Monday, December 03, 2007

6.373 The world is independent of my will.

Schopenhauer on the will: “My philosophy … is the only one that grants to morality its complete and entire rights; for only if the true nature of man is his will, consequently only if he is, in the strictest sense, his own work, are his deeds actually entirely his and attributable to him. On the other hand, as soon as he has another origin, or is the work of a being different from himself, all his guilt falls back on to this origin or originator”[1]

The being of matter is its acting. For it, reality is actuality or having effects.

The will is not a phenomenon, so it can never be a cause. The will does not cause actions. The will (noumenon) is the body (phenomenon), so acts of the body are acts of the will. The relation is one of identity, not cause and effect. Cf. TLP 5.631.

Will is a very tricky notion for Schopenhauer. All idea, all object, is phenomenon, “but the will alone is thing-in-itself.”[2]

“Now, if we are to think as an object this thing-in-itself (we will keep the Kantian term as a standing phrase) – which, as such will never be object, because all object has in its turn already become its mere manifestation, and is no longer itself – we must borrow for it the name and concept of an object …”[3] (This looks like a bad idea, similar also to Frege’s talk of concepts. Magee says, on p. 140, that Schopenhauer was aware of a difficulty here, discusses it at length, and decides only “with some misgiving” to give it a name: will. See Magee pp. 140-144. But note, Magee thinks the problem would be solved if only Schopenhauer gave the noumenon a less misleading name, such as force or energy.)

“The will as a thing in itself is totally different from its phenomenon, and entirely free from all the forms of the phenomenal.”[4] Hence it is independent of time, space, and causality. Plurality cannot apply to it, since this concept belongs to the phenomenal, to the realm of time and space. (But surely unity cannot apply to it either, and it is not even an object in the first place.)

“I wish that by a clear exposition it had been possible for me to dispel the obscurity which clings to the subject of these thoughts; but I see very well that the reader’s own reflection on the matter must come to my aid if I am ever to be fully and correctly understood.”[5]

Anscombe sees the independence of the will and the world here and in 6.374 as undesirable consequences of the picture theory and the theses about modality that it implies. See Anscombe pp. 80-81.

[1] WWR v. 2, pp. 589-590.

[2] Everyman edition of WWR, p. 42.

[3] Ibid., p. 42, §22.

[4] Ibid., p. 44, §23.

[5] Ibid., p. 72, §27.

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