And when was this debt contracted? At the begetting (ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER)

And when was this debt contracted? At the begetting (ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER)

If the world were not something that, practically expressed, ought not to be, it would also not be
theoretically a problem. On the contrary, its existence would either require no explanation at all,
since it would be so entirely self-evident that astonishment at it and enquiry about it could not arise
in any mind; or its purpose would present itself unmistakably. But instead of this it is indeed an
insoluble problem, since even the most perfect philosophy will always contain an unexplained
element, like an insoluble precipitate or the remainder that is always left behind by the irrational
proportion of two quantities. Therefore, if anyone ventures to raise the question why there is not
nothing at all rather than this world, then the world cannot be justified from itself; no ground, no final
cause of its existence can be found in itself; it cannot be demonstrated that it exists for its own sake,
in other words, for its own advantage. In pursuance of my teaching, this can, of course, be explained
from the fact that the principle of the world’s existence is expressly a groundless one, namely a blind
will-to-live, which, as thing-in-itself, cannot be subject to the principle of sufficient reason or ground;
for this principle is merely the form of phenomena, and through it alone every why is justified. But
this is also in keeping with the nature and constitution of the world, for only a blind, not a seeing, will
could put itself in the position in which we find ourselves. On the contrary, a seeing will would soon
have made the calculation that the business does not cover the costs, since such a mighty effort and
struggle with the exertion of all one’s strength, under constant care, anxiety, and want, and with the
inevitable destruction of every individual life, finds no compensation in the ephemeral existence
itself, which is obtained by such effort, and comes to nothing in our hands. Therefore, the
explanation of the world from the work of Anaxagoras, in other words, from a will guided by
knowledge, necessarily demands for its extenuation optimism, which is then set up and maintained
in spite of the loudly crying evidence of a whole world full of misery. Life is then given out as a gift,
whereas it is evident that anyone would have declined it with thanks.
On the other hand, it is well said that life should be, from one end to the other, only a lesson, to
which, however, anyone could reply: “For this reason, I wish I had been left in the peace of the all-
sufficient nothing, where I should have had no need either of lessons or of anything else.” But if it
were added that one day he was to give an account of every hour of his life, he would rather be
justified in first himself asking for an account as to why he was taken away from that peace and quiet
and put into a position so precarious, obscure, anxious, and painful. To this, then, false fundamental
views lead. Far from bearing the character of a gift, human existence has entirely the character of a
contracted debt. The calling in of this debt appears in the shape of the urgent needs, tormenting
desires, and endless misery brought about through that existence. As a rule, the whole lifetime is
used for paying off this debt, yet in this way only the interest is cleared off. Repayment of the capital
takes place through death. And when was this debt contracted? At the begetting.

 

 

 

The World as Will and Representation
Arthur Schopenhauer



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