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Philosophy of Schopenhauer

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Arthur Schopenhauer belongs to the constellation of European philosophers who were not very lucky throughout life. Nevertheless, he had a significant impact on the philosophy and culture of his time and the next century. The main feature of Schopenhauer`s personality was his dark, moody and irritable character, which certainly affected the overall message of his philosophy. Admittedly, it bears the stamp of deep pessimism. This philosopher was a very talented man with versatile erudition and great literary skills. He mastered a number of ancient and modern languages. The German thinker was undoubtedly one of the most learned men of his time.

In 1819, the world saw “The World as Will and Representation”, the major work of Schopenhauer in which he presented a system of philosophical knowledge as he saw it. Unfortunately, this book was not successful. In Germany of that time there was enough scholars of authority who owned the minds of his contemporaries. Arthur Schopenhauer spoke as a Teutonic philosopher, with thunderous proclamations and powerful prose. He differed from the others because he was completely uncontaminated by the ostentatious illusions of majesty that affected his fellow-countrymen contemporaries.

In the 19th century, this distinction from other thinkers inspired Friedrich Nietzsche to call Schopenhauer the "non-German to the instant of talent" (Nietzsche 204). Thomas Mann called him the "most efficient thinker of the irrational." Truly, Schopenhauer had plentiful of literary and rhetorical skills in the presentation of the fascinating philosophical construction. Insightful metaphors and penetrating ideas were hallmarks of his writing. In the late 19th and 20th century, philosophers and artists later reinterpreted and developed them. This gallery of intellectuals and artists includes Freud, Nietzsche, Zola, Wagner and Mann Tolstoy and Turgenev. “The World as Will and Representation” contains ideas which are quite different from what the philosopher considered “senseless verbosity of the new school of philosophy” (Schopenhauer 29). Absense of lingo overload made this masterwork apprehensible to the audience beyond philosophy. In the future, it reinforced the reputation of Schopenhauer as the main visionary.

Philosophy of Schopenhauer describes metaphysical reality portrait, the “hermeneutics of existence”, and he also resolves the issue of essence (Safranski 214). According to him, a solution to the world`s riddle is in the relevant connection between the outer and inner experience. For Schopenhauer, this is a representation and a will. One should not confuse it with the philosophy of alternative interpretations. As opposed to it, this theory competes with the natural sciences and emphasizes the inner essence of empirical life from the outside world. Physical and material concepts are at the core of this metaphysical concept. According to Schopenhauer, they should have a position in the visual life and solid ground in reality. Otherwise, such concepts as “complete” or “infinity of existence” are nothing more than paper money.        

The concept of these varieties shows that solid ground which supports all knowledge is rather unstable. Thus, philosophizing may extend to such knowledge, but they should initiate it. An original contribution to the philosophy by Schopenhauer is the assertion that philosophy is more fundamental than the thoughts of human and nature. Schopenhauer put forward a coherent, integrated, individual and regular metaphysical processes. He argued that the Universe is a self-knowledge will. The world, according to the language of reason, history, and moral, is not a true peace with its only essence. The essence of the world and life is will which affects the instinct of the universe. It consists of forces and impulses. Any dynamic action is pointless.

This view does not compete with the natural sciences. This concept will be only a temporary measure for possible arguments. It is necessary to find out the nature of the will objectivity. Physical explanation is an appeal to the creative power of God. Physics demands reason, but will is never suitable for that. However, despite the omnipotence, there is the possibility of will transcendence. This point is called a denial of the will. This should not be confused with the transcendence of religion and the vision of God. The latter suggestion ignores the fact about the egoistic nature of human beings.

The doctrine of free will is the semantic core of the philosophical system of Schopenhauer. Philosophers believed that the basis of a human being was in the intellect. Schopenhauer considered this view to be false and claimed that the core of a human is in the will which is quite different from the intellect. In temporal terms, the will preceeds the intellect. Moreover, it is not only the sense of a human; the will is an internal foundation of the world and its essence. It is eternal and not a subject to death., it is also groundless and self-sufficient. It is necessary to distinguish two worlds in the doctrine of will: the world in which people live and that which is dominated by the law of causality, where the general transcendental essence is of the greatest importance. The latter is the world where human beings not exist. Schopenhauer acquired the idea of doubling the world of Plato.

The will has an empirical character in everyday life. It is also a subject to restriction: in everyday life, people constantly make choices, which inevitably limits the free will. The will is independent of the law of causality outside the empirical world.  It is conceived as the essence of human and the world out of time. Schopenhauer assumed the subject and object were correlative aspects. Rational philosophy considers them to be moments of a causal link. Consequently, their interaction generates a representation. It reveals that Schopenhauer was well acquainted with the natural sciences.

All manifestations of nature are related to infinite fragmentation of the world, its objectification. Among them, there is a human body. It connects with the world view of the individual will which it is a messenger maintaining the basics of all human actions through the body. Every act of will is an act of the body, and vice versa. All affects and motives can be explained from the point of view of nature. The will is an illegal motivation; it is the foundation of character. It is given to a person, and usually it is not a subject to change. This idea of Schopenhauer can be challenged. Later on, it will be reproduced by Sigmund Freud in regard to his doctrine of the subconscious (Freud 157).

The will objectification is associated with a significant expression in the spiritual form of individuality. It appears in the art with the greatest force. The Schopenhauer`s theory of genius suggests the following: genius does not follow the law of sufficient reason. Consciousness, due to the law, creates science. It is a product of the mind and intelligence. A genius is free and infinitely distant from the world of cause and effect. Because of this, he or she is close to insanity. In this regard, genius and madness intersect.

Rational philosophy searches for freedom in individual actions. Schopenhauer considered that the freedom should be found all over the human existence and nature. In the current life, people analyze a lot of actions from the point of view of causes and consequences. Time and space limit humans` freedom. In fact, all these actions are of the same nature; they are free of causality. The freedom is not expelled due to this argument It is not clearly available to human`s consciousness, thus, transcendental. It means that each person is originally and essentially free. All actions are based on this freedom.

The topic of pessimism in the Schopenhauer's philosophy is sufficiently relevant. Pleasure and happiness are the main human aspirations at all times. The wish is a negative concept, but pleasure and happiness cause positive emotions. Suffering and the absence of events in life cause negative emotions. The desires arise from acts of body volition. Schopenhauer elaborated a somewhat paradoxic idea that the desire is a distress about the lack of desire. Satisfaction of desire inevitably creates another desire or more wishes. Consequently, not enjoyment, but suffering is a positive, constant, unchanging and permanent moment. It is always present, and humanity feels it.    

Schopenhauer maintained that everything surrounding people is a desolate road. All pleasant moments are mixed with vile actions. Every pleasure is destroyed, as well as every short-time relief eventually leads to another hardship. It means that people have to be unhappy to be content. The reason behind it is the will of a human. Optimism approaches life in the form of a gift. If people knew about this gift in advance, they would refuse it. In fact, poverty, hardship and sorrow lead to death. When people think about death, they are afraid to lose their bodies. It is the manifestation of the will. The latter is objectified through the birth pains and bitterness of death. This objectification is of stable character and reveals the immortality of time. The intelligence perishes in death; the will, however, is not a subject to death.   

Schopenhauer was a philosopher and a pessimist. He was a follower of the idealistic school of Kant. The philosopher did not consider that a person had an individual will. Instead, he argued that people were a part of the greater entity, and the individual penetrateed the Universe. The sense of separateness is an illusion. Naturalistic school of philosophy supports this aspect. In Schopenhauer`s view, “the space will is an evil and the source of endless suffering” (Russell 783). He saw only the worst aspects of life. As a result, Schopenhauer was a stern and grim person. He believed that he, as well as the others, had no individual will. Pessimism, the philosophy he adopted, turned him into a nasty person. Schopenhauer had no one whom he could call family. "His pessimism influenced the social visits of his mother greatly. He always talked about the futility. Mother finally forbade him to visit her. He left and never saw her again"(Alphern 119).   

Schopenhauer had no wife. Any self-respecting woman would be horrified about his opinion on the fair sex: “They exist specifically for working as nurses and teachers for small children; they are childish themselves; women are frivolous and short-sighted”. He continued calling women “undersized, narrow-shouldered and broad-hipped with short legs… They do not have proper knowledge, and there is nothing brilliant about them”. Durant (1926) reminisced that “Schopenhauer was a brilliant conversationalist. He had the audience, which consisted of a few friends. They often listened to midnight. Schopenhauer never seemed to get tired of conversations, even during his last days” (Durant 305).        

Schopenhauer`s life was fairly painful. People can reach the relief with the help of art or through denial: "A good man will practice complete celibacy, voluntary poverty, fasting and self-torture" (Russell 632). It was the Schopenhauer`s view on art contemplation. He stated that “one can lose contact with the turbulent flow of the appointed essence around us". The regular relief comes through “the life of failure accompanied by the extermination of humans` wishes and instincts, by the denial of all negative aspects in real life” (Alphern 158). The real and complete happiness was not possible. “This is the Utopian Ideal that people cannot even imagine in their dreams”. It is not difficult to understand that the Schopenhauer`s “ascetic mysticism” refers to starving artists.

Schopenhauer was a lonely, cruel and ill-disposed man who compared his existence with poodle`s life. He expressed the idea that the world was just an notion in his head, a phantasmagoria of his brain. Schopenhauer looked grim and, for many people, his philosophy was also depressing. He called it Pessimism. He insisted that there was no guarantee that the truth of things was something human beings strived for. People avoid thinking entirely if something does not attract their attention. In such a situation, they become pessimistic. The will encourages them to put their wishes first, which makes people expect the world to fulfill their desires.

Schopenhauer offered some of the most ingenious ideas in the Western history. He is among the few Western thinkers who acquired a lot from the Eastern heritage. The ideas of the thinker had considerable influence upon such philosophers as Einstein, Nietzsche, Wagner, Mann and Jorge Luis Borges.

Schopenhauer's philosophy is a version of transcendental idealism. It also provides the solutions of “the world mystery”. The physical world consists of facts that exist only for the “subject of cognition”. After this recognition, people can explain the possibility of synthetic knowledge of the truth. Cognitive functions of the person build the reality due to the “principle of sufficient reason”. Reading The World as Will and Representation requires a deep knowledge of Schopenhauer's understanding of the principles of sufficient reason.

Schopenhauer developed a simple, severe and bold declaration of the world as "my representation". It meant that the world is a subject to ordinary perception. The world consists of private and individual objects and is open for exploration. However, these objects are representatives of the subject. There can be no such thing as an object without submitting to the subject. It demonstrates the theory of self-reliance and independence. Materialism is an independently existing substance. It is impossible and incorrect. Pure substance and independent attributes may be conceivable, whereas the idea of abstraction can not be perceived in the experience. It is what the thinker meant by his transcendental philosophy introduced by the statement “the world is my representation”. Thus, the view always includes both the object and the subject.

The universal state of everything which appears in the world is the subject, a prerequisite and knowledge form. All the knowledge about objects derived from certain phenomenons, which is for the essence of a subject. Thus, there is no object in reality, for it exists independently of the subject. The body of the subject is the object of knowledge while the subject's body is representation. The representation contains the subject and the object prone to further division. This is the first universal and basic form of representation. Schopenhauer describes two types of the latter: intuitive and abstract. The intuitive type is perception. The abstract type consists of properties among which the properties of space and time are well-known. They are always encompassed within every perception.  Schopenhauer asserts that both time and space belong to the special class of representation. These two notions exist by themselves. “The Principal of Sufficient Reason configures and entrenches representations” (Atwell 142).

Schopenhauer describes phenomenology, where the perception presents consciousness of objects. The concept of causality is the only important aspect of perception. The judgment is an act of thought. This is a phenomenological distinction of the object. Schopenhauer does not support other points of view, for instance, that of Kant. All his statements follow the logical elements of judgment, such as relation, quality, and quantity. All the concepts and facilities should include these categories.

Abstract ideas and concepts derive from the intuitions. Concepts are neither insightful nor individual elements in space and time. They are essentially related to another form, which serves as the primary knowledge. The series of ideas ends with the notion of relationship, which has its foundation in the knowledge of perception. Thus, the abstract knowledge depends on the perception of the world. It means that the concepts related to other concepts are abstract, whereas the concepts that are directly related to the perception of knowledge are specific. Attitude, power and start are abstract forms. Such concrete examples as human, horse and stone can be made. These abstractions are preliminary short-termed. It enables humans to reason and use language. People are able to perceive the future and the past with the help abstraction. Consequently, they are shy in making decisions and contemplate about actions.

Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the magnificent philosophers of the 19th century. He had a great influence on literature (Mann, Tolstoy, Borges), as well as on people in general, not only on academic philosophy. His writing was very simple and effective. It was unusual for a German philosopher then and remains unusual for any philosopher now. Schopenhauer was the first Western thinker who had access to translations of Indian philosophical works which affected him deeply. His concerns were not limited by abstract philosophical issues. His fears included the tragedies and dilemmas of existential and religious sense of real life. He was the first to speak about the world’s suffering. It is clearly visible, and it definitely surrounds us. Confusion, passion, evil are all those things that other philosophers hardly noticed. He always tried to solve them in an all-embracing harmony and comprehensibility. Schopenhauer was a philosopher who had the courage to see that the foundation of the universe did not consist of positive phenomena only (Jung 69).

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