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PHIL 1100 - READINGS - SCHOPENHAUER: Studies in Pessimism

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PHIL 1100
Henry Jackman

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Schopenhauer: “Studies in Pessimism” Page 59 On the Sufferings of the World - Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim - It is absurd to look upon the enormous amount of pain that abounds everywhere in the world…. as serving no purpose at all and the result of mere chance - ….misfortune in general is the rule - …happiness and satisfaction always imply some desire fulfilled, some state of pain brought to an end - We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey. So it is that in our good days we are all unconscious of the evil fate may have presently in store for us - …misfortune has its uses; for, as our bodily frame would burst asunder if the pressure of the atmosphere were removed, so, if the lives of man were relived of all need, hardship and adversity; if everything they took in hand were successful, they would be so swollen with arrogance that…. They would go mad - …if all wishes were fulfilled as soon as they arose, how would men occupy their lives?...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 Page 60 - …even though things have gone with you tolerably well, the longer you live the more clearly you will feel that, on the whole, life is a disappointment o If two men who were friends in their youth meet again when they are old, after being separated for a life-time, the chief feeling they will have at the sight of each other will be one of complete disappointment at life as a whole; because their thoughts will be carried back to that earlier time when life seemed so fair - …every state of welfare, every feeling of satisfaction, is negative in its character; that is to say, it consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of existence. - ….the happiness of any given life is to be measured, not by its joys and pleasures, but by the extent to which it has been free from suffering – form positive evil - The chief source of all this passion is that thought for what is absent and future, which, with man, exercises such a powerful influence upon all he does - …in order to increase his pleasures, man has intentionally added to the number and pressure of his needs, which in their original state were not much more difficult to satisfy than those of the brute. Hence luxury in all its forms; delicate food...fine clothes and the shouand and one things he considers necessary to his existence Page 61 - …there is a separate and peculiar source of pleasure … and this occupies him out of all proportion to its value, nay, almost more than all his other interests put together – I mean ambition and the feeling of honor and shame….what he thinks about the opinion other people have of him o …this becomes the goal of almost all the efforts he makes that are not rooted in physical pleasure or pain o …man has pleasures of the mind as well - Boredom is a form of suffering …. Their wealth becomes a punishment by delivering them up to the misery of having nothing to do; for, to escape it, they will rush about in all directions, travelling here, there, and everywhere - …the pains of life are made much worse for man by the fact that death is something very real to him - The brute is much more content with mere existence than man….Accordingly, the life of the brute carries less of sorrow with it, but also less of joy, when compared with the life of man…it is also due to the fact that hope, in any real sense, is unknown to the brute. It is thus deprived of any share in that which gives us the most and the best of our joys and pleasures, the mental anticipation of a happy future - The brute is an embodiment of present impulses, and hence what elements of fear and hope exist in its nature – and they do not go very far – arise only in relation to objects that lie before it and within reach of these impulses: whereas a man’s range of vision embraces the whole of his life, and extends far into the past and the future - …there is one respect in which brutes show real wisdom when compared with us – I mean, their quiet, placid enjoyment of the present moment. The tranquility of mind which this seems to give them often puts us to shame for the many times we allow our thoughts and our cares to make us restless and discontented (61-62) Page 62 - The delight which a man has in hoping for and looking forward to some special satisfaction is a part of the real pleasure attaching to it enjoyed in advance. This is afterwards deducted; for the more we look forward to anything, the less satisfaction we find in it when it comes . but the brute’s enjoyment is not anticipated and therefore suffers no deduction; so that the actual pleasure of the moment comes to it whole and unimpaired - …with us the fear of its coming often makes its burden ten times more grievous - There is only one consideration that may serve to explain the sufferings of animals. It is this: that the will to live, which underlies the whole world of phenomena, must in their case satisfy its cravings by feeding upon itself. This it does by forming a gradation of phenomena, every one of which exists at the expense of another - In its explanation of the origin of, the world, Judaism is inferior to any other form of religious doctrine professed by a civilized nation; and it is quite in keeping with this that it is the only one which presents no trace whatever of any belief in the immortality of the soul - For he is the Creator not of the world only, but of possibility itself; and, therefore, he ought to have so ordered possibility as that it would admit of something better - There are two things which make 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; firstly, the misery which abounds in it everywhere; and secondly, the obvious imperfection of its highest product, man, who is a burlesque of what he should be (62-63) Page 63 - There is nothing more certain that the general truth that it is the grievous sin of the world which has produced the grievous suffering of the world - There seems to me no better explanation of our existence than that it is the result of some false step, some sin of which we are paying the penalty … - Asceticism is the denial of the will to live; and the transition from the Old Testament to the New, from the domination of law to that of Faith, from justification by works to redemption through the Mediator, from the domain of sin and death to eternal life in Christ, means, when taken in its real sense, the transition from the merely moral virtues to the denial of the will to live - ….it is candid in confessing that a man must turn his back upon the world, and that the denial of the will to live is the way of redemption - If you want a safe compass to guide you through life, and to banish all doubt as to the right way of looking at it, you cannot do better than accustom yourself to regard this world as a penitentiary, a sort of penal colony - if you accustom yourself to this view of life you will regulate your expectations accordingly, and cease to look upon all its disagreeable incidents, great and small, its sufferings, its worries, its misery, as anything unusual or irregular….. you will find that everything is as it should be, in a world where each of us pays the penalty of existence in his own peculiar way Page 64 - …this view of life will enable us to contemplate the so-called imperfections of the great majority of men, their moral and intellectual deficiencies and the resulting base type of countenance, without any surprise, to say nothing of indignation; for we shall never cease to reflect where we are, and that the men about us are being conceived and born in sin, and living to atone for it The Vanity of Existence - Time is that in which all things pass away; it is merely the form under which the will to live – the thing-in-itself and therefore imperishable – has revealed to it that its efforts are in vain: it is that agent by which at every moment all things in our hands become as nothing, and lose any real value they possess - A man…. Suddenly existing, after thousands and thousands of years of non-existence… he lives for a little while; and then, again, comes an equally long period when he must exist no more - Every evening we are poorer by a day - …the belief that the greatest wisdom is to make the enjoyment of the present the supreme object of life …. might just as well be called the greatest folly: for that which in the next moment exists no more, and vanishes utterly, like a dream, can never be worth a serious effort Page 65 - …a man never is happy, but spends his whole life in striving after something which he thinks will make him so; he seldom attains his goal, and when he does, it is only to be disappointed; he is mostly shipwrecked in the end - …to gain anything we have longed for is only to discover how vain and empty it is; and even though we are always living in expectation of better things, at the same time we often repent and long to have the past back again .we look upon the p
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