AN ANTHOLOGY OF THOUGHT & EMOTION... Un'antologia di pensieri & emozioni

ON BEING SCHOPENHAUER


Arthur Schopenhauer was a German 19th century philosopher, who deserves to be remembered today for the insights contained in his great work: The World as Will and Representation.

Schopenhauer was the first serious Western philosopher to get interested in Buddhism – and his thought can best be read as a Western interpretation of, and response to, the enlightened pessimism found in Buddhist thought.

‘In my 17th year,’ he wrote in an autobiographical text, ‘I was gripped by the misery of life, as Buddha had been in his youth when he saw sickness, old age, pain and death. The truth was that this world could not have been the work of an all loving Being, but rather that of a devil, who had brought creatures into existence in order to delight in their sufferings.’ And like the Buddha, it was his goal to dissect and then come up with a solution to this suffering.

It is chiefly the fault of universities that Schopenhauer is taught in such an academic way that it has stopped him from being widely known, read and followed. And yet in truth, this is a man who – no less than the Buddha – deserves disciples, schools, art-works and monasteries to put his ideas into practice.

Schopenhauer’s philosophy starts by giving a name to a primary force within us which he says is more powerful than anything else – our reason, logic or moral sense: and which he terms The Will-to-Life. The Will-to-Life is a constant force which makes us thrust ourselves forward, cling to existence and look to our own advantage. It’s blind, dumb and very insistent. What the Will-to-Life makes us focus on most of all is sex. From adolescence onwards, this Will thrums within us, turns our heads constantly to erotic scenarios and makes us do very odd things – the oddest of which is fall in love.

Schopenhauer was very respectful of love, as one might be towards a hurricane or a tiger. He deeply resented the disruption caused to intelligent people by infatuations – or what we’d call crushes – but he refused to conceive of these as either disproportionate or accidental. In his eyes, love is connected to the most important (and miserable) underlying project of the Will-to-Life and hence of all our lives: having children.

“Why all this noise and fuss about love? Why all the urgency, uproar, anguish and exertion?” he asked. “Because the ultimate aim of all love-affairs… is actually more important than all other aims in anyone’s life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it.”

The romantic dominates life because “what is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation….the existence and special constitution of the human race in times to come.”

Of course, we rarely think of future children when we are asking someone out on a date. But in Schopenhauer’s view, this is simply because the intellect “remains much excluded from the real resolutions and secret decisions of its own will.”

Why should such deception even be necessary? Because, for Schopenhauer, we would never reliably to reproduce unless we first had – quite literally – lost our minds. This was a man deeply opposed to the boredom, routine, expense and sheer sacrifice of having children.

Furthermore, he argued that most of the time, if our intellect were properly in charge of choosing who to fall in love with, we would pick radically different people to the ones we end up with.

But we’re ultimately driven to fall in love not with people we’ll get on with, but with people whom the the Will-to-Life recognises as ideal partners for producing what Schopenhauer bluntly called ‘balanced children.’ All of us are in any case a bit unbalanced, he thought: we’re a bit too masculine, or too feminine, too tall or too short, too rational or too impulsive. If such imbalances were allowed to persist, or were aggravated, in the next generation, the human race would, within a short time, sink into oddity.

The Will-to-life must therefore push us towards people who can, on account of their compensating imbalances, cancel out our own issues – a large nose combined with a button nose promise a perfect nose. He argued that short people often fall in love with tall people, and more feminine men with more assertive and masculine women.

Unfortunately, this theory of attraction led Schopenhauer to a very bleak conclusion: namely, that a person who is highly suitable for producing a balanced child is almost never (though we cannot realise it at the time because we have been blindfolded by the will-to-life) very suitable for us. “We should not be surprised by marriages between people who would never have been friends: “Love…casts itself on people who, apart from sex, would be hateful, contemptible, and even abhorrent to us. But the will of the species is so much more powerful than that of individuals, that lovers overlook everything, misjudge everything, and bind themselves forever to an object of misery.”

The Will-to-life’s ability to further its own ends rather than our happiness may, Schopenhauer’s theory implies, be sensed with particular clarity in that rather scary, lonely moment just after orgasm: “Directly after copulation the devil’s laughter is heard”.

Watching the human spectacle, Schopenhauer felt deeply sorry for us. We are just like animals – except, because of our greater self-awareness, even more unhappy.

There are some poignant passages where he discusses different animals but dwells especially on the mole: a stunted monstrosity that dwells in damp narrow corridors, rarely sees the light of day and whose offspring look like gelatinous worms – but who still does everything in its power to survive and perpetuate itself.

We’re just like them and just as pitiful: we are driven frantically to push ourselves forward, get good jobs to impress prospective partners, wonder endlessly about finding The One (imagining they’ll make us happy), and are eventually briefly seduced by someone long enough to produce a child, and then have to spend the next 40 years in misery to atone for our error.

Schopenhauer is beautifully and comically gloomy about human nature: “There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy… So long as we persist in this inborn error… the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of being content. That’s why the faces of almost all elderly people are etched with such disappointment.”

Schopenhauer offers two solutions to deal with the problems of existence. The first is for rather rare individuals that he called ‘sages’.

Sages are able, by heroic efforts, to rise above the demands of the Will-to-life: they see the natural drives within themselves towards selfishness, sex and vanity… and override them. They overcome their desires, live alone (often away from big cities), never marry and quell their appetites for fame and status.

In Buddhism, Schopenhauer points out, this person is known as a monk – but he recognizes that only a tiny number of us can go in for such a life.

The second and more easily available and realistic option is to spend as long as we can with art and philosophy, whose task is to hold up a mirror to the frenzied efforts and unhappy turmoil created in all of us by the Will-to-Life. We may not be able to quell the Will-to-Life very often, but in the evenings at the theater, or on a walk with a book of poetry, we can step back from the day to day and look at life without illusion.

The art Schopenhauer loved best is the opposite of sentimental: Greek tragedies, the aphorisms of La Rochefoucauld and the political theory of Machiavelli and Hobbes. Such works speak frankly about egoism, suffering, selfishness and the horrors of married life – and extend a tragic, dignified, melancholy sympathy to the human race.

It’s fitting that Schopenhauer’s own work fitted his own description of what philosophy and art should do perfectly. It too is deeply consoling in its morbid bitter pessimism. For example, he tells us:
To marry means to do everything possible to become an object of disgust to each other.
Every life history is the history of suffering.
Life has no intrinsic worth, but is kept in motion merely by want and illusion.
After spending a lot of time trying, yet failing to be famous, and trying, yet failing to have a good relationships, towards the end of his life, Schopenhauer eventually found an audience who adored his writings. He lived quietly in an apartment in Frankfurt with his dog, a white poodle whom he called Atman after the world soul of the Buddhists – but whom the neighbouring children called Mrs Schopenhauer. Shortly before his death, a sculptor made a famous bust of him. He died in 1860 at the age of 72, having achieved calm and serenity.

Extracted from The Book of Life

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ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

By DeWitt H. Parker

In the history of European philosophy Schopenhauer occupies a place apart. Born in the golden age of German literature and philosophy, and acknowledging Kant as his intellectual father, he nevertheless remained outside of the straight line of development that had its starting-point in Kant, and although a product of his age, he was not of his age. While his great contemporaries, Schleiermacher, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, found immediate recognition, Schopenhauer had to wait almost a generation before achieving fame or exerting influence. They were professors with an official standing in the community; Schopenhauer was a private scholar, a mere gentleman philosopher. In this last respect he was more like the philosophers of England and France of the eighteenth century. Again, like them, he wrote a clear and literary as opposed to the highly technical and serious style of the contemporary German philosophers, and was not averse to invective, satire, and talking down to his readers. Viewed in relation to the larger spirit and trend of European thought, which is dominantly rationalistic, optimistic, genteel, and pious, Schopenhauer's position is even more eccentric; for Schopenhauer was an antirationalist, pessimist, atheist; 'tough' as opposed to 'tender' minded, a wild ass of the desert in philosophy. Hence his great value to the student: he ventured to question the validity of fundamental assumptions grown conventional, and called attention to aspects of experience unseen by averted eyes. That his own vision was partly perverse cannot be denied; yet every philosopher since must reckon with it.

Arthur Schopenhauer was born February 22, 1788. His father, Heinrich Floris, was a wealthy and honored merchant, doing business in Danzig, then a free city under the nominal suzerainty of Poland. His mother, Johanna Henrietta, was daughter of the senator Trosiener. The families of both parents were proud and aristocratic, and from them Schopenhauer believed he inherited his own independence of mind and high spirits. More specifically, he claimed that to his father he owed his 'will'; that is, his temperament and character; to his mother, the quality of his intelligence. However this be, Heinrich Floris was a man of intense passions and iron resolution, of sombre cast of mind, with a pathologic streak that showed up in other members of the family. Johanna, on the other hand, was gay and pleasure-loving, gifted and witty, destined to win fame as a novelist and essayist. Heinrich desired that his son should be born in England, a country which he greatly loved, so a journey thither was undertaken to this end; but the health of the mother demanded a return to Danzig, where the child was born. Later, there was another child, Adele.

It was planned that the boy should follow the career of the father, so he was carefully educated in what Heinrich Floris called 'the book of the world.' In order that he might learn the French language, young Arthur was placed at the age of ten in the home of a business correspondent at Havre. Two years later he began attendance at a private school in Hamburg, where, at great financial sacrifice, his family had taken up residence, too proud to live longer in Danzig after it had been robbed of its freedom by Prussia in 1793. A three months' journey through Germany with his travel-loving parents provided a pleasant interruption to the four years of his schooling here. Meanwhile, enamoured of his studies, Schopenhauer began to rebel at the thought of a business career and longed to be a scholar. Shocked and disappointed, his father offered him a grand tour through Europe if he would relinquish his new ambitions. The bribe was effective, and the impressionable boy, eager to see the world, gave in. Two busy and many-colored years of travel were his, spent in Holland, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. Then on his return to Hamburg, true to his promise, he took up his post in the business house of his father. But he was not happy in his work, and at every opportunity read the books which he kept hidden under the counter.

His father's untimely death, in 1805, probably by suicide, freed him. With the consent of his mother, he withdrew from business and embraced the career of the scholar. Undaunted by his late beginning, he made careful preparation. In June, 1807, he attended the gymnasium at Gotha, paying especial attention to the study of Latin. In Weimar, next, where his mother had settled and become a member of Goethe's admiring circle of litterateurs, he studied Greek under Franz Passow. From Passow he derived his lifelong devotion to classical learning. On attaining his majority, master of a comfortable fortune inherited from his father, he entered the University of Göttingen, applying himself to the study of philosophy and the natural sciences, and continuing the while his reading of the Greek and Latin classics. G. E. Schulze was his professor, but Kant and Plato, whom he read on the advice of Schulze, were his real teachers. He also made acquaintance with the work of Schelling, to whom his own thought owed more than he would ever admit. In 1811 he went to Berlin, where he heard Fichte and Schleiermacher. Following Napoleon's disaster in Russia came the German battle for independence. Unlike Fichte, whose discourses stirred his people to patriotic fervor, Schopenhauer took little interest and no active part in the conflict. He sought refuge in the little town of Rudolstadt and gave himself up to meditation. Here he composed his first work, originally intended as a dissertation for the doctor's degree at the University of Berlin, but actually presented at Jena.
This little book, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, published at the author's expense in 1813, was regarded by Schopenhauer as the introduction to his entire system, and later revised in order to bring it into harmony with his more mature thought. Its thesis is that reason, or cause in the sense of reason, is not a simple, single thing, but multiple. There are, in fact, four different ways, according to Schopenhauer, of asking the question Why, and four types of reason, often confused, which may be given in answer: reason of knowing or logical reason; reason of becoming, or causality; reason of being, arithmetical and geometrical reasoning; and, finally, reason for action or motivation. The doctrine is obviously reminiscent of the well-known four causes of Aristotle: the formal, efficient, material, and final. The greatest novelty appears in the development of the conception of reason of being, although Schopenhauer leaned on Kant. Mathematical reasoning, Schopenhauer argued, is fundamentally different from ordinary logical or syllogistic reasoning in being based on intuition or construction, not on deduction from premises to conclusion; and accordingly Schopenhauer advocated the revision of Euclid, who, he believed, mixes the genuinely geometrical with the spurious logical proof. Schopenhauer even offered specimens of the right kind of proof. While the idea was interesting, Schopenhauer was unaware of the complexity of the problem he was raising, and his work on the logical foundations of mathematics has little value to-day. The book found few readers, yet won the praise of Goethe for its views on geometry.

Soon after the publication of this book, Schopenhauer lived for some time at Weimar with his mother. But it was not long before the incompatibility between the joyous, light-hearted mother and her bitter, misanthropic son made itself felt. An open break finally occurred, and Frau Schopenhauer frankly denied her home to her own son. So the young philosopher left Weimar, never to see his mother again, and with one more reason for distrusting life -- and woman. The next stage in his wandering was spent in Dresden. In Weimar he had become acquainted with Goethe, for whom he felt an admiration almost religious in its intensity, and had studied the theory of colors which the poet was passionately advocating against the generally accepted theory of Newton. The result was a new work, On Vision and Colors. Schopenhauer followed in the footsteps of Goethe, attacking Newton unsparingly, but introduced certain speculations of his own not wholly in agreement with the poet's. While Newton studied color from the physical standpoint, Goethe and Schopenhauer viewed it from the physiological and psychological aspects. The two points of view were not utterly unreconcilable, but beyond calling attention to some interesting facts not always rightly interpreted, neither Goethe nor Schopenhauer worked out a satisfactory theory. Adding another drop of bitterness to the philosopher's already brimming cup, the poet received the latter's brochure with indifference.

It was in Dresden also that Schopenhauer's chief work, The World as Will and Idea, published in 1818, was composed. Certain parts of his philosophy, like the theory of morals and human freedom, were more systematically or brilliantly treated later, but, as Schopenhauer himself recognised, his essential thought is contained in this work. His whole philosophy is there, completed at the early age of thirty years. And, as is the case with most philosophers -- there are, of course, the notable exceptions -- Schopenhauer succeeded in expressing his thought more clearly and persuasively than any of his commentators have been able to re-express it. His style is so informal and good that he who runs may not only read but understand. It will be of interest, however, to indicate some of the historical affiliations of Schopenhauer's leading conceptions and their affinity with contemporary ideas. Despite his great originality, Schopenhauer was a product of his age, an age destined to be the fertile source of practically all speculative philosophy for a hundred years.

From Kant, Schopenhauer inherited the 'standpoint of idealism,' for which "this our world which is so real, with all its suns and milky ways, is nevertheless nothing but idea." Kant believed he had proved the validity of this standpoint by showing that not only the particular items of our world -- as Berkeley had already asserted -- are subjective elements of mind but that the space and time forms of objects, and larger conceptions (categories) under which we think objects, are also subjective. This result, which seems at first sight so sceptical, was thought by Kant to provide the indispensable foundation for certainty in the exact sciences. For if things are what the mind makes them, they are as the mind makes them, and must conform to its underlying pattern. We can therefore anticipate experience with reference to its form, and know certain truths about objects in advance of perceiving them. The sciences which are concerned with the form of objects -- mathematics and mechanics -- are therefore a priori. Such was Kant's 'transcendental' idealism, offered in rebuttal of the scepticism which seemed to be the inevitable result of the train of thought initiated by the great English empiricists, Locke, Berkeley, and, above all, Hume.

The main outlines of Kant's transcendental idealism were accepted by Schopenhauer, but with certain modifications. Kant's elaborate table of categories was discarded, and the whole system of 'transcendental forms' reduced to three -- space, time, and causality. This was an immense and able simplification. But, besides, there is a strain of irrationalism, a distrust of the concept, in Schopenhauer's theory of knowledge that goes beyond anything in Kant. Kant, to be sure, had made the famous statement "concepts without intuition are empty," but he never condemned, as Schopenhauer did, the whole apparatus of conception and reasoning as derivative and secondary; had he not, indeed, completed the statement quoted by adding "intuitions without concepts are blind"? The roots of Schopenhauer's irrationalism are to be found rather in Herder, the parent of romanticism, many of whose statements regarding the inferiority of the concept read like a page of Bergson. It must not be lost sight of, however, that for Schopenhauer the intuitions which are the source of all knowledge are rich with the work of the mind, being everywhere shot through with the forms of space, time, and causality. But Schopenhauer believed, as we shall see, that in a single case, at least, intuition can penetrate even these forms to a reality hidden beneath.

For to Schopenhauer, as to Kant, the world revealed in our ordinary intuitions, even when these intuitions are refined and systematized by science, is only, after all, a mere phenomenon, a moving-picture show cast on the screen of consciousness. Yet the show is not all there is, Kant taught; for behind it lies the 'thing-in-itself,' the thing as it is for itself in contradistinction to the thing as it appears to the mind in perception. We can never know what the thing-in-itself is like, because we cannot help perceiving it under the purely subjective forms of our own consciousness; but we can know that it exists. Kant's attitude was cautious, agnostic; there are limitations to knowledge which no man, however learned, can transcend. Indeed, the very basis of our certainty in matters of science -- namely, the subjectivity of the forms of knowledge -- is the basis also of our inescapable ignorance of reality. Nevertheless, while insisting that no one could ever prove it so, Kant believed that the thing-in-itself was somehow brought close to us in our practical, especially our moral, experience. And Fichte, under whom be it remembered Schopenhauer studied in Berlin, proclaimed as the principle of all true philosophy 'the primacy of the practical reason.' In that little classic of philosophy Facts of Consciousness he sought to show that only through action can we escape from the 'egocentric predicament' in which, like a fly in a spider's web, we must remain caught if we continue to occupy the standpoint of idealism alone; only through action do we know even ourselves to be real, and only through moral action do other persons become for us more than mere phantoms, real as we ourselves are real.

When, therefore, Schopenhauer made his famous announcement that the 'will' and the thing-in-itself are the same, he was not so far apart from his teachers as he supposed. By 'will' Schopenhauer means striving, impulse, instinct, interest, desire, emotion. In such experiences, he asserted, subject and object are not separate, as in other kinds, for the self that knows is also the thing that it knows. Here is a veritable miracle in the realm of knowledge. It is true -- as Schopenhauer explains in the important Chapter XVIII of the supplements to Book Two of his chief work -- that even the knowledge that we get of reality through the experience of striving is still obscured through our incapacity to dispense entirely with the forms of intuition; we are exempt from space and causality, but not from time. Not even in striving, therefore, can we get at the naked reality of ourselves; yet here there are fewer veils between knowledge and reality than anywhere else. There are two ways, in fact, by which what I call myself can be known. By the one way, from the outside, I am known as one object among other objects in the phenomenal world, the world as idea. As such an object, I am my body. By the other way of knowing, from the inside, I know myself immediately and as I really am in my experience of striving. Putting the two ways of knowing together, I may say that the body is 'the objectification' of the will; that is, the way the will appears to an outside observer (who may, of course, be myself). Hunger, for example, is 'objectified' in teeth and claws, the sexual instinct in the organs of reproduction. My fellow men and the lower animals are known in the same two ways. In the first place, they are known as certain bodies, phenomena of the minds of whoever may perceive them. But even a transcendental idealist whose head is in the jaws of a lion believes that the lion is something more than his idea. His 'animal faith' assures him that there is a very hungry will there besides. And not only the bodies of the lower animals, but the phenomena of inorganic nature as well, should be interpreted after the analogy of our own wills; what the physicist calls force is really will. Again Schopenhauer proves his spiritual kinship with the German romanticists: "No one will understand nature,' said Novalis, "who does not in the most manifold relationships with all bodies through the medium of feeling mix himself with all things, feeling himself as it were into them."
Schopenhauer, however, parts company with both Kant and Fichte in his interpretation of the will; for whereas for them the will is reasonable, for him it is blind and radically opposed to intelligence. Intelligence is secondary to the will, and cannot formulate or prescribe its ends. It is the servant of the 'will to live,' like the claw or teeth of the animal. Its function is practical, not metaphysical. In such views as these Schopenhauer anticipated much of contemporary pragmatism and psychoanalysis, as well as one aspect of the philosophy of Bergson. The Elan Vital of Bergson, operating in ways impenetrable to intelligence, is an obvious transcription of the 'will to live' of Schopenhauer. Yet for Schopenhauer, as for Bergson, the will is blind only in the sense of being independent of intelligence and incapable of formulation on its terms; for it has its own cunning in the realization of its obscure desires. And Schopenhauer uses the very same type of illustration that Bergson employed later to show how accurately instinct, or 'the will,' works.

In all these respects Schopenhauer carried the philosophy of romanticism further than it had been carried before, and broke sharply with the classical tradition. But the break was not complete. Parallel with the development of romanticism in Germany there arose a new enthusiasm for classical antiquity, and a fresh study of its literature and history. The foundations of modern classical scholarship were laid in the Germany of the early nineteenth century. And in the case of the greatest of the thinkers and artists of the period, the inspiration of Greek beauty and Greek reasonableness acted as a balancing and restraining force against the extravagances of the romantic movement. This was true, for example, of Herder, Goethe, Schiller, Schelling, and Hegel. In this enthusiasm and inspiration Schopenhauer shared. He believed that a knowledge of the classics is the basis of all sound education; and in his view of woman and his taste in art he thought he was following the Greek example. Man, he believed, is superior to and more beautiful than woman; classic architecture more beautiful than Gothic. And for his theory of art he leaned on Plato and modified his own irrationalism through a new and fruitful interpretation of the Platonic Idea.

The will -- so Schopenhauer teaches -- exists at various levels of development such as the inorganic, the vital, the human, and objectifies itself in various determinate forms, or species in the Aristotelian sense. These forms are the Platonic Ideas. They are not abstractions, least of all mere concepts, but what Goethe called Type -- Ur -- Phenomena, eternal patterns which exist only as embodied in individual instances. Being universal, they are the same in every individual that manifests them, and at all times and places. Every concrete thing and every event is an illustration of one or another of these eternal forms. There is, therefore, nothing essentially new under the sun, and all that Nature ever does is to vary endlessly, through what seems to be a wasteful bounty of fresh individuals, old themes laid down 'before the beginning of years.' History, therefore, never brings forth anything new; and he who has read Herodotus has read it all.

This Platonic supplement to Schopenhauer's metaphysics is seemingly opposed to modern historical and evolutionary modes of thought. Schopenhauer died one year after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. Yet he did not deny the doctrine of descent, already much debated through the work of Lamarck and others; he believed only that new forms of existence are discontinuous with old forms, and, in some way difficult to understand, predetermined in the nature of things. Although descended from lower forms, the higher cannot be reduced to or explained through the lower. Life, for example, cannot be reduced to mechanism. His doctrine of levels of being and causality was a remarkable anticipation of the notion of 'emergence' introduced by Lloyd Morgan, Sellars, and Alexander, and of the notion of the contingency of the laws of nature advocated by Boutroux. But, believing as he did that time is an illusion, he could not have, accepted the notion of 'creative' evolution. Nor, making drafts on the supposedly infinite possibilities of the future, did he believe piously in 'progress,' or hope for a superman or for the emergence of a form of life that should conquer death, 'the last enemy.'

The classical and romantic elements in the metaphysics of Schopenhauer mingled with a new strain brought from the East. Schopenhauer was the first important European philosopher to be influenced by Hindu thought. In Dresden, while busy with the reflections that issued in the World as Will and Idea, he had studied the Latin translation of the Persian version of the Upanishads made by Anquetil Duperron, and found there views congenial with his own. One was a conviction of the underlying unity of all things, and the illusory character of individuality, even of one's own individuality. 'That art thou' is written on the face of everything we meet. Kant's doctrine of transcendental idealism seemed to Schopenhauer to confirm this thought; for, since space and time are the principles of individuation, if they are subjective creations of the intellect, so is individuality. Space and time are the many-colored glass that stains the white radiance of eternity. Once this glass is broken, once the veil of Maya (illusion) is rent, there is seen to be no difference between a thing that exists here and now and another thing that exists at some remote place in space and time. All reality is a single striving.

Schopenhauer put his doctrine of the unity of being to use in explaining teleology and adaptation in the organic world, and, in so doing, employed arguments that make it difficult to believe that there is a merely chance resemblance between his thought and that of Creative Evolution. Teleology, he argued, as Bergson argued later, is not the result of the accumulation of small selected adaptations, neither is it the result of intelligent foresight, as supposed by the rationalist and theist, but the inevitable showing forth of the underlying unity of the 'will to live.' So are explained the similarities in structure and function in widely different species and the seeming prescience of instinct. It is through the underlying unity of the will, which ignores the distinctions between to-day and to-morrow and between one individual and another, that we can understand such facts as the parent animal's action in laying its eggs where the offspring will find the food that they need when they hatch out; or, to put the matter the other way round, it is owing to our own false vision which breaks the single reality into illusory differences of space and time and individuality that there is a problem here at all. To provide for another creature is, metaphysically, the same as to provide for oneself; and to take thought for to-morrow is the same as to take thought for to-day; for self and not-self, to-day and to-morrow, are one. Another instance of the effect of Hindu thought on the philosopher was his pessimism. I do not mean that he derived his pessimism from the Upanishads; for it had its primary source in his own temperament and character. Already as a youth he was impressed, as most young people are not, with the suffering and vanity of existence. We usually assume that a man is normally cheerful and optimistic, and when he is not, we scent pathology. And, in Schopenhauer's case, there is little doubt that he inherited from his father a psychopathic disposition; but only a complete psychoanalytic study of his personality, now for obvious reasons impossible, would reveal the causes of his sombre outlook upon life. One source was probably the antipathy between him and his mother; a genial attitude toward the larger environment can hardly exist unless there have been happy relations within the home. Schopenhauer seems never to have felt genuine love toward any one, except perhaps his dog -- love which alone reconciles us to sorrow and death. Moreover, Schopenhauer's young manhood was passed during the period of misery, war, and disillusionment of the postrevolutionary and Napoleonic years. He was not the only great pessimist of his age -- witness Byron, Leopardi, Pushkin, Chopin. The theoretical basis which Schopenhauer gave to his pessimism makes evil no accidental or incidental fact in the world, but inescapable, essential. It is our central illusion, he tells us, to suppose that we are destined to be happy. Evil is primary, good secondary. Following Hobbes, Schopenhauer defines the good as the objective of desire; but desire itself is painful; hence the underlying motive in desire is to get rid of desire itself. The good is therefore negative, not positive; it is the easing of a burden. Desire starts with an original frustration. If not unhappy, man is -- what is perhaps worse -- bored, when, having desires, he yet has no objects for them. (To supply such objects, men have invented cards or similar entertainments.) It is easy enough to criticise this theory of value for overlooking the positive element of good that springs from the satisfaction of desire, or, more vividly sometimes, from the imaginative anticipation of satisfaction. On the other hand, Schopenhauer called attention to the fact that every desire, in so far as its appeasement is postponed or incomplete -- and of how few of our desires is this not true? -- is partly frustrated, and so contains an element of evil. There is a soul of evil in things good. And in many a vivid page, long before the doctrine of the 'struggle for existence' became a commonplace of thought, Schopenhauer described the conflict, not now within the will, but between the will of one individual or species and another. Here again, in neglecting the facts of mutual aid and co-operation, Schopenhauer's vision was myopic, yet what he did observe is there in the world, to be reckoned with by any philosopher who aims to see life whole. Upon the metaphysical foundation which we have been considering, Schopenhauer erected his aesthetics and his ethics. His observations on literature and art both in his chief work, including the appendices to it, and in his essays have been justly praised. Despite much absurdity in details, his theory of music as the image of emotion and desire as such, independent of all occasions or objects of desire -- music expresses, for example, joy, but cannot express what joy may be about, or longing, but does not tell us what we long for -- is essentially sound, and won for him the sympathy and discipleship of musicians; and his theory of architecture, while incomplete, anticipated the 'aesthetic mechanics' of Lipps.1 The general purpose of art he declared to be the revelation of the Platonic Ideas underlying the various stages and forms of objectification of will; music alone among the arts reveals the will itself, bare of objectification. Art is a new way of knowing (notice how many there are for Schopenhauer, never quite clearly and satisfactorily distinguished by him). Ordinary knowledge is under the control of the principle of sufficient reason and seeks, in the service of the will, the space, time, cause, relationships of objects. Art, on the other hand, freed from the uses of desire, is pure contemplation, envisaging the timeless universals embodied in its creations. Art has, therefore, a double value: first, as a pure joy in knowledge; and, second, as a release from the pain of desire. In aesthetic contemplation the observer identifies himself with what he beholds, and in losing his individuality escapes from suffering. He becomes a will-less 'world-eye.' Nature seems beautiful to us when it induces this mood of contemplation without effort, and meets us half-way in our endeavor to decipher its eternal designs. An artist or man of genius is one who divines the intentions of Nature more readily than other men do, and lives not as they for the appeasement of desire but for the sake of the intuition of the eternal, which liberates from desire. While Schopenhauer gave to this conception of art the stamp of his own unique personality, the conception was not entirely new. The theory that the object of art is the universal, not in the sense of the abstract concept, but of the typical individual, in which universality and individuality are fused, was the common property of the great thinkers of his age. To name just two examples: it is to be found in Goethe's little essay entitled Imitation of Nature, Manner, and Style, written in 1788; it is found again in Schelling's essay called The Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature, written in 1807. The most original element of Schopenhauer's general theory of art was his reinterpretation of Kant's notion of the 'disinterestedness' of the aesthetic experience to mean will-lessness. Schopenhauer saw more clearly than any one before him the intimate connection between art and pain, and art's liberating function. But Schopenhauer was wrong in thinking that art liberates by ridding us of desire; for it is rather by giving a new, imaginative form to desire that art frees us, not from desire itself, but from its burdensomeness. And it is inconsistent with Schopenhauer's own presuppositions to assert that art rids us of desire; for if through art we become one with the reality of things, and that reality is desire, how can we escape desire? But here we touch upon one of the chief paradoxes of Schopenhauer's philosophy. Finally, if the world permits us the pure good of beauty, how is it nothing but evil? Is existence not thereby justified?

Schopenhauer's ethics bears the mark of his study of oriental philosophy and is, on the whole, consistent with the rest of his system. Owing to the fact that man knows only himself directly, and other people merely in idea, he is by original nature egoistic, selfish, ruthlessly seeking his own advantage against the good of his fellows. Yet reflection must convince that individuality is an illusion, and that it is absurd to oppose one's own will to the will of another, with whom one is, as a matter of fact, identical. Pity, which is the psychological spring of morality, is the phenomenal appearance of the underlying oneness of self and fellow man; to relieve the distress of another is to give assuagement to one's own. Schopenhauer believed that the state, with its system of justice, is not founded on morality, but -- and liere he borrowed from Hobbes and Rousseau -- on enlightened selfishness; the citizens, by implicit contract, agreeing among themselves to refrain from injuring, or encroaching on the property of, each other. But morality enjoins more than merely refraining from injuring another; it bids us help him, so far as we can, and even, in the person of the saint as exemplar, to renounce individuality entirely, with the hope that others will do the same; so ending the sorry scheme of existence altogether. Yet, while praising sainthood, as renunciation of the will to live, Schopenhauer condemned suicide, on the ground that it expressed rather a surrender to the forces of the will than a mastery over them, and was useless because the will cannot be annihilated by the destruction of a single individual, when there are countless others in which it still lives on.
Such, in brief outline, is the philosophy expounded in The World as Will and Idea. Schopenhauer was convinced of its truth as few men are convinced of the truth of their speculations. For him it was true all through; he had no doubts of a single portion of it. He confidently expected to be hailed as a prophet. Yet his book created hardly a ripple on the sea of opinion and remained practically ignored for a generation. This indifference Schopenhauer attributed to a conspiracy of silence on the part of the professors of philosophy, called by him philosophers by trade, men who live by rather than for philosophy. This accusation was, of course, absurd, almost insanely absurd; the plain fact was that Schopenhauer's work was born out of season. There were other luminaries in the sky, and an uncongenial intellectual atmosphere, and so long as their light shone his was bound to be in the shadow.

His great work in the hands of the printer, Schopenhauer set off for Italy. And then began a lonely, obscure, homeless life, embittered by lack of recognition, yet tireless in its devotion to learning and philosophy, and never faltering in the belief in its own significance. One is reminded of Cezanne, who also had to wait a generation for recognition, and his proud assertion: "You know there is but one painter in Europe, myself." Once or twice he thought of marrying, but fearing to lose the independence he so highly prized, abandoned the idea and remained a bachelor to the end of his days. Yet, while professing to despise women, he was far from being insensible to their charms, and was often tortured by his passions; there were several love adventures, some sordid, some more poetic, yet he seems never to have had any very deep attachments to men or to women. His dogs, of which there were a succession, were his most devoted companions. He twice sought to enter upon a university career. In 1830 he matriculated at Berlin and announced lectures, at the same hour as Hegel's, then at the height of his popularity, but discontinued them, owing to lack of students, after a single semester. His second attempt at teaching was at Heidelberg, but he failed again. These facts explain some of his bitterness against the professors.

In June, 1833, Schopenhauer took up residence in Frankfurt, where he remained until his death. For a decade more he lived in retirement unknown to his contemporaries, yet confident of ultimate triumph. "Nature does nothing in vain," he asked; "then why does she give me so many deep thoughts which find no sympathy among men?" And he answered: "My generation is not my proper field of activity, but only the ground upon which my physical person stands, which is, however, only an insignificant part of my whole person." While waiting for the recognition that was eventually to be his, he was not idle. He read deeply, and in the original tongues, the literature of France, Spain, Italy, England, and Germany, including the moralists and essayists, Montaigne, La Rochefoucauld, Le Bruyere, Chamfort, Shenstone, Shaftesbury, Vauvenargues, Lichtenberg. He continued his studies in the classics, and nursed the mystical strain in his nature with the works of Eckhart, the author of German Theology, Böhme, and Angelus Silesius. He attended theatres and concerts, and followed closely the development of scientific thought, looking everywhere for confirmations of his own system. In 1836 he brought out a new book, On the Will in Nature, an exposition of the confirmations which he believed he found in astronomy, physics, biology, and, be it added, in so-called 'spiritistic' phenomena. In 1839 lie contended successfully with a prize essay written in answer to the question propounded by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences at Drontheim: Can the Freedom of the Human Will be proved from the evidence of Self-consciousness? The essay is one of the most brilliant discussions of this problem in philosophical literature, ranking with those of Edwards, James, and Bergson. This success brought him the keenest joy. But the following year he suffered a disappointment to balance it. For the essay which he wrote on the Source and Foundation of Morality, a problem propounded by the Royal Danish Society at Copenhagen, was not crowned. The failure was largely due to the fact that, not content to restate and amplify the theory of morality contained in Book Four of his chief work, he indulged in scurrilous attacks on his old, supposed enemies, the philosophy professors, particularly Fichte. The two essays were published together in 1841 under the title The Two Main Problems in Ethics. In 1844, despite the financial failure of the First Edition, his publishers were persuaded to bring out a revised edition of the World as Will and Idea, without cost, yet without profit to the writer. It contained fifty new chapters of supplementary material which Schopenhauer described, I think rightly, as the best he had written, the ripest fruit of his reflections, throwing light on many an obscure point in his system. Finally, in 1851, there appeared two volumes of essays on topics of general interest, embodying the wisdom garnered from his long life. Despite the forbidding Greek title, Parerga and Paralipomena, these essays were largely instrumental itn bringing him the recognition for which he had so long waited.

But even before this his day had come at last. The fame of his great early rivals, Schleiermacher, Fichte, and Hegel, had waned, and he was to have his turn now. He began to make disciples, of whom the chief was Julius Frauenstadt, his able publicity agent, whom he called his arch-evangelist. At first his fame was among non-academic folk, merchants, musicians, men of letters, soldiers, lawyers; but finally even the professors recognized the importance of his philosophy, for in 1853 J. E. Erdmann gave him an extended notice in his German Speculation Since Kant. The last ten years of his life were the happiest. In his apartment on the Schone Aussicht, unpretentious yet comfortable, where he lived in the company of his dog, surrounded by the likenesses of his favorite philosophers, including a bronze Buddha, and at the Englische Hof where he dined, he received many distinguished, admiring visitors. "Jupiter Tonans" was pointed out, no longer as a mere eccentric, but as a great man. And no item of attention was lost; he drank it all in with a naive, childish delight. In the best of health almost to the very end, the turbulence of passion gone, the dream of his young manhood attained, his personality vibrated a mellower, quieter tone. After a brief illness, he died peacefully and alone, September 21, 1860.

Admirable as philosopher and writer, Schopenhauer was not lovable as a man. The great defect of his personality was his incapacity to love; and he who does not love is rarely himself beloved. He was egotistical, childish, suspicious, morbidly timorous, passionate -- -no 'milk and water' nature, as he said of himself. Just in his dealings with other men, he was not generous or magnanimous. A cosmopolitan by temper and training, he was lacking in all patriotic and civic feeling. He felt keenly the misery of humankind, but took no interest in any efforts to alleviate it. Yet there were things in him to like: of little things, his love for animals and his appreciation of their significance for the spirit of man; of great things, a steadfastness of purpose and a love of truth such as few men have matched. And because he possessed these, all his faults may well be forgiven him. His appearance and personality in later life have been vividly portrayed as follows by Foucher de Careil: "His blue, lively eyes, his thin lips, about which played a fine, sarcastic smile, his broad brow framed by two white locks of hair, put the stamp of distinction and nobility upon his physiognomy, which sparkled with wit and mischief. His clothes, his lace ruffle, and white cravat, reminded one of an old gentleman of the time of Louis XV; his manners were those of a man of good society. Of a retiring disposition often bordering on the suspicious, he consorted with only his most intimate friends or with the strangers who came to visit Frankfurt. In conversation his movements were often of extraordinary liveliness. While he hated mere word-battles, he felt all the more the charm of a spirited and earnest debate. His conversation bubbled over with witticisms, citations, and interesting details, making the hours pass unnoticed. Many times his intimate friends listened to him until midnight without feeling fatigue, the brightness of his eye continuing undimmed. His conversation was distinguished above all for its peculiar clarity. Happy they who were so fortunate as to hear this last of the conversationalists of a vanished century. In this respect he was the contemporary of Voltaire, Diderot, Helvetius, and Chamfort."2

The philosophy of Schopenhauer is notable rather for the richness, variety, and brilliance of its insights than for consistency and totality of vision. He lacked the broad intellectual justice of a Hegel or an Aristotle, and the logical rigor of a Descartes or a Leibniz. Even when one is compelled to accept the essential theses of his philosophy, one has to reject a great deal as sheer nonsense, mere personal fancy or perversity. While such a philosopher has something for every type of thinker, he cannot found a school. Moreover, some of his doctrines are so violently opposed to the fundamental 'vital axioms' of our civilization that he could not exert the widest influence. Yet many exceptional minds have found inspired guidance in his writings, especially those spirits who, for one cause or another, have been impressed with the suffering and evil in existence, or have become sceptical of reason. Among artists, the greatest who felt his influence were Wagner, Grillparzer, and Tolstoy. Among important philosophers -- to omit all lesser names -- the man who came nearest to being a disciple, while disagreeing in significant matters, was Eduard von Hartmann, whose Philosophy of the Unconscious sought a reconciliation between Schopenhauer and his rival, Hegel; Friedrich Nietzsche, starting from a pessimistic basis derived from Schopenhauer, yet rose to the strenuous optimism of the doctrine of the Superman; Hans Vaihinger, in his Philosophy of the As-If, leaned on both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche for his theory of the biological function and fictitious character of the intellect; and, finally, Henri Bergson, if he did not actually borrow his theories of Elan Vital, of intuition, of the practical nature of the intellect, of teleology, directly from Schopenhauer, most certainly felt his influence. But more than this, one may rightly claim, as has already been observed, that the entire voluntaristic and antirationalistic movement of last century, and much of pragmatism, while springing from many sources, had Schopenhauer as one of its originators.


Notes
1. See Geoffrey Scott's The Architecture of Humanism.
2. Freely translated from the citation in Schopenhauer, by Heinrich Hasse, p. 54.

DATED LIST OF SCHOPENHAUER'S WORKS:
  • On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, 1788
  • On Vision and Colors, 1813
  • The World as Will and Idea, 1818
  • On the Will in Nature, 1836
  • The Two Main Problems of Ethics, 1841
  • Parerga and Paralipomena, 1851

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...now dowload the free pdf research article: Arthur’s advice: comparing Arthur Schopenhauer’s advice on happiness with contemporary research by Rozemarijn Schalkx & Ad Bergsma

AbstractThe German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) is well known for his pessimism. He did not believe in real happiness. In his view, the best a person can achieve is to reduce misery. At the end of his career, he wrote a book on how to live the most bearable life. This is a practical guide based on his personal experiences and illustrated by quotations from other thinkers subscribing to his views. In this paper, we summarize his recommendations and compare these with conditions for happiness as observed in present day empirical research. Little of the advice appears to fit current research on conditions for happiness. Following Schopenhauer’s advice would probably make us unhappier, even if we had the same neurotic personality.

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....and here one more article on Arthur and his appreciation of Buddhism:


SCHOPENHAUER AND BUDDHISM


By Peter Abelson

If I were to take the results of my philosophy as
the standard of truth, I would have to consider
Buddhism the finest of all religion.
~Arthur Schopenhauer(1)
I. Introduction When the tenets of Buddhism became known in Europe during the third and fourth decade of the nineteenth century, Arthur Schopenhauer was delighted with the affinity they showed to his own philosophy. Having completed his main work Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung as early as 1818, he considered it an entirely new (and thus pure) expression of the wisdom once taught by the Buddha--at times he even called himself a "Buddhaist,"(2)

This conviction of being an original European Buddhist kept Schopenhauer from making a detailed philosophical comparison between his system and those of the Buddhist schools he had read up on.(3) to him, the connection was obvious. In reprints of the main work and later writings, he did point out certain similarities, making comments on Buddhism that astonish the present-day reader with their adequacy (considering the immaturity of Indology in his time), but he never bothered to explain the exact philosophical nature of the link he put forward, causing it to remain a matter of atmosphere rather than content.

As a matter of fact, it can be disputed if Schopenhauer's philosophy and Buddhism do indeed breathe the same atmosphere. Schopenhauer often put emphasis on Buddhism's pessimistic outlook on earthly existence,(4) but compared to his world view, which is very severe, Buddhism seems almost cheerful. The Sanskrit word du.hkha, by which existence is typified in the first of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, is usually translated as 'suffering', but it also has the connotation of 'unrest'. In fact, the first Truth is about the transitoriness of life, and how this deprives man of inner peace. To be sure, this is not opposed to anything Schopenhauer said, but it lacks the sheer disgust of life that is characteristic of his doctrine. Yet again. it may be unfair to compare the mood of one man's philosophy with the blended mood of Buddhist literature, with its countless authors. There will undoubtedly be Buddhist texts in which life is depicted in a Schopenhauerian or even more horrifying way. Still, this all goes to show that atmosphere, however crucial to any philosophy of life, should not be too big a factor in comparing two doctrines.

Both Schopenhauerian and Buddhist philosophy express a certain Weltanschauung; therefore cerebral analysis alone will not reveal the real meaning of either--a fair amount of hermeneutical proficiency is also required. But this does not alter the fact that both lines of thought should be compared as specifically as possible if philosophical connections or differences are to be established.

For one thing, the comparativist should be dealing with more than Buddhism as such,(5) since there exists a variety of philosophical views within this religion. It is not even enough when a distinction is made between Hiinayaana and Mahaayaana Buddhism, (6) because the history of the latter contains such diverging schools of thought as the Maadhyamika and the Yogaacaara, both of which had a long and irregular development out of their common root, Praj`naapaaramitaa literature. Any worthwhile comparison must involve these four basic forms of Buddhist philosophy in their own right. At the same time, the comparativist should only be concerned with the substantial features of these philosophies (there is no point, for instance, in mentioning details like the shared love of animals in Buddhist and Schopenhauerian philosophy).(7) All of this considered, I take as a set of criteria for my own comparison the following account of the essentials of Schopenhauer's philosophy.


1. It is based on a critique of the intellect, from which it follows that time, space, and causality (the tripartite framework of the world of subjects and objects) are not real in an absolute sense. 

2. This leads to the assumption of a transcendental reality (automatically making this a religious world view but, because of the ultimate unreality of any subject, and so, too, the unreality of a divine subject, not a theistic one).

3. This ultimate reality is by its nature incomprehensible to the intellect, yet is supposed to be 'sensible' in our experience of life (in other words: a reality transcending thought but immanent in life itself).

4. This 'recognition' of ultimate reality is related to the fact that life is inescapably ruled by passion, need, pain, and fear, all being promptings of the will, which therefore symbolizes the Real.

I will elaborate on these points as I use them in the following paragraphs.
      
II. Schopenhauer and the Old Wisdom School

"Old Wisdom School" is a collective name for the first group of sects to evolve out of early Buddhism. The most prominent of these, the Sarvaastivaada, fixed its philosophical attention on the Buddha's teaching that the five skandhas, or 'transitory factors of worldly existence', namely, material form (ruupa), feeling (vedanaa), perception (saa.mj~naa), impulses (sa.mskaara), and awareness (vij~naana) were not the self. Whereas the Buddha left it undiscussed whether a self exists at all (obviously regarding the question as pointless),(8) the Sarvaastivaadins radicalized his teaching into a doctrine that flatly denies all substance. All that we experience in the world and in our minds is restless change; therefore, the idea that things have an imperishable essence 'behind' their ever-changing qualities (like the aatman of Hinduism) is untenable. But if there is no lasting self, then every change must involve total destruction. Everything comes into being as it wholly is, to vanish completely after an infinitesimally short moment. After this, something comes about that may look the same but is entirely new.(9)

In this doctrine, the skandhas are interpreted as five groups of dharmas, discrete existence-points constituting the internal and external world. Material things, feelings, thoughts, apperceptions. and impulses are nothing but swarms of dharmas, which, because they arise each time in more or less the same configuration, create the illusion of things that last while they change--and of a persistent 'I' beholding these changes and thus being tormented by transitoriness. Salvation comes when ascesis and meditation bring about the egodissolving realization that reality is but a turbulence of dharmas. In arguing that Buddhism could not have been influential on the writing of his main work, Schopenhauer stressed that, if anything, only the Burmese form was known at that time.(10) From this, one gathers that he considered this form the least interesting. Burmese Buddhism accords with the Old Wisdom School.

It is indeed hard to imagine that he could have found anything in his line in the doctrine above. Because of the rigorous empiricism that it basically is, the reality of time and space, for the dharmas to come about in, is a necessary presupposition. This goes directly against criterion (1), referring to the epistemological basis of Schopenhauer's philosophy--which I will now summarize in my own words.

"Die Welt ist meine Vorstellung" read the opening words of the main work. Something can only be said to exist if it is in some way perceptible; to exist is to be an object to a subject. And since I am the only subject the existence of which I cannot doubt, the world is my representation (in using this term in stead of 'perception' Schopenhauer wanted to stress the activeness of the subject). 
 
At the same time, however, there is no subject without object. 'Subject' and 'object' are correlative concepts, deriving their meaning from each other; therefore, the one cannot be more real than the other. If the not-I is a mere representation, something to which no absolute reality can be attributed, this also goes for the I. Therefore, the world as representation embraces both the things that I behold and myself as their beholder. Or, in Schopenhauer's words: the opposition of subject and object is the "first, general and essential form" of the Vorstellung.(11)

Who or what, then, is the true representer of this world in which I am an individual being? To find an answer, we must take a closer look at how the world is known. 
 
Just how is the world in which I am an individual subject of objects represented?--as a spatiotemporal universe, ruled by the fourfold Law of Sufficient Reason (Satz vom zureichenden Grunde). Whatever I perceive is in space and time, and for anything to exist or happen there must be either a physical, logical, mathematical, or motivational reason. My entire experience of the world, from discursive ideas down to basic perceptions, is based on these a priori conditions. Even the notion of being a physicalentity is basically no more than the immediate assumption that vision, sound, touch, smell, and taste are the temporal effects that an outside world has on 'my body'.

Thus, for anything to be empirically real, it must be spatial, temporal, and causal. Yet space, time, and causality cannot be proven to be empirically real themselves! If space is thought of as an empirical entity, the insoluble problem arises whether it is finite or infinite. In the first case, there would have to be something 'outside' space, a metaspace, which is an absurd notion; but in the second case it could never be differentiated of anything and would therefore have no identity. If time is finite, there would have to be something 'before' and 'after' it, which again is absurd; but if it is infinite, it would take an eternity to arrive at the present moment, which therefore could never come about. Finite causality would enhance an unimaginable 'first cause' of all events in the universe, while infinite causality poses, mutatis mutandis, the same problem as infinite time.

This antinomic character of time, space, and causality shows them to be not 'things' but the very cadres of our sensory and intellectual experience of the world. They are not experienced themselves, but the tripartite way in which we experience. Schopenhauer adheres to Immanuel Kant's maxim: empirical reality is transcendental ideality: as long as we consider ourselves personal beings (and we cannot do otherwise without going mad), we must take the empirical world to be quite real. But ultimately this causal universe in space and time must be seen as ideal, of intellectual origin.

Ultimate reality, or the Ding an sich as Schopenhauer calls it in tribute to Kant, must be transcendent to space, time, and causality--a transcendent One--having the world, including my person, as its representation.

True, the epistemology above shows the 'I' to be a mere representation, but it leads up to a monistic conclusion with which the utter pluralaism of the Old Wisdom School is totally incompatible.

III. Schopenhauer and the Praj~naapaaramitaa

The Mahaayaana (Great Vehicle) first started as a countermovement to the Old Wisdom School, calling it Hiinayaana (Small Vehicle) because of its elitist character. Maintaining the doctrine of no-self only as a theory of empirical phenomena, the reformists produced a vast body of suutras, the praj~naapaaramitaa ('Wisdom Gone Beyond'), which were claimed to hold the true exegesis of the Buddha's teachings. 

Although most nineteenth-century Orientalists shunned Praj~naapaaramitaa literature because of its mysteriousness, Schopenhauer, a thinker of notorious independence, equated it to the gist of his doctrine. Whatever remains after the Will(12) has vanished must seem to those who are still filled by it nothing. But to the man in whom the Will has turned and negated itself, this world, so real to us with all its suns and Milky Ways, is--nothing.

In the third edition, a footnote is added to these concluding words of Die Welt als Wille und vorstellung:
This is precisely the "Pradschna-Paramita" of the Buddhists, the "Beyond All Knowledge', i.e., the point where subject and object no longer exist. (See I. J. Schmidt, Ueber das Mahayana und Pratschna-Paramita.)
The exact words of Isaak Jacob Schmidt(13) are no longer ascertainable, but these suutras indeed reflect the insight that the world of subject and object is but a restless shadow play of true reality. Still, this alone is no proof of a specific relation (after all, the unreality of subject and object has been held by others, such as Hegel; and "Hegelei" was the very last thing Schopenhauer felt close to).

I will now comment on some characteristic excerpts of the Praj~naapaaramitaa, with regard to the criteria mentioned in section I above.
(A) The Lord: One who perceives form [feeling, perception, impulse. or consciousness], has duality. One who perceives anything has duality. As far as there is duality, there is existence. Insofar as there is existence, there are the karma-formations. And as far as there are karma-formations, beings are not liberated from birth, decay, sickness, death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness and despair.(14)
This summary of the consequences of our 'skandha fallacy' clearly shows the idea that earthly existence is based on the mutuality (duality) of subject and object. Whereas Schopenhauer's world as Representation is governed by the Satz vom Grunde,(15) the world according to the Buddhists is also causal to the core, insofar as it is karmic: no action or occurrence is without cause, or without effect on future actions and occurrences.

Schopenhauer made several remarks on the belief in reincarnation, which is quintessential for the karma doctrine. He assumed there had to be some truth in a belief as widespread as this, but he could not accept the idea of metempsychosis: the transmigration of a soul with personal hallmarks. He argued that one's personality, consisting mainly of opinions and memories, was basically intellectual and as such tied to the Vorstellung that is human existence. Thus it could never be carried over the threshold of death. Reincarnation could only be true in the sense of a palingenesis of the Ding an sich into the individual beings of the world as Representation.(16) He was convinced, however, that the Buddhists used the concept of metempsychosis only as a myth for the common herd and, like him, really held the idea of palingenesis of the Absolute, especially since he had read about an "esoteric Buddhist doctrine"(17)--undoubtedly the doctrine of the metaphysical aalaya consciousness of the idealist Yogaacaara school (discussed at length in ¡± 5).

In fact, the matter is more complicated. Surely, knowing that the skandhas are not the self, no learned Buddhist could ever believe in the transmigration of an unchanging core bearing the imprint of his personality. In the narrow sense of the word, metempsychosis was never seriously considered in Buddhism. But it never completely abandoned the idea of rebirth, either. Even in the Milindapa~nha, a Hiinayaana text, the idea of rebirth for those who do not achieve nirvaa.na is somehow retained. The Yogaacaara sects, in their turn, linked the skandha vij~naana to the idea of a subtle nucleus at the center of unenlightened mental activity, remaining within time and space after death and engaging a new mother's womb at the moment of conception. 

The Buddhist combination of the skandha critique with the ancient idea of rebirth may seem something of a tour de force, but within the context of the Praj~naapaaramitaa, more so than in Hiinayaana literature, it becomes clear that ideas like this were not just maintained as moral incentives for the common man. The philosophy of the Mahaayaana shows a fundamental and well-considered ambivalence toward the notion of sell--and the relation between phenomenal and absolute reality. 

 (B) Form is like a mass of foam, it has no solidity, it is full of cracks and holes, and it has no substantial inner core. Feeling is like a bubble, which swiftly rises and swiftly disappears, and it has no durable subsistence. Perception is like a mirage. As in a mirage pool absolutely no water at all can be found [so there is nothing substantial in that which is perceived]. Impulses are like the trunk of a plantain tree: when you strip off one leaf-sheath after another nothing remains, and you cannot lay hand on a core within. Consciousness is like a mock show, as when magically created soldiers, conjured up by a magician, are seen marching through the streets.(18)

Again, an ambivalent attitude toward the notion of self can be detected; This survey of the skandhas shows the inner and extramental world to be wholly ephemeral. But who is fooled by the "mirage"?

It would be wrong to consider these texts the products of naive minds, trying to make a purely nihilistic statement but, by putting the matter in an overly poetic way, inadvertently leaving open the possibility of a 'dreamer' of the dream of life. It is not without significance that no more is said than that the constituents of the person are insubstantial. `Someone' is still watching the bursting bubble that once was feeling, grasping the foam which was believed to be material form, and finding out that the impulses of the will stem from nothing.

And who is putting on the "mock show"?

A similar kind of deliberate ambiguity is found in the philosophy of Will and Representation.

Schopenhauer found it simply too unsatisfactory to stop short (as Kant had done) at the epistemological finding that the Ding an sich, transcending the a priori forms of the intellect, was unknowable.(19) He insisted that a clue to the suprapersonal 'me', having the I-and-the-world as a Vorstellung, was to be found in an examination of the empirical 'me'.

So, to gain metaphysical insight, he resorted to introspection!--the results of which I will now summarize.

Commonsensically, I think of myself as a body, endowed with reason, within the world. But prior to this objective self-image, preceding thought, action, and even the notion of 'I', my self-consciousness consists only of desires, emotions, and physical promptings (lumped together by Schopenhauer as manifestations of one thing: will).

Prereflectively, I am will.

As a mental phenomenon, the will has no extent in space, but unlike anything else it also has no cause! Whatever I desire may be explainable in some way or other, but this must be distinguished from the blunt fact that my will is continually active. The intellect presents the will with motives in time and space, but the will as such, this perpetual stream that is in fact one's sheer will to live, is as unexplainable as life itself.

At bottom, will and life are one.

Coming out of nowhere, the only a priori form in which my will presents itself is that of time, since it is known in the succesion of its impulses. This makes it the most direct (that is, the least a priori mediated) of all phenomena, and therefore the preeminent phenomenon to serve as a symbol of the Real--a symbol, not an identification. Or, in Schopenhauer's own words:
We should realize that [with the word "Will"] we are only using a denominatio a potiori [best suitable designation], by which the original meaning of 'will' is considerably enlarged.(20)
Here we touch on a vital clue for the correct understanding of Schopenhauer: in our will, ultimate reality glimmers through the Vorstellung--but this is not quite the same as saying that the psychological will is the only real thing in a world of phantasms. The will to live is the most accurate representation of true reality.

As Will my will is the Real.

But it is not just its lack of a cause that gives the will its symbolic significance. Metaphysics can only be meaningful if it reflects the world we know. if the Real is to be discussed at all, this can only be done in terms of its appearance; tearing the former from the latter and dealing with it as an ens extramundanum would be stooping to dogmatism.(21) Hence criterion (3).
[My philosophy] does not draw conclusions about what lies beyond experience, it only clarifies the things given in outer and inner experience; it thus restricts itself to understanding the essence of the world from its [empirical] connections. It is therefore immanent in the Kantian sense of the word.(22)
The will is the first and the foremost. I may sometimes be able to curb a certain desire through the knowledge that its fulfillment will cause me harm, but this only shows the subservience of my intellect to the utmost (and most unreasoned) desire of all: to live and be free of pain and need--of which desire even suicide is an expression. I may lose all intellectual ability, but as long as I live I shall have psychological and physical needs. Therefore my will must be the closest thing to the Real. And if solipsism is to be avoided, I must presume that everybody and everything else has the same kernel of existence which in me appears as my will. Human and animal drive and vigor, the sprouting power of plants, and the sheer weight of inanimate objects are, from a metaphysical point of view, all the same thing: Will to Live

This is why hunger, hatred, fear, and lust are the rulers of life.

Schopenhauer's observation that the impulses of the will come out of the blue is paralleled by the analogy of the sa.mskaara with a coreless plaintain tree. Yet neither fragment (A) nor fragment (B) highlights the sa.mskaara against the other skandhas. All five are mentioned in one breath, and this seems to be in stark contrast to Schopenhauer's assessment of the will.

It must be said that the early Buddhist text Sa.myutta Nikaaya does depict the sa.mskaara as the premier existence factor, the one skandha to make the five of them together appear as a person's self.(23) And this text has remained canonical throughout the history of Buddhism, so perhaps the authors of the Praj~naapaaramitaa would not have disagreed entirely with Schopenhauer's assessment, although not making it themselves. This assumption might be enhanced by the resemblance between Schopenhauer's suprapersonal Will and the Buddhist idea of an all-pervading Craving (t.r.s.naa) , defined in the second Noble Truth as the principle of sa.msaara, the sorroowful world of birth and death. Some scholars indeed attach great significance to this resemblance, (24) but the present writer is having his doubts.

Whereas concepts like sa.mskaara and upaadaana ('grasping for existence')(25) are amply discussed in Buddhist literature, remarkably little is said about t,r,s.naa, which seems to be a mere description of sa.msaaric existence rather than a theoretical concept. In any case, t.r.s.naa was never presented as a straight metaphysical enlargement of the sa.mskaara as is the Will to Live of the psychological will in Schopenhauer's philosophy. All that seems safe to say about it is this: whereas Peace is the mode of nirvaa.na, Craving is the mode of sa.msaara; and as far as the cycle of life and death is kept going by the impulses of the mortal's will, sa.mskaara and t.r.s.naa are in some way related. Taking this rather loose connection as a parallel of Schopenhauer's step from epistemology to metaphysics would, in my view, involve so much 'hermeneutical proficiency' as to render the comparison meaningless.

On the other hand. it would be a waste of time to look for distinctive, Western-style philosophical arguments in the Praj~naapaaramitaa. These suutra's were meant to be meditated upon in the pursuit of enlightenment. In the context of this pursuit, philosophical findings were made, but the student was to be prevented from taking these as positive truths. According to the Praj~naapaaramitaa, ultimate truth transcends reason; therefore, all its findings and concepts are tentative and must be enfeebled and contradicted to allow students to rid themselves of intellectual fixations.
            
This leads to a remarkable conclusion:
(C) A fully enlightened Buddha is like a magical illusion, is like a dream.... Even Nirvana... is like a magical illusion, is like a dream.... Even if perchance there could be anything more distinguished, of that too I would say it is like an illusion, like a dream. For illusion and Nirvana are not two different things, nor are dreams and Nirvana.(26)
The world, as we perceive it, consists of nothing but ephemeral phenomena; it is devoid of substance, empty. Yet this world is all we know--which is to say that we are only fit to know what we perceive. Thus the blessed state of liberation from transitoriness transcends our mental ability; our conceptions of it are also empty. 

 All we ever know and imagine is empty. Therefore, nirvaa.na and sa.msaara are indistinguishable! This does not mean that true reality is a Void. The concept of emptiness (`suunyataa) is not the final answer to the question of existence, but a guideline for meditation. In fact, one of the eighteen kinds of emptiness distinguished in the Praj~naapaaramitaa is the emptiness of emptiness.(27) In the last stages of the meditation on emptiness, wisdom becomes perfect windom by surpassing both difference and identity of the world and the Real in contemplating the Suchness (tathataa) of emptiness.(28)

This concept of emptiness has led many to believe that Buddhism is a nihilistic religion, but Schopenhauer knew better:
If nirvana is defined as nothingness, this only means there is no element of sa.msaara that could be used to define or construct nirvaa.na.(29)
It is easy to see why he felt close to such a view. He had put forward himself that the final truth, about the Ding an sich, could never be expressed in intellectual terms, that is, terms derived from the world as Representation.

It might look as if the sameness of nirvaa.na and sa.msaara is inconsonant with the picture of a Representation brought forth by a metaphysical Will, since the latter seems indicative of a dualistic view. But Schopenhauer was the strictest of monists, rejecting all theories that separate reality into different ontological regions. Any such theory, he argued, presupposed the creation of this world by either a divine person or an emanating world soul, which amounted to letting the Satz vom Grunde exceed the Representation, and involved the absurd notion of an ultimate Subject of the subject-and-object that is the world in space and time. He considered the sheer idea of creationism silly, remarking: "Why didn't Creation stay at home, where It was comfortable and to which It must return anyway?"(30) Like "sa.msaara" and "nirvaa.na," the concepts of Representation and Will do not denote separate ontological 'spheres' but two aspects of the one reality there is. With those concepts Schopenhauer did not mean to give an overview of reality; he did not claim to have a transcendent vantage point from which the world could be seen to come about. His philosophy was the last of the great metaphysical systems of the West, but at the same time it was the first explanation of how we are always trapped within our own view. He tried to make this human view on reality as clear as possible by showing us the world both epistemologically and metaphysically--thus the dual perspective of Representation and Will.

Still, it cannot be denied that Schopenhauer often referred to the Will as if it was a supernatural entity, an evil godhead deceiving and tormenting its creatures. This is particularly the case in the Parerga und Paralipomena, the series of additional essays that first brought him fame and has remained the most popular part of his oeuvre. Despite the many explicit instructions on how to interpret his philosophy, even in the Parerga,(31) this manner of mythologizing the Will may easily confuse the reader. It has indeed confused many scholars.... But it a philosophy of life is to be vital and penetrating, a literary manner of expressing the respective thoughts and ideas is a merit rather than a demerit. The ambiguities and literary digressions in Schopenhauer's work are part and parcel of his philosophical message--and I am sure he meant them exactly that way. Although he never wrote in so many words that his ambiguous style was intentional, he emphatically praised poets like Calderon de la Barca and such mystics as Jacob Bohme and Meister Eckhart. As a young man, he wrote:
He who speaks adversely about the paradoxicalness of a work, apparently thinks there already is a lot of wisdom about, and that all that is left to be done is to dot the i's and cross the t's.(32)
All in all, in concluding this paragraph it must be said that a definite equation cannot be established.

The main difficulty in relating Schopenhauer's philosophy to the Praj~naapaaramitaa lies in the fact that the latter lacks the straightforward prevalence of the will, which prevalence is the hallmark of the former. So criterion (4) poses a problem. Exactly how big a problem is difficult to say; the suutras of the Praj~naapaaramitaa may not be as nonsensical as they were once thought to be, but they do differ in style from the argumentative philosophies of the West, of which Schopenhauer's work, despite its literariness, is a true example. But the history of Buddhism has produced a thinker whose style is very argumentative indeed: Naagaarjuna--to whom I will now turn.

IV. Schopenhauer and Naagaarjuna

For a tong time, Naagaarjuna's philosophy was thought to be an elaboration of the Praj~naapaaramitaa,(33) mainly because the school which based itself on him, the Maadhyamika (They Who Go the Middle Way) became a cornerstone of the Mahaayaana. Modern Orientalists, however, stress the fact that in Naagaarjuna's Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa (Verses of the Middle Way) no reference is made to the suutras of Perfect Wisdom. and this seems to negate the old assumption.(34) Yet the Kaarikaa never really contradicts the Praj~naapaaramitaa either.

Like all Buddhist thinkers, Naagaarjuna tied in with the teaching that no self can be attributed to anything we know, our own personality included. But, unlike the Sarvaastivaadins, he kept close to the original suutras, in which nothing more is said than that the question of self is pointless. Not aiming for an ontological conclusion, he merely criticized our tendency to substantialize mental and worldly phenomena, which critique can be summarized as follows: whatever has substance (svabhaava) must exist independently of other entities, and whatever has independent existence must be uncreated and indestructible. But nothing we experience fits this description; nothing exists or happens on its own, and even the relations between things are far from clear-cut; all phenomena and ideas are thoroughly interdependent; thus nothing has svabhaava.

Naagaarjuna based himself on a formula that was first presented in the ancient Pali canon, to remain a key formula in all Buddhism: the Twelvefold Chain of Dependent Arising, or pratiityasamutpaada.

If the one exists, then the other exists; from the origination of this that originates, namely from

                1. ignorance (avidyaa) as a condition

                2. the dispositions (sa.mskaara) arise; from
                   these as conditions

                3. perception (vij~naana) arises; from this
                   as a condition

                4. name and form (naama-ruupa) arise;  from
                   these as conditions

                5. the  six  sense  organs  (.sadaayatana)
                   arise; from these as conditions

                6. contact (spar`sa) arises; from this as a
                   condition                           

                7.  feeling(vedanaa) arises;  from this as a
                    condition

                8.  thirst (t.r.s.naa) arises; from this as a
                    condition

                9.  grasping (upaadaana) arises; from this as
                    a condition

                10. existence (bhaava) arises; from this as
                    a condition

                11. birth  (jaati) arises;  from  this as a
                    condition

                12. old  age  and  death  (jaraa-mara.na) ,
                    distress,     lamentation,    suffering,
                    dejection and disturbance arise. Thus is
                    the  origin   of  this  whole   mass  of
                    suffering.(35)

The Old Wisdom School had seen this as the flowchart of the dharmas. Naagaarjuna took it literally--the phenomenal world (that is, reality as perceived in our ignorance) is Dependent Arising; having no substance, it is relative to the core, and therefore nullish, empty. The 'svabhaava tendency' is not just an error of judgment but the very mode of life as we know it. In discursive thought as well as basic sensation, we automatically presume the substantiality of what we perceive. Yet we only know things in their myriad relations to other things. This breeds du.hkha: because of our intellectual and instinctive urge to fixate the world, its relativity appears as transitoriness. Even the idea of being an individual enhances the notion of plurality (prapa~nca), which is a distortion of the fleeting whole.

Schopenhauer's philosophy can be reproduced in a similar vein: because of the way we represent the world (that is, as a spatiotemporal universe governed by the law of sufficient ground), its essence appears as a gruesome and everchanging Will. He, too, acknowledged the basic restlessness of life.
Our existence has no ground or bottom other than the ever-fleeting present. That is why life is continual movement' without a chance of achieving the tranquility we long for. It is like the course of someone running down a mountainside, who would fall if he tried to halt and can only stay on his feet by running along.... So, unrest is the type of all existence.(36)
Both Naagaarjuna and Schopenhauer saw man's suffering not as some divine punishment but as something bound up with our very experience of reality.

An important point is that Naagaarjuna refrained from speculating about the Absolute. The Kaarikaa consist almost entirely of reductio ad absurdum arguments against the svabhaava tendency.

Time is normally represented as a threesome of past, present, and future, with the latter two deriving their meaning from the first. Yet it would be absurd to conclude from this that present and future are 'enclosed' in the past. But if they would exist independently of it, in relation to what, then, were they present and future? Apparently, present and future are neither dependent nor independent of the past (nor both, nor neither of both). In this manner each section of time becomes a problem in its relation to the other two.

Modern interpreters claim, very plausibly, that Naagaarjuna did not deny time as such, but was only criticizing our conception of it, and this proposition is often accompanied by the association of Naagaarjuna's thought with the transcendental idealism of Kant and Schopenhauer.(37) There is a lot to be said for this, since transcendental idealism is also a critique of reason rather than an ontological theory. Yet the association also bears the risk of turning the philosophies involved into the purely analytical lines of thought they are not. If a philosopher is averse to mysticism or dogmatic metaphysics, this does not necessarily mean that his work has no metaphysical purport at all. Kant's sole objective was to prepare the way for a new kind of metaphysics, of which Schopenhauer claimed to be the establisher. And I am convinced that Naagaarjuna had metaphysical inclinations as well.

True, Naagaarjuna countered the assumption that stripping all things from their presumed substance was the same as to propound the reality of emptiness:
If there were to be something non-empty,
there would then be something called empty.
However, there is nothing that is non-empty.
How could there be something empty?(38)
Nothing exists absolutely, and this is why the concept of nonexistence is also meaningless; hence Naagaarjuna's reiteration of the Buddha's call to go the Middle Path, to seek neither yes nor no (nor both, nor neither of both). But, as we have seen, the emptiness of (the idea of) emptiness is also stressed in the Praj~naapaaramitaa, of which the metaphysical or religious purport is questioned by no one. It cannot be ruled out that Naagaarjuna, like the Praj~naapaaramitaa, merely wanted to abstain from attributing positive features to the Unknowable. That the Kaarikaa carry no definite statement whatsoever about the Real may be indicative of antimysticality, but it may also reflect the view that philosophy, although no integral part of religious insight, could very well be its preamble. This would make Naagaarjuna at least an 'implicit mystic'.

This last thought is not as bizarre as it may seem. If the critique or the svabhaava tendency is taken seriously, and everything is seen in its nonduality, then all limits and boundaries dissolve and our experience of the world is drastically altered. In a word, the difference between mysticism and an "empiricist and pragmatic philosophy"(39) could turn out to be not as big as had been expected.(40)

What has been discussed above seems to link Naagaarjuna to Schopenhauer, whose work, in spite of being peppered with metaphysical terms, breathes the same ambiguity with respect to the relation of epistemology and metaphysics casu quo the concrete and the transcendent, Yet an equation is not possible.

This also has to do with criterion (4) demanding the psychological and metaphysical primacy of the will. Naagaarjuna's position was, to say the least, more subtle. Even though the terms of Dependent Arising are related in a more dynamic way than as simple causes and effects, it is quite clear that avidyaa, lack of insight, is the ultimate reason for the coming about of suffering.(14) Accordingly, Naagaarjuna ascribes liberation from suffering to a close ensemble of wisdom (j~naana) and the nonarising of dispositions (sa.mskaara), with the former being the most important:
When ignorance has ceased, there is no occurrence of dispositions. However, the cessation of that ignorance takes place as a result of the practice of that [nonoccurrence of dispositions] through wisdom.(42)
As regards the comparison to Schopenhauer, it seems no oversimplification to say that Naagaarjuna considered suffering as well as the liberation of suffering rather a matter of (lack of) 'knowledge' than a matter of sheer will. This is also reflected in his view on the defilements (kle`sas)--a concept already used by the Old Wisdom School, containing avidyaa, t.r.s.naa, and upaadaana (1, 8, and 9 of the Twelvefold Chain) and signifying the coherence of ignorance, craving, and grasping as factors in the arising of suffering. From chapters 18 and 23 of the Kaarikaa, it follows that within this triad, ignorance is the most important:
When views pertaining to 'mine' and 'I', whether they are associated with the internal or the external, have waned, then grasping comes to cease. With the waning of that
[grasping], there is waning of birth.(43)
(Views have to wane in order for grasping to wane.)
On the waning of defilements of action, there is release. Defilements of action belong to one who discriminates, and these in turn result from obsession. Obsession, in its turn, ceases within the context of emptiness.(44)
(Discrimination has its origin in obsession, which delusion is removed by the insight of its emptiness.) 
Lust, hatred, and confusion are said to have thought as their source. Perversions regarding the pleasant and the unpleasant arise depending on these.(45)
(Thought is the ultimate source of perversions.)
Every time, the 'intellectual is deemed more consequential than the 'passional'. And although avidyaa is an elemental misconception, there could be no ignorance if there was no possibility of gnosis. Each of us has, by our ability to gain insight, the potency to cast off ignorance and attain freedom.

How different Schopenhauer's view is! Every entity and event is basically Will. The earth circles around the sun because of the elementary expression of the Will we know as gravity. The death of an organism is either the claiming of its physical material by nature or the result of another organism's violent will. All love is basically sexual and, as such, the Will of the species to preserve itself. And to all of this, the event of someone's salvation is no exception.

At first glance, Schopenhauer seems to have based salvation upon an insight. As all malevolence is grounded in the idea that one is absolutely separated from other beings ('someone else's pain is no matter of mine'), so gentleness is grounded in the unconscious knowledge that there is no ultimate reality in individuality; being kind to others is knowing supraintellectually that individuality is a distortion of true reality. As this silent awareness grows, gentleness passes into altruism, the subordination of one's own interests to those of all other beings. Finally, some altruists come to understand that even the will to advance the interest of others is to no avail, since any kind of will is basically a Will to Live: the metaphysical ground of all suffering. At this, the principle of individuality evaporates altogether and there is no longer a personal will which could have motives---this is the quietive of the Will itself. The altruist becomes an ascetic and calmly awaits death, the ending of the physical expression of the Will to Live. Then salvation is definite (like the Buddhist parinirvaa.na).(46)

Many scholars have called this a glaring inconsistency; how could the almighty Will succumb to an insight of the saint? (47) The fact is, however, that Schopenhauer never asserted this.

Let us have a look at one of his more literary passages.
Think of life as a racetrack which is run continually, with most of it consisting of glowing coals. He who is under the illusion [of the Vorstellung] finds comfort in the few cool places onto which he hops while running his course. But he who knows the essence of things, and in that the whole of reality, is not amenable to this comfort anymore: he knows he really is on all parts of the track at the same time, and he steps out.(48)
'Getting to know the essence of things' here is not the same as reaching the last link in a chain of discursive judgments. It is a result of compassion, thus an existential rather than an intellectual realization (or else the mere reading of Die Welt als Wille and so forth would lead to holines, which is not what Schopenhauer, though not a very modest man, expected). But that is not all. The passage above is the literary depiction of an event, a phenomenon, without any metaphysical explanation added.

Unfortunately, Schopenhauer failed to devote any space in his work to such an explicit metaphysical explanation of salvation, but anyone willing to look can find numerous indications of what he really meant to say. Let me offer a few examples.

Essentially nothing but a phenomenon of the Will, [the ascetic] no longer wants anything.(49)

This could be read as: 'the ascetic escapes his essence'. but it should be read as: 'although the ascetic is no longer wanting, he it still a phenomenon of the Will'. Or better still: 'the will-lessness of the ascetic shows that the Unknowable can also manifest itself as will No More'. This interpretation seems corroborated by:
Sannyassins, martyrs, holy men of all creed and name, have voluntarily endured calvary,
because in them the Will to Live had discontinued itself.(50)
Finally, this passage in the Parerga leaves little room for doubt:
In answer to some foolish objections I would like to state that the negation of the Will to Live does not mean the destruction of a substance, but simply the act of not-willing: what up to now was willing is no longer willing. Because we know this essence, [that we call] the Will, the Thing in itself, only in and through the act of willing, we are unable to pronounce or grasp its being and doings after it has surrendered this act: that is why this negation to us, who are the phenomenon of the Will, appears a transition into nothingness.(51)
So the timeless Ding an sich, in its bizarrerie, turns out to have an aspect which is manifested temporally as will to live shifting into disengagement from the worldd: the sparse phenomenon of holy enlightenment. Hence Schopenhauer's approval of the Christian view of salvation as an act of divine grace:(52) no achievement of the person in question but something which befalls him. As the utter mindlessness of the will to live can be seen in the involuntary floundering of a drowning man, so holiness, though seeming to spring from an insight, is also something that simply happens--being an act of the only free agent in the whole of reality: the motiveless Real itself.(53)

All of this does not diminish the moral value of Schopenhauer's philosophy; 'good' remains 'good' as opposed to 'bad', and if thoughts like these were nihilistic, then religions demanding complete submission to God would also be nihilistic. Neither is it an entirely cynical view, since it excludes no one from salvation. But it does differ immensely from Naagaarjuna's view of salvation.

Both Schopenhauer and Naagaarjuna created a doctrine in which every man has a basic chance of deliverance, but the former embedded this chance in the capriciousness of the Will, while the latter ascribed it to the fundamental possibility of attaining insight. (Small wonder that Zen Buddhism, lacking any devotionalism and relying solely on 'own-power' (jiriki in Japanese) names Naagaarjuna as its first patriarch.)

This soteriological difference forbids an equation.

V. Schopenhauer and the Yogaacaara


Whenever Schopenhauer is specifically compared to Buddhism, the Yogaacaara (or Vij~naanavaada), is invariably pointed out as the school with which his philosophy has the most in common.(54) No doubt, this connection is based on the resemblance between Yogaacaara philosophy and nineteenth-century German idealism. But if Schopenhauer belonged to that tradition at all, he was at best a maverick member.

From the Praj~naapaaramitaa and Naagaarjuna's Kaarikaa, the Maadhyamika derived the view that ultimate reality could in no way be described. The Yogaacaarins found this tantamount to nihilism;(55) they argued that when the duality of subject and object was proven unreal, there was still something to be said about that 'wherein' this duality occurred (avidyaa) and waned (praj~naa). Taking the ancient La^nkaavataara-suutra with its motto of citta-maatra (mind alone), as their basic text, they developed a theory of the Real as a nondual Mind (aalaya-vij~naana or `storehouse consciousness').

According to this theory, ignorance is the distortion of aalaya into self-consciousness (manas), causing the seeds of subject and object, lying in store, to germinate and produce the sa.msaaric world (vi.sayavij~napti). Salvation is attained through an ample protocol of meditation and yoga practices, cleansing the Mind back to its original state.

AAlaya is not to be understood as an equivalent of the logos, the ultimate Reason at the beginning of this world according to the book of Genesis. It has been called the "cosmic Unconscious,"(56) which description parallels it with the psychoanalytical concept to which Freud, in his turn, had been inspired by Schopenhauer's Will to Live. Others have described it in an even more Schopenhauerian manner as ''creative act, Will."(57) Philosophical kinship is further suggested by the three stages of aalaya. manas, and vij~naapti seeming to be in sync with Schopenhauer's threesome of Will, Platonic Idea,'(58) and Representation.

Indeed, this is an almost systematic resemblance. Good reason, I would say, to be extra cautious in comparing the two.

Schopenhauer called himself a Kantian idealist, but his epistemology was also much inspired by the Farbenlehre of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe--from which theory he derived the view that the a priori forms of time, space, and causality, on the nature of which Kant had not dared to speculate, were not features of some Cartesian 'mind' but functions of the brain!(59) It seems a huge antinomy: the brain, an object in space and time, coming into existence through its own functions--but this should be seen in the context of the dual perspective of metaphysics and epistemology that I have mentioned already, in section III (C).

Metaphysically, only the Will is real, and things like the brain are but phenomena shaped by the ideal forms of space, time, and causality. But this metaphysical perspective derives its meaning entirely from the epistemology that shows the world to be a Representation. So if the Will is to be considered real, the Representation as such must also be real--that is to say: empiricaly real. There is nothing wrong, therefore. in admitting to the empirical fact that the brain is the physical precondition of all knowledge and experience, and hence the precondition of the Vorstellung.

In sum, we cannot evade empirical reality if we are to attain metaphysical Insight.

This notion of two simultaneous perspectives on reality brings to mind the Two Truths of Buddhism: sa.mv.rti-satyam or 'superficial truth and paramaartha-satyam or 'ultimate truth'. The Buddha is said to have distinguished between the conventional truth of the sa.msaaric world (the adequacy of facts and ideas) and the supraintellectual truth concering nirvaa.na. A minor theme in the Old Wisdom School, this idea of Two Truths became well developed in the As.tasaahasrikaa-suutra of the Praj~naapaaramitaa, wherein it is stressed that the Truths differ only in quality. Sa.mv.rti applies to reality as perceived by the mortal, while paramaartha applies to reality as it truly is--thus both have the selfsame object. Sa.mv.rti is empty because of the emptiness of phenomena; paramaartha is empty because it transcends thought--thus it is through emptiness that both truths are connected.(60) Later, Naagaarjuna put great emphasis on this last point, arguing that paramaartha was discovered only in the realization that all views, including those concerning the Buddha and the Four Noble Truths, were sa.mv.rti and thus empty; this would at once reveal the liberating identity of sa.msaara and nirvaa.na:
Without relying upon convention, the ultimate fruit is not taught.
Without the understanding of the ultimate fruit, freedom is not attained.(61)
Not wanting to identify the respective concepts, I do claim that Schopenhauer made essentially the same thought-movement with his dual perspective of epistemology and metaphysics: if empirical reality is contemplated consequently on its own terms, it will at some point bear witness to the unspeakable truth 'behind' it. Or: the final truth is only discovered through an analysis of the Vorstellung as it presents itself. Hence the naturalistic streak in his idealist philosophy.

This also accounts for his demand that metaphysics be immanent. No metaphysics can be convincing if it neglects empirical facts. And it is an undeniable empirical fact that mental phenomena always depend upon physical states. Indeed, the distinction between the mental and the material is very unclear (hence his subsumation of mental desires and bodily longings like hunger under one concept, the will to live).

Finally, his naturalism simply follows from his epistemology! Being, in their correlation, the very basis of the Representation, subject and object cannot be subordinate to the universal Law of Sufficient Ground. Therefore, the subject should not be seen to spring from object (as in materialism) nor can the object be held to come forth from the subject (as in the idealism of the esse est percipi type).(62)

Any philosophy proclaiming the world to be a Representation is by definition idealist. But in the Schopenhauerian view, matter and mind are equally important aspects of this Representation; the material is as much an expression of the Real as the mental. This is to say: the Ding an sich is neither material nor mental!

Like the Buddhist proponents of the Two Truths, Schopenhauer considered ultimate reality, which he symbolized by the term 'Will to Live', to be wholly unknowable. The Yogaacaarins, however, held a third Truth. According to them, salvation came with the insight into the sole reality of consciousness(63)--a consciousness knowing neither itself nor any object, thus an unimaginable consciousness, but nevertheless something to be called 'Mind' as opposed to matter.

Salvation through an insight that concerns the true nature of the Real: criteria (3) and (4) forbid an equation of Schopenhauer and the Yogaacaara.

VI. Epilogue


The comparison of any Western-style philosophy to the four basics of Buddhist philosophy is bound to be hindered by cultural and linguistic barriers (something which Schopenhauer himself, being a child of his time, sorely underestimated). Nevertheless, the preceding paragraphs have shown at least one parallel that surpasses mere atmosphere and must be considered truly philosophical: Schopenhauer's concepts of Will and Representation are related in the same way as nirvaa.na and sa.msara (or paramaartha and sa.mv.rti) are related in the Praj~naapaaramitaa and Naagaarjuna's verses: namely, as a dual perspective on reality, which in itself remains unknowable.(64)

But there is a clear difference, too---in the respective philosophical assessments of the will--and this is of profound soteriological significance. In every form of Buddhism, suffering is regarded primarily as a matter of ignorance; correspondingly, salvation is always linked to insight. Even Zen, with its proverbial disdain for reason, pictures satori, although achieved through discipline (thus willpower) , as an intuitional insight into the Oneness of all things. Schopenhauer also held that earthly existence was basically a false perception, a mere Representation of true reality, but this he embedded metaphysically in the Will to Live. He did not base the world in a 'wrong view' but in a transcendent Will, manifesting itself in both the inner life and the material form of all creatures. No insight could cure this; on the contrary, the more of a philosophical understanding of reality we gained, the more we would realize that it was a case beyond human aid.... Like the Mahaayaana, Schopenhauer claimed that everyone could be liberated, but he categorically denied humanity's own influence in this instance. Phenomenally, salvation sprang from knowledge, but in reality it was an act of the Ding an sich. (In this respect, the only form of Buddhism coming near him would be the devotional Amida cult, although he would of course have called Amidism a theistic outrage, had he known of it.)
So, does this prove that Schopenhauer's idea of kinship cannot be maintained in the present day? Well, it is hard to equate a view of the world revolving around ignorance and insight with a view of the will as the first and last in all reality-even when both views do not pretend to lay bare the true nature of the Real. However, this difference should not be made absolute.

None of the Buddhist philosophies discussed above regards salvation as the finding of an articulate answer to the question of life, if only because Buddhist philosophy never leaves its meditative context. Nirvaa.na is not 'knowing something', but knowledge in the form of stilled passion. Thus the differences between intellect and will become slighter as truth is approached.

In its 'moral outcome', at least, the same goes for the philosophy of Schopenhauer. His theory of salvation shows that he did not reject the intellect. He considered the intellect to be of limited soteriological value, but this did not keep him from attaching the greatest value to the quest for truth. Hence his continual endeavor to let his work be immanent; hence the many adjustments and elaborations in the Erganzungen and Parerga to bring the ideas of the main work in line with scientific progress and new personal experiences. As I hope to have made clear in the preceding paragraphs, this 'immanency' was not just a matter of style; it followed directly from the tenets of his philosophy. And, in this sense, his idea of kinship may not be untenable after all, despite the differences with respect to content. Buddhism and Schopenhauerian philosophy share, if anything, this very important view: Reality may not be 'rational', but it would be the worst thing if we reacted to this with empty-headed religious dogmatism, philosopher's jargon, or cynical acquiescence. Our capacity to gain understanding is really all we have to our advantage; so intellectual and moral truthfulness remain the key virtues in life. 
        

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NOTES

1 - Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, (Erganzungsband), Schopenhauer Samtliche Werke (Munchen: Piper Verlag, 1911), vol.2, p.186; my translation.
2 - Arthur Schopenhauer: Ein Lebensbild in Briefen, ed. Angelika Hubscher (Frankfurt: Insel Verlag, 1987), p. 89.
3 - Schopenhauer listed his books on Buddhism in Ueber de Willen in der Natur, Werke, vol. 3, p. 411.
4 - See, for instance, Parerga und Paralipomena II, par. 179, Werke, vol. 5, p. 411.
5 - Examples: Heinz Bechert, "Flucht in den Orient?" in Schopenhauer Jahrbuch 1981 (Frankfurt a. M.: Kramer Verlag, 1981), pp. 55-65; Freny Mistry, "Der Buddhist liest Schopenhauer", Schopenhauer Jahrbuch 1983, pp. 80-92; Wilhelm Halbfass, "Schopenhauer im Gesprach mit der Indischen Tradition, " in Schopenhauer im Denken der Gegenwart (Munchen: Piper Verlag, 1987), pp. 55-71.
6 - Examples: Heinrich von Glasenapp, the chapter on Schopenhauer in Das Indienbild deutscher Denker (Stuttgart: Kohler Verlag, 1960), pp. 68-101; Arthur Hubscher, "Schopenhauer und die Religionen Asiens," in Schopenhauer Jahrbuch 1979, pp. 1-15; Yasuo Kamata, "Schopenhauer und der Buddhismus," in Schopenhauer Jahrbuch 1984, pp. 233-237.
7 - Dorothea Dauer, "Schopenhauer as Transmitter of Buddhist Ideas," in European University Papers, vol. 15 (Berne: Lang & Co., 1969), p. 28.
8 - See Sa.myutta Nikaaya XXXXIV.10 (in Erich Frauwallner, Die Philosophie des Buddhismus [Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1958], pp. 18-19).
9 - Extracted from Erich Frauwallner, Die Philosophie des Buddhismus, pp. 64-104. 10 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, Werke, vol 2, p. 186. 11 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, Werke, vol. 1, p. 30.

12 - The capital "W" is meant to distinguish Schopenhauer's metaphysical concept from the common psychological concept. In German such a distinction is, of course, impossible. 
13 - (1779-1847), Scholar of Tibetan and Mongolian culture with the academy of St. Petersburg. 
14 - From Pancavi.m`satisaahasrikaa 501 (in Edward Conze, Selected Sayings from the Perfection of Wisdom [Boulder: Prajna Press, 1978], p. 102). 
15 - First formulated by the eighteenth-century rationalist philosopher Christian Wolff. 
16 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, Werke, vol. 2, p. 574. 
17 - Ibid. 
18 - From Ash.taada`sasaahasrikaa LXXIV (Conze, Selected Sayings, p. 96). 
19 - Die Welt al Wille und Vorstellung, Werke, vol. 1, p. 5. 
20 - Ibid., p. 132.
21 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, Werke, vol. 2, p. 203.

22 - Ibid. 
23 - Sa.myutta Nikaaya III.87 (in David Kalupahana, The Principles of Buddhist Psychology [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987], pp. 18-19). 
24 - Dauer, "Schopenhauer as Transmitter of Buddhist Ideas," p. 15. 
25 - A term to which the skandhas are linked directly in most versions of the first Noble Truth. As a matter of fact, Schopenhauer himself once wrote in a letter that he saw this concept, on which he had read in one of his books on Buddhism, as the direct equivalent of his own concept of Will to Live (see Von Glasenapp, Das Indienbild deutscher Denker, p. 92). Apart from the literal sameness, however, both concepts have little in common, since upaadaana has to do with a mental disposition rather than a metaphysical entity. 
26 - From Ash.taada`sasaahasrikaa II.38-40 (Conze, Selected Sayings, p. 98). 
27 - Conze, Selected Sayings, p. 21. 
28 - Ibid., p. 23.
29 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II, Werke, vol. 2, p. 696. 

30 - Schopenhauer Der Handschriftliche Nachla£] (Munchen: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1985), vol. 3, p. 467. 
31- See, for instance, the introductory words of the essay on the individual's fate in Parerga und Paralipomena, Werke, vol. 4. 
32 - Der Handschriftliche Nachla£] vol. 1, p. 323. 
33 - For instance, Conze, Buddhism--Its Essence and Development (New York: Harper, 1975), p. 124. 
34 - Most notably David Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986). 
35 - Originally in the Pali text Udaana I.1 (in Tilmann Vetter, The Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism [Leiden: Brill, 1988], p. 46). 
36 - Parerga und Paralipomena, bk. 2, p. 309. 
37 - For instance, T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism (London: Unwin, 1955; reprint, 1987), pp. 123 ff. 
38 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XIII.7 (in Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p. 223). 
39 - Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p. 8.
40 - Vetter ("Die Lehre Naagaarjunas," in Epiphanie des Heils [Vienna: Oberhammer, 1982], pp. 96 ff) maintains that arguments were in fact part of a meditative practice. 

41 - "Literally it states that our ignorance in this life will predispose us for craving in the next life" (Vetter, Ideas and Meditative Practices of Early Buddhism, p. 47). 
42 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XXVI.11 (Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p. 375). 
43 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XVIII.4 (Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, pp. 265-266). 
44 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XVIII.5 (Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p.266). 
45 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XXIII.1 (Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p.312). 
46 - See Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, paragraphs 66 and 68. 
47 - The point is made with delightful sarcasm in the chapter on Schopenhauer in Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1946). 
48 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, Werke, vol. 1, p. 448. 
49 - Ibid., p. 449. 
50 - Ibid., p. 384.
51 - Parerga und Paralipomena II, Werke, vol. 5, p. 338. 

52 - Die Welt als Wille und Vorsrellung, Werke, vol. 1, p. 479. 
53 - I leave aside the momentary ceasing of the will in aesthetic contemplation. Supporters of the idea of kinship have presented this as the equivalent of meditation (for instance, Dauer, "Schopenhauer as Transmitter of Buddhist Ideas, " p. 23) , but I find this rather farfetched. In any case, Schopenhauer himself shed no light on its relation to salvation. 
54 - Von Glasenapp, Das lndienbild deutscher Denker, p. 98; Yasuo Kamata, "Schopenhauer, Hegel, Vasubhandu, " in Zeit der Ernte (Stuttgart: Fromann, 1982), pp. 234ff.; Bryan Magee, "A Note on Buddhism," in The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 319; Dauer, "Schopenhauer as Transmitter," p. 23. 
55 - Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, p. 319. 
56 - Daisetz Suzuki, "On Zen Buddhism," in Zen Buddhism and Psycheanalysis (New York: Harper, 1960). 
57 - Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, p. 316. 
58 - The sheer division of subject and object; an intermediate phase in his system to account for his theories on aesthetics and sexuality. 
59 - See Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, bk. 2 chap. 1. 
60 - Extracted front Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, pp. 243 ff. 
61 - Muulamadhyamakakaarikaa XXIV.10 (Kalupahana, Naagaarjuna, p. 333). 
62 - See Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, ¡±7. 
63 - Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism, p. 224. 
64 - In chap. 48 of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II (Werke, vol. 2, p. 696), the respective terms are linked like this: sa.msaara is (endorsement of) the Will to Live; nirvaa.na is the negation of the Will to Live.