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Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Arthur Schopenhauer

How did Arthur Schopenhauer think we could best become aware of noumenal will?

Through aesthetic experience, especially of nature and music, we can become aware of the noumenal world. Schopenhauer’s theory of nature appreciation is a modification of Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) notion of the sublime. Schopenhauer thought that there is tranquility in the experience of the beautiful, but that the experience of the sublime, such as in watching a storm, requires an active participation. Thus, the observer tears himself away from his own will in contemplating the sublime object “by a free exaltation.” Music is a pure expression of the absolute noumenal will. In listening to music, which expresses the universal will, we directly become universal subjects, bypassing our own individual wills.



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