B'day, Mr. Schopenhauer

| |

Arthur Schopenhauer - Born 1788, Died 1860, a span of 72 years, lived traveling, across various parts of Germany, settling and unsettling, not just in life, but also in mind and thoughts. He belongs to the school of Modern Western Philosophy and is one of the streams of revolutionary thoughts that sprung out of Germany in those times.

Born into a family that "couldn't have been worse", with a depressive father and, somewhat, repressive mother, took Arthur into pathways of life, sometimes suppressive, sometimes expressive. His father, a merchant by profession, committed suicide when he was very young and he had serious disagreements with his mother, who was a famed novelist of her times, and this put Arthur on a path of his own. Initially, he was coerced into the family lineage, yet he broke away and pursued philosophy. At the age of 25, he had earned his PhD.

Schopenhauer had felt he hit upon a 'perfect solution' with his 'doctrine of the will', yet his philosophical thoughts and writings had no takers during his time, which swayed to the winds of Kant, Hegel and Fichte. This made Arthur slide into a life of isolation and reduced him into the drudgery of jealousy and hatred. Yet, the light of wisdom that had shone in his heart was not to be suppressed. He created masterpieces of philosophy - with his expanded volume of 'World as Will and Idea' and other supplements to it. His essays went on to win top prizes. In the final years of his life, which he lived in Frankfurt, he tasted the fame and popularity that he had craved for in his earlier days. But for him, it was all too late, or probably, all too unnecessary.

Schopenhauer's philosophy had the distinguished mark that it seemed to bridge a lot of gaps - it seemed to start from where his predecessors left, yet correcting some of their mistakes, while also binding the divergent approaches of the western and eastern thoughts. He seemed to have landed on the perfect solution in his idea of the will, yet his further explanations, and efforts to reconcile with other's thoughts, exposed holes in his thought. Schopenhauer was deeply influenced by the Upanishads and Buddhistic thoughts, and this was to mould his philosophy in a big way.

Yet! Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy is one that reaches out to the common man. He has a distinct pessimistic flavor to his approach (both in its origin and in its ends) and this resonates well with the experiences of the common man. He didn't create hyperbolic concepts that would only fit in academic discourses, he did not theorize on high-flying concepts which lived in the abstract realms. He wrote in lucid style, rich with day-to-day examples, in down to earth fashion, that rained its meaning down into the heart of mundane people.

From mean and disturbed beginnings, Schopenhauer had risen into a stature that left an everlasting image in the annals of Western Philosophy. He is, today, one of most widely read of German philosophers.

Happy Birthday, Arthur!

PS: More on his philosophy in my later posts.


Dr Mandeep Khanuja said...

hi vicky,must i say that i am a little biased towards this blog of yours than the other one :)
One ques: What do you mean by 'pessimistic flavor to his approach'?
i would like to read something in detail about that !
Keep writing please..

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Mandeep jee - I am still reading up his philosophy so I will write in detail over the coming months. By the way, when I said 'pessimistic flavor,' I meant his approach is very negative towards life. He reflects on the vanities of life and tries to draw a model where he explains them. His philosophy tries to show that happiness is not a worthwhile goal to pursue, yet we are not left with any choice but to pursue it (and end up getting disappointed). He uses the concept of will to connect all these..

Anamika Anyone said...

Wow, thanks for the intro. Waiting to hear more..

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Sure Anamika! Glad that you liked the intro. I couldn't make justice to it as much as I wanted to. Schopenhauer has a life and message that enchanted me in more ways than I expressed here.

I am trying to read up more..

R-A-J said...

Interesting write up bro.. honestly, not sure if I've heard of this g'man before this post but its interesting tat a great thinker like him only started getting appreciated only towards the fag end of his life.. he's luckier thn other ppl whose work is today highly appreciated but not in the artists' life tijme..

kinda liked the fact that his thoughts had inspiration from Indian literature :)

nice one, bro!!

Post a Comment