The world as will and representation” by A. Schopenhauer
A. Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, was a great lover of Upanishads and regarded himself as a follower of two religions: Buddhism and Hinduism simultaneously. His own philosophy was virtually an expounding of their main ideas with means of the western philosophy. The chief work of Schopenhauer is “The World as Will and Representation”, all others of his books in compliance with his own words are only additions and commentaries to it.
The world perceived in all completeness and colors by human is only a representation. The representation does mean a subject-object correlation in which the subject ascribes some representation forms to the object. These forms are space, time and causality (as a kind of the sufficient ground law). The subject itself does lie beyond these forms and, therefore, isn’t an object to cognition as we usually comprehend it. If the subject disappears, the world, which is its representation, also ceases to exist. Nevertheless, Schopenhauer rejected solipsism, saying that true solipsists could be met only in an asylum. In general, the disintegration into subject and object takes place only in representation, said Schopenhauer. The material is on the one hand ‘the susceptibility of space’ and on the other hand ‘the objectivated causality’. Causal interactions between subject and object are impossible, for one supposes another and doesn’t exist without it. That is why the question of the external world’s reality becomes meaningless too. The external world is only a representation of subject, that’s why it’s so difficult to put a clear boundary between dream and reality. Schopenhauer refers by it to the Indian philosophy comparing the outer world with an illusion or dream. Science is a system of the world phenomena explanations according to the sufficient ground law. Every explanation is reduced to indication on some force but what force itself remains beyond explanation. The force by itself is an eternal mystery and here the science finishes and philosophy starts. The final purpose of philosophy is to realize what the world in general is.
The world, as it was said, is a representation but whose and of what? The answer is contained in human itself. Any human has a body, the body is a representation subordinated to the human’s will. The latter is a thing-in-itself and entity of its own. That is, the will lies beyond representations and it concerns not only humans and their bodies but also all the world in general. The will is beyond the sphere of the sufficient ground law, though any of its manifestations is inside it. By the same cause will is also free of any plurality, though all its manifestations are not. I. e. there exists some one and indivisible world will whose numerous manifestations are subdued to the sufficient ground law and dispensed on different levels of objectivation (such as various forces of nature, living creatures, humane personalities etc.). The immanent struggle between different levels and even particular manifestations of will on the same level takes place. The will, said Schopenhauer, fights and devours itself. On the higher levels it begets different auxiliary means for this struggle such as reason, cognition, science etc., whose purpose is providing additional power in the struggle for surviving. By this cause the will may be called the will to life.
Every particular will being a manifestation of the will to life in general is always the will to something, to some concrete thing. Human is created by the will, which has no final aim for it knows no limits, whose entity is ‘the eternal aspiration’. Because of it human is doomed to eternal sufferings. Its will wishes something constantly. If it doesn’t get the desired it suffers of its absence, if it gets it suffers of surfeit and boredom. What is the way out? There are two ways out. The first, the temporary one is connected with art. Contemplating a piece of art human throws off the burden of its will to life for some time. The contemplation of art is uninterested contemplation of the will to life by the will itself (for all is only a representation of it and there is nothing besides it). Contemplating itself the will ceases to desire and thereby forgets of sufferings for some time. Schopenhauer pointed out music among other arts especially, for if other arts are contemplation of will through its different manifestations, music is the direct reflection of the will to life and its movements. That’s why the effect of music is so deep and strong (other arts reflect shadows but music the entity).
The full release from sufferings is possible, said Schopenhauer, only through the killing of the will to life itself, e. g. through the refuse of any mundane troubles and desires. Does it mean a suicide? It doesn’t, for suicide isn’t negation of the will to life but on the contrary, recognition of its invincibility and capitulation before it. A self-murderer kills himself because of inability of his desires satisfaction. The overcoming of the will to life means that a man rejects pleasures and gladness of life and becomes an ascetic. He stays to live but his life means nothing for him. In short the perspectives depicted here by Schopenhauer are gloomy enough but Schopenhauer asserted the contrary, that the killing or overcoming of the will gives an ecstasy and bliss incompatible with anything else. It’s the ecstasy of Samadhi in Hinduism or nirvana in Buddhism [1, p. 197 – 199].