Pain and Boredom

The basis of all willing is need, deficiency, and thus pain. Consequently, the nature of brutes and man is subject to pain originally and through its very being. If, on the other hand, it lacks objects of desire, because it is at once deprived of them by a too easy satisfaction, a terrible void and boredom comes over it. Thus its life swings like a pendulum backwards and forwards between pain and boredom. This has also had to express itself very oddly in this way: after man had transferred all pain and torments to hell, there then remained nothing over for heaven but boredom.

The striving after existence is what occupies all living things and maintains them in motion. But when existence is assured, then they know not what to do with it; thus the second thing that sets them in motion is the effort to get free from the burden of existence, to make it cease to be felt, “to kill time,” i.e., to escape from boredom. Accordingly we see that almost all men become a burden to themselves. Boredom makes beings who love each other so little as men do, seek each other eagerly, and thus becomes the source of social intercourse. As want is the constant scourge of the people, so boredom is that of the fashionable world. In middle-class life boredom is represented by the Sunday, and want by the six week-days.

From the first appearance of consciousness, a man finds himself a willing being, and as a rule, his knowledge remains in constant relation to his will. He first seeks to know thoroughly the objects of his desire, and then the means of attaining them. Now he knows what he has to do, and, as a rule, he does not strive after other knowledge. He moves and acts; his consciousness keeps him always working directly and actively towards the aims of his will; his thought is concerned with the choice of motives. Such is life for almost all men; they wish, they know what they wish, and they strive after it, with sufficient success to keep them from despair, and sufficient failure to keep them from boredom and its consequences. They press forward with much earnestness, and indeed with an air of importance; thus children also pursue their play.

Artur Schopenhauer – The World As Will. Second Aspect


Published by Diogenes

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