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Chapter 19 - On the metaphysics of the beautiful and aesthetics

from PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA, VOLUME 2

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2015

Adrian Del Caro
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee
Christopher Janaway
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

§205

Since in my main work I was sufficiently thorough in my treatment of the conception of (Platonic) Ideas and their correlate, the pure subject of cognition, I would consider it superfluous to return to it again here if I did not consider that this is an investigation which, in this sense, had never been undertaken before me; this is why it is better not to hold anything back which might someday be welcome as its elucidation. Naturally I presuppose in this regard that those earlier discussions are familiar to readers.

The real problem of the metaphysics of beauty can be very simply expressed thus: How are pleasure and delight in an object possible without its having any kind of connection to our willing?

For everyone feels that delight and pleasure in a thing can really only stem from its relation to our will or, as people like to say, to our aims, so that delight without a stirring of the will seems to be a contradiction. Still, the beautiful in itself quite obviously stirs our pleasure and our delight, without having any kind of connection to our personal aims, thus to our will.

My solution has been that in the beautiful we always perceive the essential and original forms of animate and inanimate nature, thus Plato's Ideas of the same, and that this perception has as its condition their essential correlate, the will-free subject of cognition, i.e., a pure intelligence without intentions and aims. Therefore the will completely disappears from consciousness when an aesthetic perception appears. But it alone is the source of all our sorrows and sufferings. This is the origin of that pleasure and that delight which accompany the perception of the beautiful. Thus it rests on the removal of the whole possibility of suffering. – If one were to object that then the possibility of delight would also be suspended, it should be remembered that, as I have often explained, happiness and satisfaction are of a negative nature, that is, they are merely the end of suffering, whereas pain is positive.

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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. 374 - 406
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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