Schopenhauer – Art Definition from Philosophy

Portrait of Shopenhauer by Angilbert GobelArthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher most active during the middle 1800s.  His work set about to examine whether reason could answer any questions about the world and his primary target of concentration was on man’s motivations, which he referred to as the “will.”  His studies led him to conclude that man’s basic physical, emotional, and sexual desires can never be fulfilled and that abstaining from trying to fulfill these desires was the best possible course of action.  He consequently greatly supported art as a way of being able to escape an oppressive servitude to the will as it allowed an artist the means to stop lusting after the earthly desires they were feeling and to enter a realm of purely mental satisfaction.

Schopenhauer believed that the will was not something to be indulged for failed attempts to fulfill the will only led to sorrow in man.  If man succeeded in fulfilling the will, they were only led on to either boredom or new desires.  An endless cycle would be started that would leave man being unsatisfied for the majority of his life.    Art could, however, save everyone by providing a place of escape.  Salvation could be attained through aesthetic experiences.

Geopolitical Child Watches The Birth Of The New Human by Salvador Dali

Schopenhauer was responsible himself for the eventual movement of the Symbolists.  Art was accomplished for art’s sake, therefore rejecting the idea that good art was something, which could be capitalized on.  Through Schopenhauer’s beliefs, art was something, which could remove much of the pain and sorrow from the world, as it was something, which could remain elevated over it all.

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