Author Topic: World as Representation  (Read 496 times)

0 Members and 0 Guests are viewing this topic.


  • { ∅, { ∅ } }
  • Posts: 3790
  • Hentrichian Philosophical Pessimist
World as Representation
« on: October 07, 2015, 12:39:10 am »
I am reading WWR which comprises of four books. The first deals with Schopenhauer’s take on the world considered as appearance, idea, or representation. The second, and perhaps most interesting, explains Schopenhauer’s view that the entire world of appearance is nothing but objectified will. The third book contains Schopenhauer’s treatment of aesthetics. The fourth is something of a solution to the horrors of existence in the denial of the will to live.
Now I want to write about Book-I, World as Representation. I think it’s primarily a rehash of what Kant had said already. Though it is a good introduction to his magnum opus,for his philosophy is greatly a development of that of Kant’s,per se, it is not original & his original contribution to philosophy starts only with Book-II.Do you agree?
Which one, out of the four, is the most important book, according to you?
What I mean is, if one were well-versed in Kant, could one directly get started with Book II?
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


  • { ∅, { ∅ } }
  • Posts: 3790
  • Hentrichian Philosophical Pessimist
Look Who is Back!
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2015, 01:43:31 pm »
Hi, my name is Arthur Schopenhauer.  I lived from 1788 to 1860 of the Common Era, but now I’m back from the dead to debate three of my fellow philosophers—G.W.F. Hegel, John Stuart Mill, and S. Kierkegaard.  My goal here for the next fifteen minutes—equivalent to approximately six pages of written text, I’d say—is to assess their views and defend my own views against theirs.

So, I shall start with our good friend Hegel.  His “project”, as he might have called it, was to make sense of religion, science, history, society, and ourselves.  He came upon the conclusion that one must “self-realize” oneself and free one’s spirit in order to lead a good life.  He even goes so far as to state that “the final goal of the world…is Spirit’s consciousness of it’s freedom, and hence also the actualization of that very freedom.”

Hegel places particular importance on the concept of the “State”, or “the union of the universal essential will with the subjective will” .  He believes that our society epitomizes who we are as a people and all that we have accomplished—it is “the realization of freedom, i.e., of the absolute end-goal, and that it exists for its own sake.”  He goes on to say that to lead an ethical (good) life is to participate in the life of a people or culture and its norms, values, and institution—what someone in present day America might call being a “productive member of society”.  Since the state is our realization of freedom, Hegel claims “only the will that is obedient to the law is free, for it obeys itself, and being self-sufficient, it is free” .

And now, to respond to all this poppy c-o-c-k.  The only purpose of life is to suffer.  I should think I can wave away all of Hegel’s meanderings in one sentence, which in fact I do in the very first sentence of one of my more well-known readings: “Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim.”

Hegel is fascinated with the concept of turning our goals and ideas into reality as the path to self-realization and the freedom of the spirit.  But what if all of this was done already?  What if all this “work, worry, labor and trouble” we go through to improve ourselves was unnecessary, and “all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose”?  I’ll tell you what Hegel’s “perfect” little world would be like then: “Men would either die of boredom or hang themselves; or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end mankind would inflict more suffering on itself than it has now to accept at the hands of Nature.” Another folly in Hegel’s little plan is it can never be completed!  “Every satisfaction man attains lays the seeds of some new desire,” and so we can never sit back and actually appreciate one’s supposedly self-realized state because we’re too preoccupied trying to “better” ourselves even further! 

Onto Hegel’s concept of the State.  How many men actually fit into his warped definition of an “ethical” man?  Probably quite a few, as most do adhere to the laws of our society.  But how many actually do this in order to “realize their freedom”?  Hegel is probably the only one out there raising his hand.  When I think of all the “miserable wretches whose one aim in life is to fill their purses but never to put anything into their heads”  and compare this to Hegel’s idyllic fantasy of society, I just laugh.  Perhaps they do adhere to the laws and norms of their society, but more likely because they’re afraid of getting caught and imprisoned than because they want to self-realize themselves.  The conduct of men is dependent up on “the necessity of the State and legislation,” and rarely do we find those fabled “Good Samaritans” who act substantially less cruel than the State minimally requires.

It is now time to move on to Mill.  Mill certainly believes that freedom is important (calling freedom of opinion a “necessity to the mental well-being of mankind”), as did Hegel, but he simplifies the definition somewhat, assessing freedom as acting upon one’s own opinions and carrying them out in one’s life.   Doing this allows one to have the “highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole” , which I suppose is Mill’s equivalent of Hegel’s “ethical” or “good” life.  Mill goes as far as to say that the amount of freedom one grasps determines their “comparative worth as a human being” .

Continuing Hegel’s optimistic theme of “making the world a better place”…Mill never speaks of a State per se to embody all of our best qualities and self-realizations.  The only time he even really mentions organized government is to say “No government by a democracy or a numerous aristocracy…ever did or could rise above mediocrity” .  He instead claims that by simply exercising our individualities “human beings become a noble and beautiful object of contemplation…by the same process human life also becomes rich, diversified, and animating…making the human race infinitely better worth belonging to.”  In other words, we enrich our society and race by enriching ourselves and acting upon our own freedoms.  The state itself is unimportant; the importance lies in how we influence the state according to our own beliefs and desires.

Utilitarianism itself…quite simply, “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.  By happiness is intended pleasure and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the privation of pleasure.”  The scheme is simple enough, but fatally flawed as I shall show shortly.

But first, I shall respond to Mill’s whole notion of freedom.  I’ll grant Mill that humans have a right to exercise their opinions and act on them.  But who cares?  Life is all suffering anyway, all that one is bound to do by acting on their opinions and desires is to choose their own particular method of suffering.  In the grand scope of things, does it really matter?  If we truly examine one’s life “in all its small details, as presented, say, in a comedy, how ridiculous it all seems!”  Mill puts us each under a microscope and wants us to examine all our wants, dreams, opinions, and our individuality…but “it is only in the microscope that our life looks so big.”

As for utilitarianism…as I said, nothing is wrong with the idea of looking for the most happiness and the least pain—unfortunately, “everything in life shows that earthly happiness is destined to be frustrated or recognized as an illusion.” Most of those who seem to be able to find happiness do exactly that—only seem to find it. So, one can certainly pursue happiness…but he or she shall almost certainly be disappointed with the fruits of their labor, for true happiness is largely a figment of our agonized imaginations.

Now, finally, we move on to Kierkegaard.  First, in his “The Unchangeableness of God” essay, he details just that—how he believes God to be a perfect, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and unchanging Supreme Being.  He practically scoffs at atheists, likening them to a man stuck at an impassable mountain (roughly representing his atheism) for his entire life with all his “wishes, his longings, his desires, his very soul…already on the other side.” He makes fun of this man’s folly, standing at this mountain for his entire life and then dying.

In his second major work, “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the ‘Philosophical Fragments’”, he details the need to “become subjective.”  Speaking of religion, he notes: “It is subjectivity that Christianity is concerned with, and it is only in subjectivity that its truth exists, if it exists at all; objectively, Christianity has absolutely no existence.” It might seem that this contradicts the hero’s treatment he gives God in the previous reading, but since he’s bashing objectivism and purporting subjectivism, it actually bolters his argument.  He states that “when Socrates believed that there was a god, he saw very well that where the way swings off there is also an objective way of approximation, for example, by the contemplation of nature and human history…his merit was precisely to shun this path.”  So, instead of actually analyzing nature and history to try to find some actual evidence of God, Kierkegaard believes that it’s futile to actually look for empirical evidence of a God, for one’s subjective faith is stronger than any proof you could find ever would be.

Just the thought of bashing Kierkegaard makes me salivate.  How can he possibly look around at this suffering and misery without thinking it “impossible to believe that this world is the successful work of an all-wise, all-good, and at the same time, all-powerful Being?”  When I listen to Kierkegaard’s endless platitudes and honorifics towards God, actually thanking him for creating this torturous ball of wretchedness we occupy, it makes me want to cry.  In addition, it is preposterous to suppose that such an omnipotent and good being would create man, its “highest product, who is a burlesque of what he should be.”  Given the power to create us with infinite happiness and no suffering, it is inconceivable that he would instead create the flawed, miserable, unhappy and pained that he did—“Human life must be some kind of mistake.”

Hegel’s State is a crock; especially considering he believed the State he lived in to be the ideal one and that has since fallen.  Mill’s utilitarianism is philosophically sound, but ultimately fruitless since there is little, if any, happiness to be found in this life.  Kierkegaard’s all-powerful, all-good, and all-knowing God is laughable; just look out the window at all the misery that abounds and tell me where all the beauty and happiness that should be there is.  Life is suffering, and then you die.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2015, 01:52:56 pm by Holden »
La Tristesse Durera Toujours                                  (The Sadness Lasts Forever ...)
-van Gogh.

Kaspar Hauser

  • { }
  • { ∅, { ∅ } }
  • Posts: 4299
  • Life teaches me not to want it.
    • What Now?
Re: World as Representation
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2015, 09:21:06 pm »
That was a great treat.  Thank you so much for gracing us with your presence.  There must be a German word that can describe the delight I experience in hearing the sad ugly truth.  What a relief!  I mean, sir, you are preaching to the choir. 

How do I spell relief?  S-C-H-O-P-E-N .... H ... A-U .. E-R ....

The above post really should be put to music.  In fact, Roger Waters's Amused To Death is just a perfect match.  I will reread it with music.

C/C++ ... Python 2.7 ... SymPy, z3Py, NumPy, SciPy, Sage ... Python3 NOT ... Python 2.7 ... SymPy ... z3Py ... C++ ... It's all so mystical ... I like it.

And yet!

This species has amused itself to death!   :P


Meanwhile, the crowd is cheering on "their" football team ... or getting mugged ... or hiding in a hole writing Catcher in the Rye ...

Your statement about how most people are more obsessed with putting things into their purse than into their heads made a tremendous impression upon me long ago.  Thanks for the reminder!

In a society which measures its members worth by their "net assets", putting knowledge in one's head rather than chasing "success" takes courage and stubbornness.  In fact, the greatest revenge in such a society is to take your advice about enjoying hours of solitary study, and yet I am amazed that someone can keep their lives together long enough to put together a "text book"!  I know, I know, the precision is a grand illusion.  No one sees the EDIT, EDIT, EDIT ... the typos and other errors.  Just write a post spontaneously on the Internet and count the number of times you have to edit.  I think of those who may never write anything for fear of revealing something they did not intend to reveal.

One can only be truly who one is in solitude.  It is better to write to one person who cares about what you are writing than to write to a huge audience where there is bound to be some soul-suc-king bast-ard just waiting to cut you down and eat your spirit.

I've been losing myself in technical details lately.  That's about as good as it gets if you're fortunate not to be an indigenous native locked in prison for 2 lifetimes + 7 years for supposedly having the audacity of defending yourself against agents of the State that now occupies the land where your ancestors have been buried for 20,000 years since crossing the Bering Strait.

I read your essays where you counseled us on how to get through a life not worth living.  Stay out of the work-houses if possible, avoid marriage and procreation, and all that.  I become enthusiastic about "book learning", but as with everything else, it can lead to disappointment to acknowledge just how little one can learn over very long periods of time, and how quickly circumstances can change.

When one beholds the countless living out their existence in the prisons and the wretched cities, it is understandable how one might come to deny oneself that "enjoyment of one's mental faculties" that you wrote about in Counsels and Maxims through guilt or shame for having eluded that fate ... and yet, one never knows when the worse is yet to come.  The city is a nightmare world.  One is wise to hide from the madness of "civilization".

Yes, when we get down into the moment by moment reality of our existence, it belongs in comedy, whereas from a distance it does indeed seem to be a horror.

In an instant, the comedy can turn into a horror. 

Quote from: Holden"
Which one, out of the four, is the most important book, according to you?  What I mean is, if one were well-versed in Kant, could one directly get started with Book II?

I liked the last book the best, but then, you know, that is the one that does flips in the air so that somehow this all-powerful will to live turns against itself in horror.

For over 20 years I have gradually come to agree with Schopenhauer.  Well, I immediately agreed with him when I first read his work.  I referred to myself as a Schopenhauer Disciple at age 24.

I met a young woman the following summer and became confused.  I was even in some kind of sweat lodge ceremony in 1995 where I really struggled when hearing "prayers offered to the Great Spirit" ... One loses something when one destroys delusions that are so ingrained in our species: ideas about life being a "gift" from "the Creator" ... the feeling of sunshine upon one's skin and the magic power of water when we are truly thirsty ... but what about the ice cold wind that mercilessly freezes our warm blood?  What about contaminated water that throws the body into Hell?

When one enters a certain level of honesty, when one attains a certain degree of mental independence, there is a price ...

Schopenhauer, you yourself proclaimed that if people want "peace of mind" then GO TO THE PRIESTS THEN, and leave the philosopher alone!

Well, we are left alone, for sure.  It's the way it is.

And though we want to curse the ?#@&!%$ on the pulpit, we can't help it that a pack of lies makes the world go round.  It is useless to fight it.  And so we just go mad.

But we don't have to go mad.  We don't have to be destroyed by it. 

Oh, at some point along the way, we chose to honor our own truth, our own nonsense even ... over the farce of society. 

It has to be this way.

inner self
« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 12:40:47 am by H »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~