Schopenhauer’s Esthetic

The Principles of Beauty and Artistic Taste. Schopenhauer’s Esthetic centers on the concept of genius. 

Genius, is possessed by all people in varying degrees and consists of the capacity for esthetic experience. 

An Esthetic Experience occurs when an individual perceives an object and understands by it, not the individual object itself, but the essence or the meaning of the object as it relates to the whole.  It is the recognition of Beauty and Truth through the form of an object.

The individual is then able to lose himself in the object of contemplation and, for a brief moment, escape the cycle of unfulfilled desire by becoming the pure subject of will-less knowing. Striving ceases, we stop requiring the world to submit to our demands and controlling tendencies, and just Flow, we just are and we become gifted with a peace that transcends understanding.

Those who have a high degree of genius can be taught to communicate these esthetic experiences to others (teachers), and objects that communicate these experiences are works of art

We are all “Artists“, if only we retain the genius we were naturally endowed with.

Schopenhauer sharply criticized depictions of nude women and prepared food, as these stimulate desire and thus hinder the viewer from the esthetic experience and becoming “the pure subject of will-less knowing.” That is, if the depiction even as art, does not instill the will-less knowing in the viewer, it is not art to them. This is highly individualized, but those objects that have the tendency to engender base desires, tend to more rarely viewed as true art.

Music occupies a privileged place in Schopenhauer’s Esthetics, as he believed it to have a special relationship to the will. Where other forms of art are imitations of things perceived in the world, music is a direct expression and articulation of the will.  

Music especially lyric-less, bypasses most of our biases and limiting views of the world, and enters into our souls with little willful interference.

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