!

      Yes, “the Will” is definitely a very interesting topic to try and understand, there seems to be a lot of depth to this thing that so simply claims to obstruct us from being free from suffering. And I think I agree with you totally when you say that it depends on the person. I think it definitely depends on the individual and their outlooks on things, and I think you could take it either way, like you said.

      I really like that example that you use, because I think that’s such a great way of thinking of the Will as more of a positive thing. Instead of something that suffocates us, as Schopenhauer would believe, we can view it as something that brings us more joy with the new experiences it could bring us, and just taking the unfulfilled desires as things to learn by. Or maybe we could see it somewhere in between the two? Again, it just depends on how you want to look at it.

      And oh definitely, Schopenhauer seems to have no end to incredible pictures that depict him as a very savvy guy, this one happens to be a personal favourite of mine: http://i57.photobucket.com/albums/g217/MJordan77/Arthur.jpg

      Thanks again,

      Dylan

      Posted by dylanaraki | October 13, 2013, 6:56 am
      • Hey,

        Thanks for sharing that tasteful picture. I think it’ll become my background.

        I’m glad that we have similar views on this, and I find it to be an interesting topic.

        Great job again on your blog post, it’s been very thought provoking.

        Aman

        Posted by amanmonkey | October 14, 2013, 5:51 am
  3. Hey Dylan,

    I’m interested in The Will as an object of human endeavour. I find it intriguing how one can believe that the single force keeping us alive through willpower and determination is the same force that drags us down. In other words, our one and only pleasantry in life is also the epitome of our demise. The only way to escape The Will in its evil form is through art, which while although it allows us to remove ourselves from suffering, it comes at the cost of also removing ourselves from the glories life has to offer. In a way, art, specifically music, is the purgatory of the living.

    Great post man,

    Aidan

    Posted by Aidan C | October 13, 2013, 4:00 am

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