Schopenhauer on Resignation

When the aching heart grieves no more over any particular object, but is oppressed by life as a whole, it withdraws, as it were, into itself. There is here a retreat and gradual extinction of the will, whereby the body, which is the manifestation of the will, is slowly but surely undermined; and the individual experiences a steady dissolution of his bonds, — a quiet presentiment of death. Hence the heart which aches has a secret joy of its own; it is this, I fancy, which the English call “the joy of grief”.

The pain that extends to life as a whole, and loosens our hold on it, is the only pain that is really tragic. That which attaches to particular objects is a will that is broken, but not resigned; it exhibits the struggle and inner contradiction of the will and of life itself; and it is comic, be it never so violent. It is like the pain of the miser at the loss of his hoard. Even though pain of the tragic kind proceeds from a single definite object, it does not remain there; it takes the separate affliction only as a symbol of life as a whole, and transfers it thither.

Arthur Schopenhauer

1896, The Art of Controversy and Other Posthumous Papers, {pp. 67-68}.

~ by Thanatologist on 2009-08-26.

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