Dear Dr. Schopenhauer,
Thank you for your submission “The World as Will and Representation” to Idealism Studies. It is a lively and interesting piece, displaying an impressive breadth of learning and a commendable willingness to engage with non-Western approaches. However, I regret to inform you that I have decided not to proceed with publication.
Although I applaud your attempt to go further than Kant in attempting to say something more concrete about “the thing in itself”, I was unconvinced by your solution to the problem of the unknowability of the noumenal. You claim that everything is in fact a striving, undifferentiated “Will” that desires to be manifested in the phenomenal, and is brought into differentiated being by our perceiving it. Yet by your own criteria this solution must fall back upon some notion of causation: the Will causes us to look at things, thus bringing those things into existence. But causation is necessarily something which pertains only to the differentiated phenomenal. The world may well be Representation, but I do not see that it is Will. Have you really surpassed Kant by sneaking into his transcendental fortress via a secret tunnel, as you claim? I think not.
Revealingly, your attempted solution leads to glaring absurdities. Flowers, we are told, are beautiful because they desire to be brought into existence by having us look at them. How then do you explain dog excrement, cockroaches, and the French? Similarly, you say that paintings must evoke calm, for beauty is the temporary silencing of the eternal striving of the Will. Accordingly, paintings of food must be prohibited insofar as they arouse desire and appetite – with the exception of fruit, because fruits are flowers and thus beautiful. Yet surely an apple is as appetising to a hungry man as a potato? And wouldn’t the appropriate solution to this predicament be to stipulate that one must only look at paintings after dinner? (More complex issues, admittedly, are raised by the depiction of classical nudes.)
On a less formal note, I feel I ought to offer, as a relatively senior scholar to an able (but it seems to me) misguided junior academic, some words of advice. There is more to life than philosophy. But ironically, by sampling life’s wider delights one may find one ultimately does better philosophy. I understand it is your habit to live permanently in hotel rooms, dining always alone in restaurants. Might I suggest getting out and about a bit, perhaps finding a place of your own? Enjoy the company of your peers; delight in music as a gregarious experience! You may find that life isn’t all that bad: that the striving Will can be calmed. And try and meet some women (but please, not the sort who charge; carrying on down that route will lead you only to the infirmary). You never know, they might turn out not to be quite as bad as you think.