19th Century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer is considered a philosophical pessimist.
Explaining his pessimism, Stanford encyclopedia describes his ideals as:
“Artistic, moral and ascetic forms of awareness — to overcome a frustration-filled and fundamentally painful human condition.”
I don’t know about you, but that perfectly describes the pain and triumph of being human. To celebrate the brilliant mind of one of the world’s best-known philosophers, here are 66 Schopenhauer quotes about life and humanity.
Table of Contents
“Compassion is the basis of morality.”
“Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.”
“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”
“The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.”
“Will minus intellect constitutes vulgarity.”
“With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.”
“In action a great heart is the chief qualification. In work, a great head.”
“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.”
“If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?”
“To free a person from error is to give, and not to take away.”
“Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”
“Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark on the face, especially the eyes.”
“The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.”
“Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.”
“There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome; to be got over.”
“A man’s delight in looking forward to and hoping for some particular satisfaction is a part of the pleasure flowing out of it, enjoyed in advance. But this is afterward deducted, for the more we look forward to anything the less we enjoy it when it comes.”
“The greatest achievements of the human mind are generally received with distrust.”
“It’s the niceties that make the difference fate gives us the hand, and we play the cards.”
“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.”
“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.”
“Men are by nature merely indifferent to one another; but women are by nature enemies.”
“The man never feels the want of what it never occurs to him to ask for.”
On Self-Love and Identity
“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.”
“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”
“We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.”
“We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts, the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.”
“As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself.”
On Loss and Pain
“Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”
“Life is a constant process of dying.”
“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
“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.”
“Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.”
“Suffering by nature or chance never seems so painful as suffering inflicted on us by the arbitrary will of another.”
“To live alone is the fate of all great souls.”
“Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people.”
“We can come to look upon the deaths of our enemies with as much regret as we feel for those of our friends, namely, when we miss their existence as witnesses to our success.”
“Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.”
“A sense of humour is the only divine quality of man.”
“Satisfaction consists in freedom from pain, which is the positive element of life.”
“The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.”
“Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.”
“It is a clear gain to sacrifice pleasure in order to avoid pain.”
“What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.”
On Money and Success
“Money is human happiness in the abstract; he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete devotes himself utterly to money.”
“Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see.”
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
“A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.”
“The longer a man’s fame is likely to last, the longer it will be in coming.”
“Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”
“So the problem is not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees.”
“Friends and acquaintances are the surest passport to fortune.”
“Great men are like eagles, and build their nest on some lofty solitude”
“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”
“In action a great heart is the chief qualification. In work, a great head.”
“The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority have always done just the opposite.”
“Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point.”
“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.”
“The brain may be regarded as a kind of parasite of the organism, a pensioner, as it were, who dwells with the body.”
“Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.”
“Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the centre of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the true point at which it can remain at rest.”
“Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect.”
“Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think. ”
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
“The difficulty is to try and teach the multitude that something can be true and untrue at the same time.”
“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.”
“In our monogamous part of the world, to marry means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.”
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