Arthur Schopenhauer: Pessimism and the Infraconscious Will

Eminent historian of Philosophy, the late Frederick Copleston discusses the cultured, pessimistic and if I may add, the arrogant, embittered and individualistic Arthur Schopenhauer (arguably a curiosity among western philosophers, for being one of the few pessimists in philosophy). ‘The World as Will and Idea’ (also known as ‘The World as Will and Representation)’, of course, is monumental. Believing that will was inherently evil, he argued that the best one could strive for was renunciation of desire, a temporary absence of pain through the contemplation of high art. Schopenhauer is therefore, probably also the artists philosopher! And yes, he spent a quarter of a century without talking to his mother, and probably one of the few westerners to find proximity in eastern Hinduism and Buddhism. His rejection of the action-minded, essentially bourgeois confidence of the 19th C presaged the individualistic despair of the 20th C. We do know individualistic despair, all of us.


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11 Comments on "Arthur Schopenhauer: Pessimism and the Infraconscious Will"

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Noe R
Fr. Copleston, in his famous debate with Betrand Russell on the existence of god, questions Russell on what basis he makes moral judgements. Copleston implies that, in the final analysis, an athiest can only resort either to his own feelings or to the rule of the majority (either of which lead to counterexamples – the deluded psychopath or majority opinion in Nazi Germany). Copleston himself obviously believes that, as a Christian, he himself can make his moral judgements by relying on god. However, no Christian (or theist) except a mad one would claim to know God’s thoughts. So surely the… Read more »

I’m currently reading Kant’s ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. I’ve had to put it off until I have more time, as it’s quite demanding, but I’m loving it. I am most interested in:

i) Free Will
ii) Consciousness
iii) Morality
iv) God (existence or otherwise)


I remeber this the most of Schopenhauer – “Thus the world must be recognized, from one aspect at least, as akin to a dream, indeed as capable of being put in the same class with a dream.” His idea reflects the 19th century question about the nature of experience.

We know that there are at least some beings in the world which do not contain in themselves the reason for their existence. For example, I depend on my parents for my existence, and they depended upon my grandparents as the cause of their own existence and so on. We need not confine this chain simply to humans. Thus, the world is simply the totality or aggregate of individual objects, none of which contain in themselves alone the reason for their existence. There isn’t any world distinct from the objects which form it, any more than the human race is… Read more »

The will, the will, is all there is …and nothing more and nothing less


‘The world is my idea’ :)


thanks for posting videos like this..


well well well…
“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.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

Have to agree, his views on reading: “When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process. It is the same as the pupil, in learning to write, following with his pen the lines that have been pencilled by the teacher. Accordingly, in reading, the work of thinking is, for the greater part, done for us. This is why we are consciously relieved when we turn to reading after being occupied with our own thoughts. But, in reading, our head is, however, really only the arena of some one else’s thoughts. And so it happens that… Read more »

He admired KANT, but, like KIERKEGAARD, reacted against the prevalent philosophy of HEGEL.

Grâce Simond

He was a peculiar and whimsical philosopher indeed. But I want to both test myself, and prepare myself for what is ahead, one can call it pessimistic I suppose… and I have get used to reading, analyzing, and perhaps discussing a lot. I want to see if I can handle it…Not wanting to be a philosopher but I am concerned about where we are all headed.