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Maybe someone can explain this quote for me:
August 10, 2004
7:58 pm
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brendalee
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This excerpt is taken from the book: "Ideas and Opinions" by Albert Einstein under the sub-heading of "The World As I see It" orginally published 1931: (The quote I've never been able to quite grasp is Schopenhauer's:)

"I do not believe in human freedom in the philosophical sense. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity. Schopenhauer's saying, "A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants." has been a very real inspiration to me since my youth; it has been a continual consolation in the face of life's hardships, my own and others', and an unfailing well-spring of tolerance. This realization mercifully mitigates the easily paralyzing sense of responsibility and prevents us from taking ourselves and other people all too seriously: it is conducive to a view of life which. in particular, gives humor its due.

Can anyone pleas explain to me the real essence of what he's saying? (It's baffled me for years - but in my gut I know that it is important.) Thank-you.

August 10, 2004
9:41 pm
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workinonit
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I have been a student of numerology for the past few years. In this study, I have learned that we all come to this life with a path in mind.

Because of this realization, I now understand that each one of us has a specific role to seee through to our own end. This realization helps me to understand this quote you have posted.

Fate is our lfe path. If you have a choice in your life, it will still lead to where you were originally intended to go. You might think you are leading the way but you will still end up where you were going in the first place.

Does this make sense?

August 10, 2004
10:09 pm
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brendalee
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Not really. What do you suppose that Schopenhaeuer meant?

August 11, 2004
11:53 am
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eve
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"A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants."

I think that means, that our consious self is just the upper layer of a multilayered brain that has many more facets than we'll ever be able to be aware of. Our unconscious is driving a lot of our everyday actions

For example if somebody is in a situation where he is afraid for his life, he propably "can't want" to read books about philosophy. Most likely he can only want to find safety for himself as quickly as possible. So he'll do what he wants (get safe) but not want what maybe he'd think that he wants.

Often the background of "why we want" something or the other is much more subtle than in the above example. A lot of our everyday life is based on unconscious decicions, based on our biology, our education, and on experiences we had. Finding out "why we want what we want" is what psychology is all about, isn't it? Oh, and its about making prudent choices when wanting something (same as religion).

August 11, 2004
11:54 am
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eve
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Oh, and I lik Einstein's take on how this reign of the subconscious can be interpreted 🙂 - thanks for the quote!

August 11, 2004
6:43 pm
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Brendalee.

Schopenhauer's saying:

"A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants."

A man's animal nature combined with his unconscious preconditioning will often drive him to behave in ways that will allow him to "do what he wants" yet at the same time "not want what he wants".

This is the internal and eternal battle between the opposites of 'Love' and 'Fear'. Our true unadulterated nature is of loving compassion. Our conditioned human nature is usually based upon fear. In most cases, fear drives us to get "what we want" yet at the same time to "not want what we want".

For example: In a fear driven fight within a relationship, each protagonist wants their own 'way'. However, once one is victorious over the other, often at the other's expense, the victor can feel great regret over getting his/her way, not wanting things 'that way' at all. Both partners claim to want to love each other; yet fear often triumphs over love to the regret of all.

St Paul put Schopenhauer's saying this way:

"The evil that we would do not, we do; the good that we would do, we do not. Oh miserable man, who will save us from ourselves?"

August 11, 2004
8:07 pm
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brendalee
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Wow! You guys have given me a lot to think about. Thanks. Appreciate the input. I've had this book for many years now and can only comprehend little bits and pieces st a time. Tez, in your post you mentioned: "Our true unadulterated nature is one of loving compassion." That brought to mind another passage from the same book, actually it is the beginning of the "World as I see it:" "How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojurn: for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people- (don't think he was talking about Co-Dependency here...heh heh) first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy." Pretty damn good - doncha think?

Another book that came to mind is "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins. (Another one that I am pondering.) Lastly - what popped into my head was that scene from "A Beautiful Mind" with Russell Crowe. Do you remember that scene where he and his buddies were at the bar and there was a group of women and they all wanted to hit on the one blonde? I wish I had the movie so I could go back and look at it again. Anyway, that was the epiphany which catapulted him to come up with the logic that made him famous and his calculations/formula is still being used today in just a broad array of applications. I'm sensing that maybe - somehow in that scene - might relate back to the quote by Schopenhauer's. I dunno. Maybe.

August 12, 2004
3:33 am
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Brendalee.

Your quote said:

" ... ... But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy."

Dependence upon others for our perceived happiness needs is a trap that leads to more suffering for us. However, compassion for others as a result of our emphasizing with their suffering, can lead to happiness as a byproduct.

It is my experience that many people feel that 'something' is missing from within themselves. Many use drugs, relationships, religion, hedonism, etc in the futile quest to fill this 'hole' within to no avail. That missing 'bit' is, in my opinion, a deep feeling of connectedness with 'all that is'.

Our mind generated sense of 'separation', of being divorced from the cosmos, is what has broken that 'connection'. Sexual orgasm with one we 'love' is as close as many people come to repairing that link - but it doesn't last very long - does it!! Meditation(samadhi) is a much more effective way of re-establishing that missing 'link' to the universe. But it requires effort - not something most people like putting in.

Are you aware of what it is for which you hunger? Have you found only frustration in the ways that you have tried to find happiness so far? Do you find yourself playing the 'if only' game? E.G. "If only I had ... ... my life would be complete!"

August 15, 2004
1:54 am
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allow me to:

Schopenhauer's saying, "A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants."

tell you what, here's my own quotation: nothing is perfect but it can be made better
hows that for inspiration, good?

I'll challenge Shopen's quote by saying "you can want what you really want, but if you cant get it, you're wasting your time thinking about it". hows that? if he was living, i would make him explain his stuff more to me.
I mean, surely, anyone can want anything he likes, right? he was wrong in saying that then. He should have reworded it.

hows that.

you wrote that enstien said:
"I do not believe in human freedom in the philosophical sense. Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity.":

ok, like if you're not married to the most beautiful women in the world, surely you want that hot chick in her car, dont you? but what can we do? external compulsion (my wife) causes me not to pursue the women as well as my own "shes too high class for me, or, oh well, i'm fine as i am" -- that shows i dont have freedom.

I dont exactly what freedom is he talking about. I'm certainly free to think what i want to think .. so whats it about then? if he's just trying to give sort of the hot-woman or "i wish i was rich" example, thats easily understood.

I think he would say that to realize that nothing is perfect is the same thing as he's wanting us to see in this 'freedom' thing.

August 15, 2004
7:12 pm
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Guest_guest.

You may have to ponder Schopenhauer's statement, "A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants" at a little more depth, over a longer period of time. I fear that you may have missed the essence of what he was so succinctly saying. Like a Buddhist koan, Schopenhauer's statement requires much contemplation to plumb its depths.

August 16, 2004
8:16 am
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eve
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🙂

But its amazing to read through this thread - a lot of the comments to the quote don's seem to be about the quote at all, but about what's on the top of everybody's sea of thoughts. Not a lot of philosophy, but rather a lot of psychology of conception going on here.

😀

August 16, 2004
8:20 am
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eve
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ahem. That should propably be "psychology of perception". Sorry

August 16, 2004
10:41 am
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eve
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Nah, I think its just my bad English 😉

August 16, 2004
7:30 pm
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"but rather a lot of psychology of conception going on here.
"

I got a great belly laugh out of that "Freudian slip" too.

I thought that the "psychology of conception" might be about lust! 🙂

August 16, 2004
9:26 pm
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workinonit
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Ah but the " psychology of conception" could be about giving birth to a new idea!!!

August 16, 2004
10:28 pm
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brendalee
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Now ya'll see why I have contemplated this quote for many years now.....in any event - in the text that it was mentioned - it brought Einstein a great deal of inspiration since his youth and a continued consolation in times of life's hardship...yada, yada, yada then something about not taking ourselves too seriously. STILL don't get it! It's probably just so fucking simple that we are ALL missing the point? What do ya think?
There's something here that's important. I feel it in my bones.....a man can want what he wants - but not DO as he wants....sure do wish Joseph Campbell were still alive!!!!

August 19, 2004
1:33 pm
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eve
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brendalee, you wrote:
>>>What do ya think? There's something here that's important. I feel it in my bones.....a man can want what he wants - but not DO as he wants....sure do wish Joseph Campbell were still alive!!!! <<<< 🙂 Did you realize that you put it the other way round than Schopenhauer did? True - sometimes we want something, and outside circumstances prevent us from getting it. Like I'd want to have a new car without having to pay for it. This is something that is beyond my control. But I think that Schopenhauer is talking about the things that are under our control. The little and not so little everyday things like "I want to put this letter in the mailbox today" and "I want to talk to aunt Ida about my brother now" and "I want to be a considerate, calm and collected person", "I want to lead a healthy and happy life", "I want to find a pair of red shoes that go with my new skirt". Example? Well, surely I can "do what I want" like today at work, I surely wanted to put this folder back on its place on the shelf. I'm surely fee to do what I want, after all I'm perfectly able to take the folder, find the shelf and put it there. What did I do? I put it in a drawer together with the paper towels I stowed away. Obviously I wasn't able to "want what I want" because who could have forced me against my will, to put the folder away, not remember it, and run around like a chicken deserately looking for it. My mind played a trick on me. And its just like that with things like "I want to loose weight". Nobody forces me to eat lots of calories. I live alone, my eating habits are solely my choice. But obviously I can't quite want what I want - or I would just go ahead and eat les, wouldn't I? Again - my mind playing tricks on me, or is it? Or what about "I want to be a cool and collected person" - all that is blown away in a cloud of steam, when somebody really gets me going. I mean nobody forces me to blow up, but sometimes I just can't seem to "want what I want". These are the interesting things, that are worthwile working on, and worthwile to be taken with a grain of salt and a lot of humor.

August 19, 2004
2:02 pm
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eve
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Or just have a look at the thread titles over at the Support Treads. A lot of them indicate, that the thread starters can't seem to want what they want.

August 19, 2004
4:58 pm
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the quote is not perfect! niether was einstien.. and niether am I :d

well Tez, i guess i'll continue on my ground state. I feel sometimes ive lost the analysing power, but you know, its fine with me. I'm content with my simple interpretations 😀 heh. my goal was to be content.. now if that means me getting dumber.. hmm.. so be it.
Anyway, yea, i didnt see anything more than what i saw.

August 19, 2004
11:16 pm
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brendalee
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Hmmmmm. More food for thought. Maybe some day it will dawn on me.

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