Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer on the limits of intention

Everything that is really fundamental in a man, and therefore genuine, works, as such, unconsciously; in this respect like the power of nature. That which has passed through the domain of consciousness is thereby transformed into an idea or picture; and so, if it comes to be uttered, it is only an idea or picture which passes from one person to another.

Accordingly any quality of mind or character that is genuine and lasting is originally unconscious; and it is only when unconsciously brought into play that it makes a profound impression. If any like quality its consciously exercised, it means that it has been worked up; it becomes intentional, and therefore a matter of affectation, in other words, of deception.

If a man does a thing unconsciously, it costs him no trouble; but if he tries to do it by taking trouble he fails. This applies to the origin of those fundamental ideas which form the pith and marrow of all genuine work. Only that which is innate is genuine and will hold water; and every man who wants to achieve something, whether in practical life, in literature, or in art, must follow the rules without knowing them.
Arthur Schopenhauer in his essay “Further Psychological Observations” available in Studies in Pessimism: A series of essays, translated from the German by Thomas Bailey Saunders, (London: Swan Sonnenschein; New York: Macmillan, 1908), p. 70. First published as Parerga und Paralipomena; kleine philosophische Schriften, (Stuttgart, Germany: Cotta, 1850).

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"Everything that is really fundamental in a man"