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  1. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)
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  3. Ethics and Metaphysics | SpringerLink

Hence, Schopenhauer regards the world as a whole as having two sides: the world is Will and the world is representation. An inspiration for Schopenhauer's view that ideas are like inert objects is George Berkeley — , who describes ideas in this despiritualized way in his A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge [Section 25].

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A primary inspiration for Schopenhauer's double-aspect view of the universe is Baruch Spinoza — , who developed a similarly-structured metaphysics, and who Schopenhauer had studied in his early years before writing his dissertation. A subsequent, but often highlighted inspiration is from the Upanishads c.

After completing his dissertation, Schopenhauer was exposed to classical Indian thought in late by the orientalist Friedrich Majer — , who visited Johanna Schopenhauer's salon in Weimar. Schopenhauer also probably met at the time, Julius Klaproth — , who was the editor of Das Asiatische Magazin. In December or very soon thereafter, Schopenhauer began reading the Bhagavadgita, and in March , the Upanishads.

Krause was not only a metaphysical panentheist see biographic segment above ; he was also an enthusiast of South Asian thought. Familiar with the Sanskrit language, he introduced Schopenhauer to publications on India in the Asiatisches Magazin , and these enhanced Schopenhauer's studies of the first European-language translation of the Upanishads: in , a Persian version of the Upanishads the Oupnekhat was rendered into Latin by the French Orientalist, Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron — a scholar who also introduced translations of Zoroastrian texts into Europe in Despite its general precedents within the philosophical family of double-aspect theories, Schopenhauer's particular characterization of the world as Will, is nonetheless novel and daring.

Within Schopenhauer's vision of the world as Will, there is no God to be comprehended, and the world is conceived of as being meaningless. 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. Schopenhauer's denial of meaning to the world differs radically from the views of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel, all of whom fostered a distinct hope that everything is moving towards a harmonious and just end. 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 expressions of self-consciousness, Schopenhauer attempts to do the same by explaining the world as gradations of Will's manifestation.

For Schopenhauer, the world that 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 basic two-tiered outlook viz.

The general philosophical pattern of a single world-essence that initially manifests itself as a multiplicity of abstract essences, which, in turn, manifest themselves as a multiplicity of physical individuals is found throughout the world. It is characteristic of Neoplatonism c.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)

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. Will's indirect objectifications appear when our minds continue to apply the principle of sufficient reason beyond its general root such as to introduce the forms of time, space and causality, not to mention logic, mathematics, geometry and moral reasoning. 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.

Since the principle of sufficient reason is — given Schopenhauer's inspiration from Kant — the epistemological form of the human mind, the spatio-temporal world is the world of our own reflection. To that extent, Schopenhauer says that life is like a dream.

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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.

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If we combine his claim that the world is Will with his Kantian view that we are responsible for the individuated world of appearances, we arrive at a novel outlook — an outlook that depends heavily upon Schopenhauer's characterization of the thing-in-itself as Will, understood to be an aimless, blind striving. 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.

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Adding to this, Schopenhauer concludes in The World as Will and Representation that we create the violent state of nature, for he maintains that the individuation that 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.

His paradigm image is of the bulldog-ant of Australia, which when cut in half, struggles in a battle to the death between its head and tail. Our very quest for scientific and practical knowledge creates a world that feasts upon itself. This marks the origin of Schopenhauer's renowned pessimism: he claims that as individuals, we are the unfortunate products of our own epistemological making, and that within the world of appearances that we structure, we are fated to fight with other individuals, and to want more than we can ever have.

On Schopenhauer's view, the world of daily life is essentially violent and frustrating; it is a world that, as long as our consciousness remains at that level where the principle of sufficient reason applies in its fourfold root, will never resolve itself into a condition of greater tranquillity. The image of Sisyphus expresses the same frustrated spirit. Schopenhauer's violence-filled vision of the daily world sends him on a quest for tranquillity, and he pursues this by retracing the path through which Will objectifies itself.

He discovers more peaceful states of mind by directing his everyday, practically-oriented consciousness towards more extraordinary, universal and less-individuated states of mind, since he believes that the violence that a person experiences, is proportional to the degree to which that person's consciousness is individuated and objectifying. His view is that with less individuation and objectification, there is less conflict, less pain and more peace. One way to achieve a more tranquil state of consciousness is through aesthetic perception.

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This is a special state of perceptual consciousness where we apprehend some spatio-temporal object and discern through this object, the Platonic Idea that corresponds to the type of object in question. In this form of perception, we lose ourselves in the object, forget about our individuality, and become the clear mirror of the object.

For example, during the aesthetic perception of an individual apple tree, we would perceive shining through the tree, the archetype of all apple trees i. Since Schopenhauer assumes that the quality of the subject of experience must correspond to the quality of the object of experience, he infers that in the state of aesthetic perception, where the objects are universal, the subject of experience must likewise assume a universal quality WWR , Section Aesthetic perception thus raises a person into a pure will-less, painless, and timeless subject of knowledge WWR , Section Few people supposedly have the capacity to remain in such an aesthetic state of mind for very long, and most are denied the transcendent tranquillity of aesthetic perception.

Only the artistically-minded genius can supposedly remain in the state of pure perception, and it is to these individuals that we must turn — as we appreciate their works of art — to obtain a more concentrated and knowledgeable glimpse of the Platonic Ideas. The artistic genius contemplates these Ideas, creates a work of art that portrays them in a manner more clear and accessible than is usual, and thereby communicates the universalistic vision to those who lack the idealizing power to see through, and to rise above, the ordinary world of spatio-temporal objects.

As constituting art, he has in mind the traditional five fine arts minus music, namely, architecture, sculpture, painting, and poetry. These four arts he comprehends in relation to the Platonic Ideas — those universal objects of aesthetic awareness that are located at the objective pole of the universal subject-object distinction that is at the root of the principle of sufficient reason. Schopenhauer's account of the visual and literary arts corresponds to the world as representation in its immediate objectification, namely, the field of Platonic Ideas as opposed to the field of spatio-temporal objects.

As a counterpart to his interpretation of the visual and literary arts, Schopenhauer develops an account of music that coordinates it with the subjective pole of the universal subject-object distinction. Separate from the other traditional arts, he maintains that music is the most metaphysical art and is on a subjective, feeling-centered level with the Platonic Ideas themselves.

Just as the Platonic Ideas contain the patterns for the types of objects in the daily world, music formally duplicates the basic structure of the world: the bass notes are analogous to inorganic nature, the harmonies are analogous to the animal world, and the melodies are analogous to the human world. The sounding of the bass note produces more subtle sonic structures in its overtones; similarly, inanimate nature produces animate life. Schopenhauer discerns in the structure of music, a series of analogies to the structure of the physical world that allow him to claim that music is a copy of Will itself.

His view might seem extravagant upon first hearing, but underlying it is the thought that if one is to discern the truth of the world, it might be advantageous to apprehend the world, not exclusively in scientific, mechanical and causal terms, but rather in aesthetic, analogical, expressive and metaphorical terms that require a sense of taste for their discernment. If the form of the world is best reflected in the form of music, then the most philosophical sensibility will be a musical sensibility.

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This partially explains the positive attraction of Schopenhauer's theory of music to creative spirits such as Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche, both of whom combined musical and philosophical interests in their work. With respect to the theme of achieving more peaceful and transcendent states of mind, Schopenhauer believes that music achieves this by embodying the abstract forms of feelings, or feelings abstracted from their particular everyday circumstances.

By expressing emotion in this detached or disinterested way, music allows us to apprehend the nature of the world without the frustration involved in daily life, and hence, in a mode of aesthetic awareness that is akin to the tranquil philosophical contemplation of the world. Insofar as music provides and abstracted and painless vision of the world and of inner life, however, it fails to evoke the compassion that issues upon identifying tangibly with another person's suffering.

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This deficiency motivates the shift from musical, or aesthetic, awareness to moral awareness. As many medieval Christians once assumed, Schopenhauer believed that we should minimize our fleshly desires, since moral awareness arises through an attitude that transcends our bodily individuality.

Indeed, he states explicitly that his views on morality are entirely in the spirit of Christianity, as well as being consistent with the doctrines and ethical precepts of the sacred books of India WWR , Section Among the precepts he respects are those prescribing that one treat others as kindly as one treats oneself, that one refrain from violence and take measures to reduce suffering in the world, that one avoid egoism and thoughts directed towards revenge, and that one cultivate a strong sense of compassion.

Such precepts are not unique to Christianity; Schopenhauer believes that they constitute most religiously-grounded moral views. Far from being immoralistic, his moral theory is written in the same vein as those of Immanuel Kant — and John Stuart Mill — , which advocate principles that are in general accord with Christian precepts.

Schopenhauer's conception of moral awareness coheres with his project of seeking more tranquil, transcendent states of mind. Within the moral realm specifically, this quest for transcendence leads him to maintain that once we recognize each human as being merely an instance and aspect of the single act of Will that is humanity itself, we will appreciate that the difference between the tormentor and the tormented is illusory, and that in fact, the very same eye of humanity looks out from each and every person. According to the true nature of things, each person has all the sufferings of the world as his or her own, for the same inner human nature ultimately bears all of the pain and all of the guilt. Thus, with the consciousness of humanity in mind, a moral consciousness would realize that it has upon and within itself, the sins of the whole world WWR , Sections 63 and It should be noted that such a consciousness would also bear all of humanity's joys, triumphs and pleasures, but Schopenhauer does not develop this thought. Not only, then, does the specific application of the principle of sufficient reason fragment the world into a set of individuals dispersed through space and time for the purposes of attaining scientific knowledge, this rationalistic principle generates the illusion that when one person does wrong to another, that these two people are essentially separate and private individuals.