Tag Archives: Arthur Schopenhauer

Quote of the Day

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“The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)

Or, to put it a little more bluntly like Friedrich Nietzsche did, “Without music life would be a mistake.”

I’d like to say I love Schopenhauer’s quote so much I bought the company, but the truth is much more prosaic: I merely included it in A Father’s Son.

Schopenhauer was a titan of philosophy, probably best remembered today for his work The World as Will and Representation. Although not as commonly known as other big names like Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes, for example, here are a few (relatively unknown) people he had a significant impact on with their own work: Joseph Campbell, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy.

Yeah, I guess Schopenhauer was sort of important in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, the above quote comes from a longer segment that I’m including here because (1) I agree with it; and (2) Schopenhauer explains it better than I ever could.

“Music…stands quite apart from all the [other arts]. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man’s innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [“an unconscious exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting”] which Leibniz took it to be…We must attribute to music a far more serious and profound significance that refers to the innermost being of the world and of our own self…

“Music is as immediate an objectification and copy of the whole will as the world itself is, indeed as the Ideas are, the multiplied phenomenon of which constitutes the world of individual things. Therefore music is by no means like the other arts, namely a copy of the Ideas, but a copy of the will itself, the objectivity of which are the Ideas. For this reason the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence…

“The inexpressible depth of all music, by virtue of which it floats past us as a paradise quite familiar and yet eternally remote, and is so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain. In the same way, the seriousness essential to it and wholly excluding the ludicrous from its direct and peculiar province is to be explained from the fact that its object is not the representation, in regard to which deception and ridiculousness alone are possible, but that this object is directly the will; and this is essentially the most serious of all things, as being that on which all depends.”

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Quote of the Day

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“Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Although many people automatically associate Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) with the statement “God is dead,” a line first published in Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, the great German philosopher was actually pretty optimistic about things, as evidenced by his love of music and the above quote, which comes from Twilight of the Idols (and, no, this wasn’t the prequel to the modern Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer).

Over his lifetime, Nietzsche wrote on pretty much every important subject in the world. And while a lot of people mistakenly think of him as an angry pessimist, I believe he was merely ahead of his time and interested not in turning a blind eye to reality, but to – as he described it – “Philosophizing with a hammer.”

Nietzsche sought to deconstruct our closely held beliefs and value systems, especially the corruption and flawed nature inherent in all human beings. What made him an optimist, however, was his faith that mankind could overcome these “defects.” In fact, in Nietzsche’s later years he “became increasingly preoccupied with the creative powers of the individual to overcome social, cultural, and moral contexts in pursuit of new values and aesthetic health.”

Interestingly, one of the most influential figures on Nietzsche’s writing was another titan of German philosophy, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). I say interesting because Schopenhauer also shared a profound love and respect for music, once stating, “The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.”

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Keys to Increasing Creativity

Larry Kim wrote a very direct and useful guide for ways in which to increase your creativity. Essentially, he reminds us that the brain is a muscle. Ergo, treat it like your bis, tris, delts, quads, etc. Work it out on a daily basis and aim to make it stronger by constantly pushing it to its limits.

His piece is directed as much at artists as it is at scientists and business people. You can read the full article here, but I’ll summarize his nine points below.

1. Learn through Collaboration

Talk to and learn from others, especially when you get stuck being innovative and creative. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also leads to creativity.

2. Do Something You Love

As Einstein once wrote to his son about playing the piano, “That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

Love and creativity are one and the same.

3. Find Inspiration from Other Industries

Don’t imitate, innovate. Finding that elusive je ne sais quoi can sometimes be found in a completely different field or area of industry.

4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)

Bestselling author Alan Cohen (Why Your Life Sucks) once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

5. Walk

Research shows that walking heightens creativity. Stephen King has long known that (which is also how he got hit by a car and nearly died), but today major business leaders will hold “walking meetings” because they realize the value of this simple yet healthy way to flex that muscle between your ears.

6. Set the Right Mood

Listen to music. Personally, I listen to music when I write, edit, translate, send emails or do anything connected to work.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique

As Larry Kim put it, “Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored ‘thinking hats’.

Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.”

8. Ask For Advice or Feedback

Ditch the insecurity. If you’re insulted or scared to ask for advice or suggestions from peers/friends/colleagues/family members, follow Australian comedian Chopper Reid’s advice and harden the **** up.

9. Pick a Terrible Idea

Larry Kim explains: “Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes. What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.

Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: What are the best features of these terrible ideas?”

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