When a mosquito settles on your hand, it is driven by the will to feast on your blood. Your body, driven by instinctive self-preservation, reacts by moving your hand away. The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in <em>The World as Will and Representation</em> (1818) proposed a theory that unifies all the actors in this little play: the mosquito, your body, and both your instincts.<br><br>Schopenhauer observed that of all the objects in the world your own body is peculiar, because not only do you perceive it in time and space, but also inhabit it through your consciousness. He then reasoned that if <em>you</em> possess this dual aspect then so must all things, both living and inanimate, trees, stones, and mosquitoes.<br><br>Schopenhauer calls this inner aspect the <em>Will to Live</em>, a blind, restlessly striving impulse evident in the most basic of instincts: survival and reproduction.<br><br>To Schopenhauer, the Will is a single universal entity. It is the viewer seeking rationality who creates the world of representation, in which the Will explodes into a myriad of individuality — ‘a theatrical production within the stage of our minds’<sup>1</sup>. The result is a frightening world of pain and suffering, as fragmented individuals possessed by the blind Will compete for survival — the mosquito versus you.<br><br>For Schopenhauer, relief from this relentless state can be achieved by reversing the explosion of individuality to reach a universal state of consciousness. This state is fleetingly experienced through the arts, as the subject ‘loses himself’<sup>2</sup> in its appreciation, or through heightened morality, by seeing the universal Will in all of humanity.<br><br>However, the ascetic life which renounces the Will altogether is Schopenhauer’s ultimate solution for peace.