Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (är´tŏŏr shō´pənhou´ər), 1788–1860, German philosopher, b. Danzig (now Gdansk). The bias of his own temperament and experience was germinal to the development of his celebrated philosophy of pessimism, which he presented with such clarity and skill as to gain eventual recognition as one of the great philosophers. He studied at Göttingen, Berlin, and Jena, and he traveled throughout Europe. In Berlin he opposed the teachings of G. W. Hegel and attempted unsuccessfully to establish himself as a lecturer. After 1831, Schopenhauer lived and worked in retirement, chiefly in Frankfurt am Main. He had no friends, never married, and was estranged from his mother, a woman of considerable intellectual ability. Schopenhauer's most important work is The World as Will and Representation (1818, tr. 1958). His other works, mainly elaboration and commentary upon his original thesis, include On the Will in Nature (1836, tr. 1889), The Basis of Morality (1841, tr. 1903), Essays from the Parerga and Paralipomena (1851, tr. 1951), and many lesser essays. Schopenhauer considered himself the true successor of Immanuel Kant. However, he interpreted Kant's unknowable thing-in-itself as a blind, impelling force that is manifest in individuals as a will to live. Intellect and consciousness, in Schopenhauer's view, arise as instruments in the service of the will. Conflict between individual wills is the cause of continual strife and frustration. The world, therefore, is a world of unsatisfied wants and of pain. Pleasure is simply the absence of pain; unable to endure, it brings only ennui. The only possible escape is the renunciation of desire, a negation of the will reminiscent of Buddhism. Temporary relief, however, can be found in philosophy and art. Schopenhauer held that music was unique among the art forms in that it expressed will directly. The ethical side of Schopenhauer's philosophy is based upon sympathy, where the moral will, feeling another's hurt as its own, makes an effort to relieve the pain. His stress on the strength of the impelling will influenced Friedrich Nietzsche and the psychology of Sigmund Freud.

See biographies by D. W. Hamlyn (1985) and D. E. Cartwright (2010); P. Gardiner, Schopenhauer (1963); B. Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (1988); E. von der Luft, ed., Schopenhauer: New Essays in Honor of His 200th Birthday (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Arthur Schopenhauer: Selected full-text books and articles

Essay on the Freedom of the Will By Arthur Schopenhauer; Konstantin Kolenda Liberal Arts Press, 1960
FREE! Religion: A Dialogue, and Other Essays By Arthur Schopenhauer; T. Bailey Saunders Swan Sonnenschein, 1910
Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy By Christopher Janaway Clarendon Press, 1999
The Age of German Idealism By Robert C. Solomon; Kathleen M. Higgins Routledge, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Arthur Schopenhauer"
German Philosophy, 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism By Terry Pinkard Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Kantian Paradoxes and Modern Despair: Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard"
The Will and Human Action: From Antiquity to the Present Day By Thomas Pink; M. W. F Stone Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Nietzsche and Schopenhauer: Is the Will Merely a Word?"
The German Aesthetic Tradition By Kai Hammermeister Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Schopenhauer"
Art and Morality By José Luis Bermúdez; Sebastian Gardner Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "Schopenhauer on Tragedy and Value"
The Death of God and the Meaning of Life By Julian Young Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Schopenhauer"
When Bad Things Happen to Other People By John Portmann Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Wicked Feelings"
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