The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 91 pages of information about The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism.

IMMORTALITY:[1] A DIALOGUE.

[Footnote 1:  Translator’s Note.—­The word immortality—­Unsterblichkeit—­does not occur in the original; nor would it, in its usual application, find a place in Schopenhauer’s vocabulary.  The word he uses is Unzerstoerbarkeit—­indestructibility.  But I have preferred immortality, because that word is commonly associated with the subject touched upon in this little debate.  If any critic doubts the wisdom of this preference, let me ask him to try his hand at a short, concise, and, at the same time, popularly intelligible rendering of the German original, which runs thus:  Zur Lehre von der Unzerstoerbarkeit unseres wahren Wesens durch den Tod:  Meine dialogische Schlussbelustigung.]

THRASYMACHOS—­PHILALETHES.

Thrasymachos.  Tell me now, in one word, what shall I be after my death?  And mind you be clear and precise.

Philalethes.  All and nothing!

Thrasymachos.  I thought so!  I gave you a problem, and you solve it by a contradiction.  That’s a very stale trick.

Philalethes.  Yes, but you raise transcendental questions, and you expect me to answer them in language that is only made for immanent knowledge.  It’s no wonder that a contradiction ensues.

Thrasymachos.  What do you mean by transcendental questions and immanent knowledge?  I’ve heard these expressions before, of course; they are not new to me.  The Professor was fond of using them, but only as predicates of the Deity, and he never talked of anything else; which was all quite right and proper.  He argued thus:  if the Deity was in the world itself, he was immanent; if he was somewhere outside it, he was transcendent.  Nothing could be clearer and more obvious!  You knew where you were.  But this Kantian rigmarole won’t do any more:  it’s antiquated and no longer applicable to modern ideas.  Why, we’ve had a whole row of eminent men in the metropolis of German learning—­

Philalethes. (Aside.) German humbug, he means.

Thrasymachos.  The mighty Schleiermacher, for instance, and that gigantic intellect, Hegel; and at this time of day we’ve abandoned that nonsense.  I should rather say we’re so far beyond it that we can’t put up with it any more.  What’s the use of it then?  What does it all mean?

Philalethes.  Transcendental knowledge is knowledge which passes beyond the bounds of possible experience, and strives to determine the nature of things as they are in themselves.  Immanent knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge which confines itself entirely with those bounds; so that it cannot apply to anything but actual phenomena.  As far as you are an individual, death will be the end of you.  But your individuality is not your true and inmost being:  it is only the outward manifestation of

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The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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