Vanden Auweele gives an individual-centered reading of ascetic awareness, stating that the ascetic transcends suffering and becomes absolutely free, with no further significance beyond the individual's liberation. In contrast, Nietzsche adopted a philosophy that said yes to life, fully cognizant of the fact that life is mostly miserable, evil, ugly, and absurd. As it tells us that Schopenhauer's pessimism has a Kantian foundation, it intimates that Kant's philosophy itself contains a pessimistic strand. Your email address will not be published. Arthur Schopenhauer and Hartmann can be considered as the main pro-pounders of this philosophy. On the negative side, we implicitly learn that understanding the historical source of Schopenhauer's notion of the senseless and irrational Will requires us not to rest easy with simply magnifying Kant's conception of Willkür. On the more technical side, Vanden Auweele develops David Hamlyn's partitioning of Schopenhauer's references to knowledge into four groups: (1) knowledge of ordinary spatio-temporal objects [mediate/representational], (2) knowledge of timeless objects, viz., Platonic Ideas [immediate/representational], (3) knowledge of one's body's inner being as Will [mediate/non-representational], (4) knowledge of the inner being of the world as a whole as Will [immediate/non-representational]. My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road. Schopenhauer's philosophy is well known for a deeply ingrained pessimistic quality. we end up in Schopenhauer with an all-powerful faculty of choice that self-expresses without the normative control and restraint offered by rationality" (p. 113). The upshot of Schopenhauer's philosophy is a dark, and profoundly pessimistic, picture of the human condition wherein redemptive possibilities must rely solely on human consciousness, on the denial of the manifest world, and on self-abnegation or complete suspension of the will-to-live through that freedom which consciousness is. Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, Dickinson, “Because I could not stop for Death “, Noonan: “An Almost Absolute Value in History”, Warren: “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion”, Williams: “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia”, Steinbock: “The Morality of Killing Human Embryos”, Kass: “Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology & …”, Lauritzen: “Stem Cells, Biotech & Human Rights …”, Mappes: “Sexual Morality and the Concept of Using …”, Dwyer: “Illegal Immigrants, Health Care, & Social …”, Dickinson: “The Brain is wider than the Sky”, Frost, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”, Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, ‘On the Vanity of Existence’, Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Vanity of Existence’, Summary of Arthur Schopenhauer’s, “’On the Sufferings of the World’, Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Sufferings of the World’, Summary of Marshall Brain’s “Robotic Nation”, A Philosopher’s Lifelong Search for Meaning, Summary of Bill Joy's, "Why the future doesn't need us,”, Summary of Aristotle's Theory of Human Nature. These can be understood as contending conceptions of freedom as self-determination. In the midst of this exposition, there is an illuminating reference to the Greek myth of Orpheus, whose music was so enchanting that it brought Ixion's wheel to a stop. The "in itself" of "reality" is Will, though, and according to Schopenhauer the artistic genius apprehends not Will directly, but the immediate objectifications of Will, namely Platonic Ideas. Schopenhauer's philosophy holds that all nature ... which is why Schopenhauer refers to them as the principium individuationis . He believed “Human life is a mistake,” and “Life is a constant process of dying.” Although I haven’t studied his philosophical ideas in depth, I stumbled upon some […] . The above posts describe the basics of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, which is the most sustained defense of pessimism and nihilism of which I’m aware. for more see my meaning of life series on the blog. Schopenhauer himself, however, regarded the concept of the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae with hostility, tracing it back to the Book of Genesis and blaming it as the philosophical source for all of his troubles with academia. The title of Dennis Vanden Auweele's book raises one's curiosity. Accessibility Information. Schopenhauer’s Pessimism : Aphorisms on Morality and Happiness Arthur Schopenhauer attempted to deepen the practical philosophy of Kant in his Aphorisms on wisdom of life. Stumbled across this blog while browsing. Why should one even bother, if we all are going to die one day? This division helps to clarify the content of Schopenhauer's various references to knowledge and is worth keeping in mind whenever working with Schopenhauer's philosophy. There is some insight in this observation. Thus Nietzsche claimed that Schopenhauer advocates a kind of “romantic pessimism.” Schopenhauer desired or willed nothing so as to achieve tranquility and peace. This is not the case with artist-philosophers like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, where there is an intrinsic connection between their life and work. 165-166). I’m too much of a mess but if I could have one wish for another life if that be our fate it would be a favorable rebirth in a really wholesome monastery and at least 6 hours of meditation a day and the most of the rest at work in the garden, far far away from the madding crowd. The Christian dimensions of Schopenhauer's philosophy are important to highlight -- Schopenhauer tends to have more Christian imagery and thematics in his writings than those from other religions -- but this should not diminish the significance of how immediately after Schopenhauer read sections of the Bhagavadgita in December 1813 and the Upanishads in March 1814 his writings assumed an atheistic tenor, no longer consistent with his earlier self-references in his manuscripts as an "illuminated theist." Of course, like any philosophy, Schopenhauer’s must in th… Becker felt that most of humanity shuts off much of their awareness to self protect from the brutal facts of reality. Schopenhauer's philosophy has in recognising the world's absurdity a certain acceptance and jouissance. Since Will has no consciousness, though, it makes no sense to speak of it as "choosing" anything. Thus Nietzsche claimed that Schopenhauer advocates a kind of “romantic pessimism.” Schopenhauer desired or willed nothing so as to achieve tranquility and peace. Whether Kant's doctrine of radical evil as stated in Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793) is consistent with the rest of his philosophy is a controversial matter, but if one accepts it and -- as we see in Schopenhauer -- develops a philosophy that dissolves individual freedom, immortality of the soul, God, and the kingdom of ends, then little moral hope is likely to remain for earth-bound, instinct-driven, human beings. He states, for example, that "the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae is an invention from the childhood of philosophy that has long since been exploded," that "only ignorance and want of culture could continue to speak about a freedom of a person's individual actions, about a liberum arbitrium indifferentiae" (On the Basis of Morality, §20, §10), and that "it will probably never be possible to convince the masses of the invalidity of this concept, but at least scholars should beware of speaking about it with so much innocence" (On the Freedom of the Will, Section IV, "Predecessors"). From the standpoint of Schopenhauer interpretation, perhaps this book's most questionable aspect is its understanding of the culminating point of Schopenhauer's philosophy, namely, ascetic awareness that arises from the denial-of-the-will. Vanden Auweele's second entrance into Schopenhauer's pessimism is through the notion of freedom, understood in terms of a conflict between two kinds of freedom -- rationally-grounded and non-rationally-grounded -- that Kant sets forth. Of course, Nietzsche argued that Schopenhauer’s view of the world says more about Schopenhauer than it does about the world. This is an individual person's radical capacity of free choice, the liberum arbitrium indifferentiae, as Schopenhauer calls it, the Willkür, as Kant calls it, and absolute freedom, as Sartre calls it. Schopenhauer too belongs to this select group, and David Cartwright’s new biography of Schopenhauer enables us to better understand his philosophy by better understanding the man. Storr was a professor of the famous Tübinger Stift, where he taught Kant's philosophy to, among others, Schelling and Hegel. However, I think the nothingness that Schopenhauer talks about could also be interpreted as similar to Nagarjuna’s “emptiness” or Meister Eckhardt’s “nothingness beyond god”. The will, as thing-in-itself, lies outside of the principle of sufficient reason (in all its forms) and is thus groundless (though each of the will's phenomena is subject to that principle). Another way to understand ascetic awareness -- one where interpretations of the above kind cannot arise -- is to appreciate that the ascetic, like everything else, is a manifestation of Will as the thing-in-itself. By clearly showing what makes up the ‘pessimism’ of a ‘pessimistic religion’, Schopenhauer’s own philosophical pessimism can be clarified since he posits a strict correlation between the truth of (proper) philosophy and (pessimistic) religion. This will is an aimless striving which can never be fully satisfied, hence life is essentially dissatisfaction. This reading can be traced back to one Gottlob Christian Storr (1746-1805), who published a number of notes to Kant's first edition of the Religionsschrift, entitled Annotationes quaedam theologiae ad philosophicam Kantii de religione doctrinam (1793). I have a first addition book by this author anyone interested to purchase? Schopenhauer’s advice is interesting because it is so incredibly contrarian. Ascetic awareness "numbs the will to life to sleep" (p. 207) and involves the "narcotic silencing" of the will (p. 142), as if it were mainly an anaesthetic. Schopenhauer’s pessimism is the most well known feature of his philosophy, and he is often referred to as the philosopher of pessimism. The discussion then proceeds as a general exposition of Schopenhauer's aesthetic theory. His writings influenced later existential philosophy and Freudian psychology. By looking at the world as chaotic, unorganized, and not making much sense, we can … I tramp a perpetual journey, (come listen all!) Schopenhauer the pessimist is famous. While Cioran from his teenage years onwards never wavered in … , Nietzsche tells us that Schopenhauer's pessimism is an expression of the "impoverishment of [his] life" and, at bottom, of his need for "redemption from [himself]." Am I truly prejudiced and not open to the thought that life is a blessing? Liked it? Take a second to support Dr John Messerly on Patreon! Required fields are marked *. ISSN: 1538 - 1617 My signs are a rain-proof coat, good shoes, and a staff cut from the woods, Subscribe to ReasonandMeaning and receive notifications of new posts by email. If nothingness is inevitable anyway, then Nietzsche’s stance of affirming life seems like the only reasonable and most noble response. This is unexpected, since pessimism does not appear to be a particularly Kantian quality. . “Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Sufferings of the World’”. “Life is a sorry business.” – Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer was a great 19th-century philosopher whose life experiences resulted in him adopting a pessimistic attitude towards life. Accordingly, Schopenhauer’s pessimism is by means of this process clarified as non-radical and providing a genuine ‘highest good’ that is more than absolute denial. The thing-in-itself:This is quit… It remains that Will as thing-in-itself is non-rational, absolutely self-determining, and acts insofar as it manifests or objectifies itself. Schopenhauer’s pessimistic vision follows from his account of the inner nature of the world as aimless blind striving.Because the will has no goal or purpose, the will’s satisfaction is impossible. I finally also have come to the conclusion that asceticism is the best way out of such a problem as being born into a world of suffering. For the most part, Vanden Auweele's exposition is knowledgeable and displays a solid comprehension of Schopenhauer's philosophy. The time period in question begins with his move to Weimar in November 1813 soon after receiving his PhD in October, and ends with his bitter quarrel and permanent estrangement from his mother in May 1814, at which time he immediately moved to Dresden where in 1815-1817 he lived next to the Sanskrit scholar, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781-1832). Thank you. Hey, anyone knows where Nietzche wrote that comment about Schopenhauer? These can be understood as contending conceptions of freedom as self-determination. What can I learn more about this? Vanden Auweele states nonetheless that "Schopenhauer metaphysicalizes Kant's power of choice and . He concludes that "Schopenhauer's philosophy is Protestant Christianity without Christ, God or grace" (p. 224). If you are a deeply thoughtful person that is. Reviewed by Robert Wicks, The University of Auckland. . The ascetic condition is consequently the highest and most hopeful good that a person can achieve as a living being in the hellish spatio-temporal world, for it dissolves the individual self for the sake of quietistically diminishing the morally repulsive energy of Will as thing-in-itself. But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll, Vanden Auweele concludes by stating that Schopenhauer's presentation of the ascetic endpoint is "cynical, almost even snide: we ought to distance ourselves from reality and from ourselves to such an extent that there is no reality or self to which to relate" (p. 227). This book is valuable in helping us appreciate that there is a strong Christian dimension to Schopenhauer's philosophy. Kant's moral theory upholds the belief in individual freedom, the immortality of the soul, and the existence of an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who serves to coordinate happiness with virtue in an ideal end-state. “Commentary on Schopenhauer’s ‘On the Vanity of Existence’” (4) life is essentially suffering and suffering is evil; In contrast, Nietzsche adopted a philosophy that said yes to life, fully cognizant of the fact that life is mostly miserable, evil, ugly, and absurd. Schopenhauer was willing nothing, rather than not willing at all. The second conception is independent of rationality and has an individualistic orientation: it is the mere capacity to will this or that at some time, without any regard to consistency, rules, maxims, regulations, laws, principles, and such. and his Pessimistic Philosophy. appreciate your thoughtful comments. This is despite how Schopenhauer's metaphysics -- considering especially how the history of philosophy unfolded through Nietzsche and 20th century existentialist philosophy -- was so far ahead of its time in its non-rational vision of ultimate reality, that it left him as a philosophical loner during the first half of the 19th century. This is one of the book's leading pessimistic affinities between Kant and Schopenhauer. To follow this book's interpretive route, one must accept that Schopenhauer elevated to the heights of his metaphysics a principle that he abhorred, using it self-consciously as the basis of his conception of Will as thing-in-itself. Aside from suggesting that Kant's theory of genius might have influenced Schopenhauer, there is no summary of the extensive influences that one is led to anticipate, and one is directed to other works to retrieve the Kantian interconnections for oneself: "The reason I do not discuss Schopenhauer's relationship to Kant's aesthetics is that it has already been done extensively" (p. 177). Schopenhauer believed that since our intellect imposes difference on the … The pretty standard interpretation of Nietzsche. Pessimists, though, will recognise a kindred spirit when they hear his views of people and the world we live in. These thinkers found a convenient platform in Pessimism to put forth their doctrines related to Death, Nothingness and Angst. When the ascetic denies the will, this amounts to a small reduction in the energy of Will itself, like a sunspot upon the shining sun, the darkness of which represents a cooler area. In Schopenhauer's philosophy, one transforms the spatio-temporal world through the metaphysical repercussions of one's having resigned from it. In reference to the awareness of the artistic genius, it is said that "the genius is able to appreciate the in itself of reality" (p. 183) and that "the genius perceives the in itself of the object" (p. 183). Unlike the compassionate person, whose field of moral activity is worldly and who helps reduce the suffering of other individuals, the ascetic strikes not at instances of suffering in the spatio-temporal world, but at the ultimate source of suffering, namely, Will itself, working with moral profundity to reduce suffering at its metaphysical root. Kierkegaard argues that this pessimism is actually a backwards optimism, a tacit pursuit of happiness. A thoughtful reader offered a rejoinder to the conclusion of my recent series on life and meaning. Schopenhauer says we should “will nothingness”, then this seems somewhat pointless, because nothingness is our destiny anyway i.e death. Placing him in his historical and philosophical contexts, David E. Cartwright tells the story of Schopenhauer’s life to convey the full range of his philosophy. The book reminds us, though, that a pessimistic aspect of Kant resides in a position he maintained in the later part of his career -- one reminiscent of the Christian doctrine of original sin -- that rooted in the human being is a corrupt propensity towards self-interest and evil. pessimistic philosophy of Schopenhauer chiefly expressed in his essay, “On the Sufferings of the World.” If the world is full of suffering and misfortune, as Schopenhauer argues, then we must find ways of dealing with this painful world. Like the Buddha, Schopenhauer would tell us to cut down exponentially on our desires because they are what cause our unhappiness. Dennis Vanden Auweele, The Kantian Foundation of Schopenhauer's Pessimism, Routledge, 2017, 242pp., $149.95 (hbk), ISBN 9781138744271. Well Schopenhauer died sane at least. For Schopenhauer, who is considered to be a pessimistic philosopher, the tragedy of life arises from the nature of the will, which constantly urges the individual toward the satisfaction of successive goals, none of which can provide permanent satisfaction for the infinite activity of the life force, or will. Schopenhauer was willing nothing, rather than not willing at all. Schopenhauer’s philosophy is essentially a single thought: the metaphysical essence of the world and ourselves is expressed in will. I have no chair, no church, no philosophy, “Nietzsche argued that Schopenhauer’s view of the world says more about Schopenhauer than it does about the world” Thanks. Schopenhauer’s work was dense and his language assertive. 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