Arthur Schopenhauer: The Concept Of Happiness
PSYC 511 – Psychology Concepts
Dr. David Perkins
October 27, 2017
Since the beginning of time, philosophers and scientists have been investigating the composition of everything in the universe. While monists attempt to explain everything in terms of one reality – either physical matter or mental activity, dualists believe in the existence of both (Hergenhan & Henley, 2013). The mind-body question then came into existence to investigate the relationship between the two.
Many Ancient Greeks philosophers are considered monists because they tried to explain everything through one primary element – the physis. To Thales, it was water. To Anaximander, it was the boundless. To Heraclitus, it was fire. To Parmenides, …show more content…
Schopenhauer was a German philosopher who followed an extreme version of hedonism, which is often viewed as pessimism. His concept of happiness consists of absence of pain and frustration (Shapshay, 2012). In my opinion, I find many ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer relevant and significant to modern philosophy and psychology. First, he proposed that awareness and intelligence intensified human suffering, as plants – without awareness – suffered no pain. Today, with the advancement of biology and botany, his hypothesis is proven scientifically accurate because plants lack the nervous system and brain to feel pain. Second, Schopenhauer was the first to recognize the pattern of repressing undesirable thoughts into the unconscious mind, leading to Freud psychoanalytic theory later on. Most importantly, he argued that the human behaviors were motivated by the irrational drive toward self-preservation rather than morality and intelligence. To a certain extent, this theory is still relevant since all humans primarily strive to survive and avoid death. It influenced Ernest Becker on his work – “The Denial of Death”, which later gave rise to Terror Management Theory (Solomon, Greenberg, Pyszczynski, 1991). Solomon et al. agreed with Schopenhauer and Becker that human behaviors are strongly driven toward self-preservation. They also suggested avoidance of death as a powerful regulator of human behaviors and mental processes. In their experiments, they proved that reminding a person about their mortality increases their aversion toward culturally-dissimilar others. I get so emotionally and logically invested in these findings that I decide to conduct my master thesis on this