Arthur essay in pessimism schopenhauer study
On the suffering of the world
It seems to be so only because this desire — this Will — attains consciousness only in the individual, and therefore looks as though it were concerned with nothing but the individual. The curse of vulgarity puts men on a par with the lower animals, by allowing them none but a generic nature, a generic form of existence. The same thing, no doubt, happens to many others as well; for where is the man who can help thinking that, after all, it were better not to have done something that he did with great deliberation: Quid tam dextro pede concipis ut te Conatus non poeniteat votique peracti? Well, perhaps I may be able to satisfy you on this point. Asceticism is the denial of the will to live; and the transition from the Old Testament to the New, from the dominion of Law to that of Faith, from justification by works to redemption through the Mediator, from the domain of sin and death to eternal life in Christ, means, when taken in its real sense, the transition from the merely moral virtues to the denial of the will to live. Only that which is innate is genuine and will hold water; and every man who wants to achieve something, whether in practical life, in literature, or in art, must follow the rules without knowing them. The tranquillity of mind which this seems to give them often puts us to shame for the many times we allow our thoughts and our cares to make us restless and discontented. Indeed, the whole of our social arrangements may be likened to a perpetual comedy; and this is why a man who is worth anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is quite at home in it. It has no power of summing up its feelings. Schopenhauer is one of the most pessimistic philosophers you' re likely to meet, but he' s got his reasons. Cold, he said, is only the absence of the power of heat, and the active power of expansion in freezing water is an incidental and not an essential part of the nature of cold. In my eyes, it is the only metaphysical truth in that book, even though it appears in the form of an allegory.
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But there lies the rub!
But I have preferred immortality, because that word is commonly associated with the subject touched upon in this little debate. Let us examine the matter a little more closely. Therefore let a man take counsel of a friend. Ask them for any doctrine you please, and you will get it.
The extraordinary energy and zeal with which the clergy of monotheistic religions attack suicide is not supported either by any passages in the Bible or by any considerations of weight; so that it looks as though they must have some secret reason for their contention.
The brute flies from death instinctively without really knowing what it is, and therefore without ever contemplating it in the way natural to a man, who has this prospect always before his eyes.
While no man is much to be envied for his lot, there are countless numbers whose fate is to be deplored.
Schopenhauer on death
Like the majority of philosophers, Shopenhauer was up to build a proper philosophy of representation. We look upon the present as something to be put up with while it lasts, and serving only as the way towards our goal. According to Schopenhauer, moral freedom — the highest ethical aim — is to be obtained only by a denial of the will to live. Accordingly, any quality of mind or character that is genuine and lasting, is originally unconscious; and it is only when unconsciously brought into play that it makes a profound impression. On the Sufferings of the World. In the same way, too, evil presses upon the brute only with its own intrinsic weight; whereas with us the fear of its coming often makes its burden ten times more grievous. The fact is, that the power of expansion in freezing water is really an increase of repulsion amongst its molecules; and Schopenhauer is quite right in calling the whole argument a sophism. Schopenhauer argues, strikingly, that it would have been better if life had not come into existence. Such men think only just so much as is necessary to carry out their will for the moment. One man, it is true, may have faults that are absent in his fellow; and it is undeniable that the sum total of bad qualities is in some cases very large; for the difference of individuality between man and man passes all measure. The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to every one. According to the doctrines of Buddhism, the world came into being as the result of some inexplicable disturbance in the heavenly calm of Nirvana, that blessed state obtained by expiation, which had endured so long a time — the change taking place by a kind of fatality. A Few Parables. There lies the illusion — an illusion, it is true, in which the individual is held fast: but, if he reflects, he can break the fetters and set himself free.
A man is great or small according as he leans to the one or the other of these views of life. And yet, when all is told, he has been struggling ultimately for the very same things as the brute has attained, and with an incomparably smaller expenditure of passion and pain.
The Will is the ultimate metaphysical animating noumenon and it is.
It is this that is the real origin of his cares, his hopes, his fears — emotions which affect him much more deeply than could ever be the case with those present joys and sufferings to which the brute is confined. This is all the more striking, inasmuch as neither in the Old nor in the New Testament is there to be found any prohibition or positive disapproval of it; so that religious teachers are forced to base their condemnation of suicide on philosophical grounds of their own invention. On the contrary, if it is genuine, it is simply the conviction that the object of it is a man of no value at all. There is something positive about it; it is the destruction of the body; and a man shrinks from that, because his body is the manifestation of the will to live. Christians are trained to cross themselves on certain occasions, to bow, and so on. Noblemen and gentlemen are trained to hold nothing sacred but their word of honor — to maintain a zealous, rigid, and unshaken belief in the ridiculous code of chivalry; and if they are called upon to do so, to seal their belief by dying for it, and seriously to regard a king as a being of a higher order. The cause of it is an inward morbid discontent, often co-existing with a naturally restless temperament. Inspired by Plato and Kant, both of whom regarded the world as. And then, it is all one whether he has been happy or miserable; for his life was never anything more than a present moment always vanishing; and now it is over. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen. I know of no greater absurdity than that propounded by most systems of philosophy in declaring evil to be negative in its character. But if this pure, cold, sincere contempt ever shows itself, it will be met with the most truculent hatred; for the despised person is not in a position to fight contempt with its own weapons. If the criminal law forbids suicide, that is not an argument valid in the Church; and besides, the prohibition is ridiculous; for what penalty can frighten a man who is not afraid of death itself?
It is therefore really at one with the spirit of the New Testament, whilst all other systems are couched in the spirit of the Old; that is to say, theoretically as well as practically, their result is Judaism — mere despotic theism.
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