Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 - September 21, 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". Schopenhauer's analysis of "will" led him to the conclusion that emotional, physical, and sexual desires can never be fulfilled. Consequently, Schopenhauer favored a lifestyle of negating human desires, similar to the teachings of 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 philosophers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Sigmund Freud.

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Schopenhauer Quotes

A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.

A man's delight in looking forward to and hoping for some particular satisfaction is a part of the pleasure flowing out of it, enjoyed in advance. But this is afterward deducted, for the more we look forward to anything the less we enjoy it when it comes.

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.

After your death you will be what you were before your birth.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people.

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 than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself.

Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.

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.

Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.

Compassion is the basis of morality.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right.

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.

Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude.

Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.

I've never know any trouble than an hour's reading didn't assuage.

If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.

If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the first sight of a letter from him.

In action a great heart is the chief qualification. In work, a great head.

In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.

It is a clear gain to sacrifice pleasure in order to avoid pain.

It is in the treatment of trifles that a person shows what they are.

It is only a man's own fundamental thoughts that have truth and life in them. For it is these that he really and completely understands. To read the thoughts of others is like taking the remains of someone else's meal, like putting on the discarded clothes of a stranger.

It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character.

It's the niceties that make the difference fate gives us the hand, and we play the cards.

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.

Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.

Martyrdom is the only way a man can become famous without ability.

Money is human happiness in the abstract; he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete devotes himself utterly to money.

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.

Only a male intellect clouded by the sexual drive could call the stunted, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped and short-legged sex the fair sex.

Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.

Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else's head instead of with one's own.

Satisfaction consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of life.

Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.

The alchemists in their search for gold discovered many other things of greater value.

The difficulty is to try and teach the multitude that something can be true and untrue at the same time.

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.

The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.

The fundament upon which all our knowledge and learning rests is the inexplicable.

The greatest achievements of the human mind are generally received with distrust.

The man never feels the want of what it never occurs to him to ask for.

The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.

The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.

The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority have always done just the opposite.

There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.

They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice... that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

To buy books would be a good thing if we also could buy the time to read them.

To find out your real opinion of someone, judge the impression you have when you first see a letter from them.

To free a person from error is to give, and not to take away.

Treat a work of art like a prince. Let it speak to you first.

We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves to be like other people.

We forfeit three-quarters of ourselves in order to be like other people.

Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.

Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity.

Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see.

With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.

Without books the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, "Lighthouses" as the poet said "erected in the sea of time." They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind, Books are humanity in print.

Quotes originally compiled by

Schopenhauer Biography

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22 1788 in Danzig then a "Free City" largely established by Germanic traders, now - Gdansk, Poland. When Prussia took Danzig over in 1793, his father, a successful and liberal-minded merchant, moved the family to Hamburg.

In 1809 Schopenhauer enrolled at the University of Göttingen where he medicine for two years but later studied philosophy at the University of Berlin. He completed his doctorate in philosophy at Jena in 1813.

Following on from this period of formal education he relied on his inherited income to finance a period of private contemplation, study and philosophy writing. From 1814 to 1818 he lived in Dresden where his principal work, The World as Will and Representation, which is also known as The World as Will and Idea, was written. In 1819 it was published - to meet with very little in the way of public acclaim.

After an unsuccessful period of lectureship in Berlin prior to 1831 he settled in Frankfurt am Main, where he led a solitary life and became deeply involved in the study of Buddhist and Hindu philosophies and mysticism where he seems to have found echoes of the approach to philosophy that he was independently working on.

He was also influenced by the ideas of the German Dominican theologian, mystic, and eclectic philosopher Meister Eckhart, the German theosophist and mystic Jakob Boehme, and the scholars of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.

Schopenhauer had suffered a great disappointment circa 1820 as his publication of The World as Will and Idea had fallen flat in terms of a public response - he himself considered that his philosophy explained a great deal!!! A second edition published, in two volumes, some twenty five years later did not fare much better. This 1844 edition was remarkable in that the first volume was effectively the work of 1819 whilst the second, and larger, volume was a book of commentary.

In the intervening years he had written several works including On the Will in Nature (1836), The Freedom of the Will (1841), and The Foundations of Morality (1841).

Although an Essay on the Freedom of the Will had been recognised through the awardance of a cultural prize in Norway in 1839 he was into his sixties when the publication of his collection of essays Parerga and Paralipomena (i.e. Additions and Omissions - 1851) really brought public attention to his life's work.

Arthur Schopenhauer was seventy-two years of age, and internationally famous, at the time of his death on September 21 1860.

Biography originally compiled by

(For more information see Wikipedia)


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