Saturday, February 13

Schopenhauer and Music

For Schopenhauer, human desiring, "willing," and craving cause suffering or pain. A temporary way to escape this pain is through aesthetic contemplation (a method comparable to Zapffe's "Sublimation"). This is the next best way, short of not willing at all, which is the best way. Total absorption in the world as representation prevents a person from suffering the world as will. Art diverts the spectator's attention from the grave everyday world and lifts him or her into a world that consists of mere play of images. With music, the auditor becomes engrossed with a playful form of the will, which is normally deadly serious. Music was also given a special status in Schopenhauer's aesthetics as it did not rely upon the medium of phenomenal representation. Music artistically presents the will itself, not the way that the will appears to an individual observer. According to Daniel Albright, "Schopenhauer thought that music was the only art that did not merely copy ideas, but actually embodied the will itself."

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