Metaphysics of the Will
the metaphysical pessimist
We have known that the modern western
philosophy culminates in Hegelian optimism that
the reason will reign at the end of human history.
The real is reasonable, and the reasonable is
This optimism was challenged by the failure of
Revolution of 1848 in Germany.
Before this Revolution Arthur Schopenhauer has
already formulated his metaphysical pessimism
in his major work “Die Welt als Wille und
Vorstellung” (the world as will and
Being as Will
Schopenhauer criticizes Kantian doctrine
of „das Ding an sich‟. The reality in itself
according to Kant is unknowable, and we
know only the phenomenal world.
Schopenhauer refuses this very
fundamental of Kant‟s philosophy that
influences the German idealism.
According to him „das Ding an sich‟ is
knowable, and it is the will.
The metaphysical Will
Schopenhauer‟s concept of will is very
specific and unique in the history of
western philosophy. In this sense the will
is not the concrete human will, but it is the
all pervasive will. The Schopenhauer‟s will
is the reality it self. If the whole reality is
will, it is a dynamic movement of will, not a
being, but a becoming. But the movement
of will moves nowhere, because this
metaphysical will is blind and purposeless.
The World is my presentation
Agree with Kant Schopenhauer argues that the
world is nothing than our presentation
(Vorstellung). The world is not the reality in it
self. Later he is inspired by the eastern
philosophy through Friedrich Meyer and believes
that the visible and tangible world is only the veil
of maya. Also, our body, our life and our
environment are only illusion. They are not real.
The real reality is the blind metaphysical will.
The One and The Many
We feel and see that there is plurality in
this world. Our five senses give us such
impression. But the reality is in its essence
one and not many. The one is the will. The
many is maya or illusion.
Suffering – That is the essence of
We are the slave of the blind metaphysical
will. Also, our life is not only full of
suffering, but also life means to suffer,
because the will is arbitrary and
purposeless. We plan something rationally
for our future, but our reason is only the
instrument of that will. The will play our
reason without any direction.
And How about the Happiness?
Schopenhauer views happiness not as something
positive, but as something negative. Suffering is
something; happiness is nothing. If we feel
happy, we don‟t get the real situation. This
feeling of happiness comes from the absence of
consciousness of our life. We forget the
suffering, then this feeling of happiness comes.
But that is not reality.
With this view Schopenhauer becomes the
greatest pessimist in all western philosophy.
The Way of Release
There are two ways of release from suffering:
1. Through the aesthetical way: Music can
release us from suffering, but this way is only
temporary, because we forget only the suffering.
2. The true way of release is the the ethical way:
through the ethical sympathy with the other
being that suffer like us. Schopenhauer‟s ethics
is the ethics of compassion (Mitleidethik).
The Problem of Suicide
Schopenhauer refuses suicide as a way of
release from the metaphysical will of this
life. But why?
According to him if man commits suicide,
he doesn‟t free himself from the will. The
very will to commit suicide is itself the
manifestation of the blind will.