Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Schopenhauer’s Thoughts

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This comment was posted in Psyblog.

My comment:

Schopenhauer mentioned quite frequently of the word ‘Will’ and in this article, you had interpreted Will as ‘Desire’. But what Schopenhauer really meant by the word Will was actually ‘Instinct’. Look at a dog. What a dog does everyday is pretty routine – sleep, eat, bark at strangers, run-around, eat, and sleep (and occasional sex). They are all very instinctive.

Due to our complex nature and activities, human daily routine is not as straight-forward as a dog. But this do not change the fact that human’s behaviour are instinctive too. Fundamentally, our basic instinct do not differ much from a dog(for instance: it is instinctive for human and dog to have babies to continue the next generation.)

Hence, the argument put fourth by Schopenhauer was – Instinct creates Desire and Desire brings Suffering. (Definition of Suffering – The absence of Absolute Happiness. That means, something as mild as boredom is an act of Suffering taking place within ourselves)

Therefore, Schopenhauer maintained that the rule Will (Instinct)-> Desire-> Suffering is the ‘Truth’ in our life. We can’t change it. That’s why, we are always never satisfied and keep dwelling in the past and chasing dreams (as pointed out in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Ultimately, according to Schopenhauer, human live to endlessly seek Satisfaction (Yes, Schopenhauer meant Satisfaction, not Happiness. The difference is, Satisfaction is more of short-term joy while attaining Happiness means having it in our mindset)

One psychological condition of human being is that we always want to look ‘politically correct’ – basically we only want to associate ourselves with the good stuffs and subconsciously reject the bad stuffs (hence one of the reason why we always fool ourselves). Schopenhauer and Buddhism were merely bold enough to remind us, human, that our world is actually a world where Good and Bad stuffs co-exist together. We will have a better life and suffer less (physically and mentally) if we dare to face the reality of the ugly side of this world instead of remaining ignorant. We will also suffer less if we decide to understand and defy our Desire caused by our Instinct and stop chasing Satisfaction.

Example: Human has strong desire to gain wealth and power. But if we are never satisfied with what we have gained, we will forever go on and on chasing endless dream and having the illusion that we are happy.

Last but not least, in your points of ‘What Schopenhauer got wrong’, i have never read before where he said to ‘Avoid Problems’ and ‘Avoid People’. He definitely said something along the lines but i’m very sure it is not as how as you had interpreted.

For me, i would want to passionately read a philosopher’s work first before writing a blog post. As Ludwig Wittgenstein mentioned before, confusion in philosophy is often due to wrong interpretation and definition of words.

PS: The comment was slightly edited.


Written by elan85

January 8, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology

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