If reality is the blind will to live, and the world is the objectivation of such a blind will, life is painful misery. Schopenhauer makes a broad and acute analysis of all the various branches of existence, only to conclude that life is essentially pain and that it is a mistake to persevere in the will to live. According to him, everywhere in the world everything is desire, because all -- everywhere -- is will. To desire signifies suffering distress on account of the lack of what is desired. If the desire is not satisfied, the distress remains and increases; if it is satisfied, satiety and annoyance follow, and this in turn causes new desires and new distresses.
The will finds thousands of pretexts for perpetuating this unsatisfied hunger of the will to live. These pretexts only perpetuate the misery of life.
- One such pretext and deceit is love. The will of the species masks itself under the pleasures of love with the purpose of perpetuating the desire for life in others. In so doing, it satisfies its own will to live.
- Another pretext and deceit is egoism, which impels us to increase the pains of others in the hope of gaining some advantage in our own miserable life.
- Still another deceit and illusion is progress which, in actuating itself, only makes more acute the sense of distress.
The Sacred Writer, in Schopenhauer's interpretation, says that increasing knowledge is only to increase distress. (Ref. Ecclesiastes 1:14, 18: I have seen all things that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a chase after wind...For in much wisdom there is sorrow and he who stores up knowledge stores up grief.)
The whole world is miserable because of the universal blind will to live. Man can avoid his share of misery by suppressing the will to live.
Schopenhauer's philosophy is the antithesis of that of Hegel. In Hegel, reality and rationality coincide. Struggle and injustice are nullified and are justified in the higher synthesis; and, finally, progress and history entirely justify evil in its extreme manifestations of war and national calamities. In Schopenhauer, on the contrary, reality is blind and therefore essentially irrational and evil. Love, progress, history do not justify and annul misery; they are deceits and illusions behind which the blind, unconscious will masks itself, for this will is never satisfied with living and suffering. The systems of Hegel and Schopenhauer represent different atheistic conceptions of the world and of life.