Desire is unsatisfiable, the essence of life is suffering, and the sole hope of redemption lies in ascetic negation of the will to live.Try to be patient and charitable toward your fellow human beings, because they are prisoners just like you are in the “penal colony” of the universe.Schopenhauers writing gives us reason, chapter and verse for human understanding and it is correctly termed pessimism.
When German philosophers were entrenched in the universities and immersed in the theological concerns of the time, Schopenhauer was an atheist who stayed outside the academic profession.
Schopenhauer’s lack of recognition during most of his lifetime may have been due to the iconoclasm of his thought, but it was probably also partly due to his irascible and stubborn temperament.
Rereading him after a decade, I realised that such essays as had helped dissuade my younger self from nurturing an excessive fear of death.
Schopenhauer despised writers who conceal shallow minds behind a veil of unintelligible language: if a writer is profound, he will seek the clearest possible expression of his ideas.
Nightmare metaphysics aside, there are misanthropic observations on psychology, religion, aesthetics and writing.
Take this aperçu, as relevant in today’s book pages as it was in 19th-century Germany: “The art of not reading is a very important one.
The knowledge of pessimism is usually considered to be superior to optimism because it better enables us to live our life.
Pessimism is considered superior to optimism because it is a more accurate description of reality.
The proof is in the prose: Schopenhauer’s limpid thoughts are a pleasure to read even for those lacking formal philosophical training.
As with all true philosophers, his starting point is appalled astonishment at that elephant in every conceivable room, “the problem of existence” itself.