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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