“The Great Schopenhauer Controversy”
“Music is the melody whose text is the World”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own”. Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation (German: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung), in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
“Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity”. Arthur Schopenhauer
At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology. He has influenced many thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Otto Weininger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein,Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, Jorge Luis Borges, Mustafa Mahmud and Edouard d’Araille among others.
“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people”. Arthur Schopenhauer
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 by only their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben (“Will to Live“), which directed all of mankind
“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“Because people have no thoughts to deal in, they deal cards, and try and win one another’s money. Idiots!” Arthur Schopenhauer
For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world. He wrote “Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants”
“Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark on the face, especially the eyes”. Arthur Schopenhauer
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”.
“The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority have always done just the opposite”. Arthur Schopenhauer
“Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour”. Arthur Schopenhauer
Richard Wagner, writing in his autobiography, remembered his first impression that Schopenhauer left on him (when he read World as Will and Representation):
“Schopenhauer’s book was never completely out of my mind, and by the following summer I had studied it from cover to cover four times. It had a radical influence on my whole life”. Wagner also commented that “serious mood, which was trying to find ecstatic expression” created by Schopenhauer inspired the conception of Tristan und Isolde.
In Schopenhauer’s 1851 essay Of Women, he expressed his opposition to what he called “Teutonico-Christian stupidity” on female affairs. Schopenhauer wrote that “Women are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted”. He opined that women are deficient in artistic faculties and sense of justice, and expressed opposition to monogamy. He claimed that “woman is by nature meant to obey”. The essay does give some compliments, however: that “women are decidedly more sober in their judgment than [men] are” and are more sympathetic to the suffering of others”.
Schopenhauer’s controversial writings have influenced many, from Friedrich Nietzsche to nineteenth-century feminists. 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
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.”