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« Policy Break -- Social Security | Main | Rightwing Babes »

September 05, 2002

Schopenhauer

Michael

Have you ever read any Schopenhauer? I happened on this bizarre website called "Frownland: Pessimists speaking the truth," here., which has a couple translations of the old boy.

He appears from these excerpts to be a German philosopher who could actually write (very surprising) and who possessed amazing 'tude (not so surprising, but still pretty amusing.) Following is an excerpt from "The Metaphysics of the Love of the Sexes":

So then, after what has been called to mind, no one can doubt either the reality or the importance of the matter [i.e., romantic love]; and therfore, instead of wondering that a philosophy should also for once make its own this constant theme of all poets, one ought rather to be surprised that a thing which plays throughout so important a part in human life has hitherto practically been disregarded by philosophers altogether, and lies before us as raw material.

The one who has most concerned himself with it is Plato, especially in the "Symposium" and the "Phaedrus". Yet what he says on the subject is confined to the sphere of myths, fables, and jokes, and also for the most part concerns only the Greek love of youths. The little that Rousseau says upon our theme in the "Discours sur l'inegalite" (p. 96, ed. Bip.) is false and insufficient. Kant's explanation of the subject in the third part of the essay, "Ueber das Gefuhl des Schonen und Erhabenen" (p. 435 seq. of Rosenkranz' edition) is very superficial and without practical knowledge, therefore it is also partly incorrect. Lastly, Platner's treatment of the matter in his "Anthropology" (sect. 1347 seq.) every one will find dull and shallow. On the other hand, Spinoza's definition, on account of its excessive naivete, deserves to be quoted for the sake of amusement: "Amor est titillatio, concomitante idea causae externae" (Eth. iv., prop. 44, dem.).

Accordingly I have no predecessors either to make use of or to refute. The subject has pressed itself upon me objectively, and has entered of its own accord into the connection of my consideration of the world. Moreover, least of all can I hope for approbation from those who are themselves under the power of this passion, and who accordingly seek to express the excess of their feelings in the sublimest and most ethereal images. To them my view will appear too physical, too material, however metaphysical and even transcendent it may be at bottom. Meanwhile let them reflect that if the object which to-day inspires them to write madrigals and sonnets had been born eighteen years earlier it would scarcely have won a glance from them.

Moreover, his theory of love is extremely sociobiological. Richard Dawkins of "The Selfish Gene" would have little to argue with in this account:

That this particular child shall be begotten is, although unknown to the parties concerned, the true end of the whole love story; the manner in which it is attained is a secondary consideration. Now, however loudly persons of lofty and sentimental soul, and especially those who are in love, may cry out here about the gross realism of my view, they are yet in error. For is not the definite determination of the individualities of the next generation a much higher and more worthy end than those exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of theirs? Nay, among earthly aims, can there be one which is greater or more important? It alone corresponds to the profoundness with which passionate love is felt, to the seriousness with which it appears, and the importance which it attributes even to the trifling details of its sphere and occasion.

Only so far as this end is assumed as the true one do the difficulties encountered, the infinite exertions and annoyances made and endured for the attainment of the loved object, appear proportionate to the matter. For it is the future generation, in its whole individual determinateness, that presses into existence by means of those efforts and toils. Nay, it is itself already active in that careful, definite and arbitrary choice for the satisfaction of the sexual impulse which we call love.

Cheers,

Friedrich

posted by Friedrich at September 5, 2002




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