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The Rhinegold: Page 128
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that reason may not be clouded by desires … . (…) My heart is satisfied before I enter into intellectual activity; hence my thought is cold, indifferent, abstract, i.e., free, in relation to the heart, which oversteps its limits, and improperly mixes itself with the affairs of the reason. … reason … is not satisfied by the heart; I think only in the interest of reason, from pure desire of knowledge.” [156F-EOC: p. 296]

Wagner, in an essay of his later years entitled ‘Beethoven,’ gave Schopenhauer credit for an idea that had long germinated in him, but which he’d found first in Feuerbach, that objective thought (as in scientific inquiry) requires that we suppress our subjective feeling to get at the truth, which is often a bitter pill:

[P. 66] [Considering] “ … what Schopenhauer postulates as the condition for entry of an Idea into our consciousness, namely ‘a temporary preponderance of intellect over will, or to put it physiologically, a strong excitation of the [P. 67] sensory faculty of the brain (der anschauenden Gehirnthaetigkeit) without the smallest excitation of the passions or desires,’ we have only further to pay close heed to the elucidation which directly follows it, namely that our consciousness has two sides: in part it is a consciousness of one’s own self, which is the will; in part a consciousness of other things, and chiefly then a visual knowledge of the outer world, the apprehension of objects. (…)

(…) If this consciousness, however, is the consciousness of one’s own self, i.e. of the Will, we must take it that its repression is indispensable … for purity of the outward-facing consciousness … .” [766W-{9-12/70} Beethoven: PW Vol. V, p. 66-67]

And note, Wagner identifies Schopenhauer’s concept of the “Will,” i.e., the impulse behind natural laws of cause and effect, and human motives, and music, with subjective inner feeling (i.e., love), which Wagner says here must be suppressed (love must be renounced) for the sake of the purity of the outward facing (objective, scientific) consciousness, i.e., the power objective knowledge of the world grants us.

Wagner regards the acquisition of human consciousness and the power we accrue by virtue of this consciousness, the ability to advance our objective knowledge of the world, as the Fall from grace. In the following extract, for instance, he equates man’s Fall from grace with God, that is to say, original sin, with knowledge:

“… he started on the Bible today and cannot get over his astonishment that in England and elsewhere this story of the Creation is still the basis of religious instruction; all the same, the sense of sin through knowledge is a fine one.” [974W-{8/8/79} CD Vol. II, p. 351]

It was Donington who first brought this association of man’s acquisition of reflective consciousness, in the course of evolution, with the world-wide myth of the “Fall,” to my attention, an explanation of man’s natural attainment of reflective consciousness as the product of the gods’ punishment of a transgression. [Donington: P. 37-39]

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