It is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world, and originates in needs and necessities inseparable from life itself, as serving no purpose at all and the result of mere chance. Each separate misfortune, as it comes, seems, no doubt, to be something exceptional; but misfortune in general is the rule. I know of no greater absurdity than that propounded by most systems of philosophy in declaring evil to be negative in its character. Evil is just what is positive; it makes its own existence felt.
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Life: — Exactly a month younger than the English Romantic poet, Lord Byron — , who was born on January 22, , Arthur Schopenhauer came into the world on February 22, in Danzig [Gdansk, Poland] — a city that had a long history in international trade as a member of the Hanseatic League. In March , when Schopenhauer was five years old, his family moved to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg after the formerly free city of Danzig was annexed by Prussia.
Schopenhauer toured through Europe several times with his family as a youngster and young teenager, and lived in France —99 [ages ] and England [age 15], where he learned the languages of those countries. As he later reported, his experiences in France were among the happiest of his life. The memories of his stay at a strict, Anglican-managed boarding school in Wimbledon were rather agonized in contrast, and this set him against the English style of Christianity for the rest of his life.
Her complete works total twenty-four volumes. Schopenhauer next enrolled at the University of Berlin —13 , where his lecturers included Johann Gottlieb Fichte — and Friedrich Schleiermacher — At age 25, and ready to write his doctoral dissertation, Schopenhauer moved in to Rudolstadt, a small town located a short distance southwest of Jena, where he lodged for the duration in an inn named Zum Ritter.
Fichte, along with F. Schelling — and G. Hegel — In that same year, Schopenhauer submitted his dissertation to the nearby University of Jena and was awarded a doctorate in philosophy in absentia. There he developed ideas from The Fourfold Root into his most famous book, The World as Will and Representation, that was completed in March of and published in December of that same year with the date, Panentheism i. As we will see below, Schopenhauer sometimes characterized the thing-in-itself in a way reminiscent of panentheism.
Two years later, in , he left his apartment near the University and travelled to Italy for a second time, returning to Munich a year later. He then lived in Mannheim and Dresden in before tracing his way back to Berlin in A second attempt to lecture at the University of Berlin was unsuccessful, and this disappointment was complicated by the loss of a lawsuit that had begun several years earlier in August, The dispute issued from an angry shoving-match between Schopenhauer and Caroline Luise Marguet d.
The issue concerned Ms. Leaving Berlin in in view of a cholera epidemic that was entering Germany from Russia, Schopenhauer moved south, first briefly to Frankfurt-am-Main, and then to Mannheim.
His daily life, living alone with a succession of pet French poodles named Atma and Butz , was defined by a deliberate routine: Schopenhauer would awake, wash, read and study during the morning hours, play his flute, lunch at the Englisher Hof — a fashionable inn at the city center near the Hauptwache — rest afterwards, read, take an afternoon walk, check the world events as reported in The London Times, sometimes attend concerts in the evenings, and frequently read inspirational texts such as the Upanishads before going to sleep.
Featured in this work are chapters on animal magnetism and magic, along with Sinology Chinese studies. The Society claimed that Schopenhauer did not answer the assigned question and that he gravely disrespected philosophers with outstanding reputations viz. There soon followed an accompanying volume to The World as Will and Representation, that was published in along with the first volume in a combined second edition. In , Schopenhauer published a lengthy and lively set of philosophical reflections entitled Parerga and Paralipomena appendices and omissions, from the Greek , and within a couple of years, he began to receive the philosophical recognition for which he had long hoped.
He was Schopenhauer donated his estate to help disabled Prussian soldiers and the families of those soldiers killed, who had participated in the suppression of the revolution. An assortment of photographs of Schopenhauer was taken during his final years, and although they reveal to us an old man, we should appreciate that Schopenhauer completed his main work, The World as Will and Representation, by the time he had reached the age of thirty.
His dissertation, in effect, critically examines the disposition to assume that what is real is what is rational. A century earlier, G. Leibniz — had defined the principle of this assumption — the principle of sufficient reason — in his Monadology as that which requires us to acknowledge that there is no fact or truth that lacks a sufficient reason why it should be so, and not otherwise.
Although the principle of sufficient reason might seem to be self-evident, it does yield surprising results. For example, we can appeal to this principle to argue that there can be no two individuals exactly alike, because there would otherwise be no sufficient reason why one of the individuals was in one place, while the other individual was in another.
The principle also supports the argument that the physical world was not created at any point in time, since there is no sufficient reason why it would be created at one point in time rather than another, since all points in time are qualitatively the same. Schopenhauer observed as an elementary condition, that to employ the principle of sufficient reason, we must think about something specific that stands in need of explanation.
This indicated to him that at the root of our epistemological situation, we must assume the presence of a subject that thinks about some object to be explained. From this, he concluded that the general root of the principle of sufficient reason is the distinction between subject and object that must be presupposed as a condition for the very enterprise of looking for explanations The Fourfold Root, Section 16 and as a condition for knowledge in general.
Kant characterized the subjective pole of the distinction as the contentless transcendental unity of self-consciousness and the objective pole as the contentless transcendental object, that corresponds to the concept of an object in general CPR, A He associates material things with reasoning in terms of cause and effect; abstract concepts with reasoning in terms of logic; mathematical and geometrical constructions with reasoning in reference to numbers and spaces; and motivating forces with reasoning in reference to intentions, or what he calls moral reasoning.
In sum, he identifies the general root of the principle of sufficient reason as the subject-object distinction in conjunction with the thought of necessary connection, and the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason as the specification of four different kinds of objects for which we can seek explanations, in association with the four independent styles of necessary connection along which such explanations can be given, depending upon the different kinds of objects involved.
If we begin by choosing a certain style of explanation, then we immediately choose the kinds of object to which we can refer.
Conversely, if we begin by choosing a certain kind of object to explain, we are obliged to use the style of reasoning associated with that kind of object. It thus violates the rationality of explanation to confuse one kind of explanation with another kind of object. We cannot begin with a style of explanation that involves material objects and their associated cause-and-effect relationships, for example, and then argue to a conclusion that involves a different kind of object, such as an abstract concept.
Likewise, we cannot begin with abstract conceptual definitions and accordingly employ logical reasoning for the purposes of concluding our argumentation with assertions about things that exist. His frequent condemnation of German Idealism was advanced in light of what he considered to be sound philosophical reasons, despite his ad hominem attacks on Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Schulze, who authored in , a text entitled Aenesidemus, that contains a criticism of the Kantian philosopher, Karl Leonhard Reinhold — Schulze shares this criticism of Kant with F.
Schopenhauer concurs that hypothesizing a thing-in-itself as the cause of our sensations amounts to a constitutive application and projection of the concept of causality beyond its legitimate scope, for according to Kant himself, the concept of causality only supplies knowledge when it is applied within the field of possible experience, and not outside of it.
Schopenhauer therefore denies that our sensations have an external cause in the sense that we can know there is some epistemologically inaccessible object — the thing-in-itself — that exists independently of our sensations and is the cause of them.
Schopenhauer maintains instead that if we are to refer to the thing-in-itself, then we must come to an awareness of it, not by invoking the relationship of causality — a relationship where the cause and the effect are logically understood to be distinct objects or events since self-causation is a contradiction in terms — but through another means altogether. His position is that Will and representations are one and the same reality, regarded from different perspectives.
They stand in relationship to each other in a way that compares to the relationship between a force and its manifestation e. This is opposed to saying that the thing-in-itself causes our sensations, as if we were referring to one domino striking another. Schopenhauer further comprehends these three and for him, interdependent principles as expressions of a single principle, namely, the principle of sufficient reason, whose fourfold root he had examined in his doctoral dissertation.
In The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer often refers to an aspect of the principle of sufficient reason as the principle of individuation principium individuationis , linking the idea of individuation explicitly with space and time, but also implicitly with rationality, necessity, systematicity and determinism.
He uses the principle of sufficient reason and the principle of individuation as shorthand expressions for what Kant had more complexly referred to as space, time and the twelve categories of the understanding viz. For as one is a part of the universe as is everything else, the basic energies of the universe flow through oneself, as they flow through everything else. Among the most frequently-identified principles that are introspectively brought forth — and one that was the standard for German Idealist philosophers such as Fichte, Schelling and Hegel who were philosophizing within the Cartesian tradition — is the principle of self-consciousness.
With the belief that acts of self-consciousness exemplify a self-creative process akin to divine creation, and developing a logic that reflects the structure of self-consciousness, namely, the dialectical logic of position, opposition and reconciliation sometimes described as the logic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis , the German Idealists maintained that dialectical logic mirrors the structure not only of human productions, both individual and social, but the structure of reality as a whole, conceived of as a thinking substance or conceptually-structured-and-constituted entity.
As much as he opposes the traditional German Idealists in their metaphysical elevation of self-consciousness which he regards as too intellectualistic , Schopenhauer philosophizes within the spirit of this tradition, for he believes that the supreme principle of the universe is likewise apprehensible through introspection, and that we can understand the world as various manifestations of this general principle.
Having rejected the Kantian position that our sensations are caused by an unknowable object that exists independently of us, Schopenhauer notes importantly that our body — which is just one among the many objects in the world — is given to us in two different ways: we perceive our body as a physical object among other physical objects, subject to the natural laws that govern the movements of all physical objects, and we are aware of our body through our immediate awareness, as we each consciously inhabit our body, intentionally move it, and feel directly our pleasures, pains, and emotional states.
We can objectively perceive our hand as an external object, as a surgeon might perceive it during a medical operation, and we can also be subjectively aware of our hand as something we inhabit, as something we willfully move, and of which we can feel its inner muscular workings. From this observation, Schopenhauer asserts that among all the objects in the universe, there is only one object, relative to each of us — namely, our physical body — that is given in two entirely different ways.
It is given as representation i. One of his notable conclusions is that when we move our hand, this is not to be comprehended as a motivational act that first happens, and then causes the movement of our hand as an effect. He maintains that the movement of our hand is but a single act — again, like the two sides of a coin — that has a subjective feeling of willing as one of its aspects, and the movement of the hand as the other.
More generally, he adds that the action of the body is nothing but the act of Will objectified, that is, translated into perception. At this point in his argumentation, Schopenhauer has established only that among his many ideas, or representations, only one of them viz. When he perceives the moon or a mountain, he does not under ordinary circumstances have any direct access to the metaphysical inside of such objects; they remain as representations that reveal to him only their objective side.
Schopenhauer asks, though, how he might understand the world as an integrated whole, or how he might render his entire field of perception more comprehensible, for as things stand, he can directly experience the inside of one of his representations, but of no others.
To answer this question, he uses the double-knowledge of his own body as the key to the inner being of every other natural phenomenon: he regards — as if he were trying to make the notion of universal empathy theoretically possible — every object in the world as being metaphysically double-aspected, and as having an inside or inner aspect of its own, just as his consciousness is the inner aspect of his own body.
This precipitates a position that characterizes the inner aspect of things, as far as we can describe it, as Will. Hence, Schopenhauer regards the world as a whole as having two sides: the world is Will and the world is representation.
A subsequent, but often highlighted inspiration is from the Upanishads c. Schopenhauer also probably met at the time, Julius Klaproth — , who was the editor of Das Asiatische Magazin.
As the records of his library book withdrawals indicate, Schopenhauer began reading the Bhagavadgita in December or very soon thereafter, and the Upanishads in March Krause was not only a metaphysical panentheist see biographic segment above ; he was also an enthusiast of South Asian thought. When anthropomorphically considered, the world is represented as being in a condition of eternal frustration, as it endlessly strives for nothing in particular, and as it goes essentially nowhere.
It is a world beyond any ascriptions of good and evil. Like these German Idealists, however, Schopenhauer also tries to explain how the world that we experience daily is the result of the activity of the central principle of things. As the German Idealists tried to account for the great chain of being — the rocks, trees, animals, and human beings — as the increasingly complicated and detailed objectifications of self-consciousness, Schopenhauer attempts to do the same by explaining the world as objectifications of Will.
For Schopenhauer, the world we experience is constituted by objectifications of Will that correspond first, to the general root of the principle of sufficient reason, and second, to the more specific fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason. This generates initially, a two-tiered outlook viz. The general philosophical pattern of a single world-essence that initially manifests itself as a multiplicity of abstract essences, that, in turn, manifest themselves as a multiplicity of physical individuals is found throughout the world.
It is characteristic of Neoplatonism c. According to Schopenhauer, corresponding to the level of the universal subject-object distinction, Will is immediately objectified into a set of universal objects or Platonic Ideas. These constitute the timeless patterns for each of the individual things that we experience in space and time.
In these respects, the Platonic Ideas are independent of the specific fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason, even though it would be misleading to say that there is no individuation whatsoever at this universal level, for there are many different Platonic Ideas that are individuated from one another. Schopenhauer refers to the Platonic Ideas as the direct objectifications of Will, and as the immediate objectivity of Will.
When Will is objectified at this level of determination, the world of everyday life emerges, whose objects are, in effect, kaleidoscopically multiplied manifestations of the Platonic forms, endlessly dispersed throughout space and time.
To that extent, Schopenhauer says that life is like a dream. As a condition of our knowledge, Schopenhauer believes that the laws of nature, along with the sets of objects that we experience, we ourselves create in way that is not unlike the way the constitution of our tongues invokes the taste of sugar. At this point, what Schopenhauer has developed philosophically is surely interesting, but we have not yet mentioned its more remarkable and memorable aspect.
Before the human being comes onto the scene with its principle of sufficient reason or principle of individuation there are no individuals.
It is the human being that, in its very effort to know anything, objectifies an appearance for itself that involves the fragmentation of Will and its breakup into a comprehensible set of individuals.
The result of this fragmentation, given the nature of Will, is terrible: it is a world of constant struggle, where each individual thing strives against every other individual thing. Adding to this, Schopenhauer maintains in The World as Will and Representation that we create the violent state of nature, for his view is that the individuation we impose upon things, is imposed upon a blind striving energy that, once it becomes individuated and objectified, turns against itself, consumes itself, and does violence to itself.
Reason and Meaning
On the Suffering of the World Quotes