About God – 7

June 23, 2010


Kindly read the previous post: https://rajeevne.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/about-god-1/

Arthur Schopenhauer’s God 

Schopenhauer has been termed as the most pessimistic of all the philosophers. His writings are not for those weak at heart.

He took Voltaire’s thought further.

His pessimistic views are mainly attributed to his troubled childhood, his rift with his mother (similar to Byron), and the after effects then of the Napoleonic wars. While some of his peers (Chateaubriand, Wordsworth, and Gogol et al) turned to Faith to address the doom, others (Byron, Heine, Lermontov and Leopardi et al) thought that there is no hope and God, if he is there, was blind.

Schopenhauer grew up to be extreme cynic, woman-hater and was in perpetual fear of everything – noise, barber’s razor, burglars and what not. Nearing end, however, he appears to have become almost optimistic.

Schopenhauer started the age of clear-cut narration. There is no play with words or obscurity of thought. Everything is organized and transparent. So lucid is the presentation, every sentence becomes a ‘quotable quote’.

At the outset he declares that the World is My Idea. World is Will, therefore strife, therefore misery. Religion is for political objectives, for making a livelihood (I sing the song of Him, whose bread I eat). Life is short but Truths live longer. Therefore he invites us to discuss truths alone.

His thought process and subsequent arrival at Religion and God needs to be visited from his basics, although it may seem a bit extraneous and lengthy. The following are his hypotheses:

Intellect against Will

  • Under the conscious intellect is Conscious or Unconscious Will – the driving force. Intellect is the horse, Will the rider. Intellect is the strong blind man who carries on his shoulder the Will, a lame. Nature has designed intellect such as to provide motives for the Will.
  • A man goes by his Will and does not listen to others, however hard they try to convince him by facts and figures. No one is ever convinced by Logic, but by his needs, his desires, his self-interest, the Will. (Like in accounts, we always make mistakes in Our favor, without the slightest intention of cheating others).
  • We do not want a thing because we have reasons for it; we find reasons for the thing we want. Intellect is developed by Danger or by Want. The cause behind Want is the Will to live, and to live it fully. Although Want appears to pull you, Will pushes you from behind.
  • Character lies in the Will (heart), not in the intellect (head). The Character or Will is inherited from father, while the intellect from mother.
  • Good Will is preferable to a clear mind. Brilliant intellect can win respect, but never affection.

The Will and the Body of an Individual.

  • The Body is also a manifestation or actualization of Will. Because of Will a person can live, overcome disabilities or disease. The mechanics of the joints, their automatic movements, the functioning of heart and lungs (even in sleep) are proofs of Will being significant than intellect.
  • Instinctive actions are examples of Will (and not of intellect).

The Will of the Individual

  • The Will never tires or sleeps. In sleep, the Will is fully awake and in its natural abundance, therefore at it healing best. During waking hours, it is affected by Intellect.
  • What is then Will? The forces behind Repulsion (Hate) and Attraction (Love), Decomposition (Death) and Combination (Life), Magnetism, Electricity, Gravity (Energy) is Will.
  • The lower we go down the animal chain, lower is the role of intellect, but not the Will. (Aristotle calls this ‘the Power’ that moulds every form). The instinct for survival, which is Will, is common in all.
  • Will is ‘Will to live’ and Will is therefore the eternal enemy of death.

Metaphysics of Love

  • To defy death, we reproduce. Therefore the Gods and Symbols of procreation (in Egypt and India) and their worship.
  • The relation between sexes is the prime motive for actions and conduct.
  • Love humbles. Submission of Man to Woman, Father to Mother, Parent to Child and an Individual to Species is the Metaphysics of Love.
  • Law of attraction is nothing but choice of mate which in turn depends upon neutralizing defects by choosing fitness, supplementing, completion or perfecting of physical qualities (e.g. a weak man will choose a strong woman), even opposite qualities, with a view to have something higher than the parents in the offspring. However, a woman who marries a man of her liking, against the will of her parents, must be admired, because she has then chosen the Nature’s best available offering.
  • Every individual loses attraction for the opposite sex once he is past his procreative period. Youth without beauty can have attraction; beauty without youth has none.
  • No union is as unhappy as love marriages. Comparatively, marriages arranged by parents are long-lasting. He who marries from love must live in sorrow.
  • Nature does not care if the marriage is from love or not, or whether the Parents live in happiness ever after. Since the production of a definite individual appears to be the cause of love, reciprocation of love is not the goal, but possession of Love. Only a philosopher can be happy in marriage – and they do not marry.
  • Since Love is the deception devised by Nature, marriage is the disillusioning of Love. Since passion is devised as ‘love in deception’ by nature, it must only have value for species, and not for individual.
  • Extinction of generative power sounds death. Overuse shortens life. Procreation is the ultimate point, after which degeneration of individual starts, since species has achieved its goal.

Universal Will

  • Purpose of an Individual is minuscule compared to Species. Only in space and time do we see different individuals, which is illusion or Maya.
  • To understand clearly that the individual is only a phenomenon (for the survival of species) is the essence of philosophy.
  • The rule of the universe is Circle (Herodotus). Notion of progress is foolishness. We shall leave the world as foolish and wicked as we found it (Voltaire).
  • Universal Will as a Whole is free, not the individual Will of organs, organisms or species. Their Will is part of the Universal will, but not free to act on it’s own.
  • Through experience, in the end, to his astonishment, man finds that he is not free to act and he is only carrying out the character that he despises, until the very end.
  • Want and Desire is never satisfied. Once quenched, it breeds another.
  • Pain and Sorrow is the basic stimulus and reality. Pleasure is cessation of pain. As soon as pain and sorrow recedes, and one is rested, one gets bored and needs different business, which is further pain. Therefore, all Happiness is negative. It is an effort to compensate for sorrow and pain.
  • The more distinctly we Know, the more intelligent we become, and more is our pain. To be happy, one must be as ignorant as an adolescent.
  • Most of our suffering lies in retrospect (memory) or in anticipation (foresight).
  • Life is evil because it is war, victories and defeats of species, fights about matter, time and space of others.

  • Life therefore is essentially a tragedy, but in detail, a comedy. We are unhappy married, we are unhappy unmarried. We are unhappy poor or wealthy, alone or in society. We are just a pack of dogs.
  • Life is a business which does not cover expenses.
  • Living Life is relentlessly defying death. The fear of death is therefore the starting point of philosophy and final cause for the religion. All theologies and philosophies are refuge from death.
  • Insanity is also an attempt to alleviate pain. So is suicide, the final refuge, where the thought and imagination supersedes intellect. Suicide however is stupid because the species and Will remain unaffected by it.
  • The Will cannot be conquered unless it is superseded by knowledge and intellect.

            ————

  • Acquisition of money is fine because it can in abstract satisfy many a wants. However, to turn money into joy, culture and wisdom are required.
  • Not wealth, but wisdom is a way to happiness.
  • Knowledge may master the Will in the individual. The more we know of our passions, the more we know about our Will, and the less they control us.
  • Philosophy is to be understood by experience and knowledge, not by reading. For reading somebody else is submitting to his thoughts, and reading (without supplementing it with thinking) gradually reduces the capacity to think.
  • Our happiness depends on what goes on in our head, and happiness is to be received through the examination of self. To be happy means to be self-sufficient (Aristotle).

Genius and Art

  • Genius is the highest form of this will-less knowledge. Fundamental condition for Genius is the abnormal sensibility and irritability over reproductive power. Knowledge comes under activity only under impulse of the Will. Thought prevails over Will. This removes him from personal equation, and the Genius remains maladapted with the society. He remains aloof and with melancholy temperament. None the less, he receives all the beauty from the art which compensates for the suffering. He remains in the thought of the General, Fundamental and Universal.
  • Artist is a perfect Genius. All art (e.g. a good portrait) aims at showing a universal quality. Art (Genius) is greater that science (Brilliance of intellect). Music is the copy of the Will, which speaks for the Things itself and affects our feelings directly. Architecture is frozen music and symmetry the rhythm (Goethe).

Religion

Religion is the metaphysics of the masses was his first call. But, during later years, he started seeing significance in dogmas and beliefs.

  • Christianity is a pessimistic religion. First Sin (Prevalence of Will) and the Salvation (denial of Will) constitute the basis of Christianity. Fasting (weakening of Desires) breeds further desires. In comparison, Judaism and heathenism were optimistic. However Christianity won over the others because of the pessimist foundation.
  • Buddhism (Nirvana) also is very destructive of the will.
  • Hinduism (The ultimate is “One” and “You are That”) is deeper than any since it’s interpretation is directed ‘inwards’ and to ‘intuition’. Intuition unites everything.
  • Christianity can never penetrate Eastern continents. However, Hindu religion and Sanskrit literature may make inroads into Christian territories.
  • The ultimate knowledge is therefore to know Nirvana, which preaches subjugation of the Will. Finally The Will will be vanquished and only Knowledge will prevail.
  • The death can be stopped only if we stop the source of life – the Will to reproduce.

Schopenhauer’s critics vehemently refute his pessimism. He always lived as a hermit and a solitary existence. Most felt that his was the egotism of a deceased mind and had no sense of joys that social contact brings.

Contrary to his negative views about happiness, a healthy man seldom asks for more than an opportunity to prove himself than the happiness itself. He does not mind surrendering individual happiness for the good of others, the greater happiness. Knowledge while increases sorrow, increases joy also. Although knowledge about death breeds fear, barring a few exceptions, before twenties the fear is non-existent because you are protected and secure, after twenties (so to say) there are the joys of parentage and home which are abundant.

His views on women are best ignored since he saw them only as sinners and shrews. (He professes that women are ‘Subjective’, inclined to extravagance, live in the ‘present’, indulge in spending and shopping, think that it is man’s responsibility to earn. Women should never be given a right to properties. Life is safer and smoother without them.)

Will is not best defined by him, although it is the pivot of this thinking. It can be a myth, (unless it is proven that it is indeed ‘the coordination of forces’), just like God or Soul, and the whole of his building is constructed on a fragile footing.

His introduction of ‘instinct’ and its manifestations were novel and now accepted, so is his commentary about art and genius. Behind thought – desire, behind intellect – instinct, behind matter – energy is now well accepted causality.

If you had patience to read upto these lines, you will certainly ask, ‘Where is God in this philosophy?’ There is none, because Schopenhauer is about (Everything is) Evil, and not God.

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