Subjectiviteit en illusie

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 58 (4):631-642 (1996)

According to a poet such as Gottfried Benn or a philosopher such as Arthur Schopenhauer, our experience of happiness is based on an illusion that doesn't agree with the gruesome facts of life. The crucial question is, then, whether such illusions can, as they seem to believe, ever be totally unmasked. Or are there illusions which are so deeply rooted in our psychological and anthropological economy that they are as incorrigible as optical illusions: delusions that can only be uncovered and explained but can never be removed definitively? The insight that such 'necessary illusions' exist may lead to the acceptance of a modest kind of subjectivity — far remote from the conscious, autonomous subject of the Enlightenment — in which the subject is aware of its involuntary illusions, without that awareness being able to submit those illusions to the subject's own discretion. For Nietzsche our illusive way of experiencing serves our self-preservation: it protects us against the terrible truth about our existence. In his view, art is paradigmatic for those life-preserving illusions and therefore deserves priority over knowledge
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