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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From ‘The World as Will and Idea’
By Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
 
Translation of Richard Burdon Haldane and John Kemp

THE FINAL demand I have to make on the reader might indeed be tacitly assumed, for it is nothing but an acquaintance with the most important phenomenon that has appeared in philosophy for two thousand years, and that lies so near to us: I mean the principal writings of Kant. It seems to me, in fact,—as indeed has already been said by others,—that the effect these writings produce in the mind to which they truly speak is very like that of the operation for cataract on a blind man; and if we wish to pursue the simile further, the aim of my own work may be described by saying that I have sought to put into the hands of those upon whom that operation has been successfully performed a pair of spectacles suitable to eyes that have recovered their sight,—spectacles of whose use that operation is the absolutely necessary condition. Starting then, as I do to a large extent, from what has been accomplished by the great Kant, I have yet been enabled, just on account of my earnest study of his writings, to discover important errors in them. These I have been obliged to separate from the rest and prove to be false, in order that I might be able to presuppose and apply what is true and excellent in his doctrine, pure and freed from error. But not to interrupt and complicate my own exposition by a constant polemic against Kant, I have relegated this to a special appendix….  1
  The philosophy of Kant, then, is the only philosophy with which a thorough acquaintance is directly presupposed in what we have to say here. But if, besides this, the reader has lingered in the school of the divine Plato, he will be so much the better prepared to hear me, and susceptible to what I say. And if, indeed, in addition to this he is a partaker of the benefit conferred by the Vedas (the access to which, opened to us through the Upanishads, is in my eyes the greatest advantage which this still young century enjoys over previous ones, because I believe that the influence of the Sanskrit literature will penetrate not less deeply than did the revival of Greek literature in the fifteenth century),—if, I say, the reader has already received and assimilated the sacred, primitive Indian wisdom, then is he best of all prepared to hear what I have to say to him. My work will not speak to him, as to many others, in a strange and even hostile tongue; for if it does not sound too vain, I might express the opinion that each one of the individual and disconnected aphorisms which make up the Upanishads may be deduced as a consequence from the thought I am going to impart; though the converse—that my thought is to be found in the Upanishads—is by no means the case….  2
  “The world is my idea.” This is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective 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 which surrounds him is there only as idea,—i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness which is in himself. If any truth can be asserted a priori, it is this, for it is the expression of the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience,—a form which is more general than time, or space, or causality, for they all presuppose it; and each of these, which we have seen to be just so many modes of the principle of sufficient reason, is valid only for a particular class of ideas: whereas the antithesis of object and subject is the common form of all these classes; is that form under which alone any idea, of whatever kind it may be,—abstract or intuitive, pure or empirical,—is possible and thinkable.  3
  No truth therefore is more certain, more independent of all others, and less in need of proof, than this: that all that exists for knowledge, and therefore this whole world, is only object in relation to subject, perception of a perceiver,—in a word, idea. This is obviously true of the past and the future, as well as of the present; of what is farthest off, as of what is near: for it is true of time and space themselves, in which alone these distinctions arise. All that in any way belongs or can belong to the world is inevitably thus conditioned through the subject, and exists only for the subject. The world is idea….  4
  Of all systems of philosophy which start from the object, the most consistent, and that which may be carried furthest, is simple materialism. It regards matter—and with it time and space—as existing absolutely; and ignores the relation to the subject in which alone all this really exists. It then lays hold of the law of causality as a guiding principle or clue, regarding it as a self-existent order or arrangement of things, veritas æterna; and so fails to take account of the understanding, in which and for alone causality is. It seeks the primary and most simple state of matter, and then tries to develop all the others from it; ascending from mere mechanism to chemism, to polarity, to the vegetable and to the animal kingdom. And if we suppose this to have been done, the last link in the chain would be animal sensibility,—that is, knowledge,—which would consequently now appear as a mere modification or state of matter produced by causality. Now if we had followed materialism thus far with clear ideas, when we reached its highest point we should suddenly be seized with a fit of the inextinguishable laughter of the Olympians. As if waking from a dream, we should all at once become aware that its final result—knowledge, which it reached so laboriously—was presupposed as the indispensable condition of its very starting-point, mere matter: and when we imagine that we thought matter, we really thought only the subject that perceives matter; the eye that sees it, the hand that feels it, the understanding that knows it. Thus the tremendous petitio principii reveals itself unexpectedly: for suddenly the last link is seen to be the starting-point, the chain a circle; and the materialist is like Baron Munchausen, who, when swimming in water on horseback, drew the horse into the air with his legs, and himself also by his cue….  5
  As from the direct light of the sun to the borrowed light of the moon, we pass from the immediate idea of perception—which stands by itself and is its own warrant—to reflection; to the abstract, discursive concepts of the reason, which obtain their whole content from knowledge of perception, and in relation to it. As long as we continue simply to perceive, all is clear, firm, and certain. There are neither questions nor doubts nor errors; we desire to go no further, can go no further; we find rest in perceiving, and satisfaction in the present. Perception suffices for itself: and therefore what springs purely from it, and remains true to it,—for example, a genuine work of art,—can never be false; nor can it be discredited through the lapse of time, for it does not present an opinion, but the thing itself. But with abstract knowledge, with reason, doubt and error appear in the theoretical, care and sorrow in the practical. In the idea of perception, illusion may at moments take the place of the real; but in the sphere of abstract thought, error may reign for a thousand years, impose its yoke upon whole nations, extend to the noblest impulses of humanity, and by the help of its slaves and its dupes may chain and fetter those whom it cannot deceive. It is the enemy against which the wisest men of all times have waged unequal war, and only what they have won from it has become the possession of mankind. Therefore it is well to draw attention to it at once, as we already tread the ground to which its province belongs. It has often been said that we ought to follow truth, even although no utility can be seen in it, because it may have indirect utility which may appear when it is least expected; and I would add to this, that we ought to be just as anxious to discover and to root out all error, even when no harm is anticipated from it, because its mischief may be very indirect, and may suddenly appear when we do not expect it,—for all error has poison at its heart. If it is mind, if it is knowledge, that makes man the lord of creation, there can be no such thing as harmless error; still less venerable and holy error. And for the consolation of those who in any way and at any time may have devoted strength and life to the noble and hard battle against error, I cannot refrain from adding that so long as truth is absent, error will have free play,—as owls and bats in the night; but sooner would we expect to see the owls and the bats drive back the sun in the eastern heavens, than that any truth which has once been known, and distinctly and fully expressed, can ever again be so utterly vanquished and overcome that the old error shall once more reign undisturbed over its wide kingdom. This is the power of truth: its conquest is slow and laborious, but if once the victory be gained it can never be wrested back again….  6
  To him who has thoroughly grasped this, and can distinguish between the will and the Idea, and between the Idea and its manifestation, the events of the world will have significance only so far as they are the letters out of which we may read the Idea of man, but not in and for themselves. He will not believe with the vulgar that time may produce something actually new and significant; that through it, or in it, something absolutely real may attain to existence, or indeed that it itself as a whole has beginning and end, plan and development, and in some way has for its final aim the highest perfection (according to their conception) of the last generation of man, whose life is a brief thirty years. Therefore he will just as little, with Homer, people a whole Olympus with gods to guide the events of time, as with Ossian he will take the forms of the clouds for individual beings; for as we have said, both have just as much meaning as regards the Idea which appears in them. In the manifold forms of human life, and in the unceasing change of events, he will regard the Idea only as the abiding and essential, in which the will to live has its fullest objectivity, and which shows its different sides in the capacities, the passions, the errors, and the excellences, of the human race; in self-interest, hatred, love, fear, boldness, frivolity, stupidity, slyness, wit, genius, and so forth,—all of which, crowding together and combining in thousands of forms (individuals), continually create the history of the great and the little world, in which it is all the same whether they are set in motion by nuts or by crowns. Finally he will find that in the world it is the same as in the dramas of Gozzi, in all of which the same persons appear, with like intention and with a like fate: the motives and incidents are certainly different in each piece, but the spirit of the incidents is the same; the actors in one piece know nothing of the incidents of another, although they performed in it themselves: therefore after all experience of former pieces, Pantaloon has become no more agile or generous, Tartaglia no more conscientious, Brighella no more courageous, and Columbine no more modest.  7
  Suppose we were allowed for once a clearer glance into the kingdom of the possible, and over the whole chain of causes and effects: if the earth-spirit appeared and showed us in a picture all the greatest men, enlighteners of the world, and heroes, that chance destroyed before they were ripe for their work; then the great events that would have changed the history of the world and brought in periods of the highest culture and enlightenment, but which the blindest chance—the most insignificant accident—hindered at the outset; lastly the splendid powers of great men, that would have enriched whole ages of the world, but which, either misled by error or fashion, or compelled by necessity, they squandered uselessly on unworthy or unfruitful objects, or even wasted in play. If we saw all this, we should shudder and lament at the thought of the lost treasures of whole periods of the world. But the earth-spirit would smile and say, “The source from which the individuals and their powers proceed is inexhaustible and unending as time and space; for like these forms of all phenomena, they also are only phenomena,—visibility of the will. No finite measure can exhaust that infinite source; therefore an undiminished eternity is always open for the return of any event or work that was nipped in the bud. In this world of phenomena, true loss is just as little possible as true gain. The will alone is: it is the thing in-itself, and the source of all these phenomena. Its self-knowledge and its assertion or denial, which is then decided upon, is the only event in-itself.”  8
  All willing arises from want; therefore from deficiency, and therefore from suffering. The satisfaction of a wish ends it; yet for one wish that is satisfied there remain at least ten which are denied. Further, the desire lasts long, the demands are infinite: the satisfaction is short and scantily measured out. But even the final satisfaction is itself only apparent; every satisfied wish at once makes room for a new one: both are illusions; the one is known to be so, the other not yet. No attained object of desire can give lasting satisfaction, but merely a fleeting gratification: it is like the alms thrown to the beggar, that keeps him alive to-day that his misery may be prolonged till the morrow. Therefore so long as our consciousness is filled by our will, so long as we are given up to the throng of desires with their constant hopes and fears, so long as we are the subject of willing,—we can never have lasting happiness nor peace. It is essentially all the same whether we pursue or flee, fear injury or seek enjoyment: the care for the constant demands of the will, in whatever form it may be, continually occupies and sways the consciousness; but without peace no true well-being is possible. The subject of willing is thus constantly stretched on the revolving wheel of Ixion, pours water into the sieve of the Danaids, is the ever-longing Tantalus.  9
  But when some external cause or inward disposition lifts us suddenly out of the endless stream of willing,—delivers knowledge from the slavery of the will,—the attention is no longer directed to the motives of willing, but comprehends things free from their relation to the will; and thus observes them without personal interest, without subjectivity, purely objectively,—gives itself entirely up to them so far as they are ideas, but not in so far as they are motives. Then all at once the peace which we were always seeking, but which always fled from us on the former path of the desires, comes to us of its own accord; and it is well with us. It is the painless state which Epicurus prized as the highest good and as the state of the gods: for we are for the moment set free from the miserable striving of the will; we keep the Sabbath of the penal servitude of willing; the wheel of Ixion stands still….  10
  Tragedy is to be regarded, and is recognized, as the summit of poetical art, both on account of the greatness of its effect and the difficulty of its achievement. It is very significant for our whole system, and well worthy of observation, that the end of this highest poetical achievement is the representation of the terrible side of life. The unspeakable pain, the wail of humanity, the triumph of evil, the scornful mastery of chance, and the irretrievable fall of the just and innocent, is here presented to us; and in this lies a significant hint of the nature of the world and of existence. It is the strife of will with itself, which here, completely unfolded at the highest grade of its objectivity, comes into fearful prominence. It becomes visible in the suffering of men, which is now introduced: partly through chance and error, which appear as the rulers of the world,—personified as fate on account of their insidiousness, which even reaches the appearance of design; partly it proceeds from man himself, through the self-mortifying efforts of a few, through the wickedness and perversity of most. It is one and the same will that lives and appears in them all, but whose phenomena fight against each other and destroy each other. In one individual it appears powerfully, in another more weakly; in one more subject to reason and softened by the light of knowledge, in another less so: till at last, in some single case, this knowledge, purified and heightened by suffering itself, reaches the point at which the phenomenon, the veil of Maya, no longer deceives it. It sees through the form of the phenomenon the principium individuationis. The egoism which rests on this perishes with it, so that now the motives that were so powerful before have lost their might; and instead of them the complete knowledge of the nature of the world, which has a quieting effect on the will, produces resignation,—the surrender not merely of life, but of the very will to live. Thus we see in tragedies the noblest men, after long conflict and suffering, at last renounce the ends they have so keenly followed, and all the pleasures of life forever, or else freely and joyfully surrender life itself. So is it with Calderón’s steadfast prince; with Gretchen in ‘Faust’; with Hamlet, whom his friend Horatio would willingly follow, but is bade remain awhile, and in this harsh world draw his breath in pain, to tell the story of Hamlet and clear his memory; so also is it with the Maid of Orleans, the Bride of Messina: they all die purified by suffering,—i.e., after the will to live which was formerly in them is dead. In the ‘Mohammed’ of Voltaire this is actually expressed in the concluding words which the dying Pelmira addresses to Mohammed: “The world is for tyrants: live!” On the other hand, the demand for so-called poetical justice rests on entire misconception of the nature of tragedy, and indeed of the nature of the world itself. It boldly appears in all its dullness in the criticisms which Dr. Samuel Johnson made on particular plays of Shakespeare, for he very naïvely laments its entire absence. And its absence is certainly obvious; for in what has Ophelia, Desdemona, or Cordelia offended? But only the dull, optimistic, Protestant-rationalistic, or peculiarly Jewish view of life will make the demand for poetical justice, and find satisfaction in it. The true sense of tragedy is the deeper insight that it is not his own individual sins that the hero atones for, but original sin,—i.e., the crime of existence itself:—
      “Pues el delito mayor
Del hombre es haber nacido,”
    (“For the greatest crime
Of man is that he was born,”)
as Calderón exactly expresses it.
  11
  I shall allow myself only one remark more closely concerning the treatment of tragedy. The representation of a great misfortune is alone essential to tragedy. But the many different ways in which this is introduced by the poet may be brought under three specific conceptions. It may happen by means of a character of extraordinary wickedness, touching the utmost limits of possibility, who becomes the author of the misfortune: examples of this kind are Richard III., Iago in ‘Othello,’ Shylock in ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ Franz Moor [of Schiller’s ‘Robbers’], the Phædra of Euripides, Creon in the ‘Antigone,’ etc., etc. Secondly, it may happen through blind fate,—i.e., chance and error: a true pattern of this kind is the Œdipus Rex of Sophocles, the ‘Trachiniæ’ also; and in general most of the tragedies of the ancients belong to this class. Among modern tragedies, ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ Voltaire’s ‘Tancred,’ and ‘The Bride of Messina,’ are examples. Lastly, the misfortune may be brought about by the mere position of the dramatis personæ with regard to each other, through their relations, so that there is no need either for a tremendous error or an unheard-of accident, nor yet for a character whose wickedness reaches the limits of human possibility; but characters of ordinary morality, under circumstances such as often occur, are so situated with regard to each other that their position compels them, knowingly and with their eyes open, to do each other the greatest injury, without any one of them being entirely in the wrong.  12
  This last kind of tragedy seems to me far to surpass the other two; for it shows us the greatest misfortune, not as an exception, not as something occasioned by way of circumstances or monstrous characters, but as arising easily and of itself out of the actions and characters of men,—indeed almost as essential to them,—and thus brings it terribly near to us. In the other two kinds, we may look on the prodigious fate and the horrible wickedness as terrible powers which certainly threaten us, but only from afar, which we may very well escape without taking refuge in renunciation. But in this last kind of tragedy, we see that those powers which destroy happiness and life are such that their path to us also is open at every moment; we see the greatest sufferings brought about by entanglements that our fate might also partake of, and through actions that perhaps we also are capable of performing, and so could not complain of injustice: then, shuddering, we feel ourselves already in the midst of hell. This last kind of tragedy is also the most difficult of achievement; for the greatest effect has to be produced in it with the least use of means and causes of movement, merely through the position and distribution of the characters: therefore even in many of the best tragedies this difficulty is evaded. Yet one tragedy may be referred to as a perfect model of this kind,—a tragedy which in other respects is far surpassed by more than one work of the same great master; it is ‘Clavigo.’ ‘Hamlet’ belongs to a certain extent to this class, as far as the relation of Hamlet to Laertes and Ophelia is concerned. ‘Wallenstein’ has also this excellence. ‘Faust’ belongs entirely to this class, if we regard the events connected with Gretchen and her brother as the principal action; also the ‘Cid’ of Corneille, only that it lacks the tragic conclusion, while on the contrary the analogous relation of Max to Thecla has it….  13
  Thus between desiring and attaining, all human life flows on throughout. The wish is, in its nature, pain; the attainment soon begets satiety, the end was only apparent; possession takes away the charm: the wish, the need, presents itself under a new form; when it does not, then follow desolateness, emptiness, ennui,—against which the conflict is just as painful as against want. That wish and satisfaction should follow each other neither too quickly nor too slowly, reduces to the smallest amount the suffering which both occasion, and constitutes the happiest life. For that which we might otherwise call the most beautiful part of life, its purest joy (if it were only because it lifts us out of real existence and transforms us into disinterested spectators of it),—that is, pure knowledge, which is foreign to all willing, the pleasure of the beautiful, the pure delight in art,—this is granted only to a very few, because it demands rare talents; and to these few only as a passing dream. And then even these few, on account of their higher intellectual powers, are made susceptible of far greater suffering than duller minds can ever feel, and are also placed in lonely isolation by a nature which is obviously different from that of others; thus here also accounts are squared. But to the great majority of men, purely intellectual pleasures are not accessible. They are almost wholly incapable of the joys which lie in pure knowledge. They are entirely given up to willing. If therefore anything is to win their sympathy, to be interesting to them, it must (as is implied in the meaning of the word) in some way excite their will, even if it is only through a distant and merely problematical relation to it; the will must not be left altogether out of the question, for their existence lies far more in willing than in knowing: action and reaction is their one element. We may find in trifles and every-day occurrences the naïve expressions of this quality. Thus, for example, at any place worth seeing they may visit, they write their names, in order thus to react, to affect the place since it does not affect them. Again, when they see a strange rare animal, they cannot easily confine themselves to merely observing it; they must rouse it, tease it, play with it, merely to experience action and reaction: but this need for excitement of the will manifests itself very specially in the discovery and support of card-playing, which is quite peculiarly the expression of the miserable side of humanity….  14
  As far as the life of the individual is concerned, every biography is the history of suffering; for every life is, as a rule, a continual series of great and small misfortunes, which each one conceals as much as possible because he knows that others can seldom feel sympathy or compassion, but almost always satisfaction at the sight of the woes from which they are themselves for the moment exempt. But perhaps at the end of life, if a man is sincere and in full possession of his faculties, he will never wish to have it to live over again; but rather than this, he will much prefer absolute annihilation. The essential content of the famous soliloquy in ‘Hamlet’ is briefly this: Our state is so wretched that absolute annihilation would be decidedly preferable. If suicide really offered us this,—so that the alternative “to be or not to be,” in the full sense of the word, was placed before us,—then it would be unconditionally to be chosen as “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” But there is something in us which tells us that this is not the case: suicide is not the end; death is not absolute annihilation. In like manner, what was said by the Father of History has not since him been contradicted,—that no man has ever lived who has not wished more than once that he had not to live the following day. According to this, the brevity of life, which is so constantly lamented, may be the best quality it possesses.  15
  If, finally, we should bring clearly to a man’s sight the terrible sufferings and miseries to which his life is constantly exposed, he would be seized with horror: and if we were to conduct the confirmed optimist through the hospitals, infirmaries, and surgical operating-rooms, through the prisons, torture chambers, and slave kennels, over battle-fields and places of execution; if we were to open to him all the dark abodes of misery, where it hides itself from the glance of cold curiosity, and finally allow him to glance into Ugolino’s dungeon of starvation,—he too would understand at last the nature of this “best of possible worlds.” For whence did Dante take the materials for his hell, but from this our actual world? And yet he made a very proper hell of it. And when, on the other hand, he came to the task of describing heaven and its delights, he had an insurmountable difficulty before him; for our world affords no materials at all for this. Therefore there remained nothing for him to do, but, instead of describing the joys of Paradise, to repeat to us the instruction given him there by his ancestor, by Beatrice, and by various saints.  16
  But from this it is sufficiently clear what manner of world it is. Certainly human life, like all bad ware, is covered over with a false lustre. What suffers always conceals itself. On the other hand, whatever pomp or splendor any one can get, he openly makes a show of: and the more his inner contentment deserts him, the more he desires to exist as fortunate in the opinion of others,—to such an extent does folly go; and the opinion of others is a chief aim of the efforts of every one, although the utter nothingness of it is expressed in the fact that in almost all languages vanity, vanitas, originally signifies emptiness and nothingness. But under all this false show, the miseries of life can so increase—and this happens every day—that the death which hitherto has been feared above all things is eagerly seized upon. Indeed, if fate will show its whole malice, even this refuge is denied to the sufferer; and in the hands of enraged enemies, he may remain exposed to terrible and slow tortures without remedy. In vain the sufferer then calls on his gods for help: he remains exposed to his fate without grace.  17
  But this irremediableness is only the mirror of the invincible nature of his will, of which his person is the objectivity. As little as an external power can change or suppress this will, so little can a foreign power deliver it from the miseries which proceed from the life which is the phenomenal appearance of that will. In the principal matter, as in everything else, a man is always thrown back upon himself. In vain does he make to himself gods, in order to get from them by prayers and flattery what can only be accomplished by his own will-power. The Old Testament made the world and man the work of a god; but the New Testament saw that in order to teach that holiness, and salvation from the sorrows of this world, can only come from the world itself, it was necessary that this god should become man. It is and remains the will of man upon which everything depends for him. Fanatics, martyrs, saints of every faith and name, have voluntarily and gladly endured every torture, because in them the will to live had suppressed itself; and then even the slow destruction of its phenomenon was welcome to them. But I do not wish to anticipate the later exposition. For the rest, I cannot here avoid the statement that to me, optimism, when it is not merely the thoughtless talk of such as harbor nothing but words under their low foreheads, appears not merely as an absurd, but also as a really wicked way of thinking; as a bitter mockery of the unspeakable suffering of humanity. Let no one think that Christianity is favorable to optimism; for on the contrary, in the Gospels, “world” and “evil” are used as almost synonymous….  18
  All suffering, since it is a mortification and a call to resignation, has potentially a sanctifying power. This is the explanation of the fact that every great misfortune or deep pain inspires a certain awe. But the sufferer only really becomes an object of reverence, when, surveying the course of his life as a chain of sorrows, or mourning some great and incurable misfortune, he does not really look at the special combination of circumstances which has plunged his own life into suffering, nor stops at the single great misfortune that has befallen him;—for in so doing, his knowledge still follows the principle of sufficient reason, and clings to the particular phenomenon; he still wills life, only not under the conditions which have happened to him;—but only then, I say, is he truly worthy of reverence when he raises his glance from the particular to the universal, when he regards his suffering as merely an example of the whole, and for him—since in a moral regard he partakes of genius—one case stands for a thousand; so that the whole of life, conceived as essentially suffering, brings him to resignation. Therefore it inspires reverence, when in Goethe’s ‘Torquato Tasso’ the princess speaks of how her own life and that of her relations has always been sad and joyless, and yet regards the matter from an entirely universal point of view.  19
  A very noble character we always imagine with a certain trace of quiet sadness, which is anything but a constant fretfulness at daily annoyances (this would be an ignoble trait, and lead us to fear a bad disposition), but is a consciousness derived from knowledge of the vanity of all possessions,—of the suffering of all life, not merely of his own. But such knowledge may primarily be awakened by the personal experience of suffering, especially some one great sorrow; as a single unfulfilled wish brought Petrarch to that state of resigned sadness concerning the whole of life which appeals to us so pathetically in his works,—for the Daphne he pursued had to flee from his hands in order to leave him, instead of herself, the immortal laurel. When through some such great and irrevocable denial of fate the will is to some extent broken, almost nothing else is desired; and the character shows itself mild, just, noble, and resigned. Finally, when grief has no definite object, but extends itself over the whole of life, then it is to a certain extent a going into itself; a withdrawal, a gradual disappearance of the will, whose visible manifestation, the body, it imperceptibly but surely undermines,—so that a man feels a certain loosening of his bonds, a mild foretaste of that death which promises to be the abolition at once of the body and of the will. Therefore a secret pleasure accompanies this grief; and it is this, as I believe, which the most melancholy of all nations has called “the joy of grief.” But here also lies the danger of sentimentality, both in life itself and in the representation of it in poetry; when a man is always mourning and lamenting without courageously rising to resignation. In this way we lose both earth and heaven, and retain merely a watery sentimentality. Only if suffering assumes the form of pure knowledge—and this, acting as a quieter of the will, brings about resignation—is it worthy of reverence.  20
  In this regard, however, we feel a certain respect at the sight of every great sufferer, which is akin to the feeling excited by virtue and nobility of character, and also seems like a reproach of our own happy condition. We cannot help regarding every sorrow—both our own and those of others—as at least a potential advance towards virtue and holiness; and on the contrary, pleasures and worldly satisfactions as a retrogression from them. This goes so far that every man who endures a great bodily or mental suffering,—indeed, every one who merely performs some physical labor which demands the greatest exertion, in the sweat of his brow and with evident exhaustion, yet with patience and without murmuring,—every such man, I say, if we consider him with close attention, appears to us like a sick man who tries a painful cure; and who willingly, and even with satisfaction, endures the suffering it causes him, because he knows that the more he suffers the more the cause of his disease is affected, and that therefore the present suffering is the measure of his cure.  21
  According to what has been said, the denial of the will to live—which is just what is called absolute, entire resignation, or holiness—always proceeds from that quieter of the will which the knowledge of its inner conflict and essential vanity, expressing themselves in the suffering of all living things, becomes. The difference which we have represented as two paths—consists in whether that knowledge is called up by suffering which is merely and purely known, and is freely appropriated by means of the penetration of the principium individuationis, or by suffering which is directly felt by a man himself. True salvation—deliverance from life and suffering—cannot even be imagined without complete denial of the will. Till then, every one is simply this will itself; whose manifestation is an ephemeral existence, a constantly vain and empty striving, and the world full of suffering we have represented, to which all irrevocably and in like manner belong. For we found above that life is always assured to the will to live; and its one real form is the present, from which they can never escape, since birth and death reign in the phenomenal world. The Indian mythus expresses this by saying “they are born again.” The great ethical difference of character means this: that the bad man is infinitely far from the attainment of the knowledge from which the denial of the will proceeds, and therefore he is in truth actually exposed to all the miseries which appear in life as possible; for even the present fortunate condition of his personality is merely a phenomenon produced by the principium individuationis, and a delusion of Maya,—the happy dream of a beggar. The sufferings which in the vehemence and ardor of his will he inflicts upon others are the measure of the suffering, the experience of which in his own person cannot break his will, and plainly lead it to the denial of itself. All true and pure love, on the other hand, and even all free justice, proceed from the penetration of the principium individuationis, which, if it appears with its full power, results in perfect sanctification and salvation,—the phenomenon of which is the state of resignation described above, the unbroken peace which accompanies it, and the greatest delight in death.  22
  If, however, it should be absolutely insisted upon that in some way or other a positive knowledge should be attained of that which philosophy can only express negatively as the denial of the will, there would be nothing for it but to refer to that state which all those who have attained to complete denial of the will have experienced, and which has been variously denoted by the names ecstasy, rapture, illumination, union with God, and so forth; a state, however, which cannot properly be called knowledge, because it has not the form of subject and object, and is moreover only attainable in one’s own experience and cannot be further communicated.  23
  We, however, who consistently occupy the standpoint of philosophy, must be satisfied here with negative knowledge,—content to have reached the utmost limit of the positive. We have recognized the inmost nature of the world as will, and all its phenomena as only the objectivity of will; and we have followed this objectivity from the unconscious working of obscure forces of nature up to the completely conscious action of man. Therefore we shall by no means evade the consequence, that with the free denial, the surrender of the will, all those phenomena are also abolished: that constant strain and effort, without end and without rest, at all the grades of objectivity in which and through which the world consists; the multifarious forms succeeding each other in gradation; the whole manifestation of the will; and finally also the universal forms of this manifestation, time and space, and also its last fundamental form, subject and object,—all are abolished. No will no idea—no world.  24
  Before us there is certainly only nothingness. But that which resists this passing into nothing—our nature—is indeed just the will to live which we ourselves are, as it is our world. That we abhor annihilation so greatly, is simply another expression of the fact that we so strenuously will life, and are nothing but this will, and know nothing besides it. But if we turn our glance from our own needy and embarrassed condition to those who have overcome the world; in whom the will, having attained to perfect self-knowledge, found itself again in all, and then freely denied itself, and who then merely wait to see the last trace of it vanish with the body which it animates: then instead of the restless striving and effort, instead of the constant transition from wish to fruition and from joy to sorrow, instead of the never-satisfied and never-dying hope which constitutes the life of the man who wills,—we shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit, that deep rest, that inviolable confidence and serenity, the mere reflection of which in the countenance, as Raphael and Correggio have represented it, is an entire and certain gospel; only knowledge remains, the will has vanished. We look with deep and painful longing upon this state, beside which the misery and wretchedness of our own is brought out clearly by the contrast. Yet this is the only consideration which can afford us lasting consolation, when on the one hand we have recognized incurable suffering and endless misery as essential to the manifestation of will, the world; and on the other hand, see the world pass away with the abolition of will, and retain before us only empty nothingness. Thus, in this way, by contemplation of the life and conduct of saints,—whom it is certainly rarely granted us to meet with in our own experience, but who are brought before our eyes by their written history, and with the stamp of inner truth, by art,—we must banish the dark impression of that nothingness which we discern behind all virtue and holiness as their final goal, and which we fear as children fear the dark; we must not even evade it like the Indians, through myths and meaningless words, such as reabsorption in Brahma or the Nirvana of the Buddhists. Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is, for all those who are still full of will, certainly nothing; but conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and has denied itself, this our world which is so real, with all its suns and Milky Ways, is nothing.  25
 
 
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