Jordan Lejuwaan • • 2 min read
Schopenhauer’s Big Mistake: The Pleasure of Ephemeral Satisfaction
This is a response to an article posted earlier this week concerning Arthur Schopenhauer’s dismal theory on the life’s futility. In short, he postulated that man is in constant struggle to achieve certain things, only to have fleeting moments of satisfaction upon achieving them. Thus life is an endless cycle of struggle and disappointment. Isn’t that heart-warming?
Where He Went Wrong
Fortunately for all of mankind, Schopenhauer made a massive oversight in his conclusion. Yes, man IS constantly struggling to achieve, and achieving truly does give no more than momentary satisfaction. The philosopher’s error was in assuming that man gets his satisfaction out of achievement, when in fact it lies in the path taken there.
Take, for example, an obstacle course. All of the fun is in the hurdles, slides, hoops, ladders, jumps, falls and gaps. Passing the finish line is only the icing on the cake!
I suppose Schopenhauer saying that eating food is pointless because after our plate is clean, our satisfaction dwindles. Try telling an American this, and you’ll be laughed at ;)
If you’re thinking of a scenario in your life where the end-goal is 100% of the reward, then you are placing your focus on the wrong part. In other words (words commonly spoken on this website), be present in every moment!
Furthermore, if you took away those obstacles, reaching the finishing line would hold no value at all! All meaning is derived from the means, not the end.
A good analogy for this is a video game that would never be played for long. Here is the single rule…As soon as you begin playing, you automatically win everything! Who needs boss battles when you can just skip to having it all? You won, doesn’t that feel great? Ha, thought so.
It Gets EVEN Better
The ephemeral happiness we experience upon getting what we want is a most fantastic invention. Without it, we would never progress beyond what is most basic. We would be supremely content having crossed the first hurdle, completely disinterested in pushing forward to the next. Mankind’s greatest gift is discontent — it is what rockets us forward to new heights and frontiers! The perpetual thirst for life! And damn does it taste great :)