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Chapter 2 - Resignation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 December 2022

Judith Norman
Affiliation:
Trinity University, Texas
Alistair Welchman
Affiliation:
University of Texas, San Antonio
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Summary

Bernard Reginster provides a different perspective on some of these themes, deepening our understanding of Schopenhauer's pessimism. This is rooted in the idea that there is something systematically delusive about desire, since fulfilling our desires does not give the lasting satisfaction we would want. But Schopenhauer holds out the possibility that we can detach from our desires through resignation. How is such detachment possible?Reginster confronts the same problem we saw in Chapter 1, that the act of denial of the will cannot itself be an act of will; but he looks to a solution Janaway rejected, namely, Schopenhauer’s appeal to a secularized version of the Christian concept of grace. In probing the structure of resignation, Reginster argues that it must involve some “incentive” in the form of cognitive insight into “the will's inner conflict and its essential nothingness,” (WWR 1, 68, 424–470) which leads one to voluntary asceticism, that is, mortification of the will, which in turn leads to resignation. He shows that Schopenhauer provides two mechanisms for this, plausible by the standards of contemporary psychology: hedonic adaptation (i.e. “getting used to” deprivation) and physical weakening of the body, which, as objectified will, weakens the will.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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