NP41: Conflict digital edition: $9.95

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  • NP41: Conflict digital edition: $9.95

NP41: Conflict digital edition: $9.95

Conflict digital edition.




“Without conflict, change would be impossible.”

– Philip Slater


As a student of philology at the University of Leipzig in the 1860s, Friedrich Nietzsche found a copy of Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation in an antiquarian shop. Nietzsche was an instant disciple. “I belong to the readers of Schopenhauer,” Nietzsche notes, “who after they have read the first page of him know with certainty that they will read all his pages, and that they will listen to every word that he has said.” Committing to Schopenhauer’s doctrine can be a sobering experience. Often regarded as the philosopher of pessimism (“Life must be some kind of mistake,” wrote Schopenhauer in Studies in Pessimism), he was keenly aware of some undercurrent of dissatisfaction within him that kept happiness at bay. Schopenhauer labelled this undercurrent – which may be referred to as an insatiable striving, seeking, or wanting impulse – the “Will-to-Life”, and its relentless quality – its persistent urge to reach a goal of some description, one that will be quickly replaced by another as soon as its satisfied – as the origin of unhappiness. How can we be happy when we are forever seeking the perfect partner, falling in and out of love, desiring luxury goods we can’t afford, and so on? We can’t be at peace, thought Schopenhauer, until we tame these irrational and blind urgings, these inner conflicts within us; but other than taking up the life of an ascetic (freed from desires), or learning to appreciate art (Schopenhauer had a particular thing for music), we are condemned to a life of meaningless struggle; never satis  ed, never at rest. In the spirit of Schopenhauer, ‘the will’ is central to Nietzsche’s writings. But Nietzsche has a more upbeat take on it. Life, he agreed, is just one long struggle: conflicts, both inner conflicts and conflict with others, pummel us as consistently as waves upon the shore. But it is our impulse to put up a fight and overcome resistance that is our “will to power”. Rather than viewing the many conflicts in life with gloom, Nietzsche does just the opposite: he celebrates conflict as that which allows us to grow, to overcome challenges, and to flourish. Conflict is vital for our self-development. In fact, without conflict and the opportunity to meet it head on, we are unable to exercise our will to power. Without it, we won’t become the best that we can be. As Nietzsche famously wrote: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”

Antonia Case, Editor