Shopenhaur–A world of dreams.

My favorite philosopher? Many will be surprised, knowing my Christian beliefs. But for me it’s an easy choice. I have to go with German philosopher, Arthur Shopenhaur. A genius to be sure. But was he right in his assertions?

Shopenhaur lived from 1788 to 1860 in Germany, and penned his most famous book, The World as Will and ideas.

The book’s title perfectly sums Shopenhaur’s thesis. The world is naught but what is represented by both our conscious and unconscious minds. In many ways Shopenhaur mirrored Kant’s beliefs; the “thing-in-itself” is never truly perceived. Only our mind’s interpretation of it.

But Shopenhaur takes this one step further. He says there is one thing we can be sure of, and that he calls–Will. Will is us, and we are it.

According to the German philosopher, the universe is under the rule of a supreme–and dark–Will. We are manifestations of this Will, and are controlled by it to some extant.

Human will, it seems to me, is wholly unstudied by science. We can map the brains impulses during certain activities and thoughts. MRIs can show scientists what parts of the brain are activated during those activities and thoughts. But what caused the thought in the first place?  What was the impetus for me to pick up a cup of coffee, sip it, then resume typing? Why did I do it at a precise moment in time? There has to be a first cause–something which present science cannot understand, otherwise, all of our brains observable activity is random; chaotic bursts of firing synapses. And we know that this cannot be the case in reality, because we manage to be orderly beings.

So Shopenhaur diverges with Kant by stating that there is one thing we can be sure of: Our own will.

When we look at all of the great people throughout history, one thing must stand apart from all other things. One attribute far outstrips the importance of all the others in people who have left their stamp: Will. Not intelligence (At least as measured by the woefully inadequate IQ tests), not beauty, not riches, not physical prowess. But will, drive, want–whatever you want to call it.

In my life–I have been weakest when my will was weakest, and most powerful when it was strongest. My intellect did not change. How I look changes little form day to day.

Shopenhaur was on to something.

Another reason that I like Shopenhaur, is that his writing ability may have been without peer amongst philosophers. His ability to communicate ideas, with the intended emotions is undeniable. Only Friedrich Neitzsche comes close,  though their philosophies differ greatly. Ultimately, Shopenhaur came to believe that the only way to make it through this world was by leading an acedic life-style, while using art to express one’s inner reality. I concur.

Shopenhaur. He influenced both madman and genius–and few people now know it. From pacifists like Leo Tolstoy, to psychopathic war-mongers such as Adolph Hitler. From the orchestral juggernaut of Richard Wagner, to the frenetic madness of Friederich Neitszche.

So, I choose a relative dark horse amongst philosophers. I encourage others to check out Shopenhaur’s writings.


1 Response to “Shopenhaur–A world of dreams.”

  1. September 10, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Perhaps my “tongue in cheek” challenge may be of interest as I introduce a SUPERGOD to the mix.

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