Arthur Schopenhauer: In Quotes:
The world is my idea:- this is a truth which holds for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflection and abstract consciousness.
If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world that surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself.
The making of money by philosophy was regarded by the ancients as the characteristic of the sophists¼.. nothing is to be had for gold but mediocrity. Truth will always be paucorum hominum (of few men). Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak the truth.
How can we explain mind as matter, when we know matter only through the mind.
No: it is impossible to solve the metaphysical puzzle, to discover the secret essence of reality, by explaining matter first, and then proceeding to examine thought: we must begin with that which we know directly and intimately – ourselves. We can never arrive at the real nature of things from without. However much we investigate, we can never reach anything but images and names.
Under the conscious intellect is the conscious or unconscious will, a striving, persistent vital force, a spontaneous activity, a will of imperious desire. We do not want a thing because we have found reasons for it, we find reasons for it because we it.
The will is the only permanent and unchangeable element in the mind. The intellect tires, the will never. Will then is the essence of man. The will, of course, is a will to live, and a will to maximum life.
In reality there is only the species, only life, only will. The motto of history should run: Eadem, sed aliter… (The same things, but in different ways).
Everyone believes himself a priori to be perfectly free,¼¼But a posteriori, through experience, he finds to his astonishment that he is not free, but subjected to necessity.
But if the world is will, it must be suffering¼¼because will itself indicates want, and its grasp is always greater than its reach. For every wish that is satisfied there remains ten that is denied¼¼fulfillment never satisfies.
Life is evil because as soon as want and suffering permit rest, ennui (boredom) is at once so near, that we necessarily require diversion, i.e., more suffering. The more successful we become the more we are bored. Life is evil because the higher the organism the greater the suffering. He that increaseth knowledge, therefore, increaseth sorrow. Finally life is evil because life is war. Everywhere in nature we strive; there is everywhere competition, conflict, and a suicidal alternation of victory and defeat. Every species fights for the matter, space, and time of the others¼. A happy life depends on our not knowing it too well.
Consider¼..the absurdity of the desire for material goods. Fools believe that if they can only achieve wealth, their wills can be completely gratified¼¼¼..
Nevertheless, a life devoted to the acquisition of wealth is useless unless we know how to turn it into joy; and this is an art that requires culture and wisdom.
Not wealth but wisdom is the way. ¼
This power of the intellect over the will permits deliberate development; desire can be moderated or quieted by knowledge.
So philosophy purifies the will. But philosophy is to be understood as experience and thought, not as mere reading or passive study¼.The constant streaming in of thoughts of others must confine and suppress our own; and indeed in the long run paralyze the power of thought. Within these limitations, the pursuit of culture, even through books, is valuable, because our happiness depends on what we have in our heads rather than on what we have in our pockets.
Even fame is folly; other people’s heads are a wretched place to be the home of a man’s true happiness.
The way out of the evil of endless willing is the intelligent contemplation of life. Most men never rise above viewing things as objects of desire – hence their misery; but to see things purely as objects of understanding is to rise to freedom.
Genius is the highest form of will-less knowledge¼¼it is simply the completest objectivity.
The deliverance of knowledge from servitude to the will, this forgetting of the
individual self and its material interest, this elevation of the mind to the will-less contemplation of truth, is the function of art. The object of science is the universal that contains many particulars; the object of art is the particular that contains a universal.
It dawned upon Schopenhauer’s maturity that his theory of art – as the withdrawal of the will, and the contemplation of the eternal and the universal – was also a theory of religion.
The ultimate wisdom, then, is Nirvana to reduce one’s self to a minimum of desire and will. Buddhism is profounder than Christianity, because it makes the destruction of the will the entirety of religion, and preaches Nirvana as the goal of all personal development. The Hindus were deeper than the thinkers of Europe, because their interpretation of the world was internal and intuitive, not external and
intellectual; the intellect divides everything, intuition unites everything.
The Hindus saw that the “I” is a delusion; that the individual is merely phenomenal, and that the only reality is the Infinite One – “That art thou.” Whoever is able to say this to himself, with regard to every being with whom he comes in contact, – whoever is clear-eyed and clear-souled enough to see that we are all members of one organism, all of us little currents in an ocean of will, – he is certain of all virtue and blessedness, and is on the direct road to salvation.