H. IBRAHIM TÜRKDOGAN
Omar Khayyam and Max Stirner
Translated by Ulrike Hirschhäuser
The World as Will and Representation
like pleasure and pain, optimism and pessismism stand for two different
“outlooks on life” at first sight. Many philosophers reckon the
difference to be very big. Epicurus e.g. explicitly represents eudaemonism
and defines eudaemonia as the fulfilment of one´s desires and avoidance of
displeasure, but he by no means teaches his fellow-men to give in to sensual
pleasures unrestrainedly, because such behaviour might hit back on them and
cause pain. In Omar´s case we
cannot be certain which view of life he attributes more importance to.
“Live hidden away” is in accordance with Omar´s joie de vivre
propagating the enjoyment of life and its realization in a circle of friends
without claiming to change the world. On the other hand Omar cannot avoid
pain either. He is not an innately melancholic person, but a frustrated one,
who is a rebel on account of pain, but wanting to “overcome” his
his book “Max Stirner´s Philosophy of the Ego” H.Stourzh wonders
whether Stirner teaches optimism or pessimism. I think the answer also
explains Omar´s view of life. Stirner´s eudaemonism, says Stourzh, “ if
put into practice will not at all contradict an optimist´s view of and
purpose in life, to him passing on life is only natural, nor does it
contradict a pessimist´s to whom passing on life is the most fateful
question despite all the beauty of life.“ In fact we shall meet with these two attitudes in Omar´s poetry, too.
add to a better understanding of the following, we would like to concern
ourselves with another philosopher´s teachings, i.e. Schopenhauer´s.
gloomy verse doubtlessly reminds us of Schopenhauer´s pessimistic views.
Grief, pain, displeasure, hopelessness are fundamentals of Schopenhauer´s
way of thinking, they are integral parts of an ideology. And this actually
makes him move closer to Omar. In the Anglosaxon world philosophers very
often even assert that the two are in total agreement. But if one has a
closer look at things, one will see the difference, yes, even the
incompatible differences between the two.In this context some explanations
concerning Schopenhauer´s philosophy seem to be necessary.
begins his book “The World as Will and Representation” by stating,
“The world is only my idea (...)
– Should there be any truth that can be pronounced a
priori, it will be this.”
of all objects are given to us
immediately in the form of appearances. The visible world therefore consists
of an appearance of things, yes, a Maya. We do not know anything about a
thing as such. The thing in itself
that remains obscure in Kant´s works is now defined as the will by Schopenhauer.
to Schopenhauer the will is not
only “the world in itself” but the origin of being human, the source of
human existence. Therefore in reality each of our physical acts is a selfish
act of our will. It is not his reason, his mind or whatever idea which
governs man, but only his will.
This is the chief and basic motivating force in man.
will implies neither pleasure nor enjoyment, neither happiness nor love. In
Schopenhauer´s works the will is synonymous with suffering and pain.
took an innate, painful will for
of Omar´s verse, too, convey the impression that we only perceive
appearances of a reality unknown to us. It is not in Omar´s interest to
name the unknown hiding behind those appearances. Man is unable to figure
out the secret of the objective world, to grasp the truth about it, to solve
the puzzle. According to Omar scholars are quarrelling in vain about
statutes and dogma. Omar´s sceptical conclusion reads: some believe in
something, some reject something, but the secret reveals itself to nobody.
the enjoyment of life is at the centre of his philopsophy, whereas sadness
– declared to be an absolute quantity by Schopenhauer – is fundamental
to his teachings. Pain does not only originate in a temporary bad mood, as
mentioned above, but penetrates all thought processes.
also encounter psychical pain in Omar´s philosophy, but it is not
fundamental, it is solely part of life. If there is anything that Omar
teaches us, it will be pleasure in the first place and we find this teaching
objective in Stirner´s work, too, but nowhere in Schopenhauer´s.
can dedicate himself to life with a quiet laughter and a noisy groan. It is
important to enjoy earthly life until we sink into eternal nothingness.
Enjoying the short period of being human, he creates a paradise here and now.
His enjoyment of life contrasts with Schopenhauer´s will , which condemns
man to suffer. Because of his desire, which makes him restless, Omar becomes
Schopenhauer the will is a
superior force, a malicious demon, which possesses man. Whatever resistance
will be useless, man is exposed to it helplessly. Pessimism and misanthropy
are characteristic of Schopenhauer´s philosophy, while Omar, though
disappointed, but laughing sensually, is wrapped up by nothingness: “Only
because of the brief illusion of non-existence! – This is the reason why
use Stirner´s words: Schopenhauer describes his will because of an obsession,
a fixed idea which is commonly instilled into men during their
childhood. That accounts for perpetual suffering, constant psychical pain.
Schopenhauer therefore wants to break man´s will, but Omar longs to be at
one with his will.
While their depiction of the world show parallels, the two philosophers
clash as to the essence of their philosophies. To Omar the will does not offer an answer to the puzzle named world,
but it is the power of being alive that forms the centre of his views in terms
of an enjoyment of life and which comprehends suffering as being part of
life. Omar is careful enough not to reduce the puzzle or man´s recognition
of the world to a single concept. That is why he keeps from making any other
than that mystifying statement, “each sect bears its own hatred towards me,
I am my own master, I am what I am.” This statement takes us into the
centre of Stirner´s philosophy.
 H.Stourzh, p. 95
 A. Schopenhauer Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung 1st volume, publishers: Haffmann,1988, p. 31
F. Rosen, p. 25