"Now this is by no means possible, for as soon as we turn into ourselves to make the attempt, and seek for once to know ourselves fully by means of introspective reflection, we are lost in a bottomless void; we find ourselves like the hollow glass globe, from out of which a voice speaks whose cause is not to be found in it, and whereas we desired to comprehend ourselves, we find, with a shudder, nothing but a vanishing spectre."

— Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788-1860)


Date
1818, 1859
Metaphor
"Now this is by no means possible, for as soon as we turn into ourselves to make the attempt, and seek for once to know ourselves fully by means of introspective reflection, we are lost in a bottomless void; we find ourselves like the hollow glass globe, from out of which a voice speaks whose cause is not to be found in it, and whereas we desired to comprehend ourselves, we find, with a shudder, nothing but a vanishing spectre."
Metaphor in Context
[Note, p. 358] The following remark may assist those for whom it is not too subtle to understand clearly that the individual is only the phenomenon, not the thing in itself. Every individual is, on the one hand, the subject of knowing, i.e., the complemental condition of the possibility of the whole objective world, and, on the other hand, a particular phenomenon of will, the same will which objectifies itself in everything. But this double nature of our being does not rest upon a self-existing unity, otherwise it would be possible for us to be conscious of ourselves in ourselves, and independent of the objects of knowledge and will. Now this is by no means possible, for as soon as we turn into ourselves to make the attempt, and seek for once to know ourselves fully by means of introspective reflection, we are lost in a bottomless void; we find ourselves like the hollow glass globe, from out of which a voice speaks whose cause is not to be found in it, and whereas we desired to comprehend ourselves, we find, with a shudder, nothing but a vanishing spectre.
Provenance
Reading Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia (London and New York: Verso, 2005), p. 153.
Citation
The first edition was published in 1818; second edition in 1844, and the third expanded edition in 1859.

Adorno cites, Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (Leipzig: 1877), p. 327n. Cf. 1879 edition: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, ed. Julius Frauenst├Ądt, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1879), I, 327n. <Link to Hathi Trust>

English text from Project Gutenberg: Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea trans. R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, 7th ed. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Tr├╝bner & Co., 1909), vol. I. <Link to Vol. 1 of 3>
Date of Entry
12/15/2017

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.