Quotes by Arthur Schopenhauer
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Wikipedia Summary for Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (German: [ˈaʁtʊʁ ˈʃoːpn̩haʊ̯ɐ] (listen); 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation (expanded in 1844), which characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable noumenal will. Building on the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that rejected the contemporaneous ideas of German idealism. He was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Indian philosophy, such as asceticism, denial of the self, and the notion of the world-as-appearance. His work has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism.
Though his work failed to garner substantial attention during his lifetime, Schopenhauer had a posthumous impact across various disciplines, including philosophy, literature, and science. His writing on aesthetics, morality, and psychology have influenced many thinkers and artists. Those who have cited his influence include philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein, scientists such as Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein, psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, writers such as Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Machado de Assis, Jorge Luis Borges, Marcel Proust, and Samuel Beckett as well as composers such as Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Arnold Schoenberg and Gustav Mahler.
Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.
The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.
A man can be himself only so long as he is alone.
A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.
Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.
Truth that is naked is the most beautiful, and the simpler its expression the deeper is the impression it makes.
The business of the novelist is not to relate great events, but to make small ones interesting.
A sense of humour is the only divine quality of man.
Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect.
It is with trifles, and when he is off guard, that a man best reveals his character.
Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.
Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.
Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude.
To desire immortality for the individual is really the same as wanting to perpetuate an error forever.
Exaggeration in every sense is as essential to newspaper writing as it is to the writing of plays: for the point is to make as much as possible of every occurrence.
Exaggeration in every sense is as essential to newspaper writing as it is to the writing of plays: for the point is to make as much as possible of every occurrence. So that all newspaper writers are, for the sake of their trade, alarmists: this is their way of making themselves interesting. What they really do, however, is resemble little dogs who, as soon as anything whatever moves, start up a loud barking. It is necessary, therefore, not to pay too much attention to their alarms, and to realize in general that the newspaper is a magnifying glass, and this only at best: for very often it is no more than a shadow-play on the wall.
The man who sees two or three generations is like one who sits in the conjurer's booth at a fair, and sees the same
tricks two or three times. They are meant to be seen only once.
If at any moment Time stays his hand, it is only when we are delivered over to the miseries of boredom.
Reasonable and vicious are quite consistent with each other, in fact, only through their union are great and far-reaching crimes possible.
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.
Will is the lord of all worlds: everything belongs to it, and therefore no one single thing can ever give it satisfaction, but only the whole, which is endless.
A reproach can only hurt if it hits the mark. Whoever knows that he does not deserve a reproach can treat it with contempt.
If a man sets out to hate all the miserable creatures he meets, he will not have much energy left for anything else; whereas he can despise them, one and all, with the greatest ease.
There are tree main bulwarks of defence against new thoughts: to pay no heed, to give no credence, and finally to assert that it had already long existed.
To expect a man to retain everything that he has ever read is like expecting him to carry about in his body everything that he has ever eaten.
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.
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.
The faculty for remembering is not diminished in proportion to what one has learnt, just as little as the number of moulds in which you cast sand lessens its capacity for being cast in new moulds.
That the Negroes were enslaved more than other races, and on a large scale, is evidently a result of their being, in contrast to other races, inferior in intelligence -- which, however, does not justify such slavery.
Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every remeeting a foretaste of the resurrection. That is why even people who are indifferent to each other rejoice so much if they meet again after twenty or thirty years of separation.
One can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books: bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind.
Means at our disposal should be regarded as a bulwark against the many evils and misfortunes that can occur. We should not regard such wealth as a permission or even an obligation to procure for ourselves the pleasures of the world.
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.
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.
Because people have no thoughts to deal in, they deal cards, and try and win one another's money. Idiots!
A major difficulty in translation is that a word in one language seldom has a precise equivalent in another one.
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.
Since long ago all peoples have recognized that the world, apart from its physical meaning, also has a moral one. Yet everywhere the matter has only come to a vague consciousness, which, as it sought expression, clothed itself in all sorts of images and myths. There are religions.
Nothing shocks our moral feelings so deeply as cruelty does. We can forgive every other crime, but not cruelty. The reason for this is that it is the very opposite of compassion.
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.
It is, indeed, only in old age that intellectual men attain their sublime expression, whilst portraits of them in their youth show only the first traces of it.
There is no vice of which a man can be guilty, no meanness, no shabbiness, no unkindness, which excites so much indignation among his contemporaries, friends and neighbours, as his success. This is the one unpardonable crime, which reason cannot defend, nor humility mitigate.
For if the choice were given to any individual between his own destruction and that of the world, I do not need to say where it would land in the great majority.
Nothing in life gives a man so much courage as the attainment or renewal of the conviction that other people regard him with favor; because it means that everyone joins to give him help and protection, which is an infinitely stronger bulwark against the ills of life than anything he can do himself.
In truth the most striking figure for the relation of the two is that of the strong blind man carrying the sighted lame man on his shoulders.
We should be surprised that a matter that generally plays such an important part in the life of man has hitherto been almost entirely disregarded by philosophers, and lies before us as raw and untreated material.
There is in the world only the choice between loneliness and vulgarity. All young people should be taught now to put up with loneliness ... because the less man is compelled to come into contact with others, the better off he is.
I am often surprised by the cleverness, and now and again by the stupidity, of my dog; and I have similar experiences with mankind.
The mother of useful arts is necessity; that of the fine arts is luxury. For father the former has intellect; the latter genius, which itself is a kind of luxury.
The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and slower it is in arriving at maturity. A man reaches the maturity of his reasoning powers and mental faculties hardly before the age of twenty-eight; a woman at eighteen.
The actual life of a thought lasts only until it reaches the point of speech...As soon as our thinking has found words it ceases to be sincere...When it begins to exist in others it ceases to live in us, just as the child severs itself from its mother when it enters into its own existence.
Will without intellect is the most vulgar and common thing in the world, possessed by every blockhead, who, in the gratification of his passions, shows the stuff of which he is made.
Memory works like the collection glass in the Camera obscura: it gathers everything together and therewith produces a far more beautiful picture than was present originally.
Sexual passion is the cause of war and the end of peace, the basis of what is serious... and consequently the concentration of all desire.
To repeat abstractly, universally, and distinctly in concepts the whole inner nature of the world , and thus to deposit it as a reflected image in permanent concepts always ready for the faculty of reason , this and nothing else is philosophy.
Many books 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.
To use many words to communicate few thoughts is everywhere the unmistakable sign of mediocrity. To gather much thought into few words stamps the man of genius.
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world.
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most Ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental. Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule.
Every state of welfare, every feeling of satisfaction, is negative in its character; that is to say, it consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of existence.
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.
Happiness of any given life is to be measured, not by its joys and pleasures, but by the extent to which it has been free from suffering-from positive evil.
Genius and madness have something in common: both live in a world that is different from that which exists for everyone else.
As a general rule, the longer a man's fame is likely to last, the later it will be in coming; for all excellent products require time for their development.
For it is a matter of daily observation that people take the greatest pleasure in that which satisfies their vanity; and vanity cannot be satisfied without comparison with others.
Truth is no harlot who throws her arms round the neck of him who does not desire her; on the contrary, she is so coy a beauty that even the man who sacrifices everything to her can still not be certain of her favors.
For, after all, the foundation of our whole nature, and, therefore, of our happiness, is our physique, and the most essential factor in happiness is health, and, next in importance after health, the ability to maintain ourselves in independence and freedom from care.
Our religions will never at any time take root; the ancient wisdom of the human race will not be supplanted by the events in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian wisdom flows back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and thought.
A man may call to mind the face of his friend, but not his own. Here, then, is an initial difficulty in the way of applying the maxim, Know Thyself.
Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.
Faith is like love: it does not let itself be forced.
Faith is like love, it cannot be forced. Therefore it is a dangerous operation if an attempt be made to introduce or bind it by state regulations; for, as the attempt to force love begets hatred, so also to compel religious belief produces rank unbelief.
The scenes and events of long ago, and the persons who took part in them, wear a charming aspect to the eye of memory, which sees only the outlines and takes no note of disagreeable details. The present enjoys no such advantage, and so it always seems defective.
A genuine work of art, can never be false, nor can it be discredited through the lapse of time, for it does not present an opinion but the thing itself.
The conviction that the world and man is something that had better not have been, is of a kind to fill us with indulgence towards one another.
The scenes of our life are like pictures done in rough mosaic. Looked at close, they produce no effect. There is nothing beautiful to be found in them, unless you stand some distance off.
Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine.
Pantheism is a self-defeating concept, because the concept of a God presupposes a world different from him as an essential correlate. If, on the other hand, the world is supposed to take over his role, then an absolute world without God remains; hence pantheism is only an euphemism for atheism.
Solitude will be welcomed or endured or avoided, according as a man's personal value is large or small.
Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.
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.
Lack of the power to discriminate is no less evident in the sciences, namely in the tenacious life of false and refuted theories. Once come into general credit, they continue to defy truth for centuries.
- On Various Subjects.
Scholars are those who have read in books, but thinkers, men of genius, world-enlighteners, and reformers of the human race are those who have read directly in the book of the world.
At bottom, every state regards another as a gang of robbers who will fall upon it as soon as there is an opportunity.
Newspapers are the second hand of history.
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.
Boredom is certainly not an evil to be taken lightly: it will ultimately etch lines of true despair onto a face. It makes beings with as little love for each other as humans nonetheless seek each other with such intensity, and in this way becomes the source of sociability.
Sociability belongs to the most dangerous, even destructive inclinations, since it brings us into contact with beings the great majority of whom are morally bad and intellectually dull or perverted.
The young should early be trained to bear being left alone; for it is a source of happiness and peace of mind.
It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude. To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility, is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire. For politeness is like a counter -- an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.
Reading is merely a surrogate for thinking for yourself; it means letting someone else direct your thoughts.
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.
Music is the answer to the mystery of life. The most profound of all the arts, It expresses the deepest thoughts of life.
It is only a man's own fundamental thoughts that have truth and life in them.
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 only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual impulse that could give the name of the fair sex to that undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race.
It is only the man whose intellect is clouded by his sexual instinct that could give that stunted, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped, and short-legged race the name of the fair sex; for the entire beauty of the sex is based on this instinct. One would be more justified in calling them the unaesthetic sex than the beautiful. Neither for music, nor for poetry, nor for fine art have they any real or true sense and susceptibility, and it is mere mockery on their part, in their desire to please, if they affect any such thing.
What makes people hard-hearted is this, that each man has, or fancies he has, as much as he can bear in his own troubles.
There is more to be learnt from every page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel, Herbart, and Schleiermacher are taken together.
With health, everything is a source of pleasure; without it, nothing else, whatever it may be, is enjoyable...Healt h is by far the most important element in human happiness.
Only by the aid of language does reason bring about its most important achievements.
Only by the aid of language does reason bring about its most important achievements, namely the harmonious and consistent action of several individuals, the planned cooperation of many thousands, civilization, the State; and then, science, the storing up of previous experience, the summarizing into one concept of what is common, the communication of truth, the spreading of error, thoughts and poems, dogmas and superstitions. The animal learns to know death only when he dies, but man consciously draws every hour nearer his death; and at times this makes life a precarious business, even to the man who has not already recognized this character of constant annihilation in the whole of life itself.
That a god like Jehovah should have created this world of misery and woe, out of pure caprice, and because he enjoyed doing it, and should then have clapped his hands in praise of his own work, and declared everything to be very good-that will not do at all!
What now on the other hand makes people sociable is their incapacity to endure solitude and thus themselves.
The reason domestic pets are so lovable and so helpful to us is because they enjoy, quietly and placidly, the present moment.
I believe a person of any fine feeling scarcely ever sees a new face without a sensation akin to a shock, for the reason that it presents a new and surprising combination of unedifying elements.
We must set limits to our wishes, curb our desires, moderate our anger, always remembering that an individual can attain only an infinitesimal share in anything that is worth having; and that on the other hand, everyone must incur many of the ills of life.
If a relationship is perfectly natural there will be a complete fusion of the happiness of both of you-owing to fellow-feeling and various other laws which govern our natures, this is, quite simply, the greatest happiness that can exist.
That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom.
There are 80,000 prostitutes in London alone and what are they, if not bloody sacrifices on the alter of monogamy.
Indeed, intolerance is essential only to monotheism; an only God is by nature a jealous God who will not allow another to live. On the other hand, polytheistic gods are naturally tolerant, they live and let live.
I have long held the opinion that the amount of noise that anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity and therefore be regarded as a pretty fair measure of it.
Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption. It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought.
A man finds himself, to his great astonishment, suddenly existing, after thousands and thousands of years of non-existence: he lives for a little while; and then, again, comes an equally long period when he must exist no more. The heart rebels against this, and feels that it cannot be true.
For the purpose of acquiring gain, everything else is pushed aside or thrown overboard, for example, as is philosophy by the professors of philosophy.
Education perverts the mind since we are directly opposing the natural development of our mind by obtaining ideas first and observations last. This is why so few men of learning have such sound common sense as is quite common among the illiterate.
The moralists of Europe have pretended that beasts have no rights... a doctrine revolting gross barbarous... on which a native of the Asiatic uplands could not look without righteous horror.
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.
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 home in it.
Rascals are always sociable, and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others company.
If you feel irritated by the absurd remarks of two people whose conversation you happen to overhear, you should imagine that you are listening to a dialogue of two fools in a comedy.
Do not shorten the morning by getting up late; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred.
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.
Poetry is related to philosophy as experience is related to empirical science.
Poetry is related to philosophy as experience is related to empirical science. Experience makes us acquainted with the phenomenon in the particular and by means of examples, science embraces the whole of phenomena by means of general conceptions. So poetry seeks to make us acquainted with the Platonic Ideas through the particular and by means of examples. Philosophy aims at teaching, as a whole and in general, the inner nature of things which expresses itself in these. One sees even here that poetry bears more the character of youth, philosophy that of old age.
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.
Our greatest sufferings do not lie in the present, as intuitive representations or immediate feeling, but rather in reason, as abstract concepts, tormenting thoughts.
It would be better if there were nothing. Since there is more pain than pleasure on earth, every satisfaction is only transitory, creating new desires and new distresses, and the agony of the devoured animal is always far greater than the pleasure of the devourer.
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.
To call the world God is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym.
Women remain children all their lives, for they always see only what is near at hand, cling to the present, take the appearance of a thing for reality, and prefer trifling matters to the most important.
Life is a language in which certain truths are conveyed to us; if we could learn them in some other way, we should not live.
The greatest intellectual capacities are only found in connection with a vehement and passionate will.
A man of correct insight among those who are duped and deluded resembles one whose watch is right while all the clocks in the town give the wrong time.
Personal courage is really a very subordinate virtue-a virtue, indeed, in which we are surpassed by the lower animals; or else you would not hear people say, as brave as a lion.
Life to the great majority is only a constant struggle for mere existence, with the certainty of losing it at last.
The cause of laughter is simply the sudden perception of the incongruity between a concept and the real project.
Patriotism, when it wants to make itself felt in the domain of learning, is a dirty fellow who should be thrown out of doors.
It is a curious fact that in bad days we can very vividly recall the good time that is now no more; but that in good days, we have only a very cold and imperfect memory of the bad.
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