Schopenhauer in 1815, second of the critical five years of the initial composition of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung.
A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation. Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of Zeitgeist, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness which moved in a distinct direction,dictating the actions of its members. Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason. Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by only their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben ("Will to Live"), which directed all of mankind.
For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile,illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world. He wrote "Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants". In this sense, he adhered to the Fichtean principle of idealism: “the world is for a subject”. This idealism so presented, immediately commits it to an ethical attitude, unlike the purely epistemological concerns of Descartes and Berkeley.To Schopenhauer, the Will is a malignant, metaphysical existence which controls not only the actions of individual, intelligent agents, but ultimately all observable phenomena; an evil to be terminated via mankind's duties: asceticism and chastity. He is credited with one of the most famous opening lines of philosophy: “The world is my representation”. Will, for Schopenhauer, is what Kantcalled the "thing-in-itself." Nietzsche was greatly influenced by this idea of Will, while developing it in a different direction.
Art and aesthetics
Main article: Arthur Schopenhauer's aesthetics
For Schopenhauer, human desiring, "willing," and craving cause suffering or pain. A temporary way to escape this pain is through aesthetic contemplation (a method comparable to Zapffe's"Sublimation"). Aesthetic contemplation allows one to escape this pain—albeit temporarily—because it stops one perceiving the world as mere presentation. Instead, one no longer perceives the world as an object of perception (therefore as subject to the Principle of Sufficient Grounds; time, space and causality) from which one is separated; rather one becomes one with that perception:"one can thus no longerseparate the perceiver from the perception" (The World as Will and Representation, section 34). From this immersion with the world one no longer views oneself as an individual who suffers in the world due to one's individual will but, rather, becomes a "subject of cognition" to a perception that is "Pure, will-less, timeless" (section 34) where the essence, "ideas," of the world are shown. Art isthe practical consequence of this brief aesthetic contemplation as it attempts to depict one's immersion with the world, thus tries to depict the essence/pure ideas of the world. Music, for Schopenhauer, was the purest form of art because it was the one that depicted the will itself without it appearing as subject to the Principle of Sufficient Grounds, therefore as an individual object.According to Daniel Albright, "Schopenhauer thought that music was the only art that did not merely copy ideas, but actually embodied the will itself."
He deemed music to be a timeless, universal, language which is comprehended everywhere, and can imbue global enthusiasm, if in possession of a significant melody.
Schopenhauer's moral theory proposed that only compassion can drivemoral acts. According to Schopenhauer, acts of compassion eye only the good of the object of the acts, that is, they cannot be inspired by either the prospect of personal utility or the feeling of duty. Mankind can also be guided by egoism and malice. Egotistic acts are those guided by self-interest, desire for pleasure or happiness. Schopenhauer believed most of our deeds belong to this class....