arthur Schopenhauerquotes

1788 - 1860

Photograph of Arthur SchopenhauerGerman philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), called the “pessimistic philosopher,” significantly influenced existential philosophy and modern psychology with his writings rooted in the philosophies of Plato and Immanuel Kant.

Born to wealthy German parents in Poland, Schopenhauer was raised to take over his father’s merchant business. When his father died, the lure of scholarly pursuits was too strong for Schopenhauer to ignore, and he left his business apprenticeship for the University of Gottingen to study natural sciences and philosophy.

After earning his doctorate of philosophy from the University of Jena with his dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, he began a career as professor at the University of Berlin. There, his rivalry with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel began and it endured through their lives.

During this time, he published his most famous work, The World as Will and Idea, which established him as a foremost philosopher. In it, Schopenhauer discusses the self-centeredness of mankind and the aimlessness of human direction. Influenced also by Hindu mysticism and Buddhism, Schopenhauer reflected that desire was the root of pain and suffering.

Fearing the cholera epidemic in Berlin, Schopenhauer renounced his professorship and moved to Frankfurt where he lived as a recluse for the next 28 years before his death. He kept the company of poodles and cats, maintained a lasting friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and continued to clarify and affirm the original philosophical system laid out in The World as Will and Idea with multiple new editions.