Schopenhauer wrote:Take, for example, the mole, that unwearied worker. To dig with all its might with its enormous shovel claws is the occupation of its whole life; constant night surrounds it; its embryo eyes only make it avoid the light. It alone is truly an animal nocturnum; not cats, owls, and bats, who see by night. But what, now, does it attain by this life, full of trouble and devoid of pleasure ? Food and the begetting of its kind ; thus only the means of carrying on and beginning anew the same doleful course in new individuals. In such examples it becomes clear that there is no proportion between the cares and troubles of life and the results or gain of it. The consciousness of the world of perception gives a certain appearance of objective worth of existence to the life of those animals which can see, although in their case this consciousness is entirely subjective and limited to the influence of motives upon them. But the blind mole, with its perfect organisation and ceaseless activity, limited to the alternation of insect larvae and hunger, makes the disproportion of the means to the end apparent. In this respect the consideration of the animal world left to itself in lands uninhabited by men is also specially instructive. A beautiful picture of this, and of the suffering which nature prepares for herself without the interference of man, is given by Humboldt in his "Ansichten der Natur " (second edition, p. 30 et seq.) ; nor does he neglect to cast a glance (p. 44) at the analogous suffering of the human race, always and everywhere at variance with itself. Yet in the simple and easily surveyed life of the brutes the emptiness and vanity of the struggle of the whole phenomenon is more easily grasped. The variety of the organisations, the ingenuity of the means, whereby each is adapted to its element and its prey contrasts here distinctly with the want of any lasting final aim ; instead of which there presents itself only momentary comfort, fleeting pleasure conditioned by wants, much and long suffering, constant strife, bellum omnium, each one both a hunter and hunted, pressure, want, need, and anxiety, shrieking and howling ; and this goes on in secula seculorum, or till once again the crust of the planet breaks. Yunghalm relates that he saw in Java a plain far as the eye could reach entirely covered with skeletons, and took it for a battlefield; they were, however, merely the skeletons of large turtles, five feet long and three feet broad, and the same height, which come this way out of the sea in order to lay their eggs, and are then attacked by wild dogs (Canis rutilans), who with their united strength lay them on their backs, strip off their lower armour, that is, the small shell of the stomach, and so devour them alive. But often then a tiger pounces upon the dogs. Now all this misery repeats itself thousands and thousands of times, year out, year in. For this, then, these turtles are born. For whose guilt must they suffer this torment ? Where fore the whole scene of horror ? To this the only answer is : it is thus that the will to live objectifies itself.
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