Posted by: aboutalbion | July 13, 2012

The supremacy of the will-to-life

This post continues yesterday’s post on ‘heart over mind’.

Having decided that the emotional life had priority over the rational life of the mind, Schopenhauer named this influential passionate agency that dominates an adult human being.  He called it the ‘will-to-life’ [Wille zum Leben], and he explained it as the twofold innate instinct (a) to stay alive and (b) to mate.

According to Schopenhauer, when a person’s careful decisions and plans are disrupted by love, he was unable to conclude that the person was getting things out of proportion.  “It is no trifle that is here in question …  The ultimate aim of all love affairs … is actually more important than all other aims in man’s life …  What is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation.”  [(1966) The World as Will and Representation Vol 2. p534]

Schopenhauer’s theory proposed that a man and a woman who have just met, and who both feel the desire to meet again, are being propelled by the ‘will-to-life’ – whether they are conscious of it or not.  He concluded this because his theory locates the ‘will-to-life’ in the unconscious (which hosts the dominant emotional life) leaving the conscious (which hosts the sub-dominant life of the mind) unaware (by definition) of the ‘will-to-life’s’ plans.

In Schopenhauer’s view, the rational mind had to have a secondary place in activities linked with the ‘will-to-life’ because evolution demanded that the frequency of love affairs be maximised.  In his view, evolution did not allow the rational mind to diminish the ‘will-to-life’.

Having become aware of what he considers is the principal dynamic in evolution, Schopenhauer also had to live with the fact that he belonged to a culture which had different priorities.  I don’t think it a surprise that he concluded that, “Every life history is a history of suffering”.  [(1988) Manuscript Remains Vol 3  1.76]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: