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Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), whose pessimistic philosophy was widely known in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States, held that ultimate reality was nothing but senseless striving or will, having no divine origin and no historical end.

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig on Feb. 22, 1788. His father, a successful Dutch businessman, had a taste for urbane living, travel, and bourgeois culture, while his mother aspired to the more exotic culture of writers and nonconformists. When Schopenhauer was 5, Danzig, formerly a free mercantile city, was annexed by Poland. As a consequence, his family moved to Hamburg, Germany, in search of a more congenial setting for his father's business. In 1797 Schopenhauer was sent to stay with a family in France, returning to Hamburg after 2 years to enter a private school. Later he became interested in literature, earning the disapproval of his father, who nonetheless gave him the choice of pursuing serious literary studies or traveling with the family for 2 years. Schopenhauer chose to travel.

His voyages over, Schopenhauer took a job as a clerk in a Hamburg merchant's office. That year, 1805, his father died, apparently a suicide. The mercantile world held only drudgery for young Schopenhauer, whose ambitions and desires were both unfocused and frustrated. Feeling constrained by a promise to his father, Schopenhauer remained at work until 1807, when he joyfully resigned in order to study Greek and Latin in a school at Gotha. Having enraged an unsympathetic instructor, he transferred to a school in Weimar, where his mother had already established herself as mistress of a literary salon frequented by Goethe and other notables. But Schopenhauer had earlier quarreled with his mother, whom he thought too free with her ideas and her favors. He therefore resided with his mentor, the philologist Franz Passow, who paid his tuition. Schopenhauer's studies went well, and in 1809, on acquiring a handsome legacy, he enrolled at the University of Göttingen. He studied mostly the sciences and medicine but eventually turned to philosophy.

Philosophical Studies

Schopenhauer's new passion for philosophy led him to the University of Berlin, where he hoped to cull the wisdom of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, then the foremost philosopher in Germany. He was disappointed in Fichte but remained at the university until 1813, when Prussia mobilized to expel the French after Napoleon's defeat. Seeing the dangers of staying in Berlin and having no heart for nationalistic fervor, Schopenhauer sought refuge in Rudolstadt. There he completed his doctoral dissertation, which he submitted successfully to the University of Jena. He published the dissertation at his own expense and then returned to Weimar. He met Goethe, who seemed sympathetic to his thinking. One fruit of their conversations was Schopenhauer's brief study Ü ber das Sehn und die Farben (1816; On Vision and Colors).

The World as Will and Idea

Schopenhauer's unhappy relations with his mother finally terminated in open hostility, and he moved to Dresden. By this time the central and simple idea of his philosophy had taken hold in his mind. The principal source of this idea was his own experience and moods, but the expression of it owed much to the philosophies of Plato and Immanuel Kant and the mystical literature of India. He foresaw that his reflections would eventually lift him above the absurd stresses and conflicts of his life, and he thought that ultimately his writings would usher in a new era not only in philosophy but also in human history. Whereas former philosophies had been parceled into schools and special problems, his own, as he envisaged it, would be a single, simple fabric. The simplest expression of this potent idea is probably the very title of the book he wrote at Dresden, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Idea). The world is necessarily present to a subject that perceives it; thus the world is "idea" or "representation." Yet the world is not created or constructed by the subject or the mind; its own nature is will, or blind striving. "My body and my will are one," and in the final analysis one person's will is indistinguishable from every other form of willing.

The book was printed by a reluctant publisher in 1818 and failed to gain a public. Nevertheless, with two books to his credit, Schopenhauer was given a lectureship in philosophy at the University of Berlin. At that time G. W. F. Hegel was the center of attention, and Schopenhauer decided to compete with him by lecturing at the same hour. But he addressed an empty room, and shortly his academic career was over.

Other Writings

In 1831 cholera was epidemic in Berlin, and Schopenhauer fled to Frankfurt, where he stayed for the rest of his life. In 1836 he published a study of contemporary science, Ü ber den Willen in der Natur (On the Will in Nature), showing that his philosophy was consistent with the sciences. In 1839 he won a prize from the Norwegian Scientific Society for an essay on freedom of the will. To this essay he added another, publishing them in 1841 as Die Beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik (The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics). During these years he revised and augmented the text of The World as Will and Idea, which was republished in 1844 with 50 new chapters. In 1847 he republished his dissertation, Ü ber die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason). By now he was attracting some notice, but the fame he had predicted for himself was still only a dream.

Schopenhauer's style of life in his Frankfurt years has always both fascinated and puzzled his admirers. Though he wrote about the ultimate value of negating the will, he displayed unusual willfulness; though he extolled tranquility, he was always energetic; though he wrote savage diatribes against women, he could not forgo female company.

Parerga und Paralipomena

At last, in 1851, Schopenhauer published the book that brought him fame and followers. Titled Parerga undParalipomena, it was a collection of highly polished, insightful essays and aphorisms. Its style was probably the chief reason for the book's immediate success. Yet the ideas were important too, particularly the notion that will was primary over intellect. The pessimism that follows from such a notion was already in vogue, and Schopenhauer became its voice. Another reason for his fame was surely his appeal to the inner experience of moods and feelings, in contrast to the more traditional appeals to history, reason, authority, and objective evidence. His philosophy takes its source in "the selfsame unchangeable being which is before us." Life is all suffering, he said, but it can be reflected upon, and then it will be seen to be "nothing." Schopenhauer died on Sept. 21, 1860. By then he had countless followers, and he was idolized as a kind of savior.

Further Reading

Schopenhauer's own writings are readily available in translation. Particularly noteworthy is a selection of the essays and aphorisms from Parerga and Paralipomena, edited and translated by R. J. Hollingdale (1970), which includes an introduction containing biographical information. Patrick Gardiner, Schopenhauer (1963), is a study of the philosopher's life and works. Schopenhauer's life is presented in detail in Helen Zimmern, Arthur Schopenhauer: His Life and Philosophy (1876), and in William Wallace, Life of Schopenhauer (1890). A more critical assessment of Schopenhauer's work is in Frederick Copleston, Arthur Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism (1946).

Additional Sources

Safranski, Reudiger, Schopenhauer and the wild years of philosophy, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Janaway, Christopher, Schopenhauer, Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Simmel, Georg, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991. □

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Schopenhauer, Arthur

Arthur Schopenhauer (17881860) was one of the few notable thinkers of his time to regard the relationship between life and death as the central problem of philosophy. He was also among the first Western intellectuals to draw insights from Buddhist and Hindu worldviews.

The German philosopher was born into a prosperous family that had many social and cultural connections. Contemporaries described Schopenhauer as a scintillating conversationalist with discerning taste in the arts. However, he was also seen as a gloomy person whose company was difficult to bear. Even as a youth, Schopenhauer was strongly affected by the imperfections of life one must endure suffering, loss, disappointment, and frustration until the hammer blow of death ends all. Life seemed like an all but unbearable burden. Why go on living, then? The answer was clear to him: People put up with the miseries of life because they are terrified of death. Schopenhauer's need to resolve the dilemma of a miserable life and a terrifying death would contribute much to his elaboration of a philosophical system that has continued to influence world thought. His writings often challenge the reader's stamina: Schopenhauer himself cautioned his readers that they must resign themselves to reading all three volumes of The World As Will and Representation (1818) twiceand then perhaps once again for good measure.

The Thing-in-Itself

Following Eastern religious perspectives, Schopenhauer rejected the assumption that the world presents itself directly to the human mind. He believed it is more accurate to say that people construct representations of the world and then respond to these ideas or images as though they were objective reality. Even such powerful ideas as life and death are framed within the conventions of language and societal custom. Not denying that there is a core of reality within representations of life and death, he argued that people often respond more to the representations than the reality.

The philosopher's quest to understand the world through words, logic, and reason had been missing the point, according to Schopenhauer. Words are usually limited to the superficial appearance of reality. Seldom do people recognize the thing-in-itself, the inner nature of both the universe and human nature. The essence of life is to be sought in a driving force, an incessant impulse that is far more powerful than reason. He called this force "The Will." The will might be regarded as the thing-in-itself in action. Life is the most significant example. The essence of life is the fierce impulse to continue, to survive. The will operates for the species as well as for the individual. The blind will of nature does not hesitate to sacrifice many individuals in order to keep the species going.

Death As the Answer to Life

Humans face a unique situationthey are driven by the will to live, like all other creatures, but are also aware of the certainty of death. In Schopenhauer's view, all religions have been motivated by the desire to find some way of coping with this dilemma. His own conclusion is, "Only small and limited minds fear death" (Schopenhauer 1957, vol. 1, p. 27). Humans have death as their destiny, their completion. Individuality ceases with death, but the essence of being is indestructible and remains part of the cosmic process.

Schopenhauer invites the reader to take a larger view of the universe instead of the usual concern for individual life. From this cosmic vantage point, life and death are reciprocals, not opposites. He notes that Eastern thought has long represented the same god as having both creative and destructive powers. Siva, for example, displays the lingam, a symbol of generation, although she is adorned with a necklace of skulls. Greeks and Romans celebrated "the full ardour of life" at their funerals to make a similar point (Schopenhauer 1957, vol. 1, p. 355). It would be wise then, according to Schopenhauer, for people to look "away from the death of the mourned individual [with] knowledge that the whole of nature is the phenomenon and also the fulfillment of the will to live" (p. 355).

The answer to death proposed by Schopenhauer has not been widely accepted, in part because many people continue to focus on individual fate rather than cosmic process. Among his many influences, however, was the life versus death instinct of Sigmund Freud, and continuing discussions about the value of death education and the ethics of rational suicide.

See also: Buddhism; Hinduism; Philosophy, Western; Plato; Thanatology

Bibliography

Choron, Jacques. Death and Western Thought. New York: Collier Books, 1963.

Janaway, Christopher. Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World As Will and Representation. 3 vols. 1818. Reprint, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957.

ROBERT KASTENBAUM

SÉANCE

See Communication with the Dead.

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Arthur Schopenhauer (är´tŏŏr shō´pənhou´ər), 1788–1860, German philosopher, b. Danzig (now Gdansk). The bias of his own temperament and experience was germinal to the development of his celebrated philosophy of pessimism, which he presented with such clarity and skill as to gain eventual recognition as one of the great philosophers. He studied at Göttingen, Berlin, and Jena, and he traveled throughout Europe. In Berlin he opposed the teachings of G. W. Hegel and attempted unsuccessfully to establish himself as a lecturer. After 1831, Schopenhauer lived and worked in retirement, chiefly in Frankfurt am Main. He had no friends, never married, and was estranged from his mother, a woman of considerable intellectual ability. Schopenhauer's most important work is The World as Will and Representation (1818, tr. 1958). His other works, mainly elaboration and commentary upon his original thesis, include On the Will in Nature (1836, tr. 1889), The Basis of Morality (1841, tr. 1903), Essays from the Parerga and Paralipomena (1851, tr. 1951), and many lesser essays. Schopenhauer considered himself the true successor of Immanuel Kant. However, he interpreted Kant's unknowable thing-in-itself as a blind, impelling force that is manifest in individuals as a will to live. Intellect and consciousness, in Schopenhauer's view, arise as instruments in the service of the will. Conflict between individual wills is the cause of continual strife and frustration. The world, therefore, is a world of unsatisfied wants and of pain. Pleasure is simply the absence of pain; unable to endure, it brings only ennui. The only possible escape is the renunciation of desire, a negation of the will reminiscent of Buddhism. Temporary relief, however, can be found in philosophy and art. Schopenhauer held that music was unique among the art forms in that it expressed will directly. The ethical side of Schopenhauer's philosophy is based upon sympathy, where the moral will, feeling another's hurt as its own, makes an effort to relieve the pain. His stress on the strength of the impelling will influenced Friedrich Nietzsche and the psychology of Sigmund Freud.

See biographies by D. W. Hamlyn (1985) and D. E. Cartwright (2010); P. Gardiner, Schopenhauer (1963); B. Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (1988); E. von der Luft, ed., Schopenhauer: New Essays in Honor of His 200th Birthday (1988).

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788–1860). German essayist and philosopher who developed a closely knit system in which was emphasized the primacy of the will over both reason and sensation. Schopenhauer was greatly influenced by Indian thought, which he held paralleled Kant in every key respect. He attributed this parallelism to the indirect influence of ancient Eastern thought on modern Western thought through the mediation of Christianity, whose founder—he deduced—must have been familiar with Hindu and Buddhist ideas. His major work was Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (1819; tr. 1883, The World as Will and Idea).

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788–1860) German philosopher, whose exposition of the doctrine of the will opposed the idealism of Hegel and influenced, among others, Nietzsche and Wagner. Schopenhauer's system, described in his main work, The World as Will and Idea (1819), was an intensely pessimistic one. The will to endure was an individual's prime motivation, and the negation of will and desire provided the possibility of escape from pain.

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

SCHOPENHAUER, ARTHUR

German philosopher, proponent of an atheistic and pessimistic metaphysics of self-redemption based on the epistemological transcendentalism of I. kant; b. Danzig, Feb. 22, 1788; d. Frankfurt am Main, Sept. 21, 1860.

Life. As a boy, he traveled with his father, a wealthy patrician merchant, through most of Europe. When his father committed suicide, his mother, Johanna, a selfish society woman and a mediocre novelist, moved to Weimar, then the center of German culture. Schopenhauer acquired proficiency in Greek and Latin at the Gymnasium at Gotha and Weimar. He attended the universities of Göttingen and Berlin (180913), studying first medicine and then philosophy. A voracious reader, he familiarized himself with Buddhist-Indian philosophy and mysticism, with the German mysticism of Meister eckhart, with

the theosophy of Jakob bÖhme, and with the thinkers of the renaissance, the baroque (especially Francisco suÁrez), and the French, English, and German enlightenment. In Berlin he attended the lectures of J. G. fichte and F. D. E. schleiermacher. He subsequently attacked the philosophy of German idealism"the professorial philosophy of the philosophy professors"and in particular the "system" of G. W. F. hegel, whom he called a quack, a charlatan, and a sycophant of the Prussian government. For a short time he lectured at the university in Berlin as Privatdozent but, with Hegel's fame at its apogee, he found no response. The cholera epidemic of 1831, which claimed Hegel's life, caused Schopenhauer to move to Frankfurt.

Thought. At Rudolstadt in the Thuringian forest, Schopenhauer wrote his doctoral dissertation on the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason, Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde (1813; publ. Berlin 1913). The principle states that "nothing is without reason why it is, rather than is not." It was for Schopenhauer, as it was for G. W. leibniz, the integrating factor of cognition, the a priori condition of "objective" knowledge. But "being-objective" meant for him "being-object-for-a-subject." Corresponding to the four different classes of objects that present themselves to cognitive consciousness, there are four types of sufficient reason. The "fourfold root," then, contains the principles of becoming, being, knowing, and acting (fiendi, essendi, cognoscendi, et agendi ). And since the fourfold root begets four kinds of consequents, there are four kinds of necessity: mathematical, physical, moral, and logical.

Schopenhauer regarded himself as the legitimate heir of Kant. His two-volume masterpiece, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, was written in Dresden (181418) and first published at Leipzig in 1819. It contains the quintessence of his metaphysics and ethics. Epistemologically, it espouses pure phenomenalism. The world is nothing but the "ideal mental representation" (Vorstellung ) of the subject. The intellect's innate forms of space, time, and causality work upon matter, producing a regulated corporeal world. Space and time as such are formal expressions of the principle of sufficient reason. With Kant, Schopenhauer holds that the noumenal Ding an sich (thing in itself) cannot be known by means of reason, but it can be experienced in introspective inner perception. It is essentially will, the "will-to-live," a dark and blind urge that is alive as a cosmic principle in all being but becomes intelligible only on the level of human existence. This cosmic will is primary; intellectual cognition is secondary and merely auxiliary. The universal "world will," itself aimless and purposeless, causes desire, disease, suffering, and death, thus forging an endless chain of transmigrations occurring within the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

While in his metaphysics Schopenhauer shows only the influence of Buddhism, in his ethics Buddhist and Christian motifs fuse. Sympathy with all suffering, asceticism, and the resolute negation of the cosmic will can break the vicious circle and liberate from pain and suffering in the eternal quiescence of nirvana. Schopenhauer discusses two other attempts to overcome the cosmic will that are either futile or inadequate: suicide destroys only the individual (phenomenal) but not the universal (noumenal) will; aesthetic contemplation, owing to the fact that works of art (especially music) are "objectivations" of Platonic Ideas, offers man only a temporary release from the cosmic will.

Schopenhauer further elaborated his philosophy in a collection of essays titled Über den Willen in der Natur (Frankfurt 1836) and in two prize-winning essays submitted to the Societies of Science of Norway and Denmark, dealing respectively with the freedom of the will and the foundation of morality (publ. jointly under the title Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik, Frankfurt 1841). The treatises titled Parerga und Paralipomena (2 v. Berlin 1851) discuss the philosophy of history, academic philosophy (Universitätsphilosophie ), and the theory of colors, wherein Schopenhauer sustains the theses of Goethe's Farbenlehre against Newton.

While for G. W. Leibniz the created universe was "the best of all possible worlds," Schopenhauer called it "the worst of all possible worlds," "a business whose profits do not cover its expenses." Schopenhauer's misanthropy, his conviction of the prevalence of evil, and his demand of total renunciation of desire did not prevent him from enjoying the pleasures of life. He had a highly developed aesthetic sense and an unusual command of ancient and modern languages; he was also a master stylist. The atheism, pessimism, and voluntarism of his philosophy are incompatible with Christianity, but his thinking exerted great influence on Eduard von hartmann, Richard wagner, the early F. nietzsche, Henri bergson, and others.

See Also: pessimism; voluntarism.

Bibliography: Works. Sämtliche Werke, ed. p. deussen and a. hÜbscher, 16 v. (Munich 191142); "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason," and "On the Will in Nature," tr. k. hillebrand (rev. ed. London 1907); The World As Will and Idea, tr. r. b. haldane and j. kemp, 3 v. (6th ed. London 190709); The Basis of Mortality, ed. and tr. a. b. bullock (London 1915); Selected Essays, tr. e. b. bax (London 1891), from Parerga und Paralipomena. Literature. f. copleston, Arthur Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism (London 1946). v. j. mcgill, Schopenhauer: Pessimist and Pagan (New York 1931). h. zimmern, Arthur Schopenhauer: His Life and His Philosophy (rev. ed. New York 1932).

[k. f. reinhardt]

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

SCHOPENHAUER, ARTHUR

life and works
will and representation
ethics, aesthetics, and the meaning of life
bibliography

SCHOPENHAUER, ARTHUR (1788–1860), German philosopher.

Arthur Schopenhauer produced a system of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics centered around the notion of the will. His works became influential on European philosophers, artists, and other intellectuals in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

life and works

Schopenhauer was born in Danzig, the son of a wealthy merchant of cosmopolitan outlook and a mother who was to make her career as a popular novelist and patron of the arts. Though originally destined for a career in business, Schopenhauer struck out on his own in 1809 and attended university in Göttingen and Berlin. His first philosophical work, published in 1814, was a doctoral dissertation entitled On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, an original analysis of different forms of explanation that he continued to regard as integral to his philosophy. In 1819 after a short but intense period of writing and synthesis of various sources (chiefly Kant, Plato, and the Upanishads) Schopenhauer produced the major work of his life, The World as Will and Representation. A second edition appeared in 1844 with some revisions and a new second volume of explanatory essays. This two-volume work is the central standard work on which his reputation chiefly rests.

Schopenhauer had tried and failed to establish a lecturing career for himself in Berlin. Despite or perhaps because of this, he was contemptuous of university philosophy, especially for its falling under the influence of Friedrich Hegel and the German idealists. The second edition of The World as Will and Representation and other works published in the 1840s are peppered with vitriolic attacks on Hegel and his legacy (which by then was past its peak). Among Schopenhauer's other works, two essays on ethics are especially notable: On the Freedom of the Will and On the Basis of Morality, which he published together under the title Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics in 1841. In 1833 Schopenhauer had settled in Frankfurt am Main, and spent his last three decades there, living a comfortable if essentially solitary life. Another two-volume work, Parerga and Paralipomena, appeared in 1851, consisting of "aphorisms on the wisdom of life" and many extended essays, some profound, some scholarly, and some opinionated, including a misogynistic essay "On Women." Parerga attracted some readership, and Schopenhauer enjoyed correspondence and visits during his last years that gave some evidence of growing, if belated, recognition. He died in Frankfurt in 1860.

In 1877 Wilhelm Wundt called Schopenhauer the "born leader of non-academic philosophy in Germany." Schopenhauer never had any systematic following, but his pessimism and his aesthetic theory were especially influential and continue to be the most discussed parts of his philosophy. Most important among those whom he influenced were Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche. Thomas Mann and Ludwig Wittgenstein were among a later generation to fall under his pervasive influence, and Sigmund Freud's theories of the unconscious and the centrality of sexuality were partially enabled by Schopenhauer's doctrine of the will.

will and representation

Schopenhauer takes from Immanuel Kant the distinction between representation (Vorstellung) and thing-in-itself, the former comprising the objects presented to the mind in experience, the latter a reality that transcends our capacity for experience. Schopenhauer argues that Kant left the thing-in-itself a "riddle" that surpasses human knowledge, and offers to solve the riddle by showing that the reality underlying both the material world and the self is will. The single world therefore has two aspects: it is human representation, but beyond that it is will. Schopenhauer's theory combines idealism—saying that the material world of objects in space and time does not exist independently of the subject's experience—with a metaphysical account of the fundamental essence of reality as will, a principle of striving without consciousness or purpose.

Schopenhauer reaches this conclusion from an initial consideration of self-consciousness. Individuals have an "inner" experience of themselves as agents, in which a subjective mental state of willing realizes itself as a moving of the physical body in space. The intimate awareness individuals have of themselves in action not only undermines any dualist picture of the relation of mind and body, but, Schopenhauer argues, also provides the key to understanding the relation of inner and outer in the world as a whole. The self is a microcosm analogous to the macrocosm, and what appear as external material bodies in space and time all have the same inner essence as ourselves, that is, they are will.

This core notion of the will gives rise to considerable philosophical difficulties. If it is the thing-in-itself, then it should be unknowable, yet Schopenhauer claims knowledge of it. Some interpreters have attempted to remove this inconsistency by arguing that Schopenhauer's position has greater complexity than he sometimes acknowledges, and that will is simply the one common essence of all experiencable objects, while the world considered truly in itself remains unknowable. But even with this modification it is hard to grasp the nature of Schopenhauer's will. It is called will because it corresponds to the human will known in self-consciousness, but Schopenhauer offers assurance that the will in nature is without intention, rationality, or concept and is neither a conscious nor even a mental force.

The influence of Schopenhauer's doctrine of the will stems not from its technical qualities as an exercise in metaphysics, but from the powerful vision of the character of the world and the human individual that he hangs around it. The world has no plan or purpose and is not rationally constructed. The single world-will endlessly tears itself apart through the multiplicity of individuals as which it manifests itself. Sexual instinct is


the focus of the will in the human body and psyche. Human beings, like all organic nature, are primarily expressions of will to life, an unconsciously existing drive to survival and reproduction that dominates their psychology and pushes them on independently of all choice or reason and subjects them to inevitable and unredeemed suffering.

ethics, aesthetics, and the meaning of life

Driven thus by the will, which is the underlying essence of the human character, individuals are predominately egoistic for Schopenhauer. Yet he believes that in each person there is at least a germ of compassion, the incentive that opposes egoism and seeks the well-being of others rather than one's own. Compassion is the foundation of morality. One cannot teach someone to be moral, because the composition of their character is inborn and unchangeable; moral principles, laws, and constraints can only channel behavior into less deleterious forms. The deeper significance of compassion for Schopenhauer is that it diminishes the influence of the individual's will and hints at the more profound truth that individuality is really illusory. To commit wrong is to encroach upon the will of another individual; the good person does this as little as possible because he or she places less of an absolute division between individuals, and has the intuition that at the level of the thing-in-itself individuals are all the same will.

A prominent feature of Schopenhauer's system is his aesthetic theory. He regards aesthetic experience as a disinterested contemplative consciousness in which the will of the individual is temporarily suspended. Aesthetic experience is valuable for him because it is a respite from the round of desire and suffering to which humans are condemned by their nature as willing beings. But in addition he argues that it enables a timeless knowledge of universals in nature, which he calls Platonic Ideas, and which are inaccessible to ordinary empirical consciousness. The subject of aesthetic experience transcends its own embodiment as a willing individual, and the contemplated object is elevated to an Idea rather than a mere empirical object. In addition to this general theory of aesthetic experience Schopenhauer gives an account of the value of the different art forms, suggesting that some offer predominantly the peace of will-less experience, others knowledge of universals in human life, tragedy being the prime case of the latter. Finally Schopenhauer gives an account of music, which he regards as a uniquely important art form because it provides a direct copy of the movements of the will itself and replicates the whole range of manifestations of will in the world of human experience.

Schopenhauer's philosophy culminates with an account of salvation, which despite his atheism has affinities with parts of Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Salvation is needed because the world is full of unredeemed suffering and humanity's essence as will is to blame for the human predicament. Schopenhauer argues that if everyone properly understood the nature of their existence, they would judge that nonexistence would have been preferable. It is only if one's attachment to life and individual embodiment wanes, and the will to life within one turns and denies itself, that one can be free of the curse of unfulfilled willing and suffering. Schopenhauer is usually accounted a pessimist. The emphasis he places on mystical selflessness can be defended as a positive counter to pessimism, but is itself a fundamental negation of the value of human existence as an individual subject of will. The influence of this negation on Nietzsche was particularly pronounced.

See alsoHegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; Nietzsche, Friedrich.

bibliography

Primary Sources

Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Representation. Translated by E. F. J. Payne. 2 vols. New York: 1969.

——. On the Basis of Morality. Translated by E. F. J. Payne. Oxford, U.K., 1995.

Secondary Sources

Gardiner, Patrick. Schopenhauer. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1967. Reprint, Bristol, 1997.

Janaway, Christopher. Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, U.K., and New York, 2002.

Janaway, Christopher, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1999.

Magee, Bryan, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer. Rev. ed., Oxford, U.K., and New York: 1997.

Christopher Janaway

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Schopenhauer, Arthur

Schopenhauer, Arthur

Schopenhauer, Arthur, great German philosopher; b. Danzig, Feb. 22, 1788; d. Frankfurt am Main, Sept. 21, 1860. Although his excursions into the realm of music are neither remarkable nor very valuable, they are stimulating, and have inspired a number of valuable contributions by modern investigators, especially in the field of musical esthetics. Wagner was influenced to a considerable extent by Schopenhauer’s philosophical system.

Bibliography

F. von Hausegger, Richard Wagner und A. S. (Leipzig, 1878; second ed., 1892); M. Seydel, A. S.s Metaphysik der Musik (Leipzig, 1895); E. Zoccoli, L’estetica di S. (Milan, 1901); G. MeUi, La filosofia di S. (Florence, 1905); T. Lessing, S., Wagner, Nietzsche (Munich, 1906); F. Wagner, Beiträge zur Würdigung der Musiktheorie S.s (diss., Univ. of Bonn, 1910); A. von Gottschalk, Beethoven und S. (Blanckenburg, 1912); A. Huebscher, S.: Gestern-Heute-Morgen (1973).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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