Schopenhauer sought to understand and describe the world and the things of the world. Building off of the ideas of Plato, Descartes, and Kant, however doing away with the aspect of dualism in their theories, he developed the concept of Will and Representation.The world as Will according to Schopenhauer is all that exists for knowledge, only object in relation to subject, perception of a perceiver, in a word, idea. Everything in the world is a representation and everything one sees is a representation in one’s mind. That which forces the Representation into being is the Will.
In Schopenhauer’s doctrine of the thing-in-itself, or the Will, he proposes that experience is made up of subject and object. There is no object, (time and space, cause), without a subject (that which knows) and no subject without an object. In fact, to be an object for the subject and to be Representation are one in the same.Of these, the subject can never be known and knows everything that is knowable. Objects on the other hand are constructed by the activity of the intellect working upon sensations or bodily affections. Objects are constructed by the mind’s own activity out of sensations and at the same time are the result of natural and unknown forces.
In our cognitive experience we never touch the real; things-in-themselves are not to be known on any terms by any intelligence. But in inner experience, in the consciousness of internal states we do come across something that is more than phenomenal; this is the will. The will has both an inner and an outer side, inner for immediate consciousness and outer for intelligence. The inner is the act of willing and the outer is bodily motion. These two are not different; they only appear in different ways. Will is the real thing, or thing-in-itself, its manifestations phenomena. Thus at the root of existence in all its varied forms there is Will supporting them, manifesting itself in them. Will is not phenomenal, not given in Representation, not in time or space, not individualized, and not subject to the law of casualty. The Will in itself lies beyond the sphere of space, time and casualty, because these are subjective forms which spring into being only when a brain has been evolved. It can have no individuality, no distinction or difference, no end towards which it works. Similar to Kant’s noumena, will is a blind, incessant impulse, a thing in itself, that which exits independently of our own perceptions. It is an inner, consciousness of our own existence, our feelings and desires; Will is reality.
In my reading of the article “Schopenhauer’s Philosophy” by Robert Adamson and Schopenhauer’s The World as Representation, some questions come to mind pertaining to how the Will comes to assume its definite forms. No proposition is more insisted on by Schopenhauer than that the production of any effect requires the concurrence of a primitive force and some occasioning cause which directs the force. Adamson raises the question that if the will must be acted upon by some cause before it could take definite form, where does this cause come from? The will is the all; there is nothing outside of it to determine its action in any direction. I agree with Adamson in saying the will has in itself no power of development to any definite result, and the Ideas or stages are nothing but the scholastic substantial forms, abstracted from individuals and given an identity.