The philosophy of life refers to those philosophical trends of the XIX – early XX century, which expressed the protest of some philosophers against the domination of epistemological and methodological problems in the philosophy of modern times, primarily in German classical philosophy. Representatives of the philosophy of life were against focusing on the problems of knowledge, logic, and methodology. They believed that the detailed philosophy breaks away from real problems, becomes entangled in its own ideal constructions, becomes too abstract, that is, it breaks away from life. Philosophy must explore life.
From the point of view of the majority of representatives of the philosophy of life, life is understood as a special integral reality, which cannot be reduced either to spirit or to matter. It is customary to distinguish two main variants of the philosophy of life:
Biological (A. Schopenhauer, F. Nietzsche and others);
Historical (V. Dilthey, O. Spengler).
The first representatives of the philosophy of life was the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). For a time, Schopenhauer worked with Hegel at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Berlin. (Schopenhauer was an assistant professor, and Hegel was a professor.) Interestingly, Schopenhauer attempted to read his philosophy as a course alternative to Hegel’s philosophy, and even appointed his lectures at the same time as Hegel.
But Schopenhauer was left without listeners. Subsequently, from the second half of the XIX century, the fame of Schopenhauer eclipsed the glory of Hegel. The failure of the lectures in Berlin was doubly offended for Schopenhauer, since he sharply negatively assessed Hegelian philosophy, sometimes calling it either paranoid delusion or arrogant nonsense. Particularly unflattering was Schopenhauer’s opinion of the dialectic, which he considered to be an ingenious device that masks the absurdity and shortcomings of the Hegelian system.
The main work of Schopenhauer – “The world as the will and representation” (1819). The titles of this work reflect the main ideas of Schopenhauer’s teachings. The whole world, from his point of view, is the will to live. The will to life is inherent in all living beings, including man, whose will to live is most significant, because man is endowed with reason, knowledge.
Every single person has his will to live – not the same for all people. All other people exist in his view as dependent on the infinite egoism of man, as phenomena that are significant only in terms of his will to live and his interests. The human community is thus represented as the totality of the will of individuals. The special organization – the state – somehow measures the manifestations of these wills so that people do not destroy each other. Overcoming selfish impulses carried out by Schopenhauer, in the field of art and morality.
In the views of Schopenhauer, you can see some similarities with the ideas of Buddhism. And this is not by chance, since he knew Indian culture, highly appreciated and used her ideas in his teaching. True, Schopenhauer did not join the eightfold path of the Buddha, but just like the Buddhists, he was pessimistic about the attempts and possibilities of creating on Earth a just and happy society, devoid of suffering and selfishness. Therefore, Schopenhauer’s teachings are sometimes called pessimism.
Schopenhauer was one of the first philosophers who pointed out the important role in the life of a person of the unconscious, instinctive impulses associated with the biological origin of man. Similar ideas were subsequently used by Freud to create his theory. The works of Schopenhauer distinguished bright style, metaphorical, imaginative expression. One of his original works was “A Treatise on Love,” Schopenhauer believed that love was too serious a phenomenon to be left only to poets.
In the “Treatise” of Schopenhauer many interesting, vivid images arising from his system, for example, love is a strong attraction that arises between two people of the opposite sex. Attraction, a mysterious force that attracts lovers – is a manifestation of the will of an unborn being, their unborn child – that is, nature “calculates” at the level of the organisms of two people that, from a biological point of view, the combination of these organisms will give the optimal progeny, and as a result energy mutual attraction of these organisms.
Schopenhauer is called one of the founders of irrationalism, meaning by this term all those directions that have diminished the role of rational, conscious in human behavior. According to the views of supporters of certain philosophical schools, irrationalism is a negative phenomenon.
It would be more accurate to say that Schopenhauer simply explained the fundamentals of human behavior better, but not in the most flattering way for people.