Sie traegt zur Welt ihn, und er schaut
In ihrer Graeu’l chaotische Verwirrung,
In ihres Tobens wilde Raserei,
In ihres Treibens nie geheilte Thorheit,
In ihrer Quaalen nie gestillten Schmerz;
Entsetzt: doch strahlet Rub’ and Zuversicht
Und Siegesglanz sein Aug’, verkuendigend
Schon der Erloesung ewige gewissheit.
Pessimism is commonly and erroneously supposed to be the distinguishing feature of Schopenhauer’s system. It is right to remember that the same fundamental view of the world is presented by Christianity, to say nothing of Oriental religions.
That Schopenhauer conceives life as an evil is a deduction, and possibly a mistaken deduction, from his metaphysical theory. Whether his scheme of things is correct or not—and it shares the common fate of all metaphysical systems in being unverifiable, and to that extent unprofitable—he will in the last resort have made good his claim to be read by his insight into the varied needs of human life. It may be that a future age will consign his metaphysics to the philosophical lumber-room; but he is a literary artist as well as a philosopher, and he can make a bid for fame in either capacity. What is remarked with much truth of many another writer, that he suggests more than he achieves, is in the highest degree applicable to Schopenhauer; and his obiter dicta, his sayings by the way, will always find an audience.
Demopheles. Between ourselves, my dear fellow, I don’t care about the way you sometimes have of exhibiting your talent for philosophy; you make religion a subject for sarcastic remarks, and even for open ridicule. Every one thinks his religion sacred, and therefore you ought to respect it.
Philalethes. That doesn’t follow! I don’t see why, because other people are simpletons, I should have any regard for a pack of lies. I respect truth everywhere, and so I can’t respect what is opposed to it. My maxim is Vigeat veritas et pereat mundus, like the lawyers’ Fiat justitia et pereat mundus. Every profession ought to have an analogous advice.
Demopheles. Then I suppose doctors should say Fiant pilulae et pereat mundus,—there wouldn’t be much difficulty about that!
Philalethes. Heaven forbid! You must take everything cum grano salis.
Demopheles. Exactly; that’s why I want you to take religion cum grano salis. I want you to see that one must meet the requirements of the people according to the measure of their comprehension. Where you have masses of people of crude susceptibilities and clumsy intelligence, sordid in their pursuits and sunk in drudgery, religion provides the only means of proclaiming and making them feel the hight import of life. For the average man takes an interest,