The idea of Will and the privilege of choice is the central topic for Schopenhauer. He thinks that an individual’s character is molded by a blend of genetic and environmental circumstances. For Schopenhauer, it is critical, because the surroundings in which an individual’s life outlines itself mainly by the way the individual looks at it. This point of viewpoints toward the fact that an individual’s character is the utmost factor in happiness.
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This isn’t too far-off from several current findings in psychology indicating at a checkpoint for person’s happiness, apparent, for instance, in the fact that individuals who recover from devastating injuries or win the lotto both go back to their previous level of self-stated fulfillment throughout the interval of only several months. Schopenhauer believes that it is the individual who has the power to choose his or her attitude towards life situations, and he undoubtedly believes that there is always a choice for everyone (Schopenhauer and Taylor 371).
Will should relentlessly be considered the ultimate reality and the basis of all life including our own. This can be explained by the fact that we, humans, are in charge of anything that happens throughout the lifetime. The phenomenon of purposelessness, also known as meaninglessness, is one of the most debatable issues. Speaking of the purposelessness, the crucial component of this point of view is the emptiness within a person. On this issue, Schopenhauer’s opinion connects with Frankl’s. The individuals are the prisoners of the situations that Frankl has called the existential vacuum (Frankl 130).
It is rather interesting that the Mayans considered that our existence is only an illusion, where the reality is represented by our own Will. Such an assumption actually sounds reasonable if we reconsider the fact of our very existence and admit that an individual is only a container for the Will, which is the true representation of the human. This point of view eventually reflects the fact that one cannot comprehend the meaning of life away from the meaning of misery because misery is an unavoidable feature of an individual’s reality (Nietzsche and Fritzsche 210).
Being a carrier of the Will means to suffer on many levels, but that is the ultimate purpose of human life. Another point made by Schopenhauer is that the Will as the continuation of life with no higher or intelligent purpose is possible but seems pretty ignorant, as an individual always has the ultimate ability to choose where to go, what to do, and what to live for. Life’s meaninglessness is most probably the same for both human beings and different life forms.
For instance, we can take Mitch from “Tuesdays with Morrie” as a perfect example of an individual who got lost into materialistic stuff and led a meaningless life (Albom 18). In the end, all of Morrie’s lessons deliver an extensive message that each individual should throw away the values imposed by society and nurture his or her own values. The only difference (and, in fact, a significant one) between human beings and different life forms is in the fact that an individual is able to get out of the meaninglessness slump, while any other life forms are not.
In his work, Schopenhauer claims that the overcoming of death is the most important point of religion. It is an important statement, as you cannot make up for anything the existential void caused by the loss. In this case, Schopenhauer connects with Grey, who believes that there is a very high possibility that after death, one still will not be fully aware that the people he or she lost are not alive to any further extent (Grey 1).
This statement actually raises the question of whether there is immortality as the continuation of the life of the species and if it lies behind everything we do. It is important to understand that this theory is consistent with the definition and the purpose of Will, as an individual is the Will itself, not just a spiritual singularity locked up in a human body.
If we speak of the sexual love as of an example of the Will as the perpetuation of the species, it is critical to remember that the desire to continue the family line has been an unconscious expression of sympathy towards an individual from the ancient times. In most cases, we, as an intelligent race, should consider this expression to be based on an unconscious drive to continue life. On the other hand, Schopenhauer evidently hints at the key idea of his works, which proclaims that there is always the choice and, at long last, it is all about the individual’s Will and authority of choice. It is quite possible that we would not continue life if we were only driven by the unconscious sympathy towards one another, but the current situation in the world is quite opposite to what Schopenhauer proclaimed.
After carefully reexamining most of Schopenhauer’s statements, one may come to the conclusion that Schopenhauer was such a convinced pessimist that he believed we exist in the foulest of all probable worlds and contentment is a delusion. Schopenhauer might be pointing out what is true, but he does it in such a strict manner that he leaves the reader nothing but puzzled by his cynical view of the world we are living in. For him, there is no escaping from the individuals’ egoism. Schopenhauer explains it, stating that people are self-centered as they are effortlessly thrilled and insulted without any difficulty. Their views can be bought and traded for the proper price.
Schopenhauer thinks that for this exact reason the friendship is habitually driven by egocentricity. In his opinion, exhibiting your intellect makes you extremely disliked because people do not like to be retold of their lowliness. Schopenhauer expects an individual to admit that the world is jam-packed with stupid people, they cannot transform, and neither can the individual.
The Idea of Beauty and a more general attitude toward overcoming our individual Will is consistent with the Fleischacker’s view of things. The idea is that other people cannot enlighten you – therefore, you must enlighten yourself. A perfect society is perfect only when it permits the liberty of self-expression (Fleischacker 16). The meaning behind all this is that one can see that enlightenment is an ethical act, but in the case of Schopenhauer’s point of view, it is certainly an ethical responsibility.
To create meaning in the face of all this implies the understanding of the Will phenomenon and the acceptance of immortality as of the ultimate means of existence. We need to take a more realistic view of life so that we could adopt Schopenhauer’s ideas where it is possible, but we should not turn to the pessimist side in order not to lose the meaning of our lives.
Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson. New York: Random House Large Print, 2010. Print.
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Fleischacker, Samuel. What Is Enlightenment? London: Routledge, 2013. Print.
Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon, 2006. Print.
Grey, Julienne. “My Mother Is Not a Bird.” New York Times. N.p. 2015. Web.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Peter Fritzsche. Nietzsche and the Death of God: Selected Writings. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin, 2007. Print.
Schopenhauer, Arthur, and Richard Taylor. The Will To Live. New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co., 1967. Print.