Welcome to Schopenhauer’s Workshop, a site dedicated to meditative pursuits that result in really neat looking stuff. The 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is the inspiration for this blog not because he appears to have been something of a misanthrope (“Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relationships with other people.”) or a recluse (“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”), but rather because he recommended peaceful, creative pursuits as the best remedy for the stress caused by the feeling that life is chaos. Western philosophers who have contemplated the nature of the universe have often posited the existence of some over-arching order to things, some structure that would give meaning to even the most incomprehensible occurrences. (For instance, in a rational world ordered by good and evil, why should children ever die in a natural disaster? They are innocent by definition. “It is God’s will, which must remain a mystery to us.”) Schopenhauer was willing to say, “No. You know what? There is no rhyme or reason to all the s**t that happens, so you might as well get thee to a garden or a music room and hunker down for the ride in as peaceful a state as possible.” You might say that in his appraisal of the universe Schopenhauer was an absurdist, and in his prescription for a tolerable life a Buddhist, whether he knew it or not. The following blurb sums it up nicely.
Among 19th century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was among the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. Inspired by Plato and Kant, both of whom regarded the world as being more amenable to reason, Schopenhauer developed their philosophies into an instinct-recognizing and ultimately ascetic outlook, emphasizing that in the face of a world filled with endless strife, we ought to minimize our natural desires for the sake of achieving a more tranquil frame of mind and a disposition towards universal beneficence. Often considered to be a thoroughgoing pessimist, Schopenhauer in fact advocated ways — via artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness — to overcome a frustration-filled and fundamentally painful human condition. Since his death in 1860, his philosophy has had a special attraction for those who wonder about life’s meaning, along with those engaged in music, literature, and the visual arts.
Wicks, Robert, “Arthur Schopenhauer”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/schopenhauer/.
Happily married and the devoted father of two beautiful children, I am no Schopenhauer myself, but I do appreciate the benefits of creative, meditative pursuits. I am a school teacher and actor, model builder and photographer.