seeing the world aright, or why schopenhauer has a magnificent head of hair

Schopenhauer is you. (To see this clearly is to master his metaphysics.) For those of you who have questions about life, death, and salvation, your questions are his questions. And the world’s most famous misanthrope has kindly answered them for you, for me, for anyone who cares to read The World as Will and Representation, a deeply puzzling work of realism. Schopenhauer can help “fellow sufferers” (his phrase, not mine) achieve redemption without atonement, salvation without grace. He can help us win eternity by secular means only. Can we save ourselves? Yes. Through willing as little as possible, knowing as much as possible, and playing the piano or the violin with great care and devotion, be your piano or violin what it may. Do we control anything? Yes, our perspective on life. That is, seeing things aright, namely, that although everything passes—particles, entities, organs, individuals, groups, species, and their social and cultural accomplishments—they’re still pleasant, enjoyable, beautiful, meaningful, and worthwhile. Epictetus gets it right: “Imagine that you are on a voyage, and your ship is anchored. You go onto shore to get some fresh water, and along the way you amuse yourself by picking up a shell or some other object. Even though you are enjoying yourself, your attention should be focused on the ship, waiting for the captain to call, ‘all aboard.’ When this happens, you must immediately leave your shells and run back to the ship. So it is with life. If you are given a wife or nice home, that is fine. But if the captain calls, you must run to the ship. Your focus should always be on this.”

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8 Responses to seeing the world aright, or why schopenhauer has a magnificent head of hair

  1. But is an individual human’s character as immutable as Schopenauer insists and are our actions therefore as predestined (based on the rational consequences of motive and reason) as he judges them to be?

    • Hi Benjamin, I’m not sure Schop. insists that one’s character is immutable, at least not in a strict sense. It’s a question of degree, I think. A person’s character can change for better or worse depending on how one lives and what one values, etc. As far as our actions go, yes, they are determined by our motives. But our actions aren’t predestined, as there’s no intellect “outside” of non-objectified will to predestine this or that outcome. In a word, necessitarianism and predeterminism are entirely distinct theses. Did you read Schopenhauer with enjoyment? Thanks for dropping by and your comment, too. Cheers, Kevin

  2. Anthony says:

    Nobody cultivates such wonderful hair these days; that is truly a shock of hair. I plan to style my tresses in exactly that fashion one day.

    Dabbled lightly with Schopenhauer, but I must read him more deeply, knowing his influence of both Coetzee and Beckett.

    • He’s enjoyable to read, right up there with Plato, Hume, and Nietzshce, with a subtle philosophical prose. If you ever decide to give him a gander, let me know. I’d love to re-read the first volume WWR. K

  3. AJ says:

    Schopenhauer seems to be a Buddhist.

    • Hi AJ, Schop. is fond of religions so long as he can adapt their myths and symbols to his ethics and metaphysics. As soon as he can’t, he excoriates them, religions, that is. Buddhism fairs better than Christianity, which in turn fairs better than Islam, in Schopenhauer’s estimate. Although he’s largely congenial to Buddhism, Schopenhauer still thinks it a far better thing to lay a hold of the truth through good philosophy and science than through myth and allegory. So *seems* like a Buddhist is exactly right, so long as we remember he’s not really a Buddhist. Cheers, K

  4. Fredr says:

    I just came across the following quotation from Montaigne about an hour or so ago.

    “Since philosophy been able to find no path to tranquillity which is open to all, let every man search it for himself!”

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