Let’s Talk Philosophy: Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in 1788 in Danzig, Germany. He was the topic of two philosophy discussion groups that met today. We have been reading a book called The Consolations of Philosophy, written by Alain de Botton and published by Penguin.


Group members were on the whole of the view that he was a miserable man who had nothing to offer for us in consolation of any kind. A few of us (me included) disagreed. It is difficult to get to the core of the man in a two hour session. His thesis, The World as Will and Representation was hailed as a masterpiece (not at first but later in his lifetime).

He certainly paints a dark view of life full of pessimism however I felt a sense of fellowship with him. I have known some dark times in my life and it is as though he could put my experience into words. He also emphasised the strength of our will to live in that the survival of our species depends upon it.

I can’t do justice to the complexity of the man but I do know that he certainly got our group members fired up about some of the things he said and his attitude toward women (not good)!

One of the female members of the group suggested he may have had more success with women if he had a better hair cut.

11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Philosophy: Schopenhauer

  1. Interesting. Your mention of survival takes me back to my air force days.
    Survival is almost totally dependent on “the will to survive”!
    We were taught practical survival skills (both land and sea) but without the will we wouldn’t get far!

  2. I can relate to pessimistic thinking as well. It’s hard to be honest and not see negativity almost anywhere you go. And with his attitude towards women, not that this excuses it, but even great men and women are a product of their time.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. Have you read Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman? He actually states that pessimistic people have a more realistic view of the world! I think that is what you are saying. And yes, our current views of what is right may be seen as very wrong in another time.

      • I haven’t read it, but I’m adding it to my ever expanding list. I agree, as sad as it is. Thanks to you as well.

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