Arthur Schopenhauer's Pursuit Of Happiness

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As humans, we frequently desire for every moment of our lives to be filled with pure joy and happiness. Without reasoning, we seek happiness in order to rid ourselves of any negative interactions and stimuli. We constantly cling to the fruits of elation while actively trying to evade our nihilistic experiences. Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher, would perhaps agree that the existence of human nature generates an active pursuit of positive and fulfilling interactions rather than negative ones. More importantly, he would argue that this pursuit of happiness becomes tiresome by nature and ultimately impossible to obtain. Schopenhauer makes this claim by implying that happiness or satisfaction always indicates a state of pain or unpleasantness…show more content…
To Schopenhauer, happiness cannot be understood if the elements of its ' absence are not understood. Many comprehend life to be a balancing act, that these elements equalize the fulfillment of want and desire with suffering and misfortune. The same individuals would then assume that life because it carries these harmonizing features, is positively good. Because many believe life is presented as "good", suffering bestows itself as an exception or aberration to the general rule of life whereas, Schopenhauer believes it to be the other way around. He believes that life is defined by pain, drudgery, calamity, desire and that the moments of pleasure and joy are the exception to life. To put it precisely, he believes that pain outweighs potential pleasure in this world. To argue this, Schopenhauer presents an example to those who might claim that pleasure outweighs the pain, he asks us to "compare the respective feelings of two animals, one of which is engaged in eating the other." (Saunders, pg.5). In that example, it explains that the animal which is being eaten is experiencing devastating and overwhelming pain whereas the animal doing the consuming is simply fulfilling the need for sustenance. Schopenhauer creates this…show more content…
This suffering would be a result of the instinctive nature that Schopenhauer believes humans to possess, the nature of becoming envious. In accordance with the last point made, individuals who expend a great amount of effort towards the security of their desires will only become disappointed in their results. By this, we understand that the pain should appropriately teach us to no longer participate in such a pursuit, yet Schopenhauer explains that we will become greedy and begin the process once again. He points out that "Every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of each individual will" explains the likelihood of pursuing another desire even though the desire we once pursued expended a great amount of our energy and effort (Saunders, pg. 20). Consequently, this is how Schopenhauer goes on to describe the cyclical nature of humans and desire. Our pursuit of pleasure and happiness does not stop when one instance of pleasure is meet but instead fuels the journey towards the next desire. Because of this, Schopenhauer is lead to believe that human existence is miserable in nature. He describes our will as "the lord of all worlds: everything belongs to it, and therefore no one single thing can ever give it satisfaction, but only the whole, which is
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