Schopenhauer and Evolution

This is a battle that has remained half-formed in my mind for a while now and is constantly struggling for elucidation and seems to pose itself as a stumbling-block to the verification of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, even while in certain other respects it actually lends it support. The cause of the problem stems from the fact that many of the things that Schopenhauer purports to explain with his theory can be instead referred to evolutionary theory for this explanation, thus seeming to render the former obsolete and no longer applicable. This is the case in certain examples such as the psychological basis of the fear of death wherein evolutionary biology clearly presents the explanation as a biological modification within biological creatures whose presence lends far greater “fitness” to the creature who exhibits this modification which causes that creature’s genetic material, and in particular the “fear of death” gene, to be magnified enormously and the alternatives to disappear from the common gene pool of all living things. That this contrasts with Schopenhauer’s notion that the fear of death is an instance of will-affirmation is clear to see. However, it can be argued that this contrast only exists because of preconceived metaphysical beliefs about the nature of existence. The evolutionary view seems to propagate within a shell of the most rigorous materialism, and indeed is sometimes used as a justification of this view since it eliminates the need for a creator God and explains all the phenomena of living things as deriving from the principle of natural selection. However, a rational mind will find that even this is insufficient as we may then ask the question, why does nature select, and how does it know what to select? This selection is only a function of the law of causality and all such talk of natural selection is really just the talk of necessary selection by means of the a priory law of causality. And Kant has sufficiently shown that this law is really just a function of the brain, as are space and time, which means that to refer the complexity of life to natural selection is unsatisfactory if one is seeking metaphysical knowledge since it keeps us within the world as representation and under the three essential, yet ideal, forms of space, time, and causality. So, evolutionary theory only really offers an explanation of the gradual changing of organisms in a manner that is suitable to their environments but does not even touch the thorny issue of the origin of life, or even the essence of it. Since it has been shown that space-time-causality is the function of the brain, then to abstract away from this in order to arrive at the true order of things implies the negation of these three forms. With this, all individuality is lost as this can only come about through space and time, implying that the thing-in-itself is really only ONE entity, despite the existence of infinite pluralities in the representation which are extended in space and succeeding one another in time. Importantly, however, this also implies that the thing-in-itself is unchangeable and not subject to any necessity, i.e. it is self-determining. So, the metaphysical problem with evolution consists in the debate between transcendental causality and empirical causality. The question has thus been reduced to one concerning the nature of causality, and hence an epistemological one, rather than a metaphysical one. Is causality a function of the brain or an external and objectively existing law which is independent of brains?

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