Sunday, December 20, 2009

Schopenhauer meets Vivre sa Vie

There are some things we can explain, and other things that tend to lack meaning. I have found that those we can explain are inexorably not necessarily accurate, which is unfortunate. I have been reading Schopenhauer lately and reminiscing about some things past. Certainly, my viewpoint since childhood has changes considerably, and no longer do I adopt the nihilistic views I once prided myself on. I agree and disagree with Schopenhauer. While I feel suffering is an inevitable part of experience, I do not agree that happiness is nonexistent. That is to say, if happiness is nonexistent, so too would suffering be. We cannot truly experience joy without succumbing to sorrow from time to time, in my opinion. What a bore it would be, truly, to live in a state of complacency without expectation in order to feel true satisfaction. I look at happiness simply as a by-product of experience. True satisfaction is not of this Earth, admittedly, but so, too, is suffering. To deny ourselves of happiness is to deny ourselves the value of consciousness. While I agree that our expectations and disappointments associated with happiness are unfortunate concurrences, I fail to see the validity of denying our animalistic natures. If it is only through suffering that we should grow, it seems very proper that we should experience happiness in order to fully understand suffering and self-sustainment. If we follow Aristotle's philosophy ("not pleasure, but freedom from pain, is what the wise men will aim at"), we miss the boat entirely. By discounting pleasure and seeking as little pain as possible, we are stunting our growth. While it is true that by denying such impulses and instincts one may succinctly grow to attain wisdom, it is suffice to say that there would be an imbalance in one's psyche. To live "less unhappily" is to adapt defense mechanisms against ever truly living. Life is bridged by conscience and consequence, and rightly to live a tolerable life is simply that-- "tolerable". I somewhat disagree that "limitation always makes more happiness." I feel it is a crime to limit ourselves to what we feel we are capable of, without ever putting forth a valiant effort to obtain some form of enlightenment. By limiting ourselves to what we feel is possible, if not only probable, we are robbing ourselves of the statute of "possibility." We are giving up the dream in favor of what is easy, simple, and ultimately lacks challenge or substance. To do this, in my opinion, is immoral. To live piously is one's own rhetorical suggestion, but to deny the possibility of progress through emotive exploitations is absolutely impossible. Oscar Wilde once remarked that he could "resist everything except temptation." Comical as that may be, it holds some truth with most people. I feel we have to give into temptation from time to time, whether happiness is fleeting and illusory or not. This is one of the only ways we will accumulate knowledge of how the world operates and how to offset our radial views of perfection.
On the other hand, I do feel Schophenhauer has some valid arguments. If we limit our field of vision, we lack the expectations that ultimately lead to disappointments, and therefore may achieve some level of satisfaction. When unhappy, we tend to focus on the most abundant of awful things and fail to account for the minute situations that could bring about less unhappiness. Schopenhauer, however, tended to contradict himself at times, and by doing so, made happiness a real and viable thing. So I feel happiness may be illusory and everchanging, but it is also a dominant force, if not a necessary evil.

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