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Arthur Schopenhauer
Full name Arthur Schopenhauer
Born 22 February 1788 (1788-02-22)
Died 21 September 1860 (aged 72)
Era 19th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Kantianism, idealism
Main interests Metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, phenomenology, morality, psychology
Notable ideas Will, Fourfold root of reason, pessimism

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher known for his atheistic pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the fundamental question of whether reason alone can unlock answers about the world.

Schopenhauer's most influential work, The World as Will and Representation, emphasized the role of man's basic motivation, which Schopenhauer called will. His analysis of will led him to the conclusion that emotional, physical, and sexual desires can never be fulfilled. Consequently, he favored a lifestyle of negating human desires, similar to the teachings of ancient Greek Stoic philosophers, Buddhism, and Vedanta.

Schopenhauer's metaphysical analysis of will, his views on human motivation and desire, and his aphoristic writing style influenced many well-known thinkers including Friedrich Nietzsche,[2] Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein,[3] Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Gustav Jung, and Jorge Luis Borges.



Schopenhauer's birthplace — house in Danzig , now Gdańsk, ul. Św. Ducha

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in the city of Danzig (Gdańsk) as the son of Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer and Johanna Schopenhauer,[4] both descendants of wealthy German Patrician families. When the Kingdom of Prussia acquired the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth city of Danzig in 1793, Schopenhauer's family moved to Hamburg. In 1805, Schopenhauer's father committed suicide.[5] Schopenhauer's mother Johanna shortly after moved to Weimar, then the centre of German literature, to pursue her writing career. After one year, Schopenhauer left the family business in Hamburg to join her.

Schopenhauer became a student at the University of Göttingen in 1809. There he studied metaphysics and psychology under Gottlob Ernst Schulze, the author of Aenesidemus, who advised him to concentrate on Plato and Kant. In Berlin, from 1811 to 1812, he had attended lectures by the prominent post-Kantian philosopher J. G. Fichte and the theologian Schleiermacher.

Schopenhauer as a youth

In 1814, Schopenhauer began his seminal work The World as Will and Representation (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung). He would finish it in 1818 and publish it the following year. In Dresden in 1819, Schopenhauer fathered an illegitimate child who was born and died the same year.[6][7] In 1820, Schopenhauer became a lecturer at the University of Berlin. He scheduled his lectures to coincide with those of the famous philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, whom Schopenhauer described as a "clumsy charlatan".[8] However, only five students turned up to Schopenhauer's lectures, and he dropped out of academia. A late essay, "On University Philosophy", expressed his resentment towards university philosophy.

While in Berlin, Schopenhauer was named as a defendant in an action at law initiated by a woman named Caroline Marquet.[2] She asked for damages, alleging that Schopenhauer had pushed her. According to Schopenhauer's court testimony, she deliberately annoyed him by raising her voice while standing right outside his door.[9] Marquet alleged that the philosopher had assaulted and battered her after she refused to leave his doorway. Her companion testified that she saw Marquet prostrate outside his apartment. Because Marquet won the lawsuit, he made payments to her for the next twenty years.[10] When she died, he wrote on a copy of her death certificate, Obit anus, abit onus ("The old woman dies, the burden flies").[11]

In 1821, he fell in love with nineteen-year old opera singer, Caroline Richter (called Medon), and had a relationship with her for several years. He discarded marriage plans, however, writing, "Marrying means to halve one's rights and double one's duties", and "Marrying means, to grasp blindfolded into a sack hoping to find out an eel out of an assembly of snakes." When he was forty-three years old, seventeen-year old Flora Weiss recorded rejecting him in her diary.[12]

Schopenhauer had a notably strained relationship with his mother Johanna Schopenhauer. After his father's death, Arthur Schopenhauer endured two long years of drudgery as a merchant, in honor of his dead father. Afterwards, his mother retired to Weimar, and Arthur dedicated himself wholly to studies in the gymnasium of Gotha. After he left it in disgust after seeing one of the masters lampooned, he went to live with his mother. But by that time she had already opened her infamous salon, and Arthur was not compatible with the vain, ceremonious ways of the salon. He was also disgusted by the ease with which Johanna had forgotten his father's memory. Therefore, he gave university life a shot. There, he wrote his first book, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. She informed him that the book was incomprehensible and it was unlikely that anyone would ever buy a copy. In a fit of temper Arthur told her that his work would be read long after the rubbish she wrote would have been totally forgotten.[13][14]

In 1831, a cholera epidemic broke out in Berlin and Schopenhauer left the city. Schopenhauer settled permanently in Frankfurt in 1833, where he remained for the next twenty-seven years, living alone except for a succession of pet poodles named Atma and Butz. Schopenhauer had a robust constitution, but in 1860 his health began to deteriorate. He died of heart failure on 21 September 1860, while sitting in his armchair at home. He was 72.


Philosophy of the "will"

A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation. Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of Zeitgeist, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness which moved in a distinct direction, dictating the actions of its members. Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason. Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated only by their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben (Will to Live), which directed all of mankind.[15] For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world. To Schopenhauer, the Will is a metaphysical existence which controls not only the actions of individual, intelligent agents, but ultimately all observable phenomena. Will, for Schopenhauer, is what Kant called the "thing-in-itself".

Art and aesthetics

For Schopenhauer, human desiring, "willing," and craving cause suffering or pain. A temporary way to escape this pain is through aesthetic contemplation (a method comparable to Zapffe's "Sublimation"). This is the next best way, short of not willing at all, which is the best way. Total absorption in the world as representation prevents a person from suffering the world as will. Art diverts the spectator's attention from the grave everyday world and lifts him or her into a world that consists of mere play of images. With music, the auditor becomes engrossed with a playful form of the will, which is normally deadly serious. Music was also given a special status in Schopenhauer's aesthetics as it did not rely upon the medium of phenomenal representation. Music artistically presents the will itself, not the way that the will appears to an individual observer. According to Daniel Albright, "Schopenhauer thought that music was the only art that did not merely copy ideas, but actually embodied the will itself."[16]


Schopenhauer's moral theory proposed that of three primary moral incentives, compassion, malice and egoism, compassion is the major motivator to moral expression. Malice and egoism are corrupt alternatives.


Schopenhauer was perhaps even more influential in his treatment of man's psychology than he was in the realm of philosophy.

Philosophers have not traditionally been impressed by the tribulations of sex, but Schopenhauer addressed it and related concepts forthrightly: ought rather to be surprised that a thing [sex] which plays throughout so important a part in human life has hitherto practically been disregarded by philosophers altogether, and lies before us as raw and untreated material.[17]

He gave a name to a force within man which he felt had invariably precedence over reason: the Will to Live or Will to Life (Wille zum Leben), defined as an inherent drive within human beings, and indeed all creatures, to stay alive and to reproduce.

Schopenhauer refused to conceive of love as either trifling or accidental, but rather understood it to be an immensely powerful force lying unseen within man's psyche and dramatically shaping the world:

The ultimate aim of all love affairs ... is more important than all other aims in man's life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it.

What is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation ...[18]

These ideas foreshadowed Darwin's discovery of evolution and Freud's concepts of the libido and the unconscious mind.[19]

Political and social thought


Schopenhauer's politics were, for the most part, an echo of his system of ethics (the latter being expressed in Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik, available in English as two separate books, On the Basis of Morality and On the Freedom of the Will). Ethics also occupies about one quarter of his central work, The World as Will and Representation.

In occasional political comments in his Parerga and Paralipomena and Manuscript Remains, Schopenhauer described himself as a proponent of limited government. What was essential, he thought, was that the state should "leave each man free to work out his own salvation", and so long as government was thus limited, he would "prefer to be ruled by a lion than one of [his] fellow rats" — i.e., by a monarch, rather than a democrat. Schopenhauer did, however, share the view of Thomas Hobbes on the necessity of the state, and of state violence, to check the destructive tendencies innate to our species.

Schopenhauer, by his own admission, did not give much thought to politics, and several times he writes proudly of how little attention he had paid "to political affairs of [his] day". In a life that spanned several revolutions in French and German government, and a few continent-shaking wars, he did indeed maintain his aloof position of "minding not the times but the eternities". He wrote many disparaging remarks about Germany and the Germans. A typical example is, "For a German it is even good to have somewhat lengthy words in his mouth, for he thinks slowly, and they give him time to reflect."[20]

Schopenhauer possessed a distinctly hierarchical conception of the human races, attributing civilizational primacy to the northern "white races" due to their sensitivity and creativity:

The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste or race is fairer in colour than the rest and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmans, the Incas, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature and out of it all came their high civilization.[21]

Despite this, he was adamantly against differing treatment of races, was fervently anti-slavery, and supported the abolitionist movement in the United States. He describes the treatment of "[our] innocent black brothers whom force and injustice have delivered into [the slave-master's] devilish clutches" as "belonging to the blackest pages of mankind's criminal record".[22]

Schopenhauer additionally maintained a marked metaphysical and political anti-Judaism. Schopenhauer argued that Christianity constituted a revolt against the materialistic basis of Judaism, exhibiting an Indian-influenced ethics reflecting the Aryan-Vedic theme of spiritual "self-conquest." This he saw as opposed to what he held to be the ignorant drive toward earthly utopianism and superficiality of a worldly Jewish spirit:

While all other religions endeavor to explain to the people by symbols the metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry in the struggle with other nations.[23]

According to Bernard Bonnejean, Schopenhauer's politic and social theories represent the first stage of a necessary awareness. For Huysmans, they would be a kind of catalyst, " invisible to the layman ", between the black report of the French atheistic naturalism and the necessity of a Christian conversion :

Je me croyais loin de la religion pourtant. Je ne songeais pas que, de Schopenhauer que j'admirais plus que de raison, à l'Ecclésiaste, et au Livre de Job, il n'y avait qu'un pas. Les prémisses sur le Pessimisme sont les mêmes, seulement lorsqu'il s'agit de conclure, le philosophe se dérobe. [...] L'Eglise, elle, explique les origines et les causes, signale les fins, présente les remèdes ; elle ne se contente pas de vous donner une consultation d'âme, elle vous traite et elle vous guérit alors que le médicastre allemand, après vous avoir bien démontré que l'affection dont vous souffrez est incurable, vous tourne, en ricanant, le dos.[24]

Views on women

In Schopenhauer's 1851[25] essay "Of Women" ("Über die Weiber", full text), he expressed his opposition to what he called "Teutonico-Christian stupidity" on female affairs. He claimed that "woman is by nature meant to obey", and opposed Schiller's poem in honor of women, "Würde der Frauen" ("Dignity of Women"). The essay does give two compliments, however: that "women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than [men] are" and are more sympathetic to the suffering of others. However, the latter was discounted as weakness rather than humanitarian virtue.

Schopenhauer's controversial writings have influenced many, from Friedrich Nietzsche to nineteenth-century feminists[citation needed]. Schopenhauer's biological analysis of the difference between the sexes, and their separate roles in the struggle for survival and reproduction, anticipates some of the claims that were later ventured by sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists in the twentieth century.[citation needed]

After the elderly Schopenhauer sat for a sculpture portrait by Elisabet Ney, he told Richard Wagner's friend Malwida von Meysenbug, "I have not yet spoken my last word about women. I believe that if a woman succeeds in withdrawing from the mass, or rather raising herself above the mass, she grows ceaselessly and more than a man."[26]

Heredity and eugenics

Schopenhauer believed that a person inherited level of intellect through one's mother, and personal character through one's father.[27] Schopenhauer quotes Horace's saying, "From the brave and good are the brave descended" (Odes, iv, 4, 29) and Shakespeare's line from Cymbeline, "Cowards father cowards, and base things sire base" (IV, 2) to reinforce his hereditarian argument.[28] On the question of eugenics, Schopenhauer wrote:

With our knowledge of the complete unalterability both of character and of mental faculties, we are led to the view that a real and thorough improvement of the human race might be reached not so much from outside as from within, not so much by theory and instruction as rather by the path of generation. Plato had something of the kind in mind when, in the fifth book of his Republic, he explained his plan for increasing and improving his warrior caste. If we could castrate all scoundrels and stick all stupid geese in a convent, and give men of noble character a whole harem, and procure men, and indeed thorough men, for all girls of intellect and understanding, then a generation would soon arise which would produce a better age than that of Pericles.[29]

In another context, Schopenhauer reiterated his antidemocratic-eugenic thesis: "If you want Utopian plans, I would say: the only solution to the problem is the despotism of the wise and noble members of a genuine aristocracy, a genuine nobility, achieved by mating the most magnanimous men with the cleverest and most gifted women. This proposal constitutes my Utopia and my Platonic Republic".[30] Analysts (e.g., Keith Ansell-Pearson) have suggested that Schopenhauer's advocacy of anti-egalitarianism and eugenics influenced the neo-aristocratic philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, who initially considered Schopenhauer his mentor.

Views on homosexuality & pederasty

Schopenhauer as a young man

Schopenhauer was also one of the first philosophers since the days of Greek philosophy to address the subject of male homosexuality. In the third, expanded edition of The World as Will and Representation (1856), Schopenhauer added an appendix to his chapter on the "Metaphysics of Sexual Love". He also wrote that homosexuality did have the benefit of preventing ill-begotten children. Concerning this, he stated, "... the vice we are considering appears to work directly against the aims and ends of nature, and that in a matter that is all important and of the greatest concern to her, it must in fact serve these very aims, although only indirectly, as a means for preventing greater evils."[31] Shrewdly anticipating the interpretive distortion on the part of the popular mind of his attempted scientific explanation of pederasty as a personal advocacy of a phenomenon Schopenhauer otherwise describes, in terms of spiritual ethics, as an "objectionable aberration", Schopenhauer sarcastically concludes the appendix with the statement that "by expounding these paradoxical ideas, I wanted to grant to the professors of philosophy a small favour, for they are very disconcerted by the ever-increasing publicization of my philosophy which they so carefully concealed. I have done so by giving them the opportunity of slandering me by saying that I defend and commend pederasty."[32]


Schopenhauer said he was influenced by the Upanishads, Immanuel Kant, and Plato. References to Eastern philosophy and religion appear frequently in Schopenhauer's writing. As noted above, he appreciated the teachings of the Buddha and even called himself a "Buddhist".[33] He said that his philosophy could not have been conceived before these teachings were available.

Concerning the Upanishads and Vedas, he writes in The World as Will and Representation:

If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century (1818) may claim before all previous centuries, if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him. It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there.[34]

He summarised the influence of the Upanishads thus: “It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death!”

Other influences were: Shakespeare,[35] Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza, Matthias Claudius, George Berkeley, David Hume, René Descartes.[citation needed]

Criticism of Kant

Schopenhauer accepted Kant's double-aspect of the universe—the phenomenal (world of experience) and the noumenal (world independent of experience). Some commentators suggest that Schopenhauer claimed that the noumenon, or thing-in-itself, was the basis for Schopenhauer's concept of the will. Other commentators suggest that Schopenhauer considered will to be only a subset of the "thing-in-itself" class, namely that which we can most directly experience.[36]

Schopenhauer's identification of the Kantian noumenon (i.e., the actually existing entity) with what he termed "will" deserves some explanation. The noumenon was what Kant called the Ding an Sich, the "Thing in Itself", the reality that is the foundation of our sensory and mental representations of an external world. In Kantian terms, those sensory and mental representations are mere phenomena. Schopenhauer departed from Kant in his description of the relationship between the phenomenon and the noumenon. According to Kant, things-in-themselves ground the phenomenal representations in our minds; Schopenhauer, on the other hand, believed phenomena and noumena to be two different sides of the same coin. Noumena do not cause phenomena, but rather phenomena are simply the way by which our minds perceive the noumena, according to the Principle of Sufficient Reason. This is explained more fully in Schopenhauer's doctoral thesis, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

Schopenhauer's second major departure from Kant's epistemology concerns the body. Kant's philosophy was formulated as a response to the radical philosophical skepticism of David Hume, who claimed that causality could not be observed empirically. Schopenhauer begins by arguing that Kant's demarcation between external objects, knowable only as phenomena, and the Thing in Itself of noumenon, contains a significant omission. There is, in fact, one physical object we know more intimately than we know any object of sense perception: our own body.

We know our human bodies have boundaries and occupy space, the same way other objects known only through our named senses do. Though we seldom think of our body as a physical object, we know even before reflection that it shares some of an object's properties. We understand that a watermelon cannot successfully occupy the same space as an oncoming truck; we know that if we tried to repeat the experiment with our own body, we would obtain similar results – we know this even if we do not understand the physics involved.

We know that our consciousness inhabits a physical body, similar to other physical objects only known as phenomena. Yet our consciousness is not commensurate with our body. Most of us possess the power of voluntary motion. We usually are not aware of the breathing of our lungs or the beating of our heart unless somehow our attention is called to them. Our ability to control either is limited. Our kidneys command our attention on their schedule rather than one we choose. Few of us have any idea what our liver is doing right now, though this organ is as needful as lungs, heart, or kidneys. The conscious mind is the servant, not the master, of these and other organs; these organs have an agenda which the conscious mind did not choose, and over which it has limited power.

When Schopenhauer identifies the noumenon with the desires, needs, and impulses in us that we name "will," what he is saying is that we participate in the reality of an otherwise unachievable world outside the mind through will. We cannot prove that our mental picture of an outside world corresponds with a reality by reasoning; through will, we know – without thinking – that the world can stimulate us. We suffer fear, or desire: these states arise involuntarily; they arise prior to reflection; they arise even when the conscious mind would prefer to hold them at bay. The rational mind is, for Schopenhauer, a leaf borne along in a stream of pre-reflective and largely unconscious emotion. That stream is will, and through will, if not through logic, we can participate in the underlying reality beyond mere phenomena. It is for this reason that Schopenhauer identifies the noumenon with what we call our will.

In his criticism of Kant, Schopenhauer claimed that sensation and understanding are separate and distinct abilities. Yet, for Kant, an object is known through each of them. Kant wrote: "… [T]here are two stems of human knowledge ... namely, sensibility and understanding, objects being given by the former [sensibility] and thought by the latter [understanding]."[37] Schopenhauer disagreed. He asserted that mere sense impressions, not objects, are given by sensibility. According to Schopenhauer, objects are intuitively perceived by understanding and are discursively thought by reason (Kant had claimed that (1) the understanding thinks objects through concepts and that (2) reason seeks the unconditioned or ultimate answer to "why?"). Schopenhauer said that Kant's mistake regarding perception resulted in all of the obscurity and difficult confusion that is exhibited in the Transcendental Analytic section of his critique.


Schopenhauer has had a massive influence upon later thinkers, though more so in the arts (especially literature and music) and psychology than in philosophy. His popularity peaked in the early twentieth century, especially during the Modernist era, and waned somewhat thereafter. Nevertheless, a number of recent publications have reinterpreted and modernised the study of Schopenhauer. His theory is also being explored by some modern philosophers as a precursor to evolutionary theory and modern evolutionary psychology.[38][39]

Schopenhauer versus Hegel

Schopenhauer expressed his dislike for the philosophy of his contemporary Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel many times in his published works. The following quotation is typical:

If I were to say that the so-called philosophy of this fellow Hegel is a colossal piece of mystification which will yet provide posterity with an inexhaustible theme for laughter at our times, that it is a pseudo-philosophy paralyzing all mental powers, stifling all real thinking, and, by the most outrageous misuse of language, putting in its place the hollowest, most senseless, thoughtless, and, as is confirmed by its success, most stupefying verbiage, I should be quite right.

Further, if I were to say that this summus philosophus [...] scribbled nonsense quite unlike any mortal before him, so that whoever could read his most eulogized work, the so-called Phenomenology of the Mind, without feeling as if he were in a madhouse, would qualify as an inmate for Bedlam, I should be no less right.[40]

In his Foreword to the first edition of his work Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik, Schopenhauer suggested that he had shown Hegel to have fallen prey to the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Schopenhauer thought that Hegel used deliberately impressive but ultimately vacuous verbiage. He suggested his works were filled with "castles of abstraction" [41] that sounded impressive but ultimately had no content. He also thought that his glorification of church and state were designed for personal advantage and had little to do with the search for philosophical truth.[41] For instance, the Right Hegelians interpreted Hegel as viewing the Prussian state of his day as perfect and the goal of all history up until then.[42]


Schopenhauer read the Latin translation of the Upanishads which had been translated by French writer Anquetil du Perron from the Persian translation of Prince Dara Shikoh entitled Sirre-Akbar ("The Great Secret"). He was so impressed by their philosophy that he called them "the production of the highest human wisdom", and considered them to contain superhuman conceptions. The Upanishads was a great source of inspiration to Schopenhauer, and writing about them he said:

It is the most satisfying and elevating reading (with the exception of the original text) which is possible in the world; it has been the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death.[43]

It is well known that the book Oupnekhat (Upanishad) always lay open on his table, and he invariably studied it before sleeping at night. He called the opening up of Sanskrit literature "the greatest gift of our century", and predicted that the philosophy and knowledge of the Upanishads would become the cherished faith of the West.[44]

Animal rights

As a consequence of his philosophy, Schopenhauer was very concerned about the rights of animals. For him, all animals, including humans, are phenomenal manifestations of Will. The word "will" designated, for him, force, power, impulse, energy, and desire; it is the closest word we have that can signify both the real essence of all external things and also our own direct, inner experience. Since everything is basically Will, then humans and animals are fundamentally the same and can recognize themselves in each other.[45] For this reason, he claimed that a good person would have sympathy for animals, who are our fellow sufferers.

Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he, who is cruel to living creatures, cannot be a good man.[46]

Nothing leads more definitely to a recognition of the identity of the essential nature in animal and human phenomena than a study of zoology and anatomy.[47]

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality." - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher”[48]

In 1841, he praised the establishment, in London, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and also the Animals' Friends Society in Philadelphia. Schopenhauer even went so far as to protest against the use of the pronoun "it" in reference to animals because it led to the treatment of them as though they were inanimate things.[47] To reinforce his points, Schopenhauer referred to anecdotal reports of the look in the eyes of a monkey who had been shot and also the grief of a baby elephant whose mother had been killed by a hunter.[47] He was very attached to his succession of pet poodles. Schopenhauer criticized Spinoza's[49] belief that animals are to be used as a mere means for the satisfaction of humans.[50][51]

Schopenhauer and Buddhism

Many Europeans, in the 1830s and 1840s, including Schopenhauer himself, found a correspondence between Schopenhauerian thought and the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.[52] Similarities centered on the principles that life involves suffering, that suffering is caused by desire, and that the extinction of desire leads to salvation. Thus three of the four "truths of the Buddha" correspond to Schopenhauer's doctrine of the will.[53] In Buddhism, however, while greed and lust are always unskillful, desire is ethically variable - it can be skillful, unskillful, or neutral.[54] In the Buddhist perspective, the enemy to be defeated is craving rather than desire in general.[54]

For Schopenhauer, Will had ontological primacy over the intellect; in other words, desire is understood to be prior to thought. Schopenhauer felt this was similar to notions of purushartha or goals of life in Vedanta Hinduism.

In Schopenhauer's philosophy, denial of the will is attained by either:

  • Personal experience of an extremely great suffering that leads to loss of the will to live; or
  • Knowledge of the essential nature of life in the world through observation of the suffering of other people.

However, Buddhist nirvana is not equivalent to the condition that Schopenhauer described as denial of the will. Nirvana is not the extinguishing of the person as some Western scholars have thought, but only the "extinguishing" (the literal meaning of nirvana) of the flames of greed, hatred, and delusion that assail a person's character.[55] Occult historian Joscelyn Godwin stated, "It was Buddhism that inspired the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, and, through him, attracted Richard Wagner.[56] This Orientalism reflected the struggle of the German Romantics, in the words of Leon Poliakov, to free themselves from Judeo-Christian fetters".[57] In opposition to Godwin's claim that Buddhism inspired Schopenhauer, the philosopher himself made the following statement in his discussion of religions:[58]

If I wished to take the results of my philosophy as the standard of truth, I should have to concede to Buddhism pre-eminence over the others. In any case, it must be a pleasure to me to see my doctrine in such close agreement with a religion that the majority of men on earth hold as their own, for this numbers far more followers than any other. And this agreement must be yet the more pleasing to me, inasmuch as in my philosophizing I have certainly not been under its influence [emphasis added]. For up till 1818, when my work appeared, there was to be found in Europe only a very few accounts of Buddhism.[59]

Buddhist philosopher Nishitani Keiji, however, sought to distance Buddhism from Schopenhauer.[citation needed] While Schopenhauer's philosophy may sound rather mystical in such a summary, his methodology was resolutely empirical, rather than speculative or transcendental:

Philosophy ... is a science, and as such has no articles of faith; accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.[60]

Also note:

This actual world of what is knowable, in which we are and which is in us, remains both the material and the limit of our consideration.[61]

Grave at Frankfurt Hauptfriedhof

Selected bibliography

  • On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde), 1813
  • On Vision and Colors (Über das Sehn und die Farben), 1816 ISBN 0-85496-988-8
  • The World as Will and Representation, (alternately translated in English as The World as Will and Idea. Original German is Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung), 1818/1819, vol 2 1844
    • Vol. 1 Dover edition 1966, ISBN 0-486-21761-2
    • Vol. 2 Dover edition 1966, ISBN 0-486-21762-0
    • Peter Smith Publisher hardcover set 1969, ISBN 0-8446-2885-9
    • Everyman Paperback combined abridged edition (290 p.) ISBN 0-460-87505-1
  • On the Will in Nature (Über den Willen in der Natur), 1836 ISBN 0-85496-999-3
  • On the Freedom of the Will (Über die Freiheit des menschlichen Willens), 1839 ISBN 0-631-14552-4
  • On the Basis of Morality (Über die Grundlage der Moral), 1840
  • Parerga und Paralipomena, 1851 ISBN 0-19-924221-6
  • Arthur Schopenhauer, Manuscript Remains, Volume II, Berg Publishers Ltd., ISBN 0-85496-539-4


See also



  1. ^ "John Gray: Forget everything you know — Profiles, People". The Independent. 2002-09-03. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b Addressed in: Cate, Curtis. Friedrich Nietzsche. Chapter 7.
  3. ^ Albert Einstein in Mein Glaubensbekenntnis (August 1932): "I do not believe in freedom of will. Schopenhauer's words, 'Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants', accompany me in all life situations and console me in my dealings with people, even those that are really painful to me. This recognition of the unfreedom of the will protects me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and judging individuals and losing good humour."
  4. ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur; Günter Zöller, Eric F. J. Payne (1999). Chronology. Cambridge University Press. pp. xxx. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  5. ^ Safranski (1990) page 12. "There was in the father's life some dark and vague source of fear which later made him hurl himself to his death from the attic of his house in Hamburg."
  6. ^ "A Schopenhauer Timeline". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  7. ^ "Arthur Schopenhauer". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  8. ^ Schopenahuer, Arthur. Author's preface to "On The Fourfold Root of the Principle of sufficient reason. Page 1.
  9. ^ Rudiger Safranski, Rüdiger Safranski, Ewald Osers, Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy, 271-2 [1]
  10. ^ Safranski (1990), Chapter 19
  11. ^ Magee, Bryan (1997). The Philosophy of Schopenhauer. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 13. ISBN 0198237235. 
  12. ^ The Leuven Philosophy Newsletter pgs. 42-43 "But an examination of his life reveals a yearning for marriage frustrated by a train of rejections. In the year 1831, Schopenhauer fell in love with a girl named Flora Weiss. At a boat party in Germany he made his advance by offering her a bunch of grapes. Flora’s diary records this event as follows “I didn’t want the grapes because old Schopenhauer had touched them, so I let them slide, quite gently into the water.” Apparently, she was underwhelmed."
  13. ^ "Schopenhauer:". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  14. ^ "Full text of "Selected Essays Of Schopenhauer"". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  15. ^ "The reality is what Schopenhauer calls the Will, the Will to Live." Letter to Richard C. Lyon, 1 August 1949, George Santayana, The Letters of George Santayana, Scribner's, New York, 1955
  16. ^ Daniel Albright, Modernism and Music, 2004, page 39, footnote 34
  17. ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur. Supplements to the Fourth Book of "The World as Will and Representation, Page 338 CHAPTER XLIV
  18. ^ Schopenhauer, Arthur. Supplements to the Fourth Book of "The World as Will and Representation. Page 340 CHAPTER XLIV
  19. ^ "Nearly a century before Freud... in Schopenhauer there is, for the first time, an explicit philosophy of the unconscious and of the body." Safranski pg. 345.
  20. ^ The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 2, Ch. 12
  21. ^ Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume II, Section 92
  22. ^ Parerga and Paralipomena, "On Ethics," Sec. 5
  23. ^ "Fragments for the history of philosophy", Parerga and Paralipomena, Volume I.
  24. ^ Huysmans, A Rebours (1903),quoted in Bernard Bonnejean "Huysmans avant À Rebours : les fondements nécessaires d'une quête en devenir", in Le Mal dans l'imaginaire français (1850–1950), éd. David et L'Harmattan, 1998 (ISBN 2-7384-6198-0) ; "Huysmans before A Rebours: The necessary foundation for a quest to become", The evil in the French imaginary (1850–1950), Ed. David and L'Harmattan, 1998 (ISBN 2-7384-6198-0)
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ Safranski (1990), Chapter 24. Page 348.
  27. ^ On the Suffering of the World, (1970), Page 35. Penguin Books-Great Ideas
  28. ^ Payne, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, p. 519
  29. ^ Schopenhauer, ibid., p. 527
  30. ^ Essays and Aphorisms, trans. R.J. Hollingdale, Middlesex: London, 1970, p. 154
  31. ^ On page 566 of Schopenhauer, Arthur. He wrote that only those who were too old or too young to reproduce strong, healthy children would resort to pederasty (Schopenhauer considered pederasty to be in itself a vice)."The World as Will and Representation: Volume Two". Dover
  32. ^ ibid., p. 567.
  33. ^ Abelsen, Peter (1993). "Schopenhauer and Buddhism." Philosophy East & West, 44:2 p. 255. Retrieved on: 18 August 2007.
  34. ^ The World as Will and Representation Preface to the first edition, p. xiii)
  35. ^ Magee, Bryan (1977). The Philosophy of Schopenhauer. Oxford University Press. p. 265. ISBN 0198237235. 
  36. ^ Bryan Magee, Misunderstanding Schopenhauer, Institute of Germanic Studies, University of London, 1990, ISBN 0854571485
  37. ^ Critique of Pure Reason, A 15
  38. ^ In the book Straw Dogs, John Gray upheld Schopenhauer as one of the few philosophers who has dedicated himself to studying Eastern philosophy as well as Western philosophy. The book argues against free will, and states that humans have much more in common with animals than is commonly admitted in the West. Schopenhauer is praised for his attitude towards animals, and for having addressed the brutality of much of human life.,
  39. ^ Borges remarked that the reason he had never written any philosophy, despite his penchant for it, was because Schopenhauer had already written it for him
  40. ^ On the Basis of Morality, pp. 15–16.
  41. ^ a b "Philosophy: Pseudophilosophy". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  42. ^ "... the Hegelians who, in complete unsmiling seriousness, were airing the question of what the further content of world history could possibly be, now that in the Hegelian philosophy the world spirit had reached the goal, the knowledge of itself." Safranski, p. 256.
  43. ^ Clarke, John James (1997). Oriental enlightenment. Routledge. p. 68. ISBN 0415133769. 
  44. ^ Dutt, Purohit Bhagavan. "Western Indologists: A Study in Motives". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  45. ^ "Unlike the intellect, it [the Will] does not depend on the perfection of the organism, but is essentially the same in all animals as that which is known to us so intimately. Accordingly, the animal has all the emotions of humans, such as joy, grief, fear, anger, love, hatred, strong desire, envy, and so on. The great difference between human and animal rests solely on the intellect's degrees of perfection." On the Will in Nature, "Physiology and Pathology."
  46. ^ On the basis of morality, § 19
  47. ^ a b c ibid.
  48. ^ Quotations. "Quoted in". Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  49. ^ "His contempt for animals, who, as mere things for our use, are declared by him to be without rights, conjunction with Pantheism, is at the same time absurd and abominable." The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 2, Chapter 50.
  50. ^ Spinoza, Ethics, Pt. IV, Prop. XXXVII, Note I.: "Still I do not deny that beasts feel: what I deny is, that we may not consult our own advantage and use them as we please, treating them in a way which best suits us; for their nature is not like ours...." This is the exact opposite of Schopenhauer's doctrine. Also, ibid., Appendix, 26, "whatsoever there be in nature beside man, a regard for our advantage does not call on us to preserve, but to preserve or destroy according to its various capacities, and to adapt to our use as best we may."
  51. ^ "Such are the matters which I engage to prove in Prop. xviii of this Part, whereby it is plain that the law against the slaughtering of animals is founded rather on vain superstition and womanish pity than on sound reason. The rational quest of what is useful to us further teaches us the necessity of associating ourselves with our fellow-men, but not with beasts, or things, whose nature is different from our own; we have the same rights in respect to them as they have in respect to us. Nay, as everyone's right is defined by his virtue, or power, men have far greater rights over beasts than beasts have over men. Still I affirm that beasts feel. But I also affirm that we may consult our own advantage and use them as we please, treating them in the way which best suits us; for their nature is not like ours, and their emotions are naturally different from human emotions." Ethics, Part 4, Prop. 37, Note 1.
  52. ^ Abelson, Peter (April 1993). Schopenhauer and Buddhism. Philosophy East and West Volume 43, Number 2, pp. 255-278. University of Hawaii Press. Retrieved on: 12 April 2008.
  53. ^ Janaway, Christopher, Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy, p. 28 f.
  54. ^ a b David Burton, "Buddhism, Knowledge and Liberation: A Philosophical Study." Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004, page 22.
  55. ^ John J. Holder, Early Buddhist Discourses. Hackett Publishing Company, 2006, page xx.
  56. ^ Godwin, J: Arktos: The Polar Myth in Science, Symbolism, and Nazi Survival, page 38. Adventures Unlimited Press, 1996, ISBN 0932813356, 9780932813350
  57. ^ Arktos, p. 38.
  58. ^ "Schopenhauer is often said to be the first, or indeed the only, modern Western philosopher of any note to attempt any integration of his work with Eastern ways of thinking. That he was the first is surely true, but the claim that he was influenced by Indian thought needs some qualification. There is a remarkable correspondence, at least in broad terms, between some of the central Schopenhauerian doctrines and Buddhism: notably in the views that empirical existence is suffering, that suffering originates in desires, and that salvation can be attained by the extinction of desires. These three 'truths of the Buddha' are mirrored closely in the essential structure of the doctrine of the will (On this, see Dorothea W. Dauer, Schopenhauer as Transmitter of Buddhist Ideas. Note also the discussion by Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, pp. 14-15, 316-21). Janaway, Christopher, Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy, p. 28 f.
  59. ^ The World as Will and Representation’’, Vol. 2, Ch. 17
  60. ^ Parerga & Paralipomena, vol. I, p. 106., trans. E.F.J. Payne.
  61. ^ World as Will and Representation, vol. I, p. 273, trans. E.F.J. Payne.


  • Albright, Daniel (2004) Modernism and Music: An Anthology of Sources. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-01267-0.
  • Magee, Bryan, Confessions of a Philosopher, Random House, 1998, ISBN 0-375-50028-6. Chapters 20, 21.
  • Russell, Bertrand (1945) A History of Western Philosophy and its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Simon and Schuster.
  • Safranski, Rüdiger (1990) Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy. Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-79275-0
  • The Living Thoughts of Schopenhauer, Thomas Mann editor, Longmans Green & Co., 1939

Further reading


  • Atwell, John. Schopenhauer on the Character of the World, The Metaphysics of Will.
  • --------, Schopenhauer, The Human Character.
  • Copleston, Frederick, Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism, 1946 (reprinted London: Search Press, 1975.)
  • Hamlyn, D. W., Schopenhauer, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980
  • --------, Schopenhauer: A Very Short introduction.
  • Janaway, Christopher, 2003. Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-825003-7
  • Kühntopf, Michael, Jüdische Chronik, Norderstedt 2008, vol. 1, ISBN 978-3-8334-8628-9, pp. 318-325 (Schopenhauer on religion, in particular about Jews and Judaism)
  • Magee, Bryan, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, Oxford University Press, 1997 (reprint), ISBN 0-19-823722-7
  • Mannion, Gerard, "Schopenhauer, Religion and Morality - The Humble Path to Ethics", Ashgate Press, New Critical Thinking in Philosophy Series, 2003, 314pp
  • Zimmern, Helen, Arthur Schopenhauer, his Life and Philosophy, London, LONGMANS, GREEN, and Co. - 1876


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Life is short and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth.
Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 178821 September 1860) was a German philosopher, best known for his work The World as Will and Representation (1819).



It is the courage to make a clean breast of it in the face of every question that makes the philosopher.
  • It is the courage to make a clean breast of it in the face of every question that makes the philosopher. He must be like Sophocles' Oedipus, who, seeking enlightenment concerning his terrible fate, pursues his indefatigable inquiry even though he divines that appalling horror awaits him in the answer. But most of us carry with us the Jocasta in our hearts, who begs Oedipus, for God's sake, not to inquire further.
  • Der Mensch kann tun was er will; er kann aber nicht wollen was er will.
    • Man can do what he wants but he cannot want what he wants.
    • Prize Essay On The Freedom Of The Will (1839)
    • Variant translations:
    • Man can control what he wills, but not how he wills.
    • Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot control what it is that he wants.
  • Obit anus, abit onus.
    • The old woman dies, the burden is lifted.
      • Statement Schopenhauer wrote in Latin into his account book, after the death of a seamstress to whom he had made court-ordered payments of 15 thalers a quarter for over twenty years, after having injured her arm; as quoted in Modern Philosophy : From Descartes to Schopenhauer and Hartmann (1877) by Francis Bowen, p. 392
  • We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.
    • As quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 624
  • Compassion is the basis of all morality.
    • As quoted in Thesaurus of Epigrams : A New Classified Collection of Witty Remarks, Bon Mots and Toasts (1948)

The World as Will and Representation (1819; 1844)

Quotations from translations of Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (first edition published in 1819, the second in 1844) Also translated as The World as Will and Idea - Full translation online at Wikisource
  • If the reader has also received the benefit of the Vedas, the access to which by means of the Upanishads is in my eyes the greatest privilege which this still young century may claim before all previous centuries, if then the reader, I say, has received his initiation in primeval Indian wisdom, and received it with an open heart, he will be prepared in the very best way for hearing what I have to tell him. It will not sound to him strange, as to many others, much less disagreeable; for I might, if it did not sound conceited, contend that every one of the detached statements which constitute the Upanishads, may be deduced as a necessary result from the fundamental thoughts which I have to enunciate, though those deductions themselves are by no means to be found there.
    • Preface to the first editon.
  • How entirely does the Oupnekhat breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his soul! How does every line display its firm, definite, and throughout harmonious meaning! From every sentence deep, original, and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit. Indian air surrounds us, and original thoughts of kindred spirits. And oh, how thoroughly is the mind here washed clean of all early en grafted Jewish superstitions, and of all philosophy that cringes before those superstitions! In the whole world there is no study, except that of the originals, so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Oupnekhat. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death!
    • On a translation of statements from the Upanishads, in the Preface to the first editon.
  • Life is short and truth works far and lives long: let us speak the truth.
    • Vol. I, Introduction
  • The effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.
    • Vol. I, Ch. II
  • This art is music. It stands quite apart from all the others. In it we do not recognize the copy, the repetition, of any Idea of the inner nature of the world. Yet it is such a great and exceedingly fine art, its effect on man's innermost nature is so powerful, and it is so completely and profoundly understood by him in his innermost being as an entirely universal language, whose distinctness surpasses even that of the world of perception itself, that in it we certainly have to look for more than that exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi [exercise in arithmetic in which the mind does not know it is counting] which Leibniz took it to be.
    • Vol. I, Ch. III : The World As Representation : Second Aspect, as translated by Eric F. J. Payne (1958)
  • The composer reveals the innermost nature of the world, and expresses the profoundest wisdom in a language that his reasoning faculty does not understand, just as a magnetic somnambulist gives information about things of which she has no conception when she is awake. Therefore in the composer, more than in any other artist, the man is entirely separate and distinct from the artist.
    • Vol. I, Ch. III, The World As Representation
  • This actual world of what is knowable, in which we are and which is in us, remains both the material and the limit of our consideration.
    • Vol I, Ch. 4 : The World As Will : Second Aspect, § 53, as translated by Eric F. J. Payne (1958)
  • Every time a man is begotten and born, the clock of human life is wound up anew to repeat once more its same old tune that has already been played innumerable times, movement by movement and measure by measure, with insignificant variations.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 4 : The World As Will : Second Aspect, as translated by Eric F. J. Payne (1958) p. 322
  • My body and my will are one.
    • Book 1
  • We see in tragedy the noblest men, after a long conflict and suffering, finally renounce forever all the pleasure of life and the aims till then pursued so keenly, or cheerfully and willingly give up life itself.
    • Book 1
  • There is only one inborn erroneous notion ... that we exist in order to be happy ... So long as we persist in this inborn error ... the world seems to us full of contradictions. For at every step, in great things and small, we are bound to experience that the world and life are certainly not arranged for the purpose of maintaining a happy existence ... hence the countenances of almost all elderly persons wear the expression of ... disappointment.
    • Vol II "On the Road to Salvation"
  • Life is a business that does not cover the costs.
    • Vol II "On the Vanity and Suffering of Life"
  • At the age of five years to enter a spinning-cotton or other factory, and from that time forth to sit there daily, first ten, then twelve, and ultimately fourteen hours, performing the same mechanical labour, is to purchase dearly the satisfaction of drawing breath. But this is the fate of millions, and that of millions more is analogous to it.
    • Vol II : "On the Vanity and Suffering of Life", as translated by R. B. Haldane, and J. Kemp in The World as Will and Idea (1886), p. 389

Unplaced by section or chapter:

Cited as from Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, but without further information as to volume or chapter.
  • Jedes Kind ist gewissermaßen ein Genie; und jedes Genie ist gewissermassen ein Kind.
    • Every child is in a way a genius; and every genius is in a way a child.
  • ...this our world, which is so real, with all its suns and milky ways is--nothing.
  • Whoever heard me assert that the grey cat playing just now in the yard is the same one that did jumps and tricks there five hundred years ago will think whatever he likes of me, but it is a stranger form of madness to imagine that the present-day cat is fundamentally an entirely different one.
  • In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theatre before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin.

Parerga and Paralipomena (1851)

Various portions of this large work have been translated and published in English under various titles. It is here divided up into sections corresponding to those of the original volumes and some of the cited translations.
  • Philosophy ... is a science, and as such has no articles of faith; accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.
    • Vol I

Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life

Quotes from Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, using various translations, also translated as On The Wisdom of Life : Aphorisms
  • Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.
    • Vol. 1. Ch. 4
  • Pride is an established conviction of one’s own paramount worth in some particular respect, while vanity is the desire of rousing such a conviction in others, and it is generally accompanied by the secret hope of ultimately coming to the same conviction oneself. Pride works from within; it is the direct appreciation of oneself. Vanity is the desire to arrive at this appreciation indirectly, from without.
    • Vol. 1, Ch. 4, § 2
  • Rascals are always sociable — more’s the pity! and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others’ company.
    • Vol. 1, Ch. 5, § 9

not as yet placed by section or chapter:

cited as from Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life or "The Wisdom of Life" but without further information; some of the quotes in this section are of the original German phrase, with only improvised English translation, addition of published English translations is welcomed.
  • Childish and altogether ludicrous is what you yourself are and all philosophers; and if a grown-up man like me spends fifteen minutes with fools of this kind, it is merely a way of passing the time. I've now got more important things to do. Goodbye!
    • "Thrasymachus", in "On the Indestructibility of our Essential Being by Death, in Essays and Aphorisms (1970) as translated by R. J. Hollingdale, p. 76
  • A reproach can only hurt if it hits the mark. Whoever knows that he does not deserve a reproach can treat it with contempt.
  • The brain may be regarded as a kind of parasite of the organism, a pensioner, as it were, who dwells with the body.
  • National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right.
    • Variant translation: Every nation criticizes every other one — and they are all correct.
      • As quoted by Wolfgang Pauli in a letter to Abraham Pais (17 August 1950) published in The Genius of Science (2000) by Abraham Pais, p. 242
  • Honor ... means that a man is not exceptional; fame, that he is. Fame is something which must be won; honor, only something which must not be lost.
    • Variant translation: Fame is something which must be won; honor is something which must not be lost.
  • Im allgemeinen freilich haben die Weisen aller Zeiten immer dasselbe gesagt, und die Toren, d.h. die unermessliche Majorität aller Zeiten, haben immer dasselbe, nämlich das Gegenteil getan; und so wird es denn auch ferner bleiben.
    • In general admittedly the Wise of all times have always said the same thing, and the fools, that is to say the vast majority of all times, have always done the same thing, i.e. the opposite; and so it will remain in the future.
    • Die Gegenwart eines Gedankens ist wie die Gegenwart einer Geliebten.
    • The presence of a thought is like the presence of a lover.
  • Die Erinnerung wirkt wie das Sammlungsglas in der Camera obscura: Sie zieht alles zusammen und bringt dadurch ein viel schöneres Bild hervor, als sein Original ist.
    • The memory works like the collection glass in the Camera obscura: It gathers all together from it is produced a far more beautiful picture, than was originally there.
  • Alles, alles kann einer vergessen, nur nicht sich selbst, sein eigenes Wesen.
    • One can forget everything, everything, only not oneself, one's own being.
  • Zu unserer Besserung bedürfen wir eines Spiegels.
    • For our improvement we need a mirror.
  • Meistens belehrt uns erst der Verlust über den Wert der Dinge.
    • Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.
  • Die wohlfeilste Art des Stolzes hingegen ist der Nationalstolz. Denn er verrät in dem damit Behafteten den Mangel an individuellen Eigenschaften, auf die er stolz sein könnte, indem er sonst nicht zu dem greifen würde, was er mit so vielen Millionen teilt. Wer bedeutende persönliche Vorzüge besitzt, wird vielmehr die Fehler seiner eigenen Nation, da er sie beständig vor Augen hat, am deutlichsten erkennen. Aber jeder erbärmliche Tropf, der nichts in der Welt hat, darauf er stolz sein könnte, ergreift das letzte Mittel, auf die Nation, der er gerade angehört, stolz zu sein. Hieran erholt er sich und ist nun dankbarlich bereit, alle Fehler und Torheiten, die ihr eigen sind, mit Händen und Füßen zu verteidigen.
    • The cheapest form of pride however is national pride. For it betrays in the one thus afflicted the lack of individual qualities of which he could be proud, while he would not otherwise reach for what he shares with so many millions. He who possesses significant personal merits will rather recognise the defects of his own nation, as he has them constantly before his eyes, most clearly. But that poor beggar who has nothing in the world of which he can be proud, latches onto the last means of being proud, the nation to which he belongs to. Thus he recovers and is now in gratitude ready to defend with hands and feet all errors and follies which are its own.
      • Kap. II
  • Je weniger einer, in Folge objektiver oder subjektiver Bedingungen, nötig hat, mit den Menschen in Berührung zu kommen, desto besser ist er daran.
    • The less one, as a result of objective or subjective conditions, has to come into contact with people, the better off one is for it.
  • Was nun andrerseits die Menschen gesellig macht, ist ihre Unfähigkeit, die Einsamkeit und in dieser sich selbst zu ertragen.
    • What now on the other hand makes people sociable is their incapacity to endure solitude and thus themselves.

Counsels and Maxims

Counsels and Maxims, as translated by T. Bailey Saunders (also on Wikisource: Counsels and Maxims).
The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable.
  • The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 1, § 1
  • Do not shorten the morning by getting up late, or waste it in unworthy occupations or in talk; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred. Evening is like old age: we are languid, talkative, silly. Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.
  • All the cruelty and torment of which the world is full is in fact merely the necessary result of the totality of the forms under which the will to live is objectified.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 14, § 164
  • The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 1, § 17
  • How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 3, § 39
  • Suicide may also be regarded as an experiment — a question which man puts to Nature, trying to force her to answer. The question is this: What change will death produce in a man’s existence and in his insight into the nature of things? It is a clumsy experiment to make; for it involves the destruction of the very consciousness which puts the question and awaits the answer.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 13, § 160
  • Newspapers are the second hand of history. This hand, however, is usually not only of inferior metal to the other hands, it also seldom works properly.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 19, § 233
  • Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 20, § 242
  • Patriotism, when it wants to make itself felt in the domain of learning, is a dirty fellow who should be thrown out of doors.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 21, § 255
  • As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value to you than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself; because only through ordering what you know by comparing every truth with every other truth can you take complete possession of your knowledge and get it into your power. You can think about only what you know, so you ought to learn something; on the other hand, you can know only what you have thought about.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 22, § 257 "On Thinking for Yourself" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms(1970) as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
    • Variant translation: Just as the largest library, badly arranged, is not so useful as a very moderate one that is well arranged, so the greatest amount of knowledge, if not elaborated by our own thoughts, is worth much less than a far smaller volume that has been abundantly and repeatedly thought over.
  • Truth that has been merely learned is like an 
artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; at best, 
like a nose made out of another's flesh; it adheres to 
us only ‘because it is put on. But truth acquired by 
thinking of our own is like a natural limb; it alone 
really belongs to us. This is the fundamental difference 
between the thinker and the mere man of learning. 
The intellectual attainments of a man who thinks 
for himself resemble a fine painting, where the light 
and shade are correct, the tone sustained, the colour 
perfectly harmonised; it is true to life. On the other 
hand, the intellectual attainments of the mere man of 
learning are like a large palette, full of all sorts of 
colours, which at most are systematically arranged, 
but devoid of harmony, connection and meaning.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 22, § 261
  • Reading is merely a surrogate for thinking for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts. Many books, moreover, serve merely to show how many ways there are of being wrong, and how far astray you yourself would go if you followed their guidance. You should read only when your own thoughts dry up, which will of course happen frequently enough even to the best heads; but to banish your own thoughts so as to take up a book is a sin against the holy ghost; it is like deserting untrammeled nature to look at a herbarium or engravings of landscapes.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 22, § 261
    • Variant translations:
    • Reading is thinking with some one else's head
instead of one's own.
      • As translated by T. Bailey Saunders
    • Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own.
  • Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 23, § 296a
  • * Hatred is a thing of the heart, contempt a thing of the head. Hatred and contempt are decidedly antagonistic towards one another and mutually exclusive. A great deal of hatred, indeed, has no other source than a compelled respect for the superior qualities of some other person; conversely, if you were to consider hating every miserable wretch you met you would have your work cut out: it is much easier to despise them one and all. True, genuine contempt, which is the obverse of true, genuine pride, stays hidden away in secret and lets no one suspect its existence: for if you let a person you despise notice the fact, you thereby reveal a certain respect for him, inasmuch as you want him to know how low you rate him — which betrays not contempt but hatred, which excludes contempt and only affects it. Genuine contempt, on the other hand, is the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 24, § 324
    • Variant translation: Hatred is an affair of the heart; contempt that of the head.
      • As translated by Eric F. J. Payne
  • The word of man is the most durable of all material.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 25, sect. 298
  • Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 26, § 310, as translated by Eric F. J. Payne
  • We can come to look upon the deaths of our enemies with as much regret as we feel for those of our friends, namely, when we miss their existence as witnesses to our success.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 26, sect. 311a
  • Money is human happiness in the abstract: he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete devotes his heart entirely to money.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 26, § 320
  • Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 26, § 321
  • Only a male intellect clouded by the sexual drive could call the stunted, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped and short-legged sex the fair sex.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 27, § 369 (18
  • In our monogamous part of the world, to marry means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 27, § 370
    • Variant translation: To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties.
  • A man’s face as a rule says more, and more interesting things, than his mouth, for it is a compendium of everything his mouth will ever say, in that it is the monogram of all this man’s thoughts and aspirations.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 29, § 377
  • That the outer man is a picture of the inner, and the face an expression and revelation of the whole character, is a presumption likely enough in itself, and therefore a safe one to go on; borne out as it is by the fact that people are always anxious to see anyone who has made himself famous .... Photography ... offers the most complete satisfaction of our curiosity.
    • Vol. 2, Ch. 29, § 377
  • As the strata of the earth preserve in succession the living creatures of past epochs, so the shelves of libraries preserve in succession the errors of the past and their expositions, which like the former were very lively and made a great commotion in their own age but now stand petrified and stiff in a place where only the literary palaeontologist regards them.
    • Vol. 2 "On Books and Writing" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • Two Chinamen visiting Europe went to the theatre for the first time. One of them occupied himself with trying to understand the theatrical machinery, which he succeeded in doing. The other, despite his ignorance of the language, sought to unravel the meaning of the play. The former is like the astronomer, the latter the philosopher.
    • Vol. 2 "On Various Subjects" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • The animals are much more content with mere existence than we are; the plants are wholly so; and man is so according to how dull and insensitive he is. The animal’s life consequently contains less suffering but also less pleasure than the human’s, the direct reason being that on the one hand it is free from care and anxiety and the torments that attend them, but on the other is without hope and therefore has no share in that anticipation of a happy future which, together with the enchanting products of the imagination which accompany it, is the source of most of our greatest joys and pleasures. The animal lacks both anxiety and hope because its consciousness is restricted to what is clearly evident and thus to the present moment: the animal is the present incarnate.
    • Vol. 2 "On the Suffering of the World" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine. It isn’t money, for genius seldom gets any. It isn’t fame: fame is too uncertain and, more closely considered, of too little worth. Nor is it strictly for its own pleasure, for the great exertion involved almost outweighs the pleasure. It is rather an instinct of a unique sort by virtue of which the individual possessed of genius is impelled to express what he has seen and felt in enduring works without being conscious of any further motivation. It takes place, by and large, with the same sort of necessity as a tree brings forth fruit, and demands of the world no more than a soil on which the individual can flourish.
    • Vol. 2 "On Philosophy and the Intellect" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
Writers may be classified as meteors, planets, and fixed stars...
  • The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts as far as his mental powers will permit. This is why he is able to engage men of the most differing capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small.
    • Vol. 2 "On Philosophy and the Intellect" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the centre of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the true point at which it can remain at rest.
    • Vol. 2 "Further Psychological Observations" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies.
    • Vol. 2 "On Women" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • Writers may be classified as meteors, planets, and fixed stars. A meteor makes a striking effect for a moment. You look up and cry “There!” and it is gone forever. Planets and wandering stars last a much longer time. They often outshine the fixed stars and are confounded by them by the inexperienced; but this only because they are near. It is not long before they must yield their place; nay, the light they give is reflected only, and the sphere of their influence is confined to their orbit — their contemporaries. Their path is one of change and movement, and with the circuit of a few years their tale is told. Fixed stars are the only ones that are constant; their position in the firmament is secure; they shine with a light of their own; their effect today is the same as it was yesterday, because, having no parallax, their appearance does not alter with a difference in our standpoint. They belong not to one system, one nation only, but to the universe. And just because they are so very far away, it is usually many years before their light is visible to the inhabitants of this earth.
    • Vol. 2 "The Art of Literature" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
  • For an author to write as he speaks is just as reprehensible as the opposite fault, to speak as he writes; for this gives a pedantic effect to what he says, and at the same time makes him hardly intelligible.
    • The Art of Literature

not as yet placed by section or chapter:

cited as from Counsels and Maxims but without further information
  • A man of intellect is like an artist who gives a concert without any help from anyone else, playing on a single instrument — a piano, say, which is a little orchestra in itself. Such a man is a little world in himself; and the effect produced by various instruments together, he produces single-handed, in the unity of his own consciousness. Like the piano, he has no place in a symphony; he is a soloist and performs by himself — in soli tude, it may be; or if in the company with other instruments, only as principal; or for setting the tone, as in singing.
  • In youth it is the outward aspect of things that most engages us; while in age, thought or reflection is the predominating quality of the mind. Hence, youth is the time for poetry, and age is more inclined to philosophy. In practical affairs it is the same: a man shapes his resolutions in youth more by the impression that the outward world makes upon him; whereas, when he is old, it is thought that determines his actions.
  • There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome — to be got over.

Studies in Pessimism

Full text online at Wikisource
  • A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten
  • Hatred comes from the heart; contempt from the head; and neither feeling is quite within our control.
  • Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
    • "Psychological Observations"
  • Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection.
    • "Psychological Observations"
  • Dissimulation is innate in woman, and almost as much a quality of the stupid as of the clever.
  • There are 80,000 prostitutes in London alone and what are they, if not bloody sacrifices on the altar of monogamy?
    • "Of Women"
  • Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought.

On Books and Reading

On Books and Reading

  • The heavy armor becomes the light dress of childhood; the pain is brief, the joy unending.
    Der schwere Panzer wird zum Flügelkleide
    Kurz ist der Schmerz, unendlich ist die Freude.
    The heavy armor becomes the winged dress
    brief is the pain, unending is the joy.

Not yet placed by volume, chapter or section

Quotes cited as from Parerga and Paralipomena, but without further translation or section information.
  • Because people have no thoughts to deal in, they deal cards, and try and win one another’s money. Idiots!
  • Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point.
    • Footnote, unspecified section.


  • If at times I have thought myself unfortunate, it is because of a confusion, an error. I have mistaken myself for someone else... Who am I really? I am the author of The World as Will and Representation, I am the one who has given an answer to the mystery of Being that will occupy the thinkers of future centuries. That is what I am, and who can dispute it in the years of life that still remain for me?
    • from The Total Library by Jorge Luis Borges, 1999
  • As my own father was sick, and miserably tied to his invalid's chair, he would have been abandoned had not an old servant performed for him a so-called service of love. My mother gave parties while he was perishing in solitude, and amused herself while he was suffering bitter agonies
    • Schopenhauer and the Wild Years of Philosophy By Rudiger Safranski, Rüdiger Safranski, Ewald Osers
  • "Monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun 3,000 years: just because a jealous god had said, 'Thou shalt make no graven image.'"
    • Schopenhauer On Religion
  • Spinoza says that if a stone which has been projected through the air, had consciousness, it would believe that it was moving of its own free will. I add this only, that the stone would be right. The impulse given it is for the stone what the motive is for me, and what in the case of the stone appears as cohesion, gravitation, rigidity, is in its inner nature the same as that which I recognise in myself as will, and what the stone also, if knowledge were given to it, would recognise as will.
    • Schopenhauer
  • There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome; to be got over.
    • Shopenhauer


Quotes sourced to various essays, not yet sourced to the original German volumes.
  • The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom.
    • Personality; or, What a Man Is
  • A man who has no mental needs, because his intellect is of the narrow and normal amount, is, in the strict sense of the word, what is called a philistine.
    • Personality; or, What a Man Is
  • Intellect is invisible to the man who has none.
    • Our Relation to Others, § 23
  • There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness, revelry, high life.
    • Our Relation to Others, § 24
  • To free a man from error is to give, not to take away. Knowledge that a thing is false is a truth. Error always does harm; sooner or later it will bring mischief to the man who harbors it. Then give up deceiving people; confess ignorance of what you don't know, and leave everyone to form his own articles of faith for himself. Perhaps they won't turn out so bad, especially as they'll rub one another's corners down, and mutually rectify mistakes. The existence of many views will at any rate lay a foundation of tolerance. Those who possess knowledge and capacity may betake themselves to the study of philosophy, or even in their own persons carry the history of philosophy a step further.
    • "Religion : A Dialogue."
    • Variant translation: To free a man from error does not mean to take something from him, but to give him something.
  • Men of learning are those who have read the contents of books. Thinkers, geniuses, and those who have enlightened the world and furthered the race of men, are those who have made direct use of the book of the world.
  • Truth that has been merely learned is like an 
artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; at best, 
like a nose made out of another's flesh; it adheres to 
us only ‘because it is put on. But truth acquired by 
thinking of our own is like a natural limb; it alone 
really belongs to us. This is the fundamental difference 
between the thinker and the mere man of learning. 
The intellectual attainments of a man who thinks 
for himself resemble a fine painting, where the light 
and shade are correct, the tone sustained, the colour 
perfectly harmonised; it is true to life. On the other 
hand, the intellectual attainments of the mere man of 
learning are like a large palette, full of all sorts of 
colours, which at most are systematically arranged, 
but devoid of harmony, connection and meaning. 

  • In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.
  • In Christian ethics ... animals are seen as mere things. They can therefore be used for vivisection, hunting, coarsing, bull-fights and horse-races and can be whipped to death as they struggle along with their heavy carts of stone. Shame on such a morality that fails to recognise the eternal essence that exists in every living thing and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun.
  • The chief objection that I have to Pantheism is that it says nothing. To call the world "God" is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word "world".
    • On Pantheism as quoted in Faiths of Famous Men in Their Own Words (1900) by John Kenyon Kilbourn; also in Religion : A Dialogue and Other Essays (2007), p. 40
  • Jede menschliche Vollkommenheit ist einem Fehler verwandt, in welchen überzugehn sie droht.
  • Every human perfection is linked to an error which it threatens to turn into.
    • Zur Ethik
  • Alles Wollen entspringt aus Bedürfnis, also aus Mangel, also aus Leiden.
    • All wanting comes from need, therefore from lack, therefore from suffering.
      • Welt und Mensch II, S. 230ff
  • Es gibt nur eine Heilkraft, und das ist die Natur; in Salben und Pillen steckt keine. Höchstens können sie der Heilkraft der Natur einen Wink geben, wo etwas für sie zu tun ist.
    • There is only one healing force, and that is nature; in pills and ointments there is none. At most they can give the healing force of nature a hint about where there is something for it to do.
      • Neue Paralipomena

On Authorship and Style

"On Authorship and Style" as translated by Mrs. Rudolf Dircks
On Authorship and On Style translated by T. B. Saunders on Wikisource.
Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes...
  • There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject’s sake, and those who write for writing’s sake. The first kind have had thoughts or experiences which seem to them worth communicating, while the second kind need money and consequently write for money.
  • No greater mistake can be made than to imagine that what has been written latest is always the more correct; that what is written later on is an improvement on what was written previously; and that every change means progress. Men who think and have correct judgment, and people who treat their subject earnestly, are all exceptions only. Vermin is the rule everywhere in the world: it is always at hand and busily engaged in trying to improve in its own way upon the mature deliberations of the thinkers.
  • A book can never be anything more than the impression of its author’s thoughts. The value of these thoughts lies either in the matter about which he has thought, or in the form in which he develops his matter — that is to say, what he has thought about it.
  • For a work to become immortal it must possess so many excellences that it will not be easy to find a man who understands and values them all; so that there will be in all ages men who recognise and appreciate some of these excellences; by this means the credit of the work will be retained throughout the long course of centuries and ever-changing interests, for, as it is appreciated first in this sense, then in that, the interest is never exhausted.
  • The little honesty that exists among authors is discernible in the unconscionable way they misquote from the writings of others.
  • Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes; this is partly because it gets unobstructed hold of the hearer’s mind without his being distracted by secondary thoughts, and partly because he feels that here he is not being corrupted or deceived by the arts of rhetoric, but that the whole effect is got from the thing itself.
  • The law of simplicity and naïveté applies to all fine art, for it is compatible with what is most sublime.
    True brevity of expression consists in a man only saying what is worth saying, while avoiding all diffuse explanations of things which every one can think out for himself; that is, it consists in his correctly distinguishing between what is necessary and what is superfluous. On the other hand, one should never sacrifice clearness, to say nothing of grammar, for the sake of being brief. To impoverish the expression of a thought, or to obscure or spoil the meaning of a period for the sake of using fewer words shows a lamentable want of judgment.


  • All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    • As cited in Truth : Resuming the Age of Reason (2006) by Mahlon Marr; the earliest attribution of this to Schopenhauer yet found dates to around 1986; it is also sometimes misattributed to George Bernard Shaw, and a similar statement is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
    • Variant : Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed, in the second it is opposed, in the third it is regarded as self- evident.
    • The earliest similar statements yet found in published works online are:
    • It has been said that the reception of an original contribution to knowledge may be divided into three phases: during the first it is ridiculed as not true, impossible or useless; during the second, people say that there may be something in it but it would never be of any practical use; and in the third and final phase, when the discovery has received general recognition, there are usually people who say that it is not original and has been anticipated by others. [a note at the bottom of the page adds: This saying seems to have originated from Sir James Mackenzie (The Beloved Physician, by R. M. Wilson, John Murray, London)]
    • First, it is ridiculed; second, it is subject to argument: third, it is accepted.
      • Earl B. Morgan, in "The Accident Prevention Problem in the Small Shop" in Safety Engineering Vol. 33 (1950), p. 366
    • The four stages of acceptance: 1. This is worthless nonsense. 2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view. 3. This is true, but quite unimportant. 4. I always said so.
      • J. B. S. Haldane, Journal of Genetics 1963 (Vol 58, p.464) in a review of 'The Truth About Death'.

Quotes about Schopenhauer

  • Ich glaube nicht an die Freiheit des Willens. Schopenhauers Wort: »Der Mensch kann wohl tun was er will, aber er kann nicht wollen, was er will.« begleitet mich in allen Lebenslagen und versöhnt mich mit den Handlungen der Menschen, auch wenn sie mir recht schmerzlich sind. Diese Erkenntnis von der Unfreiheit des Willens schützt mich davor, mich selbst und die Mitmenschen als handelnde und urteilende Individuen allzu ernst zu nehmen und den guten Humor zu verlieren.
    • I do not believe in freedom of will. Schopenhauer's words, "Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants", accompany me in all life situations and console me in my dealings with people, even those that are really painful to me. This recognition of the unfreedom of the will protects me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and judging individuals and losing good humour.
  • Kant and Berkeley always seemed to be very deep thinkers, but, with Schopenhauer, you seem to be looking at the bottom straight away.
  • He speaks to me as no other philosopher does, direct and in his own human voice, a fellow spirit, a pentratingly perceptive friend, with a hand on my elbow and a twinkle in his eye.
  • When I met Borges some time ago and remarked that I was about to embark on writing a book about Schopenhauer, he became excited and started talked volubly about how much Schopenhauer had meant to him. It was the desire to read Schopenhauer in the original, he said, that had made him learn German; and when people asked him, which they often had, why he with his love of intricate structure had never attempted a systematic exposition of the world-view which underlay his writings, his reply was that he did not do it because it had already been done by Schopenhauer."
  • ...impassioned, lucid Schopenhauer...
  • He was the first to speak of the suffering of the world, which visibly and glaringly surrounds us, and of confusion, passion, evil — all those things which the [other philosophers] hardly seemed to notice and always tried to resolve into all-embracing harmony and comprehensiblility. Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for the best in the fundaments of the universe.
    • Carl Jung, in Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961), p. 69
  • ...fourmish her in Spinner's housery at the earthbest schoppinhour...

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER (1788-1860), German philosopher, was born in Danzig on the 22nd of February 1788. His parents belonged to the mercantile aristocracy - the bankers and traders of Danzig. His father, Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, the youngest of a family to which the mother had brought the germs of mental malady, was a man of strong will and originality, and so proud of the independence of his native town that when Danzig in 1793 surrendered to the Prussians he and his whole establishment withdrew to Hamburg. At the age of forty he married Johanna Henrietta Trosiener, then only twenty, but the marriage owing to difference of temperament was unhappy. Their two children, Arthur and Adele (born 1796), bore the penalty of their parents' incompatibilities. They were burdened by an abnormal urgency of desire and capacity for suffering, which no doubt took different phases in the man and the woman, but linked them together in a common susceptibility to ideal pain.' In the summer of 1787, a year after the marriage, the elder Schopenhauer, whom commercial experiences had made a cosmopolitan in heart, took his wife on a tour to western Europe. It had been his plan that the expected child should see the light in England, but the intention was frustrated by the state of his wife's health. The name Arthur was chosen because it remains the same in English, French and German.

During the twelve years which followed the removal of the family to Hamburg (1793-1805) the Schopenhauers made frequent excursions. From 1797 to 1799 Arthur was a boarder with M. Gregoire, a merchant of Havre, and friend of the Hamburg house, with whose son Anthime he formed a fast friendship. Returning to Hamburg, for the next four years he had but indifferent training. When he reached the age of fifteen the scholarly and literary instincts began to awaken. But his father, steeped in the spirit of commerce, was unwilling that a son of his should worship knowledge and truth. Accordingly he offered his son the choice between the classical school and an excursion to England. A boy of fifteen could scarcely hesitate. In 1803 the Schopenhauers and their son set out on a lengthened tour, of which Johanna has given an account, to Holland, England, France and Austria. Six months were spent in England. He found English ways dull and precise and the religious observances exacting; and his mother had - not for the last time - to talk seriously with him on his unsocial and wilful character. At Hamburg in the beginning of 1805 he was placed in a merchant's office. He had only been there for three months when his father, who had shown 1 Johanna Schopenhauer (1766-1838) was in her day an 'author of some reputation. Besides editing the memoirs of Fernow, she published Notes on Travels in England, Scotland and Southern France (1813-1817); Johann van Eyck and his Successors (1823); three romances, Gabriele (1819-1820), Die Tante (1823) and Sidonia (1828), besides some shorter tales. These novels teach the moral of renunciation (Entsagung). Her daughter Adele (1796-1849) seems to have had a brave, tender and unsatisfied heart, and lavished on her brother an affection he sorely tried. She also was an authoress, publishing in 1844 a volume of Haus-, Wald-, and Feld-Mdrehen, full of quaint poetical conceits, and in 1845 Anna, a novel, in two vols. See Laura Frost, Johanna Schopenhauer: symptoms of mental alienation, fell or threw himself into the canal. After his death the young widow (still under forty), leaving Arthur at Hamburg, proceeded with her daughter Adele in the middle of 1806 to Weimar, where she arrived only a fortnight before the tribulation which followed the victory of Napoleon at Jena. At Weimar her talents, hitherto held in check, found an atmosphere to stimulate and foster them, her aesthetic and literary tastes formed themselves under the influence of Goethe and his circle, and her little salon gained a certain celebrity. Arthur, meanwhile, became more and more restless, and his mother allowed him to leave his employment. He began his education again at Gotha, but a satire on one of the teachers led to his dismissal. He was then placed with the Greek scholar Franz Passow, who superintended his classical studies. This time he made so much progress that in two years he read Greek and Latin with fluency and interest.

In 1809 his mother handed over to him (aged twenty-one) the third part of the paternal estate, which gave him an income of r50, and in October 1809 he entered the university of Göttingen. The direction of his philosophical reading was fixed by the advice of G. E. Schulze to study, especially, Plato and Kant. For the former he soon found himself full of reverence, and from the latter he acquired the standpoint of modern philosophy. The names of "Plato the divine and the marvellous Kant" are conjunctly invoked at the beginning of his earliest work. But even at this stage of his career the pessimism of his later writings began to manifest itself, together with a susceptibility to morbid fears which led him to keep loaded weapons always at his bedside. He was a man of few acquaintances, amongst the few being Bunsen, the subsequent scholar-diplomatist, and Bunsen's pupil, W. B. Astor, the son of Washington Irving's millionaire hero. Even then he found his trustiest mate in a poodle, and its bearskin was an institution in his lodging. Yet, precisely because he met the world so seldom in easy dialogue, he was unnecessarily dogmatic in controversy; and many a bottle of wine went to pay for lost wagers. But he had made up his mind to be not an actor but an onlooker and critic in the battle of life; and when Wieland, whom he met on one of his excursions, suggested doubts as to the wisdom of his choice, Schopenhauer replied, "Life is a ticklish business; I have resolved to spend it in reflecting upon it." After two years at Göttingen he took two years at Berlin. Here also he dipped into divers stores of learning, notably classics under Wolf. In philosophy he heard Fichte and Schleiermacher. Between 1811 and 1813 the lectures of Fichte (subsequently published from his notes in his Nachgelassene Werke) dealt with what he called the "facts of consciousness" and the "theory of science," and struggled to present his final conception of philosophy. These lectures Schopenhauer attended - at first, it is allowed, with interest, but afterwards with a spirit of opposition which is said to have degenerated into contempt, and which in after years never permitted him to refer to Fichte without contumely. Yet the words Schopenhauer then listened to, often with baffled curiosity, certainly influenced his speculation.

In Berlin Schopenhauer was lonely and unhappy. One of his interests was to visit the hospital La Charite and study the evidence it afforded of the interdependence of the moral and the physical in man. In the early days of 1813 sympathy with the national enthusiasm against the French carried him so far as to buy a set of arms; but he stopped short of volunteering for active service, reflecting that Napoleon gave after all only concentrated and untrammelled utterance to that self-assertion and lust for more life which weaker mortals feel but must perforce disguise. Leaving the nation and its statesmen to fight out their freedom, he hurried away to Weimar, and thence to the quiet Thuringian town of Rudolstadt, where in the inn "Zum Ritter," out of sight of soldier and sound of drum, he wrote, helped by books from the Weimar library, his essay for the degree of doctor in philosophy. On the 2nd of October 1813 he received his diploma from Jena; and in the same year from the press at Rudolstadt there was published - without winning notice or readers - his first book, Ober die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde, trans. in Bohn's Philological Library (1889).

In November 1813 Schopenhauer returned to Weimar, and for a few months boarded with his mother. But the strain of daily association was too much for their antagonistic natures. His splenetic temper and her volatility culminated in an open rupture in May 1814. From that time till her death in 1838 Schopenhauer never saw his mother again. During these few months at Weimar, however, he made some acquaintances destined to influence the subsequent course of his thought. Conversations with the Orientalist F. Mayer directed his studies to the philosophical speculations of ancient India. In 1808 Friedrich Schlegel had in his Language and Wisdom of the Old Hindus brought Brahmanical philosophy within the range of European literature. Still more instructive for Schopenhauer was the imperfect and obscure Latin translation of the Upanishads which in 1801-1802 Anquetil Duperron had published from a Persian version of the Sanskrit original. Another friendship of the same period had more palpable immediate effect, but not so permanent. This was with Goethe, who succeeded in securing his interest for those investigations on colours on which he was himself engaged. Schopenhauer took up the subject in earnest, and the result of his reflexions (and a few elementary observations) soon after appeared (Easter 1816) as a monograph, Ober das Sehen and die Farben (ed. Leipzig, 1854). The essay, which must be treated as an episode or digression from the direct path of Schopenhauer's development, due to the potent force of Goethe, was written at Dresden, to which he had transferred his abode after the rupture with his mother. It had been sent in MS. to Goethe in the autumn of 1815, who, finding in it a transformation rather than an expansion of his own ideas, inclined to regard the author as an opponent rather than an adherent.

The pamphlet begins by re-stating with reference to sight the general theory that perception of an objective world rests upon an instinctive causal postulation, which even when it misleads still remains to haunt us (instead of being, like errors of reason, open to extirpation by evidence), and proceeds to deal with physiological colour, i.e. with colours as felt (not perceived) modifications of the action of the retina. First of all, the distinction of white and black, with their mean point in grey, is referred to the activity or inactivity of the total retina in the graduated presence or absence of full light. Further, the eye is endowed with polarity, by which its activity is divided into two parts qualitatively distinct. It is this circumstance which gives rise to the phenomenon of colour. All colours are complementary, or go in pairs; each pair makes up the whole activity of the retina, and so is equivalent to white; and the two partial activities are so connected that when the first is exhausted the other spontaneously succeeds. Such pairs of colour may be regarded as infinite in number; but there are three pairs which stand out prominently, and admit of easy expression for the ratio in which each contributes to the total action. These are red and green (each=), orange and blue (2: I), and yellow and violet (3: 1).' This theory of complementary colours as due to the polarity in the qualitative action of the retina is followed by some criticism of Newton and the seven colours, by an attempt to explain some facts noted by Goethe, and by some reference to the external stimuli which cause colour.

The grand interest of his life at Dresden was the composition of a work which should give expression in all its aspects to the idea of man's nature and destiny which had been gradually forming within him. Without cutting himself altogether either from social pleasures or from art, he read and took notes with regularity. More and.more he learned from Cabanis and Helvetius to see in the will and the passions the determinants of intellectual life, and in the character and the temper the source of theories and beliefs. The conviction was borne in upon him that scientific explanation could never do more than systematize and classify the mass of appearances which to our habit-blinded eyes seem to be the reality. To get at this reality and thus to reach a standpoint higher than that of aetiology was the problem of his as of all philosophy. It is only by such a tower of speculation that an 1 In this doctrine, so far as the facts go, Schopenhauer is indebted to a paper by R. Waring Darwin in vol. lxxvi. of the Transactions of the Philosophical Society. escape is possible from the spectre of materialism, theoretical and practical; and so, says Schopenhauer, "the just and good must all have this creed: I believe in a metaphysic." The mere reasonings of theoretical science leave no room for art, and practical prudence usurps the place of morality. The higher life of aesthetic and ethical activity - the beautiful and the good - can only be based upon an intuition which penetrates the heart of reality. Towards the spring of 1818 the work was nearing its end, and Brockhaus of Leipzig had agreed to publish it and pay the author one ducat for every sheet of printed matter. But, as the press loitered, Schopenhauer, suspecting treachery, wrote so rudely and haughtily to the publisher that the latter broke off correspondence with his client. In the end of 1818, however, the book appeared (with the date 1819) as Die Welt als Wille and Vorstellung, in four books, with an appendix containing a criticism of the Kantian philosophy (Eng. trans. by R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, 1883). Long before the work had come to the hands of the public Schopenhauer had rushed off to Italy. He stayed for a time in Venice, where Byron was then living; but the two did not meet. At Rome he visited the art galleries, the opera, the theatre, and gladly seized every chance of conversing in English with Englishmen. In March 1819 he went as far as Naples and Paestium. About this time the fortunes of his mother and sister and himself were threatened by the failure of the firm in Danzig. His sister accepted a compromise of 70%, but Schopenhauer angrily refused this, and eventually recovered 9400 thalers.

After some stay at Dresden, hesitating between fixing himself as university teacher at Göttingen, Heidelberg or Berlin, he finally chose the last-mentioned. He was, however, not a good lecturer, and his work soon came to an end. His failure he attributed to Hegelian intrigues. Thus, except for some attention to physiology, the first two years at Berlin were wasted. In May 1822 he set out by way of Switzerland for Italy. After spending the winter at Florence and Rome, he left in the spring of 1823 for Munich, where he stayed for nearly a year, the prey of illness and isolation. When at the end of this wretched time he left for Gastein, in May 1824, he had almost entirely lost the hearing of his right ear. Dresden, which he reached in August, no longer presented the same hospitable aspect as of old, and he was reluctantly drawn onwards to Berlin in May 1825.

The six years at Berlin were a dismal period in the life of Schopenhauer. In vain did he watch for any sign of recognition of his philosophic genius. Hegelianism reigned in the schools and in literature and basked in the sunshine of authority. Thus driven back upon himself, Schopenhauer fell into morbid meditations, and the world which he saw, if it was stripped naked of its disguises, lost its proportions in the distorting light. The sexual passion had a strong attraction for him at all times, and, according to his biographers, the notes he set down in English, when he was turned thirty, on marriage and kindred topics are unfit for publication. Yet in the loneliness of life at Berlin the idea of a wife as the comfort of gathering age sometimes rose before his mind - only to be driven away by cautious hesitations as to the capacity of his means, and by the shrinking from the loss of familiar liberties. He wrote nothing material. In 1828 he made inquiries about a chair at Heidelberg; and in 1830 he got a shortened Latin version of his physiological theory of colours inserted in the third volume of the Scriptores ophthalmologici minores (edited by Radius).

Another pathway to reputation was suggested by some remarks he saw in the seventh number of the Foreign Review, in an article on Damiron's French Philosophy in the igth Century. With reference to some statements in the article on the importance of Kant, he sent in very fair English a letter to the writer, offering to translate Kant's principal works into English. He named his wages and enclosed a specimen of his work. His correspondent, Francis Haywood, made a counter-proposal which so disgusted Schopenhauer that he addressed his next letter to the publishers of the review. When they again referred him to Haywood, he applied to Thomas Campbell, then chairman of a company formed for buying up the copyright of meritorious but rejected works. Nothing came of this application.' A translation of selections from the works of Balthazar Gracian,. which was published by Frauenstlldt in 1862, seems to have been made about this time.2 In 1833 he settled finally at Frankfort, gloomily waiting for the recognition of his work, and terrified by fears of assassination and robbery. As the years passed he noted down every confirmation he found of his own opinions in the writings of others, and every instance in which his views appeared to be illustrated by new researches. Full of the conviction of his idea, he saw everything in the light of it, and gave each apercu a place in his alphabetically arranged note-book. Everything he published in later life may be called a commentary, an excursus or a scholium to his main book; and many of them are decidedly of the nature of commonplace books or collectanea of notes. But along with the accumulation of his illustrative and corroborative materials grew the bitterness of heart which found its utterances neglected and other names the oracles of the reading world. The gathered illhumour of many years, aggravated by the confident assurance of the Hegelians, found vent at length in the introduction to his next book, where Hegel's works are described as three-quarters utter absurdity and one-quarter mere paradox - a specimen of the language in which during his subsequent career he used to advert to his three predecessors Fichte, Schelling, but above all Hegel. This work, with its wild outcry against the philosophy of the professoriate, was entitled Ober den Willen in der Natur, and was published in 1836 (revised and enlarged, 1854; Eng. trans., 1889). In 1837 Schopenhauer sent to the committee entrusted with the execution of the proposed monument to Goethe at Frankfort a long and deliberate expression of his views, in general and particular, on the best mode of carrying out the design. But his fellow-citizens passed by the remarks of the mere writer of books. More weight was naturally attached to the opinion he had advocated in his early criticism of Kant as to the importance, if not the superiority, of the first edition of the Kritik; in the collected issue of Kant's works by Rosenkranz and Schubert in 1838 that edition was put as the substantive text, with supplementary exhibition of the differences of the second.

In 1841 he published under the title Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik two essays which he had sent in 1838-1839 in competition for prizes offered. The first was in answer to the question "Whether man's free will can be proved from self-consciousness," proposed by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences at Drontheim. His essay was awarded the prize, and the author elected a. member of the society. But proportionate to his exultation in this first recognition of his merit was the depth of his mortification and the height of his indignation at the result of the second competition. He had sent to the Danish Academy at Copenhagen in 1839 an essay "On the Foundations of Morality" in answer to a vaguely worded subject of discussion to which they had invited candidates. His essay, though it was the only one in competition, was refused the prize on the grounds that he had failed to examine the chief problem (i.e. whether the basis of morality was to be sought in an intuitive idea of right), that his explanation was inadequate, and that he had been wanting in due respect to the summi philosophi of the age that was just passing. This last reason, while probably most effective with the judges, only stirred up more furiously the fury in Schopenhauer's breast, and his preface is one long fulmination against the ineptitudes and the charlatanry of his bête noire, Hegel.

In 1844 appeared the second edition of The World as Will and Idea, in two volumes. The first volume was a slightly altered reprint of the earlier issue; the second consisted of a series of chapters forming a commentary parallel to those into which the original work was now first divided. The longest of these new chapters deal with the primacy of the will, with death and with the metaphysics of sexual love. But, though only a small edition was struck off (500 copies of vol. i. and 750 of vol. ii.), 1 It was not till 1841 that a translation of Kant's Kritik in English appeared.

2 He also projected a translation of Hume's Essays and wrote a preface for it.

the report of sales which Brockhaus rendered in 1846 was unfavourable, and the price had afterwards to be reduced. Yet there were faint indications of coming fame, and the eagerness with which each new tribute from critic and admirer was welcomed is both touching and amusing. From 1843 onwards a jurist named F. Dorguth had trumpeted abroad Schopenhauer's name. In 1844 a letter from a Darmstadt lawyer, Joh. August Becker, asking for explanation of some difficulties, began an intimate correspondence which went on for some time (and which was published by Becker's son in 1883). But the chief evangelist (so Schopenhauer styled his literary followers as distinct from the apostles who published not) was Frauenstadt, who made his personal acquaintance in 1846. It was Frauenstalt who succeeded in finding a publisher for the Parerga and Paralipomena, which appeared at Berlin in 1851 (2 vols., pp. 4 6 5, 53 1; sel. trans. by J. B. Saunders, 1889; French by A. Dietrich, 'clog). Yet for this bulky collection of essays, philosophical and others, Schopenhauer received as honorarium only ten free copies of the work. Soon afterwards, Dr E. O. Lindner, assistant editor of the Vossische Zeitung, began a series of Schopenhauerite articles. Amongst them may be reckoned a translation by Mrs Lindner of an article by John Oxenford which appeared in the Westminster Review for April 1853, entitled "Iconoclasm in German Philosophy," being an outline of Schopenhauer's system. In 1854 Frauenstadt's Letters on the Schopenhauerean Philosophy showed that the new doctrines were become a subject of discussion - a state of things made still more obvious by the university of Leipzig offering a prize for the best exposition and examination of the principles of Schopenhauer's system. Besides this, the response his ideas gave to popular needs and feelings was evinced by the numerous correspondents who sought his advice in their difficulties. And for the same reason new editions of his works were called for - a second edition of his degree dissertation in 1847, of his Essay on Colours and of The Will in Nature in 1854, a third edition of The World as Will and Idea in 1859, and in 1860 a second edition of The Main Problems of Ethics. In 1854 Richard Wagner sent him a copy of the Ring of the Nibelung, with some words of thanks for a theory of music which had fallen in with his own conceptions. Three years later he received a visit from his old college friend Bunsen, who was then staying in Heidelberg. On his seventieth birthday congratulations flowed in from many quarters. In April 1860 he began to be affected by occasional difficulty in breathing and by palpitation of the heart. Another attack came on in autumn (9th September), and again a week later. On the evening of the 18th his friend and subsequent biographer, Dr Gwinner, sat with him and conversed. On the morning of the 21st September he rose and sat down alone to breakfast; shortly afterwards his doctor called and found him dead in his chair. By his will, made in 1852, with a codicil dated February 1859, his property, with the exception of some small bequests, was devised to the above-mentioned institution at Berlin. Gwinner was named executor, and Frauenstalt was entrusted with the care of his manuscripts and other literary remains.

It is often said that a philosophic system cannot be rightly understood without reference to the character and circumstances of the philosopher. The remark finds ample application in the case of Schopenhauer. The conditions of his training, which brought him in contact with the realities of life before he learned the phrases of scholastic language, give to his words the stamp of self-seen truth and the clearness of original conviction. They explain at the same time the naïveté which set a high price on the products his own energies had turned out, and could not see that what was so original to himself might seem less unique to other judges. Preoccupied with his own ideas, he chafed under the indifference of thinkers who had grown blasé in speculation and fancied himself persecuted by a conspiracy of professors of philosophy. It is not so easy to demonstrate the connexion between a man's life and doctrine. But it is at least plain that in the case of any philosopher, what makes him such is the faculty he has, more than other men, to get a clear idea of what he himself is and does. More than others he leads a second life in the spirit or intellect alongside of his life in the flesh - the life of knowledge beside the life of will. It is inevitable that he should be especially struck by the points in which the sensible and temporal life comes in conflict with the intellectual and eternal. It was thus that Schopenhauer by his own experience saw in the primacy of the will the fundamental fact of his philosophy, and found in the engrossing interests of the selfish 'pros the perennial hindrances of the higher life. For his absolute individualism, which recognizes in the state, the church, the family only so many superficial and incidental provisions of human craft, the means of relief was absorption in the intellectual and purely ideal aims which prepare the way for the cessation of temporal individuality altogether. But theory is one thing and practice another; and he will often lay most stress on the theory who is most conscious of defects in the practice. It need not, therefore, surprise us that the man who formulated the sum of virtue in justice and benevolence was unable to be just to his own kinsfolk and reserved his compassion largely for the brutes, and that the delineator of asceticism was more than moderately sensible of the comforts and enjoyments of life.

The philosophy of Schopenhauer, like almost every system of the 19th century, can hardly be understood without reference to the ideas of Kant. Anterior to Kant the gradual advance of idealism had been the most conspicuous feature in philo sophic speculation. That the direct objects of knowledge, the realities of experience, were after all only our ideas or from perceptions was the lesson of every thinker from Descartes to Hume. And this doctrine was generally understood to mean that human thought, limited as it was by its own weakness and acquired habits, could hardly hope to cope successfully with the problem of apprehending the real things. The idealist position Kant seemed at first sight to retain with an even stronger force than ever. But it is darkest just before the dawn; and Kant, the Copernicus of philosophy, had really altered the aspects of the doctrine of ideas. It was his purpose to show that the forms of thought (which he sought to isolate from the peculiarities incident to the organic body) were not merely customary means for licking into convenient shape the data of perception, but entered as underlying elements into the constitution of objects, making experience possible and determining the fundamental structure of nature. In other words, the forms of knowledge were the main factor in making objects. By Kant, however, these forms are generally treated psychologically as the action of the several faculties of a mind. Behind thinking there is the thinker. But in his successors, from Fichte to Hegel, this axiom of the plain man is set aside as antiquated. Thought or conception without a subjectagent appears as the principle - thought or thinking in its universality without any individual substrata in which it is embodied: TO voeav or vona-is is to be substituted for vas. This is the step of advance which is required alike by Fichte when he asks his reader to rise from the empirical ego to the ego which is subject-object (i.e. neither and both), and by Hegel when he tries to substitute the Begriff or notion for the Vorstellung or pictorial conception. As spiritism asks us to accept such suspension of ordinary mechanics. as permits human bodies to float through the air and part without injury to their members, so the new philosophy of Kant's immediate successors requires from the postulant for initiation willingness to reverse his customary beliefs in quasi-material subjects of thought. But, besides removing the psychological slag which clung to Kant's ideas from their matrix and presenting reason as the active principle in the formation of a universe, his successors carried out with far more detail, and far more enthusiasm and historical scope, his principle that in reason lay the a priori or the anticipation of the world, moral and physical. Not content with the barren assertion that the understanding makes nature, and that we can construct science only on the hypothesis that there is reason in the world, they proceeded to show how the thing was actually done. But to do so they had first to brush away a stone of stumbling which Kant had left in the way. This was the thing as it is by itself and apart from our knowledge of it - the something which we know, when and as we know it not. This somewhat is what Kant calls a limit-concept. It marks only that we feel our knowledge to be inadequate, and for the reason that there may be another species of sensation than ours, that other beings may not be tied by the special laws of our constitution, and may apprehend, as Plato says, by the soul itself apart from the senses. But this limitation, say the successors of Kant, rests upon a misconception. The sense of inadequacy is only a condition of growing knowledge in a being subject to the laws of space and time; and the very feeling is a proof of its implicit removal. Look at reason not in its single temporal manifestations but in its eternal operation, and then this universal thought, which may be called God, as the sense-conditioned reason is called man, becomes the very breath and structure of the world. Thus in the true idea of things there is no irreducible residuum of matter: mind is the Alpha and Omega, at once the initial postulate and the final truth of reality.

In various ways a reaction arose against this absorption of everything in reason. In Fichte himself the source of being is primeval activity, the groundless and incomprehensible deed-action (ThatHandlung) of the absolute ego. The innermost character of that ego is an infinitude in act and effort. "The will is the living principle of reason," he says again. "In the last resort," says Schelling (1809), in his Inquiries into the Nature of Human Freedom, " there is no other being but will. Wollen ist Ursein (will is primal being); and to this alone apply the predicates fathomless, eternal, independent of time, self-affirming." It is unnecessary to multiply instances to prove that idealism was never without a protest that there is a heart of existence, life, will, action, which is presupposed by all knowledge and is not itself amenable to explanation. We may, if we like, call this element, which is assumed as the basis of all scientific method, irrational - will instead of reason, feeling rather than knowledge.

It is under the banner of this protest against rationalizing idealism that Schopenhauer advances. But what marks out his armament is its pronounced realism. He fights with the weapons of physical doctrine and on the basis of the material earth. He knows no reason but the human, no intelligence save what is exhibited by the animals. He knows that both animals and men have come into existence within assignable limits of time, and that there was an anterior age when no eye or ear gathered the life of the universe into perceptions. Knowledge, therefore, with its vehicle, the intellect, is dependent upon the existence of certain nerve-organs located in an animal system; and its function is originally only to present an image of the interconnexions of the manifestations external to the individual organism, and so to give to the individual in a partial and reflected form that feeling with other things, or innate sympathy, which it loses as organization becomes more complex and characteristic. Knowledge or intellect, therefore, is only the surrogate of that more intimate unity of feeling or will which is the underlying reality - the principle of all existence, the essence of all manifestations, inorganic and organic. And the perfection of reason is attained when man has transcended those limits of individuation in which his knowledge at first presents him to himself, when by art he has risen from single objects to universal types, and by suffering and sacrifice has penetrated to that innermost sanctuary where the euthanasia of consciousness is reached - the blessedness of eternal repose.

In substantials the theory of Schopenhauer may be compared with a more prosaic statement of Herbert Spencer (modernizing Hume). All psychical states may, according to him, be treated as incidents of the correspondence between the organism and its environment. In this adjustment the lowest stage is taken by 'reflex action and instinct, where Spencer the change of the organs is purely automatic. As the external complexity increases, this automatic regularity fails; there is only an incipient excitation of the nerves. This feeble echo of the full response to stimulus is an idea, which is thus only another word for imperfect organization or adjustment. But gradually this imperfect correspondence is improved, and the idea passes over again into the state of unconscious or organic memory. Intellect, in short, is only the consequence of insufficient response between stimulus and action. Where action is entirely automatic, feeling does not exist. It is when the excitation is partial only, when it does not inevitably and immediately appear as action, that we have the appearance of intellect in the gap. The chief and fundamental difference between Schopenhauer and Spencer lies in the refusal of the latter to give this "adjustment" or "automatic action" the name of will. Will, according to Mr Spencer, is only another aspect of what is reason, memory or feeling - the difference lying in the fact that as will the nascent excitation (ideal motion) is conceived as passing into complete or full motion. But he agrees with Schopenhauer in basing consciousness, in all its forms of reason, feeling or will, upon "automatic movement - psychical change," from which consciousness emerges and in which it disappears.

What Schopenhauer professed, therefore, is to have dispelled the claims of reason to priority and to demonstrate the relativity and limitation of science. Science, he reminds us, is based on final inexplicabilities; and its attempts by theories of evolution to find an historical origin for humanity in rudimentary matter show a misconception of the problem. In the successions of material states there can nowhere be an absolute first. The true origin of man, as of all else, is to be sought in an action which is everlasting and which is ever present: nec to quaesiveris extra. There is a source of knowledge within us by which we know, and more intimately than we can ever know anything external, that we will and feel. That is the first and the highest knowledge, the only knowledge that can strictly be called immediate; and to ourselves we as the subject of will are truly the "immediate object." It is in this sense of will - of will without motives, but not without consciousness of some sort - that reality is revealed. Analogy and experience make us assume it to be omnipresent. It is a mistake to say will means for Schopenhauer only force. It means a great deal more; and it is his contention that what the scientist calls force is really will. In so doing he is only following the line predicted by Kant' and anticipated by Leibnitz. If we wish, said Kant, to give a real existence to the thing in itself or the noumenon we can only do so by investing it with the attributes found in our own internal sense, viz. with thinking or something analogous thereto. It is thus that Fechner in his "day-view" of things sees in plants and planets the same fundamental "soul" as in us - that is, "one simple being which appears to none but itself, in us as elsewhere wherever it occurs self-luminous, dark for every other eye, at the least connecting sensations in itself, upon which, as the grade of soul mounts higher and higher, there is constructed the consciousness of higher and still higher relations." 2 It is thus that Lotze declares' that "behind the tranquil surface of matter, behind its rigid and regular habits of behaviour, we are forced to seek the glow of a hidden spiritual activity." So Schopenhauer, but in a way all his own, finds the truth of things in a will which is indeed unaffected by conscious motives and yet cannot be separated from. some faint analogue of non-intellectual consciousness.

In two ways Schopenhauer has influenced the world. He has. shown with unusual lucidity of expression how feeble is the spontaneity of that intellect which is so highly lauded, and how overpowering the sway of original will in all our action. He thus re- asserted realism, whose gospel reads, "In the beginning was appetite, passion, will," and has discredited the doctrinaire belief that ideas have original force of their own. This creed of naturalism is. dangerous, and it may be true that the pessimism it implies often degenerates into cynicism and a cold-blooded denial that there is any virtue and any truth. But in the crash of established creeds. and the spread of political indifferentism and social disintegration it is probably wise, if not always agreeable, to lay bare the wounds under which humanity suffers, though pride would prompt their concealment. But Schopenhauer's theory has another side. If it is daringly realistic, it is no less audacious in its idealism. The second aspect of his influence is the doctrine of redemption of the soul from its sensual bonds, first by the medium of art and second by the path of renunciation and ascetic life. It may be difficult in each case to draw the line between social duty and individual perfection. But Schopenhauer reminds us that the welfare of society is a temporal and subordinate aim, never to be allowed to dwarf the full realization of our ideal being. Man's duty is undoubtedly to join in the common service of sentient beings; but his final goal is to rise above the toils and comforts of the visible creature into the vast bosom of a peaceful Nirvana.


Complete works edited by J. Frauenstadt (6 vols., Leipzig, 1873, 1874); with notes and introduction, M. Brasch (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1891); E. Grisebach (6 vols., Leipzig,. 1892). There are many translations of special works in all languages;. among English translators are R. B. Haldane, T. B. Saunders,. W. M. Thompson, A. B. Bullock. Arthur Schopenhauers handschriftlicher Nachlass was published by Grisebach in 4 vols. (1896), from MSS. in the Royal Library at Berlin. On Schopenhauer's. life see Gwinner, Schopenhauers Leben (1878); E. Grisebach, Schopenhauer, Geschichte seines Lebens (1897); J. Volkelt, Schopenhauer (1907). A list of works is given by Balan, SchopenhauerLiteratur (1880); see also G. F. Wagner, Encyklopadisches Register zu Schopenhauers Werken (1909), and 'W. L. Hertslet, SchopenhauerRegister (1890). Among earlier criticisms see: Frauenstadt and Lindner, A. Schopenhauer; von ihm; iiber ihn (1863); Helen Zimmern, Schopenhauer and his Philosophy (1877); O. Busch, A. Schopenhauer (1878); K. Peters, Schopenhauer als Philosoph (1883); Koeber, Schopenhauers Erlosungslehre (1881), and Die Philos. Schopenhauers (1888). More recent works are: T. Whittaker, Schopenhauer (1909); G. Simmel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche (1907); F. Paulsen, Schopenhauer. Hamlet. Mephistopheles (1900), three studies in pessimism; T. Lorenz, Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Metaphysik Schopenhauers (1897); Mobius, Schopenhauer (1899); R. Lehmann, Schopenhauer and die Entwickelung der monistischen Weltanschauung (1892) and Schopenhauer. Ein Beitrag zur Psychologie der Metaphysik (1894); Th. Ribot, La Philosophic de Schopenhauer (9th ed., 1903); H. Bamberger, Das Tier in der Philosophic Schopenhauers (1897) Kuno Fischer, Schopenhauer (in the Gesch. d. neuer. Philos., 3893); R. Bottger, Das Grundproblem der Schopenhauerschen Philos. (1898) W. Caldwell, Schopenhauer's System (1896); O. Damm, Schopenhauers Ethik im Verhaltnis zu seiner Erkenntnislehre (1898) and Schopenhauers Rechtsand Staatsphilosophie (1901); W. Hauff, Die Uberwindung des Schopenhauerschen Pessimismus durch F. Nietzsche (1904); M. Kelly, Kant's Ethics and Schopenhauer's criticism (1910). (W. W.; X.)

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[[File:|thumb|Arthur Schopenhauer]] Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher.

Schopenhauer believed that the primary characteristic, or essence of all things - including human beings - is not intelligence, rationality or spirit, but will. By 'will' he means a blind, amazingly powerful force that forces everything, from a rock to George Bush, into existence for no real reason, as it has no real reason itself for existing and because of this, there is immense amounts of suffering in the world. He also believed that a "better consciousness" could be attained by denying the fulfilment our desires, taking time to think about who we really are and what we should do to avoid suffering - but also, in doing something few philosophers of his day spoke of: in making and looking at works of art, especially music, which he considered one of the few justifications for human existence.

Schopenhauer was a huge influence on Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, Leo Tolstoy, Carl Jung and many other important artists and thinkers of the 20th Century.


  • "Every man takes the limits of his vision for the limits of the world."
  • "In general admittedly the Wise of all times have always said the same thing, and the fools, that is to say the vast majority of all times, have always done the opposite; and so it will remain in the future."
  • "To marry is to halve your rights and double your duties."
  • "The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom."
  • "Talent hits a target no-one else can hit; genius hits targets no-one else can see."
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