This will be a rather short essay, but one that I currently feel the need to churn out nonetheless. It is more of a brief clarification than an essay actually. For a few days ago I took a lengthy piece from Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life and despite its brilliance I feel I must give a soft critique of it for it reflects one of the more general flaws in Schopenhauer’s thinking in-general. In the book, he divides human happiness and overall qualities of our existence into three categories; what a man is (labeled personality), what a man has (property and wealth) and what a man is in relation to others (or rank as he calls it if I recall). Schopenhauer is quite right in saying that it is what Man is that is his primary source of joy, and a true understanding of this is of great value and benefit in our consumer and Statist age, where people judge their success and merits by what they own and who they are in relation to others according to social norms, rather than who and what they are in their own person. But this is a piece of wisdom so ancient and perennial (and yet ignored and some extent forgotten around the entire world) that it is found in the Cynics, Stoics, Epicureans and Buddhists all in their own ways. However, he is largely ignorant that our environment, that is what we had, have and who we are in relation to others (or how who we are is deemed and operates in social relations) is a large and crucial factor in deciding who we shall become and how much and what forms of happiness we shall have in this life.
The numerous effects of poverty on a developing mind are now seemingly self-evident. Strange that while poverty was pervasive and daunting in our society people were so burdened and mentally numbed by it that they blamed crime on sin (lack of devotion to God) rather than material reasons and the psychological reasons that are largely (depending on the particular illness) due to bad environment – though like human nature in general there is a genetic factor as well to state the obvious. The oppression of the poor by the rich is a great source of harm and unhappiness in the life of almost all in this world, both in moment-to-moment lacking and strife and the lack of more noble fruition of self that is non-existent largely in-part of the lack of credible education and proper social environment which is the case largely in-part due-to Capitalism.
The relations of Man-to-Man (and Man-to-Woman) in all its various forms also have various forms of typically negative (at-least when one examines relations in their more systematic sense – that is relations propped up by a hierarchal and artificial system of force and coercion) impact on the character and development of the individual. The two most obvious being a lack of development in critical faculties and a lack of sincerity in relations to others. I am particularly mentioning the roles of Government, religion, commerce, family and even friends and non-related loved ones to some degree. One can never wholly detach what one serves in relation to the other from any real affection or bond that would form in a more naturalistic arrangement of community and fraternity. One is always suspect of phonies and users just as one is always used as a tool or using others as a tool in the world of commerce. Whether it is what a man has materially or what a man is in relation to his fellow men (and who he is expected to be and laws and customs he is expected to obey), there is both a corruption in proper development (telos) and in day-to-day flourishing and happiness – which is both a result of the lack of said telos and the nature of such injustices in and of themselves. Schopenhauer’s brilliance is self-evident to any who have any critical-self to examine philosophy, but it is his detachment from basic cause-and-effect and Anarchism that is his most glaring errors save from his mystical views on art and the Will.