• Wallows
    6.2k
    I have my copy of Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation Vol. I.

    h3s0u28a1r5j24qb.jpg


    I would like to ask if any members recommend a particular companion to use for it and if anyone is interested in participating and leading this reading group.

    Looking forward to any responses.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    I'm hoping we can get our forum philosophical pessimists on this reading group.

    What say you, @schopenhauer1 and @darthbarracuda?
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Let's start out with this quote from page 3.

    Therefore no truth is more certain, more independent of all others, and less in need of proof than this, namely that everything that exists for knowledge, and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject, perception of the perceiver, in a word, representation. Naturally this holds good of the present as well as of the past and future, of what is remotest as well as of what is nearest; for it holds good of time and space themselves, in which alone all these distinctions arise. Everything that in any way belongs and can belong to the world is inevitably associated with this being-conditioned by the subject, and it exists only for the subject. The world is representation.Arthur Schopenhauer, pg. 3

    What does Schopenhauer mean by saying that "the world is representation"?
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    I want to urge that any future questions about the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which Schopenhauer often refers back to, can or already may have been addressed in its own individual thread. Simple questions can be posted here; but, for more elaborative analysis I recommend using that thread:

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3424/the-principle-of-sufficient-reason/p1
  • Ying
    213
    I would like to ask if any members recommend a particular companion to use for it and if anyone is interested in participating and leading this reading group.Wallows

    Not exactly a companion, but the Schopenhauer biography by Rudiger Safranski is a good read imho.
  • Wallows
    6.2k


    Can you explain how does his biography relate to his well known philosophical pessimism?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    What does Schopenhauer mean by saying that "the world is representation"?Wallows

    I think he explains it pretty clearly there.
    Everything that in any way belongs and can belong to the world is inevitably associated with this being-conditioned by the subject, and it exists only for the subject. The world is representation.Arthur Schopenhauer, pg. 3

    The subject creates by means of its conditioning principles an objectified world for that subject, so that it appears there is a subject-object distinction. The conditions he will discuss will be time, space, and causality which are the basis for the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    The conditions he will discuss will be time, space, and causality which are the basis for the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason.schopenhauer1

    Can you elaborate on this, please. I'll read some more to catch up. What page are you on?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    I just know the gist, don’t have page number available.
  • Wallows
    6.2k


    Can I designate you as the leader of this reading group?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    Sure..I don’t know how you want to proceed. You want to cover every page of WWR?
  • Wallows
    6.2k


    Anyhow you see fit. You seem like the only guy along with darth that would be competent and willing to handle the enormity of the material. Fortunately Schopenhauer doesn't use too much of technical terms apart from some derived from Kant and his own understanding of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. If you want to give some prefice about those terms or stipulative definitions, then that might be a good start.
  • Ying
    213
    Can you explain how does his biography relate to his well known philosophical pessimism?Wallows

    You don't think someones experiences shape their outlook? Well, whatever. You can read a condensed version on the Stanford Encyclopedia anyway. I'm just noting it's a good read.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    You don't think someones experiences shape their outlook?Ying

    Here's the Stoic in me saying "no."
  • Ying
    213
    Here's the Stoic in me saying "no."Wallows

    Fair enough.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    I'm on page 13, and Schopenhauer describes the following:

    Now we must guard against the grave misunderstanding of supposing that, because perception is brought about through knowledge of causality, the relation of cause and effect exists between object and subject. On the contrary, this relation always occurs only between immediate and mediate object, and hence always only between objects. On this false assumption rests the foolish controversy about the reality of the external world, a controversy in which dogmatism and scepticism oppose each other, and the former appears now as realism, now as idealism. Realism posits the object as cause, and places its effect in the subject. The idealism of Fichte makes the object the effect of the subject. Since, however—and this cannot be sufficiently stressed—absolutely no relation according to the principle of sufficient reason subsists between subject and object, neither of these two assertions could ever be proved, and scepticism made triumphant attacks on both — Schopenhauer, pg.13

    Can this get some clarification from you, @schopenhauer1?

    Thanks.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Furtheremore Schopenhauer states:

    Now just as the law of causality already precedes, as condition, perception and experience, and thus cannot be learnt from these (as Hume imagined), so object and subject precede all knowledge, and hence even the principle of sufficient reason in general, as the first condition. For this principle is only the form of every object, the whole nature and manner of its appearance; but the object always presupposes the subject, and hence between the two there can be no relation of reason and consequent. My essay On the Principle of Sufficient Reason purports to achieve just this: it explains the content of that principle as the essential form of every object, in other words, as the universal mode and manner of all objective existence, as something which pertains to the object as such. But the object as such everywhere presupposes the subject as its necessary correlative, and hence the subject always remains outside the province of the validity of the principle of sufficient reason. — Schopenhauer pg. 14

    How is the subject "outside the province of the validity of the PoSR"? It's my understanding that the subject can only exist in relation to the object, or rather the other way around. Hence, why is the subject excluded from the PoSR? It would seem to me that Schopenhauer is invoking something metaphysical about the subject in relation to the object here. Is that correct?
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k

    It has to be read in context with the whole Book 1 I think. The main thing to consider is Schop is a double-aspect theorist. The world is both Will and Representation. This is immediately apparent in our own bodies which is manifested in time/space. The world of the subject is a gateway, if you will, to the world of will. It is still mediated through time/space, and thus not purely of the thing-in-itself, but is an echo of what is the basis of reality (the "really" real) which is the unified Will- a principle of striving. The Principle of Sufficient Reason has a fourfold aspect. Only the world of appearances- of time/space/causality can be split into the four modes of cause/effect. The Will is not a part of the PSR.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Sorry, @schopenhauer1, I've been neglecting this reading group due to an overabundance of wallowing away. I hope to get back to it soon.
  • karl stone
    203
    I read the introduction, and the first sentence: 'The world is my representation.'

    No, it isn't. There's an objective reality - existing prior to, and independently of human experience. The only sense in which 'they world is my representation' is due to my overwhelming ignorance of the objective reality, relative to other people's different, but nonetheless - still overwhelming ignorance of the objective reality. That so, beginning in such a way - Schopenhauer cannot hope to meet the demands he makes of a cogent philosophy in the introduction - where he writes:

    'A system of thought must always have an architectonic connexion or coherence, that is to say a connexion in which one part always supports the other, though not the latter the former, in which the foundation stone carries all the parts without being carried by them, and in which the pinnacle is upheld without upholding.'

    We can, and do - get from objective reality to human experience via evolution. The opposite does not, and cannot work. He continues:

    "It then becomes clear and certain to him that he does not know a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world around him is there only as representation, in other words, only in reference to another thing, namely that which represents, and this is himself."

    The world is not my representation; precisely because of evolution. There was no representation before human thought, but the world existed - and changed to bring human representation into being. So the pinnacle necessarily upholds a foundation laid on sand.
  • schopenhauer1
    2.3k
    I certainly understand your objection- Schop wrote his work before Darwin's evolution was written, so I often wonder if that would have changed his position on both Platonic Forms and Representation. However, he does not deny that things existed prior to the first animal experience of the world, but he does say there is a sort of paradox where time/space/causality does not exist without the transcendental conditions that structure these particular things. Being a Kantian Idealist, he thinks that these things are in the mind, and not in the world. Thus, without a mind, there is no PSR, no time/space/causality. He even discusses the idea of the first animal eye, I believe and the strange paradox of this being the first representation. Actually, his idea here can is still relevant in modern (post-evolutionary studies) philosophy in the idea of ancestrality in the philosophy of Meillassoux. See:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quentin_Meillassoux,

    Also see here:
    Schopenhauer certainly believes that ‘world’ and ‘subject’ are indeed correlated. In this he is admittedly pretty close to correlationsim and, in particular, of course, to Kant’s own version of it. But although in some moods Schopenhauer does seem to casually presuppose it, he does not ever actually insist that the subject necessarily be a human being. On the contrary, he sometimes explicitly admits that it need not be. Although it does need to be living being, the subject could be a red kite, stonefish, cane toad or even an insect. Anything, in fact, it would seem, with eyes[3]. In the first volume of The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer makes the following ‘ancestral statement’ when writes of our world:

    And yet the existence of this whole world remained forever dependent on that first eye that opened, were it even that of an insect.[4]

    Fine! But where did that first eye come from?

    There are clearly all sorts of very obvious problems here about what was happening before subjectivity emerged, since there could be no world supported by it (since ‘Intellect and matter are correlatives’ as he puts it).

    Reading Schopenhauer’s work as a whole, one gets a vague sense that a material world is there and is building up to the creation of an eye. But there can be no matter in the world before representation. All such difficulties are summarised by Meillassoux as referring to the aforementioned ‘ancestral realm’. The key question pertaining to all talk of the ‘ancestral realm’ is, of course, this one: How are we to conceive of the empirical sciences capacity to yield knowledge of the ancestral realm?[5]

    Or, more modestly and more specifically in relation to Schopenhauer, the question is: how do we explain all our scientific knowledge of the world as it existed and developed before the ‘first eye that opened’? It seems to me that Schopenhauer has no discernable answer to the philosophical puzzle of a timeless incubation period of representation itself but he does seem to believe that living beings were produced on a pre-organic stratum in the first sentence of the second volume of The World as Will and Representation:

    In endless space countless luminous spheres, round each of which some dozen smaller illuminated ones revolve, hot at the core and covered over with a cold hard crust; on this crust a mouldy film has produced living and knowing beings; this is empirical truth, the real, the world.[6]

    Admittedly, Schopenhauer does then go on to cloud this issue considerably by marking this view out as being provisional and programmatic and by rehearsing Berkeley’s argument that nothing can be perceived without a perceiver and thereby suggesting that his characterisation of what we take to be the real is naïve and pre-reflective in a way that has been philosophically revolutionised by the achievements of Descartes, Berkeleley and Kant. Nor, I should mention, does Schopenhauer clarify matters any further by his innumerable conflations of the terms ‘mind’ and ‘brain’[7].

    But what is, in any case, obvious in the quote from The World as Will and Representation about the insect’s eye is Schopenhauer’s characteristic lack of, as opposed to Heidegger’s resolute attachment to, what some may be lured into calling the slightly maladroit term ‘specicism’. (It would be strange if Heidegger and Schopenhauer were bedfellows, given Heidegger’s snide sideswipes against Schopenhauer in, for example, the Nietzsche lectures. We must not imagine, though, that just because Heidegger disavowed Schopenhauer he did not borrow anything from him and their aesthetics, in particular, share some striking similarities[8].) Admittedly, in Schopenhauer’s metaphysics of the Platonic Ideas, which is a kind of weird neo-classical adjunct to his Kantian philosophy of the will as thing-in-itself, Man is the pinnacle of all the Ideas. And in his aesthetics, which is largely based upon his Platonic metaphysics (the chief exception here being music and, arguably, tragedy), the quintessentially Schopenhauerian and, in fact, ultimately classical claim is that: ‘Man is more beautiful than all other objects’. Or, as Dale Jacquette has phrased it: ‘Schopenhauer’s nineteenth century transcendental idealism confirms the ancient Greek ideal of the human form as paramount among artistic subjects.’[9] Or, alternatively, as Clément Rosset, has it: in Schopenhauer, humanity is a ‘privileged manifestation’[10].

    So it would be obviously wrong to simply assert that there is no privileging of the human or ‘specicism’ at all in Schopenhauer’s philosophy. But although man may indeed be paramount among artistic subjects, he is not paramount among existence subjects, to coin an admittedly initially rather unattractive phrase. If ‘correlationism’ is, therefore, defined as the characterisation of man and world as being irreplaceably interlocked (the phenomenological fetish), Schopenhauer can justifiably be denied the label. If it is to be defined – and it hasn’t been, so far, by Meillassoux[11] – as animal and world as being interlocked then he can justifiably be attached to it.

    No object without subject. But who is the subject? The Schopenhauerian insect belongs to Meillassoux’s ancestral realm. Meillassoux: ‘I will call ancestral any reality anterior to the emergence of the human species’.
    — https://speculativeheresy.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/%E2%80%98the-terrifyingly-ancient%E2%80%99-is-schopenhauer-a-correlationist/

    Also see here:
    Schopenhauer is not talking, in the manner of Locke and most scientific realists, about representations of corresponding real objects that lie behind appearances. For it is only in appearances that objects are even objects at all, and what is represented is the thing-in-itself, which is itself not an object, and contains none. So we have the thing-in-itself on one side, and representation on the other, and given this picture it’s natural to think that the thing-in-itself causes our representations, that whatever it is that is out there is connected deterministically to our perceptions. This is wrong, however, because causality is entirely restricted to the domain of representation. The representational realist way of thinking about our relation to the world, in which an external reality supplies stimuli which are processed and presented to us as sense-data, is not what Schopenhauer has in mind at all. It is much deeper than that. Not only can there be no causal link between the thing-in-itself and our representations, but there can be no plurality of objects. A representational object such as a table does not correspond to a table-in-itself, but is a non-causal individuated manifestation of the thing-in-itself.

    But there is a difficulty here in talking about “the thing-in-itself” or “the will”, because such terms assert unity, which gains sense only in contrast with plurality; beyond our representations there is no one, and no many. Schopenhauer admits this difficulty, but says that there is no other way we can possibly talk about it. We simply cannot hope to transcend the forms of our understanding. The unindividuated will is part of his central insight and does not stand on an edifice of routine logic as does his empiricism. He must use the concepts and language he has to invite us to see what he has seen.

    But there is an even bigger problem, a problem with the whole doctrine. If the thing-in-itself is undifferentiated, spaceless, timeless and causeless, then surely it cannot have any intelligible relation to our representations? The only relations which exist conform to the principle of sufficient reason, which, conditioning our experience of the world and our thinking, must only apply to representations. Therefore in doing philosophy, which itself proceeds according to the principle of sufficient reason to find explanations for things in the world, the thing-in-itself seems to be factored out of the equation completely, and it is then mere idle speculation to wonder what it might be. A more parsimonious theory would do away with it entirely. I happen to think this is a clue to a deep problem with Kantian philosophy – a problem with the underlying conception of subject and object, internal and external, indeed with the whole tradition of epistemology as first philosophy — but Schopenhauer forges ahead from his traditional Kantian starting point towards his key innovation, which is his characterization of the thing-in-itself as will. But more of that in a later post.

    Ancestrality: Millions of Years Before Time
    Schopenhauer’s philosophy can be seen as a brand of what Meillassoux calls correlationism, which has it that subject and object cannot each be considered independently. We have access only to the correlation between them, and can never step outside of this relation to see how things “really” are. In introducing his argument against correlationism Meillassoux brings up ancestrality. If space, time and causality are mind-dependent, then what can it mean to say that the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, before the advent of life? Before any knowing consciousness existed, what do “years” and “the Earth” refer to, and what does “formed” mean, without space, time, objects and causality?

    Schopenhauer sees the problem:

    Thus we see, on the one hand, the existence of the whole world necessarily dependent on the first knowing being [...]; on the other hand, this first perceiving animal just as necessarily wholly dependent on a long chain of causes and effects which has preceded it [...] These two contradictory views, to each of which we are led with equal necessity, might certainly be called an antinomy in our faculty of knowledge [...] [Vol I §7]

    His answer is that the past exists now, for us, and came to exist for the first knowing consciousness. When it made this first appearance, it already had the character of endlessness in both directions, past and future. So, oddly enough, time had a beginning but was and is inherently beginningless. The same goes for the world as representation in general. Objects of the past are objects for us just as much as present objects are. This does rather make it seem as if ancestral objects are nothing but fictions. At least with objects which exist among conscious beings in the present we can say that they are manifesting the will, but now it seems that the ancient Earth and its objects and events are nothing but convenient stories. However this is not quite right. We say that the moon is about 400,000 kilometres from the Earth, yet neither the Moon nor this distance have any reality beyond our representations. The ancient Earth, separated from us by time rather than space, is no less real than this – which is still as real as can be – though it can obviously never be an object of perception for us. It is “less real” only insofar as we ordinarily think of ancient objects as somehow less real.
    — http://critique-of-pure-reason.com/schopenhauers-key-concepts-1-representation-vostellung/
  • Harry Hindu
    1.4k
    However, he does not deny that things existed prior to the first animal experience of the world, but he does say there is a sort of paradox where time/space/causality does not exist without the transcendental conditions that structure these particular things. Being a Kantian Idealist, he thinks that these things are in the mind, and not in the world. Thus, without a mind, there is no PSR, no time/space/causality.schopenhauer1
    Is the mind part of the world? If it is then time/space/causality exist in the world, just as the mind exists in the world. If the mind is all there is, then it doesn't make sense to use the term, "Mind" any longer. There is just the "world" (the paradox of solipsism).

    In a way, his idea seems accurate if you think of our minds as just another process that functions at it's own frequency relative to the other processes in the world. Our minds represent this range of frequencies relative to itself. Slow processes appear as solid and stable objects whereas fast processes are unstable and with a temporary form. As beings of time ourselves and since time is relative (frequency of change), the world seems to stretch into this causal chain of process. Depending upon our mood or conscious state (how fast or slow our mental processing is happening), our perception of time can be different. More change makes one think more time has passed and less change lends one to think less time has passed. Time/space and causality arise from how the world is represented from our relative frequency among all the frequencies of all the other processes. Our minds represent the relationships between everything as time/space/causality. The relationships appear subjectively stretched based on our mind's own relative frequency of change (the frequency at which it processes the information).
  • karl stone
    203
    I certainly understand your objection- Schop wrote his work before Darwin's evolution was written, so I often wonder if that would have changed his position on both Platonic Forms and Representation. However, he does not deny that things existed prior to the first animal experience of the world, but he does say there is a sort of paradox where time/space/causality does not exist without the transcendental conditions that structure these particular things. Being a Kantian Idealist, he thinks that these things are in the mind, and not in the world. Thus, without a mind, there is no PSR, no time/space/causality. He even discusses the idea of the first animal eye, I believe and the strange paradox of this being the first representation. Actually, his idea here can is still relevant in modern (post-evolutionary studies) philosophy in the idea of ancestrality in the philosophy of Meillassoux.schopenhauer1

    Apparently - Will and Rep was written in 1818. J.B. Lamarck died in 1829 - the author of 'a' theory evolution - so, the idea of an objective reality existing independently of, and prior to human representation would not have been alien to Schop. Indeed, you describe how he addresses the matter. I had to google the term "antimony" - when the term 'wrong' is right there, and so much more easily understood.

    Your knowledge (and/or that of Meillassoux) - of Schop's work, is so much more impressive than the subject matter itself. Subjectivism and metaphysics are to my mind, fundamentally flawed approaches - though I have some sympathy for Kant's insistence on first getting one's epistemology in order, that's merely to establish the truth of the contention that morality, like aesthetics is fundamentally a sense - inculcated by evolution, and finding imperfect expression in religion, politics, law, philosophy etc.

    I am thus torn between explanations of subjectivism - as a basis to say nice things like:

    'Man is more beautiful than all other objects’.

    And a device to say nothing that might imply the moral relativism of religion, politics, law, philosophy etc, in face of a yawning nihilistic abyss. The interesting thing about nihilism is that it upholds no value that compels one to nihilism - such that having stared into the meaningless abyss, one can simply turn one's back and walk away. View it as a philosophical delousing.

    My personal philosophy is objectivist and scientific, and yet recognizes morality as a sense - located in the human animal as a consequence of evolution in a tribal context - the sum of which, allows us to know what is true, and do what is right in terms of what is true - bridging the supposed is/ought divide. After-all, Hume's complaint was that we continually cite facts A, B and C - then switch into ought mode, for moral conclusions X, Y and Z. While logically unsupportable - it's what human beings do, because it's what human beings are!
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Schopenhauer states the following:

    My essay On the Principle of Sufficient Reason purports to achieve just this: it explains the content of that principle as the essential form of every object, in other words, as the universal mode and manner of all objective existence, as something which pertains to the object as such. But the object as such everywhere presupposes the subject as its necessary correlative, and hence the subject always remains outside the province of the validity of the principle of sufficient reason. The controversy about the reality of the external world rests precisely on this false extension of the validity of the principle of sufficient reason to the subject also, and, starting from this misunderstanding, it could never understand itself. — Schopenhauer, The World As Will And Representation, pg. 14

    Why can't the subject understand itself? Is this because the subject cannot observe itself and hence is excluded from the Principle Of Sufficient Reason?
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Schopenhauer goes on to say on page 15:

    The whole world of objects is and remains representation, and is for this reason wholly and for ever conditioned by the subject; in other words, it has transcendental ideality. But it is not on that account falsehood or illusion; it presents itself as what it is, as representation, and indeed as a series of representations, whose common bond is the principle of sufficient reason. As such it is intelligible to the healthy understanding, even according to its innermost meaning, and to the understanding it speaks a perfectly clear language. To dispute about its reality can occur only to a mind perverted by oversubtle sophistry; such disputing always occurs through an incorrect application of the principle of sufficient reason. This principle combines all representations, of whatever kind they be, one with another; but it in no way connects these with the subject, or with something that is neither subject nor object but only the ground of the object; an absurdity, since only objects can be the ground of objects, and that indeed always. If we examine the source of this question about the reality of the external world more closely, we find that, besides the false application of the principle of sufficient reason to what lies outside its province, there is in addition a special confusion of its forms. Thus that form, which the principle of sufficient reason has merely in reference to concepts or abstract representations, is extended to representations of perception, to real objects, and a ground of knowing is demanded of objects that can have no other ground than one of becoming. Over the abstract representations, the concepts connected to judgements, the principle of sufficient reason certainly rules in such a way that each of these has its worth, its validity, its whole existence, here called truth, simply and solely through the relation of the judgement to something outside it, to its ground of knowledge, to which therefore there must always be a return. — Schopenhauer, The Will As World and Representation, pg. 15.

    So, this confirms what I have stated in the previous post, yes?
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Well, I just purchased "Schopenhauer's 'The World as Will and Representation': A Reader's Guide (Reader's Guides) 1st Edition by Robert L. Wicks", yesterday. It should be here by Monday.

    I'll give good effort in parsing that book along with the original text to broaden the topic more.
  • Wallows
    6.2k
    Thanks @Thorongil for the recommendation. I hope you can share your wisdom in this specific thread if that's OK with you?
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