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ception of what Schopenhauer conceived to be the actual result of this great “Denial.” That it was positive annihilation we can certainly refuse to believe, and he refers continually to that life of the species, that endurance of the Idea, which are independent of all personal forms.” There is a life within us which cannot die, whatever may be our individual fate. This is the life we share with men and beasts, free from struggle and competition; a life whose conditions are not material and limited, not lessened by universal participation. But whatever may be the definite character and nature of the immortality at which he hints, it is, at least, not immortality in the Christian sense; it is strictly impersonal. To him, the great crime of individual man is to have been born ; in the words of Calderon which he loves to quote:
“El mayor delitto del hombre es de haber nacido.”
The brute will, which we all feel stirring within us, and which the Christian is called upon to hold under, to check, to guide, to control, is, to Schopenhauer, the very personality itself; or rather, the latter is its mere objectification. To become holy is to become impersonal, and the final achievement of sanctity is to free us altogether from our own selves.
The element of Christianity which so strongly appealed to the sympathies of Schopenhauer, and which distinguished it, in his eyes, so markedly from Judaism, was its frank acceptance of the sorrow of life, with its corresponding call to renunciation. And, all said and done, is it not to be feared that we have too much watered down those words of Christ, in which he tells us to hate and lose our own soul, if we will find it again? Have we not often thought to satisfy the great command of renunciation by surface acts of denial, followed by prompt and liberal compensation ? Yet the demand is fundamental and admits of no half fulfilment. We can set it altogether aside, we cannot bargain with it. For there is in truth, in the centre of our very being, and diffused through every part of it, a “will to live” which must be denied, even though
* “My philosophy assumes a negative character as it reaches its climax, it ends with a negation. For at this point it can only deal with that which we deny and renounce; as for that which we gain, we can only term it nothing, though we may add a hope that this nothingness
is relative and not absolute."—. The World as Will and Idea. Vol. II. “Denial of the will to live."
we still rightly desire an everlasting personal existence. This is a “will to live ” which is reckless of the consequences of living, indifferent to the moral and spiritual worth of life, absolutely selfish, and utterly immoderate in its desires. Its colossal egoism is, as Schopenhauer most truly tells us, a result of the conjunction of the boundless with the finite; the hunger of all nature is within us, while our rights and capacities are limited.
In ordinary work-a-day life we pass quietly from one occupation to another, there is nothing to make us realize the force that is slumbering below. But a moment arrives when some cause, external or internal, works on the hidden depths ; the soil is upheaved and riven and it is given us to gaze into the abyss beneath. And then we ask ourselves, is it indeed my own soul into which I am looking—this seething caldron of fierce pride and voracious self-love? We are terrified at ourselves; or, rather, at this force within us that seems to be more than ourselves. Can we control it? Is it our own to control ? Or is it indeed, as Schopenhauer tells us, that power itself in virtue of which we are what we truly are, but in relation to which our petty personality is as the foam which the ocean casts up and reabsorbs ?
Nothing explains Schopenhauer's theory better than an experience like this, and it is an experience which those who live with any spiritual intensity must at some time undergo. It is the meeting of the limited with the unlimited, of the little with the immense. We are in contact with a force which seems to be of us and yet beyond us, and we are bewildered and terrified at the monster we seem to have begotten. This is indeed the “will to live" that must be quelled, and which cannot be quelled by the death of the body, but only by the harder and sterner death of self-mastery and self-denial. For it is, in itself, truly a brute will, without care for anything but its own immediate good. It has no regard for the place of the person in the universe, the relations of the person to the universe, the work of the person in the universe. It would enfold all within the rim of the individuality in which it is manifested; to it all creation is little, but the ego is great. It knows of no check to its' voracity, but will lust, devour, and kill with a sole view to its own separate well-being. Only in isolated and awful instances has this will found the exter
nal opportunity to show itself as it really is. There have been monsters in whom the waves of this inward hell have boiled upwards, filling the heart and soul, and deluging the rest of mankind. As madness is the completed fulfilment of countless slighter mental weaknesses and aberrations, which are to be found in all of us, so this colossal selfishness is the completed presentation of that inchoate voracity of self-love which slumbers within every soul. To men, such as Nero and Napoleon, all other men are puppets for the accomplishment of their designs. And if they meet with a power capable of resisting them, whether it be of God or man, they will rather dash their own being to pieces against it, than accept its hostile existence. The brute will to live will pass into the brute will to die; the intellect will add to the animal passions that force they need to carry them on to their own destruction. In its lesser, its daily, and ordinary manifestations, this will follows the same course, but not with so great violence. It is neither reckless enough, nor passionate enough, to burst through the moral law, and startle humanity by its crimes. But, in its quiet, mediocre way, it also finds in itself a god, a supreme god, and all the rest of the world is but its creature. It cannot destroy its enemies, it is too puny to do so; but it does the next best—ignores everything but itself. To it all creation is a cathedral, of which itself is the central shrine. And if the veil of self-illusion be torn, if it come to realize that much exists which cannot be enclosed within its own narrow compass, then, though it will not dare the path of violent self-destruction, it will, in its own way, be transformed into a “will to die"—an indifference to its own life and sustenance; like the monstrous specimens, it will refuse to take its own place in relation to the rest, and will die of inanition though not by violence. At the opposite pole of our being we meet with an analogous. yet directly contrary, experience. For it is given us sometimes to feel the pressure of infinite love, as at other times we have felt the pressure of infinite hate. There are moments when we are conscious of more light than our sight can absorb, more love than our heart can hold. As we fell back in terror from the black abyss of brute passion, so we strain forward with longing to those golden heights of knowledge and love—they too are in us and yet beyond us—there is a spring bursting up into life everlasting, as there is a whirlpool which would suck us down into its depths; in presence of both we stand weakly amazed, wondering at the force within us, fretting at our own powerlessness to deal with it.
“It was," says a modern writer, “as if the principle of life, like a fluid, were being poured into her out of the vials of God, as if the little cup that was all she had were too small to contain the precious liquid. That seemed to her to be the cause of the pain of which she was conscious. She was being given more than she felt herself capable of possessing."*
To Schopenhauer, as the former experience was the manifestation of universal will in limited personality, teaching us that the one great achievement of which we are capable is to end the strivings of that will by quenching the personality in which it has embodied itself, so this latter experience is impersonal and superpersonal, culminating in pure contemplation, in which distinction is effaced, and subject and object are one. We dare not, in this limited space, enter upon this most beautiful side of his philosophy. But here again we may be grateful for his profound and delicate analysis of the experience, though we differ from him, at least in part, as to his conclusion. He has roused us to a fuller sense of the perennial struggle between the finite and the infinite, a struggle of which our poor personality is the field; he has raised life from the ignoble and the commonplace, and made us realize the extremes between which we continually waver, tottering from side to side like men who are drowsy or drunk. But though we may sigh, with him, to be delivered from the body of sin and death, we may still believe that our “Redeemer liveth," and that “in our flesh we shall see our God.”
Schopenhauer dwelt on the restrictions of personality, until he came to think that personality consisted only in those restrictions. Nor is this a strange and unlikely conclusion for a man of his stamp, whose soul was at once tormented by the forces below, and enamored of the truth above. It was not because he was a lesser creature that he felt the torment of all brute creation surging in his nethermost depths, while his soul was, at the same time, inundated with the light of glory from unattained mountain summits. He longed to be freed
* Garden of Allah, p. 430.
from the tyranny of the former, he yearned to compass the joy of the latter, he desired old age that his passions might be weakened, he sighed for death that the soul within him might be freed. The average man will not fret against his personality and its limits, because he may perhaps never, in the course of his plain and placid life, feel the tumult of hell from below, nor catch any glimpse of the glory of heaven from above. He feels not the pressure of the infinite, which strives to burst the walls of his narrow self from within, and to batter them down from without. The restless discontent of a nature like that of Schopenhauer is, to him, disease and madness. But if we are to save the idea of personality, in its nobler sense, it is not by the philosophy of the commonplace. Our salvation will not be in the shallow optimism, which has never explored the depths of life, any more than in the pessimism which has never looked towards its heights. Only the man who has drunk deeply of life, both in its sorrows and its joys, can say at last if life be worth living or not; and only he who has felt both the narrowness and weakness as well as the power of personality can say if this personality is worthy to be preserved or not. Schopenhauer was right, in so far as the limitations of personality are the death of personality if they become fixed and permanent and rigid ; but he was wrong in thinking that those boundaries could not be dissolved without personality itself vanishing along with them. It is restricted because it is not infinite; but it could not be, in any sense, aware of its restrictions, unless it have some relation to the infinite. It is a special, a unique life, a “will to live,” if Schopenhauer will have it so, but a will to live, not only in the whole universe, but in this individual mind and heart and soul. In this mind is a never-to-be-repeated view of the infinite; in this heart is a unique love of it; in this soul a particular striving towards it. It is not by where it ends that it is to be judged, but by where it is and continues. The beauty of a statue is not in its lines regarded as outer terminations and boundaries, but in those lines as an expression of the meaning and life within. The end of anything is a spatial conception, a qualifying of a being from its outward aspect; its true form springs from its own intimate being and qualities. It is because our faculties are sense-bound that we understand a thing by its termina