extraordinary and significant actions. Thus poetry objectifies the Idea of man, an Idea which hasthe peculiarity of expressing itself in highly individual characters (p. 252).In his description of art Schopenhauer depicts tragedy as the ‘summit of poetic art’ and poetry asthe summit of all art
. The plastic arts can surpass poetry in depicting the lower grades of thewill’s objectivity, but poetry is the most capable of depicting the highest grades of the will’sobjectivity -- individual human beings. No other forms of art can vie for excellence with poetryas it is the most vital and dynamic of the arts. Human beings are much more difficult to expressthan the other beings of nature, their inner being is a ‘chain of actions’ and thus requires adynamic changing medium for its adequate expression. This expression is the Idea in the highestgrade of the will’s objectification:
. . . namely the presentation of man in the connected series of his efforts and actions . . . (p.
244).Let us not confuse this ‘connected series of efforts’ with any sort of depiction of phenomena, thatis within the realm of relations that are subject to the principles of sufficient reason, as it isindeed the inner nature of individuals, specific characters, that are depicted by tragic poetry.Thus, the peculiar nature of tragedy comes to the fore. Tragedy as a form of poetry expresses thetruth in the universal and at the same time the truth of the Idea which is not found in any particular phenomenon (244-5). On the other hand Tragedy manages to communicate the truth of the universal from the individual character. The Idea of humanity is peculiar in that it has thedistinction of expressing itself in ‘highly individual characters’ (252).Tragedy’s purpose in its expression of the Idea of humanity is to reveal the ‘terrible side of life’(252). Tragedy reveals the will as its own antagonist in the highest possible form and also itsmost horrific. This antagonism of the will is then in some cases apprehended in a thoughtful way by the audience. This knowledge once apprehended is acted upon by the suffering and hardshipof life. Suffering thus purifies and enhances the knowledge accordingly. Eventually, theindividual with this knowledge added (through experience) is capable of seeing the world for theillusion, the mere reflection, that it is. It is the function of tragedy that it should serve to lead tothe utter denial of the will.
that were previously so powerful now lose their force, and instead of them, thecomplete knowledge of the real nature of the world, acting as a
of the will, producesresignation, the giving up not merely of life, but of the whole will-to-live itself (his emphasis253).
The relationship tragedy has to the audience is only intelligible when considered through theeffect it has on an individual character. The empirical character is merely phenomena of theintellectual character (this is the in-itself of our character). We come to know our empiricalcharacter through experience.
This knowledge is then applied to our motives to allow for greater efficiency and ease in life. We come to know what it is that is more ‘natural’ for ourselves. Thus,we recognize our strengths and weaknesses (305). We cease to envy someone in a high stationwhen we realize that station is not conducive to our personal happiness. This knowledge we areconsidering is referred to by Schopenhauer as acquired character:
. . . mere willing and mere ability to do are not enough of themselves, but a man must also
what he wills, and
what he can do. Only thus will he display character, and only then can he