Arthur Schopenhauer quotes

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Arthur Schopenhauer

Birthdate: 22. February 1788
Date of death: 21. September 1860

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation , wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, rejecting the contemporaneous post-Kantian philosophies of German idealism. Schopenhauer was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Eastern philosophy , having initially arrived at similar conclusions as the result of his own philosophical work.

Though his work failed to garner substantial attention during his life, Schopenhauer has had a posthumous impact across various disciplines, including philosophy, literature, and science. His writing on aesthetics, morality, and psychology would exert important influence on thinkers and artists throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Those who have cited his influence include Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Leo Tolstoy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Rank, Gustav Mahler, Joseph Campbell, Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, Emile Zola, George Bernard Shaw, Guy de Maupassant, Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel Beckett.

Works

On the Basis of Morality
On the Basis of Morality
Arthur Schopenhauer
The Christian System
The Christian System
Arthur Schopenhauer
On the Will in Nature
Arthur Schopenhauer

„Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

"Psychological Observations"
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Studies in Pessimism
Variant: Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
Source: Studies in Pessimism: The Essays

„Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Meistens belehrt uns erst der Verlust über den Wert der Dinge.
Source: Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life

„Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book The World as Will and Representation

Das Talent gleicht dem Schützen, der ein Ziel trifft, welches die Uebrigen nicht erreichen können; das Genie dem, der eines trifft, bis zu welchem sie nicht ein Mal zu sehn vermögen...
Vol. II, Ch. III, para. 31 (On Genius), 1844
As cited in The Little Book of Bathroom Philosophy: Daily Wisdom from the Greatest Thinkers‎ (2004) by Gregory Bergman, p. 137
The World as Will and Representation (1819; 1844; 1859)

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„Reason is feminine in nature; it can only give after it has received. Of itself it has nothing but the empty forms of its operation.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book The World as Will and Representation

Vol. I, Ch. 10, as translated by R. B. Haldane
Variant translations:
Reason is feminine in nature; it can give only after it has received. Of itself alone, it has nothing but the empty forms of its operation.
As translated by Eric F. J. Payne (1958) Vol. II, p. 50
Reason is feminine in nature: it will give only after it has received.
The World as Will and Representation (1819; 1844; 1859)
Context: Reason is feminine in nature; it can only give after it has received. Of itself it has nothing but the empty forms of its operation. There is no absolutely pure rational knowledge except the four principles to which I have attributed metalogical truth; the principles of identity, contradiction, excluded middle, and sufficient reason of knowledge. For even the rest of logic is not absolutely pure rational knowledge. It presupposes the relations and the combinations of the spheres of concepts. But concepts in general only exist after experience of ideas of perception, and as their whole nature consists in their relation to these, it is clear that they presuppose them.

„The composer reveals the innermost nature of the world, and expresses the profoundest wisdom in a language that his reasoning faculty does not understand“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book The World as Will and Representation

Vol. I, Ch. III, The World As Representation
The World as Will and Representation (1819; 1844; 1859)
Context: The composer reveals the innermost nature of the world, and expresses the profoundest wisdom in a language that his reasoning faculty does not understand, just as a magnetic somnambulist gives information about things of which she has no conception when she is awake. Therefore in the composer, more than in any other artist, the man is entirely separate and distinct from the artist.

„The allegory was finally completed by Augustine, who penetrated deepest into its meaning, and so was able to conceive it as a systematic whole and supply its defects.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, The Christian System

"The Christian System" in Religion: A Dialogue, and Other Essays (1910) as translated by Thomas Bailey Saunders, p. 105
Context: When the Church says that, in the dogmas of religion, reason is totally incompetent and blind, and its use to be reprehended, this really attests the fact that these dogmas are allegorical in their nature, and are not to be judged by the standard which reason, taking all things sensu proprio, can alone apply. Now the absurdities of a dogma are just the mark and sign of what is allegorical and mythical in it. In the case under consideration, however, the absurdities spring from the fact that two such heterogeneous doctrines as those of the Old and New Testaments had to be combined. The great allegory was of gradual growth. Suggested by external and adventitious circumstances, it was developed by the interpretation put upon them, an interpretation in quiet touch with certain deep-lying truths only half realised. The allegory was finally completed by Augustine, who penetrated deepest into its meaning, and so was able to conceive it as a systematic whole and supply its defects.

„True brevity of expression consists in a man only saying what is worth saying, while avoiding all diffuse explanations of things which every one can think out for himself“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer

Essays, On Authorship and Style
Context: The law of simplicity and naïveté applies to all fine art, for it is compatible with what is most sublime.
True brevity of expression consists in a man only saying what is worth saying, while avoiding all diffuse explanations of things which every one can think out for himself; that is, it consists in his correctly distinguishing between what is necessary and what is superfluous. On the other hand, one should never sacrifice clearness, to say nothing of grammar, for the sake of being brief. To impoverish the expression of a thought, or to obscure or spoil the meaning of a period for the sake of using fewer words shows a lamentable want of judgment.

„But truth acquired by thinking of our own is like a natural limb; it alone really belongs to us.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Vol. 2, Ch. 22, § 261
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Counsels and Maxims
Context: Truth that has been merely learned is like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; at best, like a nose made out of another's flesh; it adheres to us only because it is put on. But truth acquired by thinking of our own is like a natural limb; it alone really belongs to us. This is the fundamental difference between the thinker and the mere man of learning. The intellectual attainments of a man who thinks for himself resemble a fine painting, where the light and shade are correct, the tone sustained, the colour perfectly harmonised; it is true to life. On the other hand, the intellectual attainments of the mere man of learning are like a large palette, full of all sorts of colours, which at most are systematically arranged, but devoid of harmony, connection and meaning.

„Do not shorten the morning by getting up late, or waste it in unworthy occupations or in talk; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Vol. 2, Ch. 2: Our Relation To Ourselves http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenhauer/arthur/counsels/chapter2.html
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Counsels and Maxims
Context: Do not shorten the morning by getting up late, or waste it in unworthy occupations or in talk; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred. Evening is like old age: we are languid, talkative, silly. 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.

„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.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Vol. 2, Ch. 2: Our Relation To Ourselves http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenhauer/arthur/counsels/chapter2.html
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Counsels and Maxims
Context: Do not shorten the morning by getting up late, or waste it in unworthy occupations or in talk; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred. Evening is like old age: we are languid, talkative, silly. 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.

„They belong not to one system, one nation only, but to the universe. And just because they are so very far away, it is usually many years before their light is visible to the inhabitants of this earth.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Vol. 2 "The Art of Literature" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Counsels and Maxims
Context: Writers may be classified as meteors, planets, and fixed stars. A meteor makes a striking effect for a moment. You look up and cry “There!” and it is gone forever. Planets and wandering stars last a much longer time. They often outshine the fixed stars and are confounded by them by the inexperienced; but this only because they are near. It is not long before they must yield their place; nay, the light they give is reflected only, and the sphere of their influence is confined to their orbit — their contemporaries. Their path is one of change and movement, and with the circuit of a few years their tale is told. Fixed stars are the only ones that are constant; their position in the firmament is secure; they shine with a light of their own; their effect today is the same as it was yesterday, because, having no parallax, their appearance does not alter with a difference in our standpoint. They belong not to one system, one nation only, but to the universe. And just because they are so very far away, it is usually many years before their light is visible to the inhabitants of this earth.

„Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine.“

—  Arthur Schopenhauer, book Parerga and Paralipomena

Vol. 2 "On Philosophy and the Intellect" as translated in Essays and Aphorisms (1970), as translated by R. J. Hollingdale
Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Counsels and Maxims
Context: Talent works for money and fame; the motive which moves genius to productivity is, on the other hand, less easy to determine. It isn’t money, for genius seldom gets any. It isn’t fame: fame is too uncertain and, more closely considered, of too little worth. Nor is it strictly for its own pleasure, for the great exertion involved almost outweighs the pleasure. It is rather an instinct of a unique sort by virtue of which the individual possessed of genius is impelled to express what he has seen and felt in enduring works without being conscious of any further motivation. It takes place, by and large, with the same sort of necessity as a tree brings forth fruit, and demands of the world no more than a soil on which the individual can flourish.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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