Hot Best Seller

Essays and Aphorisms

Availability: Ready to download

One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published in 1851. He depicts humanity as locked in a struggle beyond good and evil, each individual absolutely free within a Godless world in which art, morality and self-awareness are our only salvation. This innovative and pessimistic view proved powerfully influential upon philosophy and art, affecting the work of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein among others.


Compare

One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published in 1851. He depicts humanity as locked in a struggle beyond good and evil, each individual absolutely free within a Godless world in which art, morality and self-awareness are our only salvation. This innovative and pessimistic view proved powerfully influential upon philosophy and art, affecting the work of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein among others.

30 review for Essays and Aphorisms

  1. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule. Arthur Schopenhauer, "On the Suffering of the World" We are here to shatter your warm and fuzzy world inhabited by unicorns and puppies that eat cupcakes every time it rains. You may have the feeling of never leaving that world. And that's a valid choice, we all have our particular ways of dealing with our existence. If you do, avoid Schopenhauer's work. If you feel you can take it, proc Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule. Arthur Schopenhauer, "On the Suffering of the World" We are here to shatter your warm and fuzzy world inhabited by unicorns and puppies that eat cupcakes every time it rains. You may have the feeling of never leaving that world. And that's a valid choice, we all have our particular ways of dealing with our existence. If you do, avoid Schopenhauer's work. If you feel you can take it, proceed to read this book. In 2005, I bought a little book called Schopenhauer para Principiantes. I was quite young and I'm not sure where I found his name (I do remember the year because every time I buy a book, I write the date on them; a little quirk). I think it was during some period when I was obsessed with Hinduism and Buddhism and other aspects of the Eastern philosophy and religion. Schopenhauer was heavily influenced by the Upanishads. Anyway, I felt so close to his points of view. I always thought I'd enjoy reading his books. And I did. I enjoyed reading this one, most of the times. I decided to mention what I didn't like, first. And then, his other thoughts that truly emanate intelligence and creativity. That should be the last thing to be read. Let's start with those simple-minded creatures whose only job is to have children and were born to be nurses and teachers. Yes, women. One needs only to see the way she is built to realize that woman is not intended for great mental or for great physical labour. She expiates the guilt of life not through activity but through suffering, through the pains of childbirth, caring for the child and subjection to the man, to whom she should be a patient and cheering companion. (49) After reading that, Schop certainly wasn't my favorite person in the world. And that is just the beginning. Do you think his misogynistic capabilities end there? [they] are childish, silly and short-sighted, in a word big children... The nobler and more perfect a thing is, the later and more slowly does it mature. The man attains the maturity of his reasoning powers and spiritual faculties hardly before his twenty-eighth year; the woman with her eighteenth. And even then it is only reasoning power of a sort: a very limited sort. (50) Yes, ignoble and imperfect ladies. Women are portrayed as little human beings that make babies and never mature, and have to hold on to their beauty and charm in order to get successful businessmen to support them (okay, I know a couple of those, but do not generalize, I beg you. Just like all men aren't noble and perfect, for god's sake). It has been said that, in his last years, he had a more favorable opinion about women. Well, I haven't seen the page. No redemption for you on that subject, my friend. Next topic: freedom of the press. Or the permit to sell poison, whatever you want to call it. For what cannot be put into the heads of the ignorant and credulous masses? – especially if you hold before them the prospect of gain and advantages. And of what misdeeds is man not capable once something has been put into his head? I very much fear, therefore, that the dangers of press freedom outweigh its usefulness, especially where there are legal remedies available for all grievances. In any event, however, freedom of the press should be conditional upon the strictest prohibition of any kind of anonymity. (89) And then he focused on what he considered the perfect form of government... Yeah. I wasn't particularly fond of all his views developed in the essay "On law and politics". Moving on to the things I enjoyed reading. First, Hollingdale's introduction. Thoroughly researched and well-written. He shared many facts of Schopenhauer's life and work and he managed to keep me interested. He chose several essays and aphorisms from the second volume of Parerga and Paralipomena (1851) to shed some light on his amazing work and form an idea of his philosophy. Schopenhauer described brilliant ideas without using an extremely complicated language that only scholars would be able to understand. The complexity of his thoughts and the way they are written... simply outstanding. It reminded me of my experience with Bertrand Russell, while reading Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. They have similar writing styles: straightforward and kind of humorous at times. Just the writing, though. Russell didn't think about S. with great enthusiasm since he considered him, basically, a hypocrite because he didn't live according to what he preached... I wouldn't know. The first essay is about a main characteristic of Schopenhauer's philosophy. Suffering. We seem to be doomed to suffer. And even if we wouldn't suffer, we would long for it. Not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip. And yet if every desire were satisfied as soon as it arose how would men occupy their lives, how would they pass the time? (25) If we wouldn't have misery in our world, we would create it, just to have something to worry about, apparently. (There's a funny Utopia reference, the land of More.) So, he recommended us to see the world not as the perfect work of a superior being because first, the world is full of misery; second, we live in it. Humans are considered highly developed beings but, in fact, they are not. However, think about it. It couldn't be otherwise since we are here thanks to a punishment for a forbidden desire (insert "story of the Fall" here). All in all, once you have accepted suffering, you'll see it as something ordinary, you won't be surprised because you will think of it as something normal. Considering we have such a tragic origin and we are doomed to suffer, we should conduct ourselves with some indulgence. We must treat each other with tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity. Everything has its silver lining. The following chapter is about the vanity of existence, which I found brilliant. Every moment of our life belongs to the present only for a moment; then it belongs for ever to the past. (31) When I was younger, I used to be haunted by that thought. What is the present? What is now, this instant? Merely a second. Then it is all safe in the past. The past is not last year; it is already when I wrote "The past is not last year". That hopeless feeling of needing more time is universal. He then continued squeezing and kicking my soul with his thoughts on the human life and our needs that are impossible to satisfy. As things are, we take no pleasure in existence except when we are striving after something – in which case distance and difficulties make our goal look as if it would satisfy us (an illusion which fades when we reach it) – or when engaged in purely intellectual activity, in which case we are really stepping out of life so as to regard it from outside, like spectators at a play... Whenever we are not involved in one or other of these things but directed back to existence itself we are overtaken by its worthlessness and vanity and this is the sensation called boredom. (32) There are other essays and aphorisms about religion, philosophy, ethics, books and writing (that ooze arrogance from time to time) and introspection that are written with the same accessible language and express impressive—sometimes provocative—ideas. We may not agree with a couple of them but we have to admit that this man was an endless source of creativity. He expressed his ideas and backed them up with his own arguments and created a representation of the world that influenced many people. He wasn't afraid of showing what he really thought about several subjects, no matter how miserable and disturbing it all might be. So, here we are. I am full of contradictions, like any other person. I loved him and disliked him with the same intensity, at the same time. Kant's fan, Hegel's foe and one of the greatest, most interesting and provocative philosophers I have read so far. Actual rating: 3.5 4 stars. * Also on my blog.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his essays and aphorisms in the financial hub city of Frankford, Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, a world where business owners and financiers ruthlessly competed against one another to amass fortunes, clerks chained to their desks toiled twelve hours a day, uneducated day laborers ground themselves down into faceless, mindless cogs of the urban wheel, and upper class ladies strolled the streets with parasols as they chattered incessantly over petty concerns - Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his essays and aphorisms in the financial hub city of Frankford, Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, a world where business owners and financiers ruthlessly competed against one another to amass fortunes, clerks chained to their desks toiled twelve hours a day, uneducated day laborers ground themselves down into faceless, mindless cogs of the urban wheel, and upper class ladies strolled the streets with parasols as they chattered incessantly over petty concerns - but, no matter what one's station in life - ruthless financial baron, toiling clerk, chattering lady or manual drudge - the monotonous hum of this bustling society gave few people encouragement or mental space to think independently or reflect philosophically. But no hustle and bustle for Arthur. Inheriting the family fortune and thus freed from any obligation to work for a living, Schopenhauer became a life-long bachelor and independent scholar, keeping his distance from other people as if they were a colony of doltish, novel-reading lepers. And, thus, after rousing in the morning and before playing the flute, partaking of lunch, and going for his two hour walk with his pet poodle, Schopenhauer sat at his desk, completely dedicating his time to writing. And this collection is Schopenhauer at his hyper-arrogant best, as self-appointed genius and highbrow aesthete, shooting verbal barbs and passing harsh judgment on everyone and everything in sight - would-be philosophers, journalists, bookworms, scholars, literati, historians, women, among numerous others. This book is great literature as well as original philosophy, the writing is so incredibly clear, crystal clear, actually - a straightforward, easy-to-follow, elegant prose. What a switch from hopelessly dry, turgid, stale academic philosophy with its endless references, footnotes and qualifications. On the topic of books and writing, here is a quote which is vintage Schopenhauer: "The thoughts a man is capable of always express themselves in clear, comprehensible and unambiguous words. Those who put together difficult, obscure, involved, ambiguous discourses do not really know what they want to say: they have no more than a vague consciousness of it which is only struggling towards a thought; often, however, they also want to conceal from themselves and others that they actually have nothing to say." Keep this in mind the next time you read an incomprehensible piece of writing - in truth, the burden is on the writer to make their thoughts clear, no matter how impressive the author's credentials. Among the topics address is aesthetics. As always, Schopenhauer never dances around an issue but goes right to the heart of the matter and tells it like it is. Here is what he has to say on opera: "Strictly speaking one could call opera an unmusical invention for the benefit of unmusical minds." For anybody with a keen interest in listening to music, these words have a very honest ring. Here is a quote that is especially appropriate to our current age of information: "Students and learned men of every kind and every ago go as a rule in search of information, not insight. They make it a point of honor to have information about everything . . . When I see how much these well-informed people know, I sometimes say to myself: Oh, how little such a one must have had to think about, since he has had so much time for reading!" The truth of this statement is compounded with the omnipresence of the internet. One more quote, this one capsulizing Schopenhauer's famous pessimistic view of life: "No rose without a thorn. But many a thorn without a rose." Even if you don't agree, you have to admire a brilliant, memorable metaphor. If you are new to Schopenhauer or philosophy, R. J. Hollindale provides an introduction which includes a mini-history of philosophy leading up to Schopenhauer, the cultural, literary and social context of Germany in the nineteenth century, as well as a mini-biography of Schopenhauer. This is all you will need to have a rich appreciation for one of the most lucid and influential philosophers in the Western tradition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    britany

    the feel good hit of 1851

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I'm sorry I didn't read this two years ago, when I thought pessimism was something reserved for those exiled from the general population's way of thinking. Considering it was written in the mid 19th century, everything in this book is highly accessible, written fairly simply, with only a few technicalities in between. And if it's the pessimism you want, then the opening essays are what you're after. They're drenched in reasons why we as a species are an error in creation, too highly adapted to I'm sorry I didn't read this two years ago, when I thought pessimism was something reserved for those exiled from the general population's way of thinking. Considering it was written in the mid 19th century, everything in this book is highly accessible, written fairly simply, with only a few technicalities in between. And if it's the pessimism you want, then the opening essays are what you're after. They're drenched in reasons why we as a species are an error in creation, too highly adapted to deal with the demands we place on ourselves, and so are destined for dissatisfaction. He's not without his failings - his view of women is not just absurd, it's just plain wrong. Having said that, the man deserves extreme respect for believing totally in what he says. Everything is drilled so forcefully that you can hardly do anything but nod agreement at times, regardless of whether the truth is a melancholy one. And it's not just that his tone is convincing - he actually has plenty to say on plenty of topics. The sections on ethics, philosophy and the intellect, and on thinking for yourself are fairly impressive. He places before you feelings most would probably never pay much attention to - that we fail to notice our good health but reversely are frustrated by the smallest of pains in a toe or finger, which all highlights that we're doomed for discontent because we fail to acknowledge our benefits, and so will keep striving for more and more, ultimately unhappy. This book isn't for those that are happy enough to drift through a delusional life of optimism - something I don't think is such a bad thing, even from a pessimist's point of view. If someone is fortunate enough to not be struck by the truths of this book, then I would say leave them be. However, once gained, they're almost impossible to shrug off. You see this fact most evident in those people who suffer chronic depression and who are forever bleak, even if they themselves aren't completely aware of it. But if you're helplessly susceptible to insight and clever thinking, then you can hardly ignore reading this book. It's seminal.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan Varley

    Nietzsche is a ray of f'n sunshine compared to Schopenhauer. Check it: "If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering than our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world" --- holy shit!) but S. lays down some good nuggets on the denial of the will/desire that dovetails nicely with some Eastern philosophies. Some nice views on aesthetics (they give us a respite from the endless loop of desire->satisfaction -> desire, since when we see something beautiful it r Nietzsche is a ray of f'n sunshine compared to Schopenhauer. Check it: "If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering than our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world" --- holy shit!) but S. lays down some good nuggets on the denial of the will/desire that dovetails nicely with some Eastern philosophies. Some nice views on aesthetics (they give us a respite from the endless loop of desire->satisfaction -> desire, since when we see something beautiful it releases us from that subjective prison of our own minds, however briefly. And some badass lines on thinking for yourself: "Fundamentally it is only our basic thoughts that possess truth and life, for only these do we really understand through and through. The thoughts of another that we have read are crumbs from another's table, the cast-off clothes of an unfamiliar guest." DAMN! Under appreciated philosopher. Gets too much of a bad rap for his pessimism when in fact I see a lot of life-affirming aspects of his writing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    C

    This is a bad book. A really bad book. Hell, it’s even a dangerous book. Anyone that takes Schoperhanuer seriously, is going to expect a rotten world, prolong a rotten world, and thus fortify the self fulfilling prophecy that nothing good has happened, will happen, and can happen. Fortunately this entire foundation is grounded on extremely shoddy philosophy. Schopenhauer was known in Germany as that guy who lectured in an empty room, while Hegel filled the auditorium. This isn’t surprising, Hegel This is a bad book. A really bad book. Hell, it’s even a dangerous book. Anyone that takes Schoperhanuer seriously, is going to expect a rotten world, prolong a rotten world, and thus fortify the self fulfilling prophecy that nothing good has happened, will happen, and can happen. Fortunately this entire foundation is grounded on extremely shoddy philosophy. Schopenhauer was known in Germany as that guy who lectured in an empty room, while Hegel filled the auditorium. This isn’t surprising, Hegel was conducting Philosophy, and Schopenhauer was conducting shrill whining before a live audience of one. If you’re going to pay a college to teach you philosophy, listening to the equivalent of a comedian without jokes, isn’t a frugal investment. Gramsci had a famous saying: Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will. Schopenhauer would twist this into, a pessimistic will, guarantees a pessimistic intellect. For Schopenhauer this is an ontological truth of the world, literally, there is one grand will, that exist independently of the phenomenal world, and it expresses itself in living beings, as a voracious Hobbesian creature that riddles us with torment, misery, and pain. Kant’s things in themselves are really this one thing, the will, in itself, and through us (and animals). How does Schopenhauer know this? How has he taken Kant’s masterpiece and transcended the phenomenal world, into the essence of the noumenon? Simple: sparse, intuition. It’s rather ironic than that when Schopenhauer goes on to explain what the world would look like without human subjects, he maintains all the properties of mind: space, time, causal relations, in existence. Clearly he didn’t understand Kant very well. One cannot explain the world without subjects, or at the very least, that description shouldn’t literally mirror our phenomenal depiction of it. What’s even more asinine is how petulant and hostile he was to Hegelian philosophy, when his own philosophy merely replaced Hegel’s Absolute, or Geist, with a Will. Whereas Hegel was a genius, with extreme philosophical cunning, able to piece together the necessary conclusions of his ontological foundation, and at least project some form of progress upon mankind, Schopenhauer leaves us with unconnected bits and pieces. There is no progress. There is no history. There is only misery from time immemorial. From these ridiculous ontological certainties, Schopenhauer moves on to explain to us that women are trifling, idiotic, subspecies. The businessman is the most authentic human being. The majority of the population requires religion because they’re essentially a brain stem, without frontal lobes, and Monarchies are the NATURAL EXPRESSION of human beings (I guess he never read a history book nor inquired into an anthropological text). Freedom of the press is dangerous, and authoritative ruling is universal and ubiquitous, thus necessary, and never eradicable. Any attempts at ethical behavior is really futile, all we can do is stare at each other in recognition of our own self-torment. Every once and a while a genius may arise amongst us, but overall 99% of us most be certain that we’ll never achieve anything except the occasional brief mitigation of pure despair. What’s really so ironic about this ontological certainty, with its barbarous conclusions, is that Schopenhauer only writes in Aphorisms and brief points. This is the guy who claims to have found the essence to all of reality, and unlike Hegel, he can’t properly systemize anything. All of his essays, on any subject, are helter skelter, scattered, internally contradictory, and fail to paint a systematic picture beyond: life sucks, then you die, ass hole. Now I can understand why Schopenhauer held such pessimism, and he’s brave enough to point out that the world is filled with suffering, depravity, torment, and pain. The Romantic Movement was being squashed by the material and social reality of an ever growing industrializing, capitalistic, heartless, mode of production. Atomizations of the people, and fractioning of the state, were necessary results. Alienation was subsequent. The bourgeois revolutions were replacing the tyranny of 1, by the tyranny of the 1%. Fortunately Marxism, and other socialist thinkers offered the necessary optimism to Schopenhauer’s defeatist pessimism. And thus Schopenhauer sat in the dustbin of history for some time. Now with the failure of Capitalism to be surmounted, and any chance at a proper romanticism – that incorporates a diverse and flourishing natural environment – is leading Philosophers, and many readers, back to Schopenhauer. (He alleviates the readers initial guilt as being a full blown hedonist, I suspect…)This is why the man is dangerous, instead of a revival of optimism, and a good Marxist vaccination against a static view of miserable history, we get poor philosophy, terrible ontology, an incoherent ethic, and certainty in failure.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    This is a great introduction to Schopenhauer- small, sweet (er...), easily taken in bites every few days to chew on, much more easily digested than his most prominent work, the World as Will and Representation. I wish this had been my first introduction to Schopenhauer, instead of WaWaR. You learn quite a bit more about his psyche and personality here, and I think it sets up nicely for reading his more extended philosophy. Soapy, as I like to call him, is one of my very favourite philosophers. N This is a great introduction to Schopenhauer- small, sweet (er...), easily taken in bites every few days to chew on, much more easily digested than his most prominent work, the World as Will and Representation. I wish this had been my first introduction to Schopenhauer, instead of WaWaR. You learn quite a bit more about his psyche and personality here, and I think it sets up nicely for reading his more extended philosophy. Soapy, as I like to call him, is one of my very favourite philosophers. Not because I particularly identify or agree with his ideas, the way I do, say, Hume, but because he’s fun to read in spite of his obnoxious fanboying over the insufferable Kant. No, Soapy’s fun because he’s ABSURD. He’s this creepy, cranky old guy who’s obsessed with his French poodles. He’s a nasty misanthrope, an egomaniac, and the actual most stubborn person ever born. Best of all, he’s painfully (...stubbornly) self-unaware. Regarding everything. And he’s dark. Unrealistically pessimistic, so extreme he’s like a cartoon parodying himself. The following quote is about as cheerful as it gets: “As a reliable compass for orienting yourself in life, nothing is more useful than to accustom yourself to regarding this world as a place of atonement, a sort of penal colony. When you have done this, you will… no longer regard the calamities, sufferings, torments, & miseries of life as something irregular, but will find them entirely in order, well knowing that each of us is here being punished for his existence and each in his own particular way.” He defines hope as the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability. ...And he wants us to formally address each other, not as “sir” or “Mr.” but as “Fellow Sufferer” and “Companion in Misery.” #crazyoldMaurice

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jonfaith

    A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short. It appears to be a strange time to be alive. I found the aphorisms especially to be a delight. The misogyny in the middle kept this collection from being five stars. Nietzsche's debt to Schopenhauer can't be overstated. The ideas on morality and on religion are invaluable. I noted midway through this volume how much I enjoyed the dismissal of opera, especially after suffering through Auden's praise thereof. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short. It appears to be a strange time to be alive. I found the aphorisms especially to be a delight. The misogyny in the middle kept this collection from being five stars. Nietzsche's debt to Schopenhauer can't be overstated. The ideas on morality and on religion are invaluable. I noted midway through this volume how much I enjoyed the dismissal of opera, especially after suffering through Auden's praise thereof.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rakhi Dalal

    Just read the essay "On Women" from the collection. I laughed out loud. (view spoiler)[Pity the great mind. (hide spoiler)] Just read the essay "On Women" from the collection. I laughed out loud. (view spoiler)[Pity the great mind. (hide spoiler)]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    To our amazement we suddenly exist, after having for countless millennia not existed; in a short while we will again not exist, also for countless millennia. That cannot be right, says the heart... I don't really have a review. I like Schopenhauer in both style and content. Everything here is worth reading apart from 'On Women', which I guess was kept in so that the editor could not claim they were ignoring Schopenhauer's virulent misogyny. Schopenhauer's aphorisms on books and writing are of To our amazement we suddenly exist, after having for countless millennia not existed; in a short while we will again not exist, also for countless millennia. That cannot be right, says the heart... I don't really have a review. I like Schopenhauer in both style and content. Everything here is worth reading apart from 'On Women', which I guess was kept in so that the editor could not claim they were ignoring Schopenhauer's virulent misogyny. Schopenhauer's aphorisms on books and writing are of special interest. I am not quite so anti-obscurantist as he is; perhaps because I want to seek some higher meaning in a difficult writer rather than dismiss them out of hand. Nonetheless I will try to take his remarks on bad books to heart. Life is short - the 'pleasure' of logging another book on my reading challenge here is not worth the time spent slogging through some book that doesn't really engage my interest or teach me anything valuable. I may be one of those people Schopenhauer criticizes who needs to read less and think more.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eadweard

    " In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theatre, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear. For to him who does know, children can sometimes seem like innocent delinquents, sentenced not to death but to life, who have not yet discovered what their punishment will consist of. Nonetheless, everyone desires to achieve old age, that is to say a condition in whi " In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theatre, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear. For to him who does know, children can sometimes seem like innocent delinquents, sentenced not to death but to life, who have not yet discovered what their punishment will consist of. Nonetheless, everyone desires to achieve old age, that is to say a condition in which one can say: ‘Today it is bad, and day by day it will get worse – until at last the worst of all arrives.’ " ---- " If the act of procreation were neither the outcome of a desire nor accompanied by feelings of pleasure, but a matter to be decided on the basis of purely rational considerations, is it likely the human race would still exist? Would each of us not rather have felt so much pity for the coming generation as to prefer to spare it the burden of existence, or at least not wish to take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood? " ---- " man ought to be, not monsieur, sir, but fellow sufferer, compagnon de misères. However strange this may sound it corresponds to the nature of the case, makes us see other men in a true light and reminds us of what are the most necessary of all things: tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity, which each of us needs and which each of us therefore owes. "

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Not sure if this counts as philosophy, as it really is more Schopenhauer's literary expression of his ideas. He saved his Big Thoughts for The World as Will and Representation, and these are condensed versions of his-- often immensely unpalatable-- ideas. You get a fuller sense of Schopenhauer as a person in these essays, much like how in the remarkably chatty writing of Nietzsche, you get a strong sense of him, which is to say as a curmudgeon. As a naturally morose person, I have to give him a Not sure if this counts as philosophy, as it really is more Schopenhauer's literary expression of his ideas. He saved his Big Thoughts for The World as Will and Representation, and these are condensed versions of his-- often immensely unpalatable-- ideas. You get a fuller sense of Schopenhauer as a person in these essays, much like how in the remarkably chatty writing of Nietzsche, you get a strong sense of him, which is to say as a curmudgeon. As a naturally morose person, I have to give him a certain amount of sympathy, even if I think he was probably a dick. Which is why a number of these essays really are valuable, perhaps even essential reading, although quite a few can comfortably be ignored.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Arthur Schopenhauer's "Essays and Aphorisms" are excerpts taken from his second book "Parerga and Paralipomena." Schopenhauer writes in a clear, concise, and surprisingly very easy to read (especially as compared to his contemporaries such as the convoluted and complex Hegel) prose which was an obvious influence on latter German philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche. In "Essays and Aphorisms" Schopenhauer expostulates on a variety of different subjects ranging from his controversial viewpoint Arthur Schopenhauer's "Essays and Aphorisms" are excerpts taken from his second book "Parerga and Paralipomena." Schopenhauer writes in a clear, concise, and surprisingly very easy to read (especially as compared to his contemporaries such as the convoluted and complex Hegel) prose which was an obvious influence on latter German philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche. In "Essays and Aphorisms" Schopenhauer expostulates on a variety of different subjects ranging from his controversial viewpoint of women (one of my favorites, the essay "On Woman" is so politically incorrect it is bound to make even the most mildly feminist woman howl), religion, his disgust with scientific practices such as vivisection and cruel experimentation on harmless, defenseless animals (a sentiment I strongly share) to instructions on the proper way to read and write books. All this is interspersed with his highly entertaining pessimism about life and existence. There is some description of his metaphysical system of will and its representation as idea, but none of the essays explore it in any real depth although it does play an underlying part so that some elementary knowledge of his metaphysical philosophy should be familiar to the reader to better understand Schopenhauer's essays. Some choice excerpts: 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. "On the Sufferings of the World" Hatred comes from the heart; contempt from the head; and neither feeling is quite within our control. "Psychological Observations" 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. "Of Women" 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 Noise"

  14. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    Aphorismes et Insultes Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) I have not read anything about Schopenhauer’s philosophy for the time being. I will comment only on what I have retained from this selection published in 1851 named in the original version "Ephorismen zur Lebensweisheit." To translate this title into the French version as ‘Aphorismes et Insultes’ is quite surprising and more likely the expression of the French editor. “Schopenhauer quotes the French: Other parts of the world have monkeys, Euro Aphorismes et Insultes Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) I have not read anything about Schopenhauer’s philosophy for the time being. I will comment only on what I have retained from this selection published in 1851 named in the original version "Ephorismen zur Lebensweisheit." To translate this title into the French version as ‘Aphorismes et Insultes’ is quite surprising and more likely the expression of the French editor. “Schopenhauer quotes the French: Other parts of the world have monkeys, Europe has the French, which compensates.” The dislike seems reciprocal. Other than that, I have indeed seen a cartload of hatred in the views Schopenhauer takes on different points of observations. His principal enemy is Hegel and all his followers of philosophy, like Fichte, Schelling, Jacobi and other contemporaries. He calls them ‘Philosophers for sale’ who’s only interest is obtaining a chair at a faculty, and teaching philosophy of a kind, that they do not understand, nor do their students, but all is well as long as they get a good revenue and great glory. He had his doubts about Spinoza but seems to have taken Kant as a serious thinker, worth following. His other great enemy is the ‘Female of the human species.' He hates all women, though I do not remember if he mentioned his mother or sister if he had any. In his mind, women would not understand art, painting or literature. They would have all the failings of character, like wisdom, intelligence, loyalty, faith and love and much more such. He has a complete list of unkind adjectives so that I will leave it at that. Schopenhauer also disdains religion: "Religion is like fireflies, it needs darkness, to shine." Many other subjects on the author's dissection table are laid bare: Affinities, Germans, Americans, Friends, Lovers, Love, The English, Biests, Money, Bonaparte, Happiness, Characters, Catholic Faith, etc. in alphabetical order. He will sort out all that he can find ridiculous, ugly, villain, dirty and miserable. There is little kindness or liking on anything. If I was to like Schopenhauer’s Philosophy, I would need to read more about it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Schopenhauer's salad bowl of short essays and sayings held out the prospect of an in-depth look at his philosophy of pessimism, which I was most keen to find out about. But this collection, while it contains observations that might be construed as pessimistic, doesn't advance pessimism as a carefully laid out philosophical standpoint. I was a little disappointed. Most of what he says is a letdown. Either his remarks are a bit pedestrian or they're wildly mistaken. He advances a notion that women Schopenhauer's salad bowl of short essays and sayings held out the prospect of an in-depth look at his philosophy of pessimism, which I was most keen to find out about. But this collection, while it contains observations that might be construed as pessimistic, doesn't advance pessimism as a carefully laid out philosophical standpoint. I was a little disappointed. Most of what he says is a letdown. Either his remarks are a bit pedestrian or they're wildly mistaken. He advances a notion that women are so inferior to men that they're almost a different species, and as evidence he tells us, "You have only to look around you ...". He furiously extols Kant to the heavens, but without adding any new insights to Kant's system. He elevates Kant's noumena (what he call "the will") to central significance, something that would have bothered Kant; but he doesn't quite clarify in these pages all the qualities of this "will" he proposes. The idea of an élan vital of which this will might partake he flirts with, but without definite conclusions. The book isn't all bad. Many of his observations are right on the mark and in some ways bold. His strong defense of animal rights anticipates a discussion we're only now getting around to. "Humans," he says, "are the demon of the earth. Animals are its tormented souls." He carefully discusses many other subjects, including literature. He does have some intriguing observations: "History is the antithesis of poetry"; minds of the "first rank can be lamed by false premises"; "the only real effect is the after-effect"; "knowledge is to a certain extent a second existence outside yourself"; and many more such. I recommend this book, but I don't advise people to read it cover to cover. The book is best used by reading the parts you like and skipping the rest.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shyam

    ". . . only the masterpieces are enjoyable and everything mediocre is unendurable." "All genuine Thought and Art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off. For a writer to afford enjoyment always demands a certain harmony between his way of thinking and that of the reader; and the enjoyment will be the greater the more perfect this harmony is." "There are above all two kinds of writer: those who write for the ". . . only the masterpieces are enjoyable and everything mediocre is unendurable." "All genuine Thought and Art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off. For a writer to afford enjoyment always demands a certain harmony between his way of thinking and that of the reader; and the enjoyment will be the greater the more perfect this harmony is." "There are above all two kinds of writer: those who write for the sake of what they have to say, and those who write for the sake of writing . . . You can see they are writing simply in order to cover paper: and as soon as you do see it you should throw the book down, for time is precious." "The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. — A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short." __________ Let us go straightaway to the heart of the man, to his most pronounced and enduring characteristic. Here, with all possible brevity, are five details from his biography . . . 4. One day in August 1821, still in Berlin, Schopenhauer was involved in an altercation at his loodgings with a sempstress, one Caroline Luise Marguet, aged 47, which ended with his throwing her down the stairs. He alleged she was making too much noise; she maintained she was only talking to a friend on the landing . . . 5. From the age of 45 until his death 27 years later Schopenhauer lived in Frankfurt-am-Main. He lived alone, in 'rooms', and every day for 27 years he followed an identical routine. He rose every morning at seven and had a bath but no breakfast: he drank a cup of strong coffee before sitting down at his desk and writing until noon. At noon he ceased work for the day and spent half-an-hour practicing the flute, on which he became quite a skilled performer. Then he went out for lunch at the Englisher Hof. After lunch he returned home and read until four, when he left for his daily walk: he walked for two hours no matter what the weather. At six o'clock he visited the reading room of the library and read The Times. In the evening he attended the theatre or a concert, after which he had dinner at a hotel or restaurant. He got back home between nine and ten and went early to bed. He was willing to deviate from this routine in order to receive visitors: but with this exception he carried it through for 27 years. —Introduction, R. J. Hollingdale __________ A hatred of noise, and the value of order in your daily life, are two fundamental parts of myself which I found I shared in common with Schopenhauer, but this list began to rapidly grow as I read through this selection taken from the second volume of his work: Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena: Volume 2: Short Philosophical Essays. These aren't essays, but rather short sentences or 'miniature' essays on a very wide variety of topics: 37 sections in the original, here collapsed into 17, with excisions including excess repetition and now antiquated speculations on Natural Science. The selection contains a good sampling from the complete work, and many of the aphorisms contain ideas from his major work, The World as Will and Idea/Representation; all of which can be easily understood by anyone unfamiliar with the latter thanks to the excellent introduction. I would highly recommend this to anyone who perhaps wants a feel for Schopenhauer's Philosophy before buying his major works. __________ I therefore know of no greater absurdity than that absurdity that characterizes almost all metaphysical systems: that of explaining evil as something negative. For evil is precisely that which is positive, that which makes itself palpable; and good, on the other hand, i.e. all happiness and gratification, is that which is negative, the mere abolition of a desire and extinction of a pain. This is also consistent with the fact that as a rule we find pleasure much less pleasurable, pain much more painful that we expected. The scenes in our life resemble pictures in rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful. That is why to attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and why, though we live all out lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past. The present, on the other hand, is regarded as something quite temporary and serving only as the road to our goal. That is why most men discover when they look back on their life that they have the whole time been living ad interim [in the meantime; temporarily], and are surprised to see that which they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, was precisely that in expectation of which they lived. He who, by virtue of the strength of his memory and imagination, can most clearly call up what is long past in his own life will be more conscious than others of the identity of all present moments throughout the whole of time. 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. Now you can only apply yourself voluntarily to reading and learning, but you cannot really apply yourself to thinking: thinking has to be kindled, as a fire is by a draught, and kept going by some kind of interest in its object, which may be an objective interest or merely a subjective one. The latter is possible only with this that affect us personally, the former only to those heads who think by nature, to whom thinking is as natural as breathing, and these are very rare. That is why most scholars do so little of it. 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. That 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. The poet can thus be compared with one who presents flowers, the philosopher with one who presents their essence. . . . the future is already totally fixed and precisely determined, and can be no more altered than the past can. Music, as the mightiest of the arts, is capable by itself of completely engrossing the mind receptive to it; one, its highest products, if they are to be properly comprehended and enjoyed, demand the undivided and undistracted attention of the entire mind, so that it may surrender to them and immerse themself in them in order to understand their incredibly intimate language. A novel will be the higher and nobler the more inner and less outer life it depicts; and this relation will accompany every grade of novel as its characteristic sign, from Tristram Shandy down to the crudest and most action-packed romance. The Art lies in setting the inner life into the most violent motion with the smallest possible expenditure of outer life: for it is the inner life which is the real object of our interest. — The task of the novelist is not to narrate great events but to make small ones interesting. Thus only what is inborn is genuine and sound: if you want to achieve something in business, in writing, in painting, in anything, you must follow the rules without knowing them. People need external activity because they have no internal activity . . . The fact also explains the restlessness of those who have nothing to do, and their aimless travelling. What drives them from country to country is the same boredom which at home drives them together into such crowds and heaps it is funny to see. I once received a choice confirmation of this truth from a gentleman of 50 with whom I was not acquainted, who told me about a two-year pleasure trip he had taken to distant lands and strange parts of the earth. When I remarked that he must have endured many difficulties, hardships, and dangers, he replied very naively, without hesitation or preamble but as if merely annunciating the conclusion of a syllogism: 'I wasn't bored for an instant.' . . . problems whose answers have for long stood written in books into which he is too lazy and ignorant to stick his nose. The public is much more interested in the material than in the form. It displays this tendency in its most ridiculous shape in regard to poetic works, in that it painstakingly tracks down the real events or personal circumstances which occasioned the work, and these, indeed, become more interesting to it than the works themselves, so that it reads more about than by Goethe and studies the Faust legend more assiduously than Faust . . . This preference for the material as against the form is as if one should ignore the form and painting of a beautiful Etruscan vase in order to carry out a chemical analysis of the pigment and clay. Noise, however, is the most impertinent of all interruptions, since it interrupts, indeed disrups, even our thoughts. Where there is nothing to interrupt, to be sure, it will cause no especial discomfiture. 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. Good-bye!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Yasiru

    It was a satisfying point of curiosity to discover recently that Samuel Beckett had found something in the works of Voltaire and Schopenhauer as I felt I did when first I came to read them. Maybe this is why Beckett's work affects me the way it does, fitting into a larger, allusive scheme of thought- one where an honest confrontation of man's condition precedes the supposition of solutions, much less their pursuit. Perhaps for this very reason, pretentious Hegelians and discomfited Marxists are e It was a satisfying point of curiosity to discover recently that Samuel Beckett had found something in the works of Voltaire and Schopenhauer as I felt I did when first I came to read them. Maybe this is why Beckett's work affects me the way it does, fitting into a larger, allusive scheme of thought- one where an honest confrontation of man's condition precedes the supposition of solutions, much less their pursuit. Perhaps for this very reason, pretentious Hegelians and discomfited Marxists are ever vigilant in their attempts to deride and suppress the likes of Arthur Schopenhauer (of course, in this preoccupation of theirs, the most significant threat to their elaborate handwaving-based political philosophical models came from an entirely unforeseen direction- in the writings of Karl Popper whose central contributions were to the philosophy of science; and of course, these battles are, at least at first, far removed from the pragmatic, money-making endeavour that is politics, and their victors are assimilated by the mechanism rather than given a chance at replacing it). The trouble with reactionary philosophies like these is that they tend to suffer an inferiority complex where their proponents favour any means, including obscurantism and jargon-peddling, to make the best possible case for themselves. Doing so naturally taxes them to the point where they fall back and withdraw deeper into their resentment and drift into irrelevance, albeit with vehement denials, like a failed numerical iteration (an odd metaphor you might think, but an unwittingly-diverging Newton-Raphson process is a natural enough image, try as I might to avoid this different kind of jargon). While Schopenhauer is not widely read today (aside from his aphorisms), it occurred to me how central a figure he is in the history of philosophy in terms of influence as I attempted elsewhere to identify the most preeminent foundation stones of our culture. Schopenhauer's is an extremely distilled and far-reaching form of idealism, giving primacy to his conception of the 'will' as the Kantian 'thing-in-itself' and exploring the futile consequences of this will upon the world. His pessimism is likely the best known thing about him, but most treatments do not give this aspect of his thought the care it deserves and makes it seem at once overbearing and not as insidious as the man conceived it. It's best then to read Schopenhauer's own words, especially since his clarity of expression and powers of wit make this venture as enjoyable as it is instructive. In particular his critiques of Kant and (far less favourably) Hegel (an interesting meditation is on what separates Hobbes and Hegel, whose motivations might be said to have been much alike), are some of the most thoughtful and consequential responses to their philosophies even when Schopenhauer is being acerbic and bordering on arrogance. Certainly, Schopenhauer has been read by many in the past whose deft mental hands have worked to mould and shape society and human thought- from Nietzsche and through him carrying on in subtle currents to Heidegger and others (phenomenologists and existentialists), to Wagner with his seminal achievements in opera, to the Modernists (including their benefactors such as Baudelaire and Yeats) and perhaps most significantly of all, to the psychologists. In this last case, not only do Schopenhauer's thoughts transmit and resonate through Freud and his contemporaries and successors, they also anticipate in methodology the analyses of evolutionary psychology and biology-informed thinking (see The Selfish Gene for instance) today gaining ground and are often robust, modern and empirical to an impressive degree. A point of personal interest to me as a Buddhist, is that whatever the extent of his influence from the teaching (or lack thereof), the parallels (as well as the fine points of departure) between the philosophy of will espoused by Schopenhauer (including the attendant ethics, admirable in its foresighted compassion, and even the psychological bent of his work) and Buddhism is also striking. That this comparison is natural presents Schopenhauer as a significant, liberating cog in the history of Western philosophy much like Socrates and Kant, helping to open up its prospects beyond the monolithic shadow cast by Abrahamic religion as it breathes down the neck of thought and venture. Finally, it seems almost every reviewer here has felt the need to fidget and distance themselves in the clearest terms from Schopenhauer's views on women, but here again, the man's own words are more nuanced than hearsay of impressions suggest. He is an observer here as steadily as he is elsewhere (but perhaps this becomes a limitation in this essay, considering the doubts he was apt to place on rational hegemonies), and his essay's blunt declarations and oddly timed concessions are one or the other obscured when coming to it with some stern ideological inclination. Read as a rebuttal of (the then-) modern man's romantic 'granting' of certain rights and freedoms to his complementary sex without working to also change societal expectations from the genders, and the imbalances this precipitates, Schopenhauer sounds almost as feminist as Simone de Beauvoire does with her notion of a female needing to 'become a woman' rather than taking the fact, the way modern feminists often and easily do, as is. The World as Will and Representation, though necessarily heavier, is a definite read if you enjoyed this and are interested in learning more in a less disconnected fashion, built from the ground up. Schopenhauer's witty style ought to help cope. Here is the entry for Schopenhauer at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sch...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Travelin

    I remember I was waiting for a potential girlfriend to meet me at a university library, only to see Schopenhauer left on a dirty cushion, like a dirty magazine. The small fraction of "On Women" I had time to read was hilarious, but then, I was 20. Now his short essays read very much like some ancient geek writing from his mom's basement. Given that he'd once depended on his mom's largesse, my comment isn't really financially unsound. Generally speaking, he sounds like a kind of man-boy, who, for I remember I was waiting for a potential girlfriend to meet me at a university library, only to see Schopenhauer left on a dirty cushion, like a dirty magazine. The small fraction of "On Women" I had time to read was hilarious, but then, I was 20. Now his short essays read very much like some ancient geek writing from his mom's basement. Given that he'd once depended on his mom's largesse, my comment isn't really financially unsound. Generally speaking, he sounds like a kind of man-boy, who, for example, finds marriage with any one woman a bad bargain, while arguing stridently for polygamy instead, provided, of course, that a simple change in marriage law makes this effortless and (key to Schopenhauer's philosophy?), economical. By the way, the government should also make it against the law to print books which have text too small for sustained reading, or so he says in another essay. This doesn't sound like an individualist driving his will through government roadblocks. It gave me a real frisson of intellectual excitement to read that both of Schopenhauer's parents were Dutch. Believe me, I can still make the connection to modern Dutchmen, who have a jack-in-the-box certitude they're always springing on you. I even begin to wonder if the focus on (free) will which defined Schopenhauer's philosophic village could be some amalgam of Calvinist predestination and some quasi-religious dedication for political survival. "On Women" ends with his suggestion that mistakenly giving women a false nobility actually caused terrible revolutions in France. One could also mention that Puritans who settled a relatively new world through force of will, after first living in the Netherlands for 11 years. The introduction in my Gutenberg edition also reveals why S. had ceased contacting his mother for 11 years. It was because she had agreed to a lower settlement figure during bankruptcy negotiations affecting them both. Since psychoanalysis of the day seems so focused on quantifying drives in conflict with each other, a book like "The Schopenhauer Cure" would really need to look at Schopenhauer's finances just as closely as his relationship with his mother. Luckily, Freud has some analysis of debit accounts in one of his early books. Original review: I never do manage to read all of the essays in any one collection, and it´s because I keep reading the same ones over and over. Schopenhauer is like a little pocket devil who tells you how it really is "On Women" if your better half thrills you into considering some crazy optimistic leap. Is this the beginning of the brilliant aphoristic style which turned terse Germans into philosophers for 100 years?

  19. 5 out of 5

    J

    Schopenhauer's clarity cannot be discounted. This is not to say his ideas are simple or do not need some reflection and thought for thorough cognition. The main theme of Schopenhauer is the suffering of life in this world. While some may find this type of pondering sort of pointless, since there isn't much we can do about it, those with the inclination to contemplate the nature of existence will find his musings necessary for further explorations into metaphysics. Schopenhauer is often only menti Schopenhauer's clarity cannot be discounted. This is not to say his ideas are simple or do not need some reflection and thought for thorough cognition. The main theme of Schopenhauer is the suffering of life in this world. While some may find this type of pondering sort of pointless, since there isn't much we can do about it, those with the inclination to contemplate the nature of existence will find his musings necessary for further explorations into metaphysics. Schopenhauer is often only mentioned as a major influence on Nietzsche. To think of him as such is a major mistake, as he is a key modern philosopher with a much broader influence on the whole of western thought. His ethics are simple--do what you like that does not injure another. He read Plato and Kant voraciously, but what he took from Kant he sums up with a limpidness that philosopher never knew in his own writing. This particular book is a conglomeration of his essays and aphorisms (per the title). It contains his thoughts on various subjects. Some will find the misogyny in a few essays on women offensive, and even a fan of philosophical pessimism and antinatalism may view a few of his ideas archaic. Overall this is a great intro to Schopenhauer and a must-read for serious philosophy students. To quote the forgotten, but excellent, American writer and philosopher of the early 20th Century, Edgar Saltus: “But to such a man as Schopenhauer,—one who considered five sixths of the population to be knaves or blockheads, and who had thought out a system for the remaining fraction,—to such a man as he, the question of esteem, or the lack thereof, was of small consequence. He cared nothing for the existence which he led in the minds of other people. To his own self he was true, to the calling of his destiny constant, and he felt that he could sit and snap his fingers at the world, knowing that Time, who is at least a gentleman, would bring him his due unasked.” And of course, he was right.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    I think as a modern woman his views of our sex are difficult to hear. Even given the time period of his writing it makes him seem a bit of an ass to be honest. He doesn't think highly of anyone or anything much except music. Its all a bit dreary for me. I could see that perhaps some might view him as witty but a sharp tongue does nothing to detract from the misfortunes of his character. He would annoy me as a person though at least the conversations would never be boring. Bordom actually being o I think as a modern woman his views of our sex are difficult to hear. Even given the time period of his writing it makes him seem a bit of an ass to be honest. He doesn't think highly of anyone or anything much except music. Its all a bit dreary for me. I could see that perhaps some might view him as witty but a sharp tongue does nothing to detract from the misfortunes of his character. He would annoy me as a person though at least the conversations would never be boring. Bordom actually being one of the great "evils" that many outcomes may make for him.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caspar Bryant

    a 3.5. in that Schopenhauer is a real mixed bag in this collection. His work on Kant is very impressive and a highlight of E&A. On Women and his critique of religion were more tedious and I felt weren't even especially original for the time. On Suicide was good and I felt deserved elaboration in that I left unsatisfied. I do enjoy him, and he writes well, but there's plenty work left to do. a 3.5. in that Schopenhauer is a real mixed bag in this collection. His work on Kant is very impressive and a highlight of E&A. On Women and his critique of religion were more tedious and I felt weren't even especially original for the time. On Suicide was good and I felt deserved elaboration in that I left unsatisfied. I do enjoy him, and he writes well, but there's plenty work left to do.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sanket Hota

    Bleak and grey. Pessimistic to the last letter. Not infrequently I felt like a speck of dust. The aphorisms are very precise and direct. The essays are brief. In short this collection is to be digested slowly. The old man exudes a great deal of wisdom: “Riches, one may say, are like sea-water; the more you drink the thirstier you become; and the same is true of fame.” “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 Bleak and grey. Pessimistic to the last letter. Not infrequently I felt like a speck of dust. The aphorisms are very precise and direct. The essays are brief. In short this collection is to be digested slowly. The old man exudes a great deal of wisdom: “Riches, one may say, are like sea-water; the more you drink the thirstier you become; and the same is true of fame.” “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.” “Life is a business that does not cover the costs.” And this. “Obit anus, abit onus”

  23. 5 out of 5

    Peter Mendrela

    Humanistic Pessimism from a Thorny Rose Imagine realizing that the Hobbesian "nasty, brutish, and short" state of nature is not just a concept or a nightmare but the world you actually live in. Schopenhauer is perhaps best known for his saturnine philosophical streak and the discovery of the "Will to live" (or, what he also terms as, "life force") which all living organism share and are subject to. Indeed, the titles of his two most famous essays which open the Penguin edition: "On the suffering Humanistic Pessimism from a Thorny Rose Imagine realizing that the Hobbesian "nasty, brutish, and short" state of nature is not just a concept or a nightmare but the world you actually live in. Schopenhauer is perhaps best known for his saturnine philosophical streak and the discovery of the "Will to live" (or, what he also terms as, "life force") which all living organism share and are subject to. Indeed, the titles of his two most famous essays which open the Penguin edition: "On the suffering of the world" and "On the vanity of existence" are rather self-explanatory, but it would be both erroneous and unjust to circumscribe this great thinker to these two categories and smugly move on to bigger (more exciting or influential) concepts and thinkers. The bad: Yes, according to Schopenhauer suffering is the “positive element” in our world (meaning: it is the norm) and what we refer to as happiness or joy is simply its temporary suspension or absence. In this sense, our world is not unlike “hell”, a “penal colony” of sorts (Schopenhauer’s terms) and “life is an expiation for the crime of being born”. This guilt-infused rhetoric may sound Kafkaesque, but unlike Kafka Schopenhauer seems to have found a way out of this existential quagmire. The good: Inasmuch as the “Will to live” and the suffering it entails is something all living organisms share, Schopenhauer invites us to see our fellow creatures not as “hunger games” contenders fighting for limited resources in order to placate the Will, but as “fellow sufferers” for whom “tolerance, patience, forbearance and charity” should be the bases of all interactions. These pseudo-Christian ethical prescriptions may sound surprising coming from somber German who did not have much faith in humanity (nor any benevolent deity), but lest we think that they are an anomaly we should consider what he has to say about slavery and animals who share in our exile. Decades before the American Civil War, Schopenhauer inveighed against the “bigoted, church-going, Sabbath-keeping scoundrels” who treat their “innocent black brothers” as a personal possession to be used and abused at their will. And emphasizing the “eternal being” (the Will) we share with animals, he passionately condemned all who abuse or torture them for personal enjoyment (“shoddenfreude”) or for scientific purposes. I must admit that apart from clarity and succinctness of his style it is this humanistic streak that I most admire about Schopenhauer – but Essay and Aphorisms is a veritable trove of goodies. For example, writing about suicide (which, in light of the ubiquity of suffering may seem logical if not appealing), he warns that our goal should be the conquest the Will rather than surrender to it (suicide). And one of the best way to rise above the fray is art. Indeed, the aphorisms on aesthetics, religion, and books (true philosopher thinks for himself, a professor of philosophy merely reads and regurgitates the thoughts of others) are as pithy as they are relevant, even by the 21st century standards. That stated, there is one subject in Schopenhauer’s writing that shows how flawed and ethically regressive genius can sometimes be. His thoughts on women can be summed up as antediluvian patriarchal diatribes (he sees women as grown children with very limited intellectual acumen) which not only question his precocious and panoptic moral sphere but cry out for (at a minimum) ethical parity with the aforementioned slaves and animals. No, contemporary ethos or personal circumstances should never excuse misogyny, but as the flawed genius himself admits while there are “many a thorn without a rose…[there is] no rose with a thorn”. Thorns notwithstanding, my sincerest advice to any potential reader is to visit your local flower shop today, to pick up this imported rose, and to gift yourself with it. The aesthete in you will thank you. I guaranteed it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nico Bruin

    First a note on this selection, All the writings in this book have been taken from Schopenhauer's final work: Parerga and Paralipomena. For all I can tell the translator and editor has done a fine job of selecting writings which he thought most worth while. I have no problem with him selecting for the reader what to read and what not to. However, he also admits to having toned down Schopenhauer's criticism of Hegel, which is completely unacceptable. Why he feels he has the right to edit the writing First a note on this selection, All the writings in this book have been taken from Schopenhauer's final work: Parerga and Paralipomena. For all I can tell the translator and editor has done a fine job of selecting writings which he thought most worth while. I have no problem with him selecting for the reader what to read and what not to. However, he also admits to having toned down Schopenhauer's criticism of Hegel, which is completely unacceptable. Why he feels he has the right to edit the writing of a great thinker is beyond me. And personally I was looking forward to some good Hegel-bashing. I might eventually read Parerga and Paralipomena to get around this, and would encourage anyone with the time and patience to read a book that's more than twice as long to do the same. Now onto the text and author himself. Schopenhauer is a great writer. He manages to communicate complex topics with the utmost clarity. His essays and aphorisms are thought-provoking, and that's the most important quality of philosophical texts. However, there's a few structural errors in his way of thinking which pervades much of what he has written. First off, Schopenhauer uses his own mind as the model to study the psychology of the entire human race. He writes off perspectives that differ from his own as errors in thought. His metaphysics serve mainly as a tool to give intellectual justification for his pessimism. Schopenhauer's concept of the will is a usefull idea, but much of his metaphysics is soaked in Platonisms, and Plato's world of forms has always seemed like obvious nonsense to me. And whilst he tries to make the case that his pessimism is a logical result of his metaphysics, on can gather from his biography that the pessimism came first, making the metaphysics a post-hoc rationalisation, and that shows. In his writings on religion Schopenhauer is at his best, in this volume at least. The essay "on religion : a dialogue" is a debate on the usefulness of religion. The literal untruth of religion is taken for granted, so that that more salient question can be asked. It is pretty much what I would imagine a debate on religion between Christopher Hitchens and Jordan Peterson would've been like. A lot of people get their jimmies rustled by Schopenhauer's essay "on women". All I can say to them is, try to enjoy it as a meme. Readers of Nietzsche will probably be able to put Nietzsche's philosophy in better context after reading Schopenhauer. Much of Nietzsche phiosophy is a direct attempt at rejecting Schopenhauer's pessimism. And in this attempt I believe he was wholly successful. Overall this is book is worth reading, though an uneditorialized collection of Schopenhauer's writings works would be better. And to everyone who wants to read Nietzsche Schopenhauer is required reading.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dia

    Schopenhauer is above all a wit, secondly a seeker, thirdly a dilettante, and least of all (but still) a misanthrope. He's like what would happen if Oscar Wilde were straight (perhaps closeted), jealous, and had read Kant. Just when you think Schopenhauer has forsaken anyone who is not he or his few idols, he arrives with a paragraph in passionate defense of animals, or a diatribe against slavery that betrays his deep identification with those who have been most crushed and ground into the earth Schopenhauer is above all a wit, secondly a seeker, thirdly a dilettante, and least of all (but still) a misanthrope. He's like what would happen if Oscar Wilde were straight (perhaps closeted), jealous, and had read Kant. Just when you think Schopenhauer has forsaken anyone who is not he or his few idols, he arrives with a paragraph in passionate defense of animals, or a diatribe against slavery that betrays his deep identification with those who have been most crushed and ground into the earth by the insensitives amongst us. His field of inquiry is large, though his sources are few: he seems to have read only Kant, Plato, and the Vedantas, but he focuses the profundity of these deeply contemplated sources on topics as diverse and sometimes mundane as why first impressions are meaningful, why art that only depicts inorganic matter is uninteresting, why parenthesis should be banned, and why the New Testament expresses pessimism. The important thinking is presented early in this collection -- this is where Schopenhauer astonishes by practically condensing Vajrayana Buddhism into three chapters, describing our basic situation (suffering and indestructibilty) with utter clarity and cheerfulness. He goes on to give an argument for the intrinsic right to commit suicide. This would not be popular today, but it, like so much of his writing, is surprisingly convincing and certainly not at all dated. The introduction to this collection, written by R.J. Hollingdale, is fascinating, helpful and perhaps controversial itself.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bobby

    This books almost deserves 5 stars just for the fact that it's written by a German philosopher and yet easy to understand (unlike Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl, etc.)! But seroiusly, Schopenhauer was a complex man to say the least and this book reflects that. On the one hand, he has misogynistic ideas about women and crazy ideas about medicine (no dude, infections are not "curative processes instituted by nature itself to remedy some disorder in the organism"), child rearing (didn't think kids shoul This books almost deserves 5 stars just for the fact that it's written by a German philosopher and yet easy to understand (unlike Hegel, Heidegger, Husserl, etc.)! But seroiusly, Schopenhauer was a complex man to say the least and this book reflects that. On the one hand, he has misogynistic ideas about women and crazy ideas about medicine (no dude, infections are not "curative processes instituted by nature itself to remedy some disorder in the organism"), child rearing (didn't think kids should be exposed to "philosophy, religion and general views of all kinds" until they were 16 years old), and a ton of other subjects. On the other hand, he is a big advocate for humane treatment of animals and has a ton of interesting ideas, many of which clearly influenced Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Freud, Borges, and many others. This book is not his magnum opus (which would be The World as Will and Idea) but it is a nice, rather brief, collection of various short essays on topics like ethics, religion, women, aesthetics, and so on. The range of topics keeps it from getting tedious and I think it's a great intro to Schophenhauer's philosophy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Noah Goats

    Schopenhauer took the core of buddhism and the heart of Kant’s philosophy, bent them into shapes he liked, and then bolted them together. The result is interesting but it’s not a philosophy that you’d want to build your life around. This book contains Schopenhauer’s ideas on subjects ranging from religion (which is terrible), women (even worse), and life in general (a miserable burden lifted from our shoulders only by death). Even though I frequently disagree with Schopenhauer and think his conc Schopenhauer took the core of buddhism and the heart of Kant’s philosophy, bent them into shapes he liked, and then bolted them together. The result is interesting but it’s not a philosophy that you’d want to build your life around. This book contains Schopenhauer’s ideas on subjects ranging from religion (which is terrible), women (even worse), and life in general (a miserable burden lifted from our shoulders only by death). Even though I frequently disagree with Schopenhauer and think his concept of will is just a form of mysticism, he’s so much better at writing than the average philosopher that it’s actually a lot of fun to read him. He is frequently very insightful about human nature and the collection of his aphorisms related to writing is on target.

  28. 4 out of 5

    M. Sarki

    I rate this book two stars because I think "it was OK". I have gladly evolved past the thinking of Arthur Schopenhauer. It puzzles me how a man of serious thought could come up with his ideas regarding women. Seems like common sense may have prevailed no matter the societal norms of his century. I am in a galaxy far-removed from this so-called great thinker. I did enjoy the exercise, but I could have done without. I rate this book two stars because I think "it was OK". I have gladly evolved past the thinking of Arthur Schopenhauer. It puzzles me how a man of serious thought could come up with his ideas regarding women. Seems like common sense may have prevailed no matter the societal norms of his century. I am in a galaxy far-removed from this so-called great thinker. I did enjoy the exercise, but I could have done without.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    ...except for the women part.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cock Johnson

    I really wanted to dislike Schopenhauer- I had the idea he was a whiny fedora. Well, he may be a bit fedoric but I must say I really enjoyed his philosophy.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...