Arthur Schopenhauer

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Category: Philosophy
In a field of ripening corn I came to a place which had been trampled down by some ruthless foot; and as I glanced amongst the countless stalks, every one of them alike, standing there so erect and bearing the full weight of the ear, I saw a multitude of different flowers, red and blue and violet. How pretty they looked as they grew there so naturally with their little foliage! But, thought I, they are quite useless; they bear no fruit; they are mere weeds, suffered to remain only because there is no getting rid of them. And yet, ...
Category: Philosophy
Aristotle [1] divides the blessings of life into three classes—those which come to us from without, those of the soul, and those of the body. Keeping nothing of this division but the number, I observe that the fundamental differences in human lot may be reduced to three distinct classes: [Footnote 1: Eth. Nichom., I. 8.] (1) What a man is: that is to say, personality, in the widest sense of the word; under which are included health, strength, beauty, temperament, moral character, intelligence, and education. (2) What a man has: that is, property and possessions of every kind. (3) How ...
Category: Philosophy
We have already seen, in general, that what a man is contributes much more to his happiness than what he has, or how he is regarded by others. What a man is , and so what he has in his own person, is always the chief thing to consider; for his individuality accompanies him always and everywhere, and gives its color to all his experiences. In every kind of enjoyment, for instance, the pleasure depends principally upon the man himself. Every one admits this in regard to physical, and how much truer it is of intellectual, pleasure. When we use ...
Category: Philosophy
Epicurus divides the needs of mankind into three classes, and the division made by this great professor of happiness is a true and a fine one. First come natural and necessary needs, such as, when not satisfied, produce pain,—food and clothing, victus et amictus, needs which can easily be satisfied. Secondly, there are those needs which, though natural, are not necessary, such as the gratification of certain of the senses. I may add, however, that in the report given by Diogenes Laertius, Epicurus does not mention which of the senses he means; so that on this point my account of ...
Category: Philosophy
Section 1.— Reputation . By a peculiar weakness of human nature, people generally think too much about the opinion which others form of them; although the slightest reflection will show that this opinion, whatever it may be, is not in itself essential to happiness. Therefore it is hard to understand why everybody feels so very pleased when he sees that other people have a good opinion of him, or say anything flattering to his vanity. If you stroke a cat, it will purr; and, as inevitably, if you praise a man, a sweet expression of delight will appear on his ...
Category: Philosophy
Men who aspire to a happy, a brilliant and a long life, instead of to a virtuous one, are like foolish actors who want to be always having the great parts,—the parts that are marked by splendour and triumph. They fail to see that the important thing is not what or how much , but how they act. Since a man does not alter , and his moral character remains absolutely the same all through his life; since he must play out the part which he has received, without the least deviation from the character; since neither experience, nor philosophy, ...
Category: Philosophy
The philosophers of the ancient world united in a single conception a great many things that had no connection with one another. Of this every dialogue of Plato's furnishes abundant examples. The greatest and worst confusion of this kind is that between ethics and politics. The State and the Kingdom of God, or the Moral Law, are so entirely different in their character that the former is a parody of the latter, a bitter mockery at the absence of it. Compared with the Moral Law the State is a crutch instead of a limb, an automaton instead of a man. ...
Category: Philosophy
No thoughtful man can have any doubt, after the conclusions reached in my prize-essay on Moral Freedom , that such freedom is to be sought, not anywhere in nature, but outside of it. The only freedom that exists is of a metaphysical character. In the physical world freedom is an impossibility. Accordingly, while our several actions are in no wise free, every man's individual character is to be regarded as a free act. He is such and such a man, because once for all it is his will to be that man. For the will itself, and in itself, and ...
Category: Philosophy
There is an unconscious propriety in the way in which, in all European languages, the word person is commonly used to denote a human being. The real meaning of persona is a mask , such as actors were accustomed to wear on the ancient stage; and it is quite true that no one shows himself as he is, but wears his mask and plays his part. Indeed, the whole of our social arrangements may be likened to a perpetual comedy; and this is why a man who is worth anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is quite at ...
Category: Philosophy
When I think, it is the spirit of the world which is striving to express its thought; it is nature which is trying to know and fathom itself. It is not the thoughts of some other mind, which I am endeavouring to trace; but it is I who transform that which exists into something which is known and thought, and would otherwise neither come into being nor continue in it. In the realm of physics it was held for thousands of years to be a fact beyond question that water was a simple and consequently an original element. In the ...
Category: Philosophy
It is a characteristic failing of the Germans to look in the clouds for what lies at their feet. An excellent example of this is furnished by the treatment which the idea of Natural Right has received at the hands of professors of philosophy. When they are called upon to explain those simple relations of human life which make up the substance of this right, such as Right and Wrong, Property, State, Punishment and so on, they have recourse to the most extravagant, abstract, remote and meaningless conceptions, and out of them build a Tower of Babel reaching to the ...
Category: Philosophy
Truths of the physical order may possess much external significance, but internal significance they have none. The latter is the privilege of intellectual and moral truths, which are concerned with the objectivation of the will in its highest stages, whereas physical truths are concerned with it in its lowest. For example, if we could establish the truth of what up till now is only a conjecture, namely, that it is the action of the sun which produces thermoelectricity at the equator; that this produces terrestrial magnetism; and that this magnetism, again, is the cause of the aurora borealis , these ...
Category: Philosophy
[Footnote 22 Translator's Note .—The word immortality— Unsterblichkeit —does not occur in the original; nor would it, in its usual application, find a place in Schopenhauer's vocabulary. The word he uses is Unzerstörbarkeit—indestructibility . But I have preferred immortality , because that word is commonly associated with the subject touched upon in this little debate. If any critic doubts the wisdom of this preference, let me ask him to try his hand at a short, concise, and, at the same time, popularly intelligible rendering of the German original, which runs thus: Zur Lehre von der Unzerstörbarkeit unseres wahren Wesens durch ...
Category: Philosophy
THE ESSAYS OF ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER: THE WISDOM OF LIFE TRANSLATED BY T. BAILEY SAUNDERS, M.A. In these pages I shall speak of The Wisdom of Life in the common meaning of the term, as the art, namely, of ordering our lives so as to obtain the greatest possible amount of pleasure and success; an art the theory of which may be called Eudaemonology, for it teaches us how to lead a happy existence. Such an existence might perhaps be defined as one which, looked at from a purely objective point of view, or, rather, after cool and mature reflection—for the ...
Category: Philosophy
By the ancients, Logic and Dialectic were used as synonymous terms; although [Greek: logizesthai], "to think over, to consider, to calculate," and [Greek: dialegesthai], "to converse," are two very different things. The name Dialectic was, as we are informed by Diogenes Laertius, first used by Plato; and in the Phaedrus, Sophist, Republic , bk. vii., and elsewhere, we find that by Dialectic he means the regular employment of the reason, and skill in the practice of it. Aristotle also uses the word in this sense; but, according to Laurentius Valla, he was the first to use Logic too in a ...
Category: Philosophy
An act done by instinct differs from every other kind of act in that an understanding of its object does not precede it but follows upon it. Instinct is therefore a rule of action given à priori . We may be unaware of the object to which it is directed, as no understanding of it is necessary to its attainment. On the other hand, if an act is done by an exercise of reason or intelligence, it proceeds according to a rule which the understanding has itself devised for the purpose of carrying out a preconceived aim. Hence it is ...
Category: Philosophy
Schiller's poem in honor of women, Würde der Frauen , is the result of much careful thought, and it appeals to the reader by its antithetic style and its use of contrast; but as an expression of the true praise which should be accorded to them, it is, I think, inferior to these few words of Jouy's: Without women, the beginning of our life would be helpless; the middle, devoid of pleasure; and the end, of consolation . The same thing is more feelingly expressed by Byron in Sardanapalus : The very first Of human life must spring from woman's ...
Category: Philosophy
The following brief remarks on the critical faculty are chiefly intended to show that, for the most part, there is no such thing. It is a rara avis ; almost as rare, indeed, as the phoenix, which appears only once in five hundred years. When we speak of taste —an expression not chosen with any regard for it—we mean the discovery, or, it may be only the recognition, of what is right aesthetically , apart from the guidance of any rule; and this, either because no rule has as yet been extended to the matter in question, or else because, ...
Category: Philosophy
The human intellect is said to be so constituted that general ideas arise by abstraction from particular observations , and therefore come after them in point of time. If this is what actually occurs, as happens in the case of a man who has to depend solely upon his own experience for what he learns—who has no teacher and no book,—such a man knows quite well which of his particular observations belong to and are represented by each of his general ideas. He has a perfect acquaintance with both sides of his experience, and accordingly, he treats everything that comes ...
Category: Philosophy
No difference of rank, position, or birth, is so great as the gulf that separates the countless millions who use their head only in the service of their belly, in other words, look upon it as an instrument of the will, and those very few and rare persons who have the courage to say: No! it is too good for that; my head shall be active only in its own service; it shall try to comprehend the wondrous and varied spectacle of this world, and then reproduce it in some form, whether as art or as literature, that may answer ...
Category: Philosophy
When one sees the number and variety of institutions which exist for the purposes of education, and the vast throng of scholars and masters, one might fancy the human race to be very much concerned about truth and wisdom. But here, too, appearances are deceptive. The masters teach in order to gain money, and strive, not after wisdom, but the outward show and reputation of it; and the scholars learn, not for the sake of knowledge and insight, but to be able to chatter and give themselves airs. Every thirty years a new race comes into the world—a youngster that ...
Category: Philosophy
Kant wrote a treatise on The Vital Powers . I should prefer to write a dirge for them. The superabundant display of vitality, which takes the form of knocking, hammering, and tumbling things about, has proved a daily torment to me all my life long. There are people, it is true—nay, a great many people—who smile at such things, because they are not sensitive to noise; but they are just the very people who are also not sensitive to argument, or thought, or poetry, or art, in a word, to any kind of intellectual influence. The reason of it is ...
Category: Philosophy
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 for ever. Planets and wandering stars last a much longer time. They often outshine the fixed stars and are confounded with 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 own orbit—their contemporaries. Their path is one of change and movement, ...
Category: Philosophy
Style is the physiognomy of the mind, and a safer index to character than the face. To imitate another man's style is like wearing a mask, which, be it never so fine, is not long in arousing disgust and abhorrence, because it is lifeless; so that even the ugliest living face is better. Hence those who write in Latin and copy the manner of ancient authors, may be said to speak through a mask; the reader, it is true, hears what they say, but he cannot observe their physiognomy too; he cannot see their style . With the Latin works ...
Category: Philosophy
As far as I know, none but the votaries of monotheistic, that is to say, Jewish religions, look upon suicide as a crime. This is all the more striking, inasmuch as neither in the Old nor in the New Testament is there to be found any prohibition or positive disapproval of it; so that religious teachers are forced to base their condemnation of suicide on philosophical grounds of their own invention. These are so very bad that writers of this kind endeavor to make up for the weakness of their arguments by the strong terms in which they express their ...
Category: Philosophy
In the productions of poetic genius, especially of the epic and dramatic kind, there is, apart from Beauty, another quality which is attractive: I mean Interest. The beauty of a work of art consists in the fact that it holds up a clear mirror to certain ideas inherent in the world in general; the beauty of a work of poetic art in particular is that it renders the ideas inherent in mankind, and thereby leads it to a knowledge of these ideas. The means which poetry uses for this end are the exhibition of significant characters and the invention of ...
Category: Philosophy
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS - FIRST PUBLISHED 1974 PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA: SHORT PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS / ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN BY E. F. J. PAYNE.-REV. ED. CHAPTER XIX. ON THE METAPHYSICS OF THE BEAUTIFUL AND AESTHETICS As I have dealt in sufficient detail in my chief work with the conception of the (Platonic) Ideas and with the correlativef thereof, namely the pure subject of knowing, I should regard it as superfluous here to return to it once more, did I not bear in mind that this is a consideration which in this sense has never been undertaken prior to me. ...
Category: Philosophy
The abolition of Latin as the universal language of learned men, together with the rise of that provincialism which attaches to national literatures, has been a real misfortune for the cause of knowledge in Europe. For it was chiefly through the medium of the Latin language that a learned public existed in Europe at all—a public to which every book as it came out directly appealed. The number of minds in the whole of Europe that are capable of thinking and judging is small, as it is; but when the audience is broken up and severed by differences of language, ...
Category: Philosophy
THE ESSAYS OF ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER: STUDIES IN PESSIMISM TRANSLATED BY T. BAILEY SAUNDERS, M.A. NOTE. The Essays here presented form a further selection from Schopenhauer's Parerga , brought together under a title which is not to be found in the original, and does not claim to apply to every chapter in the volume. The first essay is, in the main, a rendering of the philosopher's remarks under the heading of Nachträge zur Lehre vom Leiden der Welt , together with certain parts of another section entitled Nachträge zur Lehre von der Bejahung und Verneinung des Willens zum Leben . Such ...
Category: Philosophy
The simple Philistine believes that life is something infinite and unconditioned, and tries to look upon it and live it as though it left nothing to be desired. By method and principle the learned Philistine does the same: he believes that his methods and his principles are unconditionally perfect and objectively valid; so that as soon as he has found them, he has nothing to do but apply them to circumstances, and then approve or condemn. But happiness and truth are not to be seized in this fashion. It is phantoms of them alone that are sent to us here, ...
Category: Philosophy
A library may be very large; but if it is in disorder, it is not so useful as one that is small but well arranged. In the same way, a man may have a great mass of knowledge, but if he has not worked it up by thinking it over for himself, it has much less value than a far smaller amount which he has thoroughly pondered. For it is only when a man looks at his knowledge from all sides, and combines the things he knows by comparing truth with truth, that he obtains a complete hold over it ...
Category: Philosophy
In the moment when a great affliction overtakes us, we are hurt to find that the world about us is unconcerned and goes its own way. As Goethe says in Tasso , how easily it leaves us helpless and alone, and continues its course like the sun and the moon and the other gods: ... die Welt, wie sie so leicht, Uns hülflos, einsam lässt, und ihren Weg, Wie Sonn' und Mond und andre Götter geht . Nay more! it is something intolerable that even we ourselves have to go on with the mechanical round of our daily business, and ...
Category: Philosophy
I. The Extension .—This consists in carrying your opponent's proposition beyond its natural limits; in giving it as general a signification and as wide a sense as possible, so as to exaggerate it; and, on the other hand, in giving your own proposition as restricted a sense and as narrow limits as you can, because the more general a statement becomes, the more numerous are the objections to which it is open. The defence consists in an accurate statement of the point or essential question at issue. Example 1.—I asserted that the English were supreme in drama. My opponent attempted ...
Category: Philosophy
This vanity finds expression in the whole way in which things exist; in the infinite nature of Time and Space, as opposed to the finite nature of the individual in both; in the ever-passing present moment as the only mode of actual existence; in the interdependence and relativity of all things; in continual Becoming without ever Being; in constant wishing and never being satisfied; in the long battle which forms the history of life, where every effort is checked by difficulties, and stopped until they are overcome. Time is that in which all things pass away; it is merely the ...
Category: Philosophy
Translated By T. Bailey Saunders The following essays are drawn from the chapters entitled Zur Ethik and Zur Rechtslehre und Politik which are to be found both in Schopenhauer's Parerga and in his posthumous writings. As in my previous volumes, so also in this, I have omitted a few passages which appeared to me to be either antiquated or no longer of any general interest. For convenience' sake I have divided the original chapters into sections, which I have had to name; and I have also had to invent a title which should express their real scope. The reader will ...
Category: Philosophy
THE ESSAYS OF ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER: THE ART OF CONTROVERSY TRANSLATED BY T. BAILEY SAUNDERS, M.A. TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. The volume now before the reader is a tardy addition to a series in which I have endeavoured to present Schopenhauer's minor writings in an adequate form. Its contents are drawn entirely from his posthumous papers. A selection of them was given to the world some three of four years after his death by his friend and literary executor, Julius Frauenstädt, who for this and other offices of piety, has received less recognition than he deserves. The papers then published have recently been ...
Category: Philosophy
THE ESSAYS OF ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER: THE ART OF LITERATURE TRANSLATED BY T. BAILEY SAUNDERS, M.A. The contents of this, as of the other volumes in the series, have been drawn from Schopenhauer's Parerga , and amongst the various subjects dealt with in that famous collection of essays, Literature holds an important place. Nor can Schopenhauer's opinions fail to be of special value when he treats of literary form and method. For, quite apart from his philosophical pretensions, he claims recognition as a great writer; he is, indeed, one of the best of the few really excellent prose-writers of whom Germany ...