The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; On Human Nature eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 112 pages of information about The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; On Human Nature.
uninjured and undiminished, and would laugh at the destruction of the world as an illusion.  This conclusion per impossible may be balanced by the counter-conclusion, which is on all fours with it, that if that last individual were to be annihilated in and with him the whole world would be destroyed.  It was in this sense that the mystic Angelas Silesius[1] declared that God could not live for a moment without him, and that if he were to be annihilated God must of necessity give up the ghost: 

  Ich weiss dass ohne mich Gott nicht ein Nu kann leben;
  Werd’ ich zunicht, er muss von Noth den Geist aufgeben

[Footnote 1:  Translator’s Note.—­Angelus Silesius, see Counsels and Maxims, p. 39, note.]

But the empirical point of view also to some extent enables us to perceive that it is true, or at least possible, that our self can exist in other beings whose consciousness is separated and different from our own.  That this is so is shown by the experience of somnambulists.  Although the identity of their ego is preserved throughout, they know nothing, when they awake, of all that a moment before they themselves said, did or suffered.  So entirely is the individual consciousness a phenomenon that even in the same ego two consciousnesses can arise of which the one knows nothing of the other.


It is a characteristic failing of the Germans to look in the clouds for what lies at their feet.  An excellent example of this is furnished by the treatment which the idea of Natural Right has received at the hands of professors of philosophy.  When they are called upon to explain those simple relations of human life which make up the substance of this right, such as Right and Wrong, Property, State, Punishment and so on, they have recourse to the most extravagant, abstract, remote and meaningless conceptions, and out of them build a Tower of Babel reaching to the clouds, and taking this or that form according to the special whim of the professor for the time being.  The clearest and simplest relations of life, such as affect us directly, are thus made quite unintelligible, to the great detriment of the young people who are educated in such a school.  These relations themselves are perfectly simple and easily understood—­as the reader may convince himself if he will turn to the account which I have given of them in the Foundation of Morality, Sec. 17, and in my chief work, bk. i., Sec. 62.  But at the sound of certain words, like Right, Freedom, the Good, Being—­this nugatory infinitive of the cupola—­and many others of the same sort, the German’s head begins to swim, and falling straightway into a kind of delirium he launches forth into high-flown phrases which have no meaning whatever.  He takes the most remote and empty conceptions, and strings them together artificially, instead of fixing his eyes on the facts, and looking at things and relations as they really are.  It is these things and relations which supply the ideas of Right and Freedom, and give them the only true meaning that they possess.

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The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; On Human Nature from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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