Schopenhauer: The 19th Century Doomer

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Blissful ignorance or informed melancholy?

In the age of Internet, the average 18 year old is given two options, to get depressed over the sufferings of the world, the collapsing civilisation, the eroding apathy among us, or to stay wary of the world, and moving on with their life, focused on self and self alone.

The choice of doom and boom, doesn’t seem too hard. One lifestyle stipulates a feeling of helplessness, the other, momentary happiness I guess.

Let’s watch a movie. The hero of the movie is born in a corrupt society. His family is barely able to make ends meet. At every point in his life, he faces poverty, disdain, and corruption. If you’re not buying the sad background, let’s also add, his father is killed by the local politician for lack of compliance in a maligned deal. The loss and suffering, brings out the hero arc in our beloved protagonist. He vows to protect the society and cleanse it of all the filth. He undergoes the One Punch Man training, although irrelevant to the story, since he eventually has to enter either the administration, or legislation, to make that happen. To enter the administration, he decides to write the Civil Services examination after graduation. Boring, but we’ll skim through the process with a motivational song. Our hero after years of preparation, finally makes it. He undergoes all the accompanying boring steps and is now the District Magistrate. Filled with the zeal and purity of an excellent Samaritan, he starts making everything right, fixing loopholes in the system, picking right tenders, punching corruption in its face. The local politician takes notice of our hero, and gets him killed overnight. The end.

Could’ve taken the legislative route, but who am I kidding. Pretty bad story, but what do I say, I am more of a realistic writer. The sad part is, when you’re aware of the real nature of the world, we’re living in, its not too easy to look away. There’s hardly any happy ending. (If you consider materialistic success, a happy ending, then maybe I don’t know, some people do get that.) You read the news articles everyday, watch the news everyday, study the society collapsing, and still can’t flinch away. The helplessness does things to you. You want to wake up naïve the next day, scroll through Instagram, watching reels and move on with your life.

So, for people who can’t look away, are we doomed to be a doomer?

Arthur Schopenhauer (born February 22, 1788, Danzig, Prussia [now Gdańsk, Poland]), inspired by some of my favourite people, Plato and Kant, and later by classical Hindu texts, was the OG doomer.

Dubbed as the “Philosopher of Pessimism”, Schopenhauer challenged the existing merry philosophies of existence and purpose. He argued that the inner nature of the world is aimless striving.

In his principle productions, “The World as Will and Idea” and “The World as Will and Representation”, Schopenhauer has presented his principle of will, which can be defined as the inner nature of our body as it appears in the real world. He concluded that will is the feature behind all material appearances and actions. He postulated that the ultimate reality of our existence is ‘one universal will’.

This will is the inner nature of every being capable of existing in the reality and accordingly existence is the expression of an insatiable, pervasive, will generating a world that features such negatives as conflict and suffering, senselessness, and futility as well as many positives. It is the “will to live” that perpetuates this cosmic spectacle.

The concept of suffering arises from will’s will to exhibit entropy. It drives its outer appearance (being) to chase after things, without questioning why is it being chased. We’ve been led to go after a happy ending. It’s frustrating to realise that a happy ending might not exist, but the necessity of a happy ending has never really been explained as well, rather conditionally fed.

Desires, according to Schopenhauer, lead to more desires. The initial desire, in the first place was fed to you by the influence of family, peers, and society. The quest of materialistic abundance in form of wealth, property, accolades, comes in steps. Desire leads to a sense of motivation towards achieving it, motivation leads to expectation of a happy ending. You chase after A, either achieve A or fail to achieve A. Failure leads to sadness, discouragement, helplessness, which you realise. Success in achieving A leads to a moment of happiness, and the outer appearance, is led to chase after B, since the will is a rabid phenomenon, it just wants to exhibit entropy. It’s not naturally led in a certain direction, it’s outer appearance was rather conditioned to be led in a certain direction. I would like to bring back the point that the inner nature of the world is aimless striving.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism arises from his thought process of realising that the will’s access to one outer appearance, is either not long enough to put an end to the will’s rabid movement or the rabid movement is in itself infinite. Hence, the concept of ultimate peace and satisfaction in a normal life or as he called it, outer appearance of the will, stands null and void.

So, is a desire-less life, the way to break out of the loop of momentary satisfaction followed by a longer spell of dissatisfaction, or is it better to not even realise that such a loop exist?

To clarify the latter, I would say, if you’re reading this, you were already aware of it, or were made aware through this.

To come to the former, Schopenhauer says no. He argues that another important factor which come into play with a desire-less living is boredom. If we are lucky enough to satisfy our basic needs, such as hunger and thirst, then in order to escape boredom we develop new needs for luxury items, such as alcohol, tobacco or fashionable clothing. Hence, the existence of a long-lasting satisfaction is just a façade.

‘life swings back and forth like a pendulum between pain and boredom’.

From his observation of the world, Arthur disregarded Leibniz’s optimistic point of view that the world we’re living in is the best optimal outcome. He observed that the world, which is a common place for all wills to exist with the outer appearances is pitted against each other. From feeding off of other life forms while fighting for supremacy to the human nature of competing against each other to be more ‘successful’ than the other, we’re all thrown towards pain and suffering through the cycle of satisfaction and longer dissatisfaction without rationalising the routes of mutual benefit or co-existence.

Due to the influence of Vedas, Upanishads, and Buddhist lifestyle, Schopenhauer seeked temporary relief from pain and suffering in minimalism, an aesthetic experience as he called it, ironically desiring a life of seeking as much as required and not giving in to the rabid movements of will. Art and philosophy were another solution to Arthur’s pessimistic lifestyle. His aesthetics, went on to inspire a series of romantics, philosophers, and, artists, trying to encapsulate his state of mind to colours and words.

Do I agree with Schopenhauer’s philosophy? Probably not. Do I want to agree? Definitely not. Arthur himself never disregarded the existence of happiness. He merely argued that the natural nature of existence is of pain and suffering with tints of happiness while we’ve been kept devoid of this reality. A happy ending to Schopenhauer’s train of philosophy could have been finding solace in the world of suffering, but probably he didn’t desire it.

Schopenhauer does get to you. He can play with your mind. I wouldn’t want that for anyone reading this. According to Nietzsche, suffering is not just something that happens to us, it is bound up in who we are as creatures that grow and change: “all becoming and growing,” Nietzsche wrote, “all that guarantees the future, postulates pain.” To take joy in the future means willing the destruction of the present. Tragic art teaches us that something beautiful can be made out of even the worst suffering. It does not take away our pain, but it teaches us how that suffering can be part of a greater whole.

Where Schopenhauer wants to hide from the time-bound character of existence, Nietzsche suggests we embrace “the joy of becoming.”

While a doomer is nothing but helpless, being blissfully ignorant feels greatly unimaginable to me and destructible at the same time. While doomer crawled its way to memes, 4chan had also produced a less-referenced being of exceptional character- bloomer. That’s something to look into.

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