20 February 2013

The Sight of the Full Moon

Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, tr. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, Vol. III (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1909), p. 136:
Why has the sight of the full moon such a beneficent, quieting, and exalting effect? Because the moon is an object of perception, but never of desire:
“The stars we yearn not after
Delight us with their glory.” — G.
Further, it is sublime, i.e., it induces a lofty mood in us, because, without any relation to us, it moves along for ever strange to earthly doings, and sees all while it takes part in nothing. Therefore, at the sight of it the Will, with its constant neediness, vanishes from consciousness, and leaves a purely knowing consciousness behind. Perhaps there is also mingled here a feeling that we share this sight with millions, whose individual differences are therein extinguished, so that in this perception they are one, which certainly increases the impression of the sublime.
The quote marked "— G." comes from Goethe's poem Trost in Tränen (Comfort in Tears),
Die Sterne, die begehrt man nicht,
Man freut sich ihrer Pracht,
Und mit Entzücken blickt man auf
In jeder heitern Nacht.
Translated by E. A. Bowring:
The stars we never long to clasp,
We revel in their light,
And with enchantment upward gaze,
Each clear and radiant night.
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