The previous post on this subject may be found here:
Schopenhauer continues on with his theme of society and solitude
Loneliness and solitude have their evils, it is true; but if you cannot feel them all at once, you can at least see where they lie; on the other hand, society is insidious in this respect; as in offering you what appears to be the pastime of pleasing social intercourse, it works great and often irreparable mischief.
This is an interesting comment; but is it true? Is it only true for some and not others? There are problems in solitude and society. So much is true.
The point here is that society is deceptive in what it offers; while solitude is plain and obvious in its difficulties. But is that so? The trouble in both places seems to lie in with the individual; not within the circumstance.
When I am alone, I am confronted with myself in a rather striking manner. I forced to run over my own thoughts, regrets, hopes, et cetera. The trouble here will not merely be boredom, it will be an excess of introspection. I can see that as a possibility right off.
But the real trouble will come with what happens to me in that introspection. Do I really know what I will uncover when I trounce around through my soul? And I am not static in this: when I begin my introspection, it is not as if I am walking through an already built house. It is more that I am walking through a dream where everything about me changes as I change.
When it comes to social trouble: it seems he fears being deceived. And while deception involves one who does the tricking; it also entails a willing subject. I must be deceivable on that on point. There is a reason that a con man does not offer to sell you worthless land: no one wants that.
If the trouble in society is that you will be bore me; I can see that at the outset. If the trouble is I will pin my hopes upon you and you will disappointment me; then, there is something which I may not probably anticipate. Again, I am changing as the matter progresses.
What is the “irreparable mischief”?
He sees the trouble with society in that other people are less than a great man like him:
They become sick of themselves. It is this vacuity of soul which drives them to intercourse with others,–to travels in foreign countries.
And this is the seduction and the stupidity of his argument. Everyone has times where they would prefer to be alone and times where they would prefer others. The time here or there may vary, but there is always a variation.
Take Schopenhauer’s book: his writing this book is a social act. It is an extended, one-sided conversation. But it is a conversation. Would he call the act of writing his book “vacuity of soul”? Of course not.
The seduction is that to the extent you find yourself agreeing with him, it is because you are a great soul – like him!