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Schopenhauer on Love

From "Metaphysics of Love":

Schopenhauer argues that love is (really) the individual human experience of a universal human impulse to procreate, and further that procreation should be (ideally) between a man and woman who are compliments of one another, in order to form a neutral product. The first function of love thus serves a philosophical or teleological anthropology, while the second function of love concerns a heteronormative ethics of procreation.

Schopenhauer’s teleological anthropology is shaped through a notion of love, as the “a very decided, clear, and yet complicated instinct - namely, for selection... of another individual, to satisfy his instinct of sex,” that functions as a bridge between two registers, the human individual and “something higher, that is, the species... as an immortal being is to a mortal... as infinite to finite” (5, 9). This is not to say that love is thus a peaceful bridge, however - love is “both the weal and woe of the species” (3). Or, love connects the species and the individual by pitting them against one another: “As a matter of fact, the genius of the species is at continual warfare with the guardian genius of individuals; it is its pursuer and enemy; it is always ready to relentlessly destroy personal happiness in order to carry out its ends; indeed, the welfare of whole nations has sometimes been sacrificed to its caprice” (13). As all is fair in war, love even resorts to deception, promoting a “secret task” wherein “Nature attains her ends by implanting in the individual a certain illusion by which something which is in reality advantageous to the species alone seems to be advantageous to himself... This illusion is instinct” (9, 4). In this sense, (and in a way that is inherited quite directly from Kant’s anthropology, see “On Education”), Schopenhauer develops a teleological anthropology in which individual humans have a drive to screw themselves over, e.g. committing themselves to another or an Other while under duress of illusion (“the illusion necessarily vanishes directly [once] the end of the species has been attained”), and “striving to perpetuate all this misery” (14, 15).

Schopenhauer’s ethics of procreation is heteronormative because it obliges procreation that is between a man and a woman (i.e. biologized procreation, “real aim is the child to be born”) and assumes that a neutral view or being can be attained, “the two persons must neutralize each other, like acid and alkali to a neutral salt... in order to complete the type of humanity in the new individual to be generated, to the constitution of which everything tends” (5, 8). It is not clear to me how Schopenhauer moves from his teleological claims about the human species (qua biologized universal) to his claims about the ethics of procreation (qua force of the universal), since human ideals have expressed themselves in human individuals by aiming at non-biological procreation, e.g. artistic or educational, and since the established teleological anthropology (i.e. humans are self-occluded and self-defeating) suggests that we are fundamentally lacking and so sexed, not whole nor neuter. It seems to me that the idealization of humanity as potentially complete and perfect is incompatible with Schopenhauer’s fairly pessimistic teleology, and this is why we see Schopenhauer’s simultaneous/inconsistent acceptance and rejection of humanity’s perfection, “the type of the species is to be preserved in as pure and perfect a form as possible... different phases of degeneration of the human form are the consequences of a thousand physical accidents and moral delinquencies; and yet the genuine type of the human form is, in all its parts, always restored” (5). Thus we can raise an objection to Schopenhauer’s claims - that “The particular degree of his manhood must exactly correspond to the degree of her womanhood in order to exactly balance the one-sidedness of each”; that two “may be so physically constituted, that, in order to restore the best possible type of the species, the one is the special and perfect complement of the other”; and that “This purpose [the secret task of the species] having brought them together [i.e. through an illusion of agency and happiness], they ought henceforth to try and make the best of things” - two different biases don’t make a neutrality, so under the given teleological anthropology we are better off dispensing with our fixation on successful neutrality in favor of a serious engagement with choosing the best way to fail or be partial (8, 9, 14).

Comments

I hope I never read another essay in my life that contains the phrase "heteronormative ethics of procreation." Mindless femnist cant.

You say that, but it has been established multiple times that you have no idea what feminism is:

You said I qualify as a feminist because I believe in the equality of men and women.

Then I said, How is that feminism? I mean, I guess it is feminism in the sense that "equal but racially separate facilities" is anti-racist. But of course "equal but racially separate facilities" is not anti-racist, and the mere belief in the equality of men and women doesn't make one a feminist. So why would any feminist on LJ find your statement of "feminism" satisfying?

http://philosophy.livejournal.com/1993187.html?thread=60348643#t60348643
http://philosophy.livejournal.com/1996953.html?thread=60389273#t60389273

Of course you've yet to respond to this argument, but have only further expressed your moral and intellectual degeneracy by telling me to make a you a sandwich.

Aside from being in such a hurry that I misspelled "feminist," you have no quarrel with me.

My quarrel with you is that you refuse to engage with the arguments against your consistent misrepresentations of feminism. This has nothing to do with your misspelling, which I didn't notice until you pointed it out. I'll repeat the quarrel for you:

You said I qualify as a feminist because I believe in the equality of men and women.

Then I said, How is that feminism? I mean, I guess it is feminism in the sense that "equal but racially separate facilities" is anti-racist. But of course "equal but racially separate facilities" is not anti-racist, and the mere belief in the equality of men and women doesn't make one a feminist. So why would any feminist on LJ find your statement of "feminism" satisfying?

http://philosophy.livejournal.com/1993187.html?thread=60348643#t60348643
http://philosophy.livejournal.com/1996953.html?thread=60389273#t60389273

Quarrel: You have yet to respond to this argument, but have only further expressed your moral and intellectual degeneracy by telling me to make a you a sandwich, and by saying that feminism is "mindless" when I've shown you that you don't know what feminism is.

Protip: if you want to convert a person to your way of thinking, don't accuse him of "moral and intellectual degeneracy." That generally has a tendency to put people off. By the way, I won't argue the use of "moral degeneracy," but I have to quibble with your idiom "intellectual degeneracy." What exactly is that?

Who's trying to convert that which can only be fought? You don't present the capacity necessary for conversion, so I only append to your every comment the due warning for others - that you are incorrect (as argued above) and don't hold yourself accountable (as you show with your evasions, non-sequiturs, and non-responses), so no one should bother with taking you seriously. To be clear, you said wrong things about feminism here and I responded with the truth. This is our quarrel. Your fantasy that we don't have a dispute, that the dispute is over spelling, and that the dispute is based in my attempt to convert you, all amount to classic kettle logic. Have fun disavowing the charges against you.

I have to quibble with your idiom "intellectual degeneracy." What exactly is that?

oh ya right LMGTFY... or were you making a joke that you were so intellectually degenerate as to not be able to google that? i can never tell whether people are being ironic or genuinely dumb on the net...

Look, why don't you comment with something constructive rather than insult me. That's generally how these things are done. If my comments are puerile, then the best way to establish that is by making it clear that you're my intellectual and moral superior. Go ahead, then.

I did comment with something constructive for other people who might read your trash. I don't care to help you, since I don't think you can be helped.

I think he's confusing love with lust. Love is the will for the actualization of the best potentials of the loved.

To be clear, he is explicitly arguing that love is lust: “Every kind of love... springs entirely from the instinct of sex” (2).

Schopenhauer on Love

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Will 4inquiries just GIVE UP on that subject already?

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