Beauty lies in simplicity essay

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Beauty lies in simplicity essay

Arthur Schopenhauer Certainly one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century, Schopenhauer seems to have had more impact on literature e. Thomas Mann and on people in general than on academic philosophy.

Perhaps that is because, first, he wrote very well, simply and intelligibly unusual, we might say, for a German philosopher, and unusual now for any philosophersecond, he was the first Western philosopher to have access to translations of philosophical material from Indiaboth Vedic and Buddhistby which he was profoundly affected, to the great interest of many except most academic philosophersand, third, his concerns were with the dilemmas and tragedies, in a religious or existential sense, of real life, not just with abstract philosophical problems.

He was the first to speak of the suffering of the world, which visibly and glaringly surrounds us, and of confusion, passion, evil -- all those things which the [other philosophers] hardly seemed to notice and always tried to resolve into all-embracing harmony and comprehensiblility.

Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for the best in the fundaments of the universe. Thus, those inclined to dismiss Schopenhauer as exaggerating or irrationally disillusioned with life, might take his "optimist's tour": If we were to conduct the most hardened and callous optimist through hospitals, infirmaries, operating theatres, through prisons, torture-chambers, and slave-hovels, over battlefields and to places of execution; if we were to open to him all the dark abodes of misery, where it shuns the gaze of cold curiosity, and finally were to allow him to glance into the dungeon of Ugolino where prisoners starved to death, he too would Beauty lies in simplicity essay see in the end what kind of a world is this meilleur des mondes possibles.

Why did this block occur?

Payne translation,Dover,p. The "dungeon of Ugolino" is where Count Ugolino della Gherardesca d. The "dungeon" was actually in a tower, the Muda, that belonged to the the Ghibelline Gualandi family.

Ugolino himself was Ghibelline in origin but, after the marriage of his sister to a Visconticame to incline towards the Guelphs. The meilleur des mondes possibles, "the best of possible worlds," is, of course, a reference to Leibniz. I couldn't say why Schopenhauer quoted that it in French, unless he was thinking of Voltaire, and his parody Candidemore than Leibniz himself.

I otherwise was only aware that Leibniz had published in Latin and German. Schopenhauer's tour for the optimist could now be much extended. He knew of the slaughter at Waterloo, but not of Shiloh or Antietam, let alone the Somme or Verdun -- and we wonder if he ever saw anything of Goya's "Disasters of War" Los Desastres de la Guerradespite their being done in his time The battlefields in World War I, where nothing green grew and human flesh and body parts were blended with the mud, was an experience and, doubtlessly, a smell that, surprisingly, drove no more than a few soldiers insane.

In World War II, of course, what the Germans did in their concentration and extermination camps set a standard for cruelty, inhumanity, horror, and evil that has actually been matched with some regularity in subsequent history, for instance in Cambodia or Rwanda. In our own day, Islamic terrorists are advancing the nightmare in their own unique ways, proudly selling kidnapped girls and women into sex slavery and beheading or immolating hostages on videos subsequently distributed for the edification of the faithful.

Their shamelessness defeats even the Nazis, who concealed and attempted to erase evidence of the worst of their crimes. Adolf Hitler never boasted of Auschwitz. It is rare for philosophers to notice these events, unless their religious or Existential significance is of concern, or the writers have some particular political axe to grind.

Even philosophers upon whom Schopenhauer did have a strong effect, like Nietzsche and even Wittgensteinnevertheless could not put him to good use since they did not accept his moral, aesthetic, and religious realism -- and either didn't notice or didn't care about the horrors emphasized by Schopenhauer which is curious with Wittgenstein, since he was actually a soldier in World War I -- we never hear any reflections on this experience -- and who lived to learn, safe in England, of what the Germans had been doing during World War II.

Schopenhauer is all but unique in intellectual history for being both an atheist and sympathetic to Christianity. Schopenhauer's system will not make any sense except in the context of Kant's metaphysics.

A Socratic Perspective on the Nature of Human Evil

For the purposes of the Proceedings of the Friesian SchoolSchopenhauer may be said to have made three great contributions to the Kantian tradition, which supplement the contemporary contributions of Fries: He retained Kant's notion of the thing-in-itself but recognized that it could not exist as a separate order of "real" objects over and above the phenomenal objects of experience.

Hence Schopenhauer's careful use of the singular rather than the plural when referring to the "thing-in-itself. This may be a mistaken interpretation of Kant, but it is not uncommon. On the other hand, even Schopenhauer favorably compares Kant to Berkeley, even though both Kant and Schopenhauer reject a true "subjective idealism" in which objects exist in no way apart from consciousness.

Schopenhauer's point was that, like Berkeley, phenomena are all there are when it comes to objects as objects. What stands over and above objects is something else. For Berkeley that was only God. For Schopenhauer it was the Will as thing-in-itself. Kant, however, properly held that there are things about objects, like free will which Schopenhauer rejectsunconditioned realities, that cannot be captured in phenomena.

Schopenhauer abolished Kant's machinery of synthesis through the pure concepts of the understanding, substituting his fourfold "Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Schopenhauer does not have a very good substitute when it comes to morality as do Fries and Nelsonbut he does in aesthetics, which leads to, Schopenhauer's strong sense of aesthetic value, to which he gives an intuitive, perceptual, and Platonic cast in his theory of Ideas.

Schopenhauer gave aesthetics and beauty a central place in his thought such as few other philosophers have done. His aesthetic realism is a great advance over Kant's moralistic denial of an objective foundation for aesthetic reality. Beyond that lies a realistic appreciation of many religious phenomena that is superior to Kant and conformable to insights that will later be found in Otto and Jung.

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Schopenhauer could take religion seriously in ways that others could not because of his pessimistic rejection of the value of life. This, indeed, embodies its own distortions, but it is a welcome corrective, as Jung noted, to the shallow optimism of most other philosophers.

And it does faithfully highlight the world-denying trend of important religions like Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, which must be addressed by any responsible philosophy of religion.note (c. ), quoted in Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman () by James Gleick, p.

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Beauty lies in simplicity essay

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