The Meaning of Life-Schopenhauer

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14 Dec 2011
Department
Course
Professor
Sept.26/11
The Non-theistic Alternative
Schopenhauer
-writes on the suffering of the world. He wrote this when he was 63
-well known for pessimistic philosophy, very honest individual
-he takes the pain and suffering of the world very seriously
-pain and suffering is not he exception in life, it is the norm
-if you think there is more happiness than suffering, he gives the example of the animal.
The predator is happy because he is getting a meal but the victim is in a lot of pain, the
horror of being chased, caught and eaten. He will argue that humans are more capable of
pain and suffering than animals
-if we think that there is more happiness in the world rather than suffering, you would be
naive. We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher.
-he says the preponderance of pain must be so. Imagine if we had everything we wanted,
we are either filled with arrogance or possibly madness.
-even if life goes relatively well, the longer you live the more clearly you will feel that
life is a disappointment.
-if two people were besties in their youth and meet again when older, he says you would
look at each in disappointment as to where you are now.
-he gets into the issue of having children. He himself did not have children. If we were
actually rational and sympathetic, we would spare them the burden of existence. We
wouldn’t have children. Why? Because their lives will have more pain and suffering
rather than happiness which will get worse as they get older.
-the burden of existence gets worse to the point where we look at happiness and
satisfaction as the exception in life and not the norm. the norm is un-satisfaction,
unhappiness and disappointment. The meaning of life would be the extent to which is has
been freed or spared unhappiness. For example, you have never had cancer.
-he argues that animals, non-human animals are to be envied. Why? Because they live
only in the moment and in the now. They lack power of reason and logic but us we are
social. We have all the pains associated with ambition. Animals are spared about being
haunted of the past, they are in the now. We are haunted about things such as rent and
retirement, the future. Animals do not go through this.
-romantic love is another source of pain and suffering. People kill themselves over it.
There is no such thing in the animal world.
-death. Animals do not think about death, they do not have existential anxiety. Death is
real to us, something we contemplate and study. Animals lack this awareness, animals
have quiet placid enjoyment of the now. They are capable of pure enjoyment of the
moment which often puts us humans to shame.
-he gets into our domestic pets. They live in the moment, great lives they lead. No
perimeters, cold/hot. He says we often abuse our pets. He asks the ultimate question, why
or for what purpose does all this torment and agony exist? Why is happiness the
exception to the rule and not the rule itself. In the case of animals, he has one answer. The
whole animal world is based on food. We humans are wired for pain and suffering. The
capacity for pain is what keeps us alive and going, therefore passing on the genes.
-he looks at the animal world saying it’s a matter of food. Predators and prey.
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