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IN OUR TIME'S GREATEST PHILOSOPHER VOTE
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GREATEST PHILOSOPHER

 
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)
advocated by Christopher Janaway

 Listen to Christopher Janaway say why you should vote for Arthur Schopenhauer

'All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.'

Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer’s own temperament and experience were closely related to the development of his celebrated philosophy of pessimism.

Born in Danzig and schooled in Germany, France, and England during a well-travelled childhood, he became acquainted, through his novelist mother, with Goethe, Schlegel, and the brothers Grimm.

He had no friends, never married, and later became sadly estranged from his mother, a woman of considerable intellectual ability.

The essence of Schopenhauer's theory was that there are two aspects of the self: the self as it appears as an object of perception and the self as a manifestation of will.

The will was a covert and distorting influence upon human character. Intellect and consciousness, in Schopenhauer's view, arise as instruments in the service of the will and 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.

Most of these ideas were outlined in his book Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (The World as Will and Idea) published in 1818 and again, in a considerably amplified edition, in 1844.

Schopenhauer’s stress on the strength of the impelling will influenced Friedrich Nietzsche and the psychology of Sigmund Freud.

Works by Schopenhauer on Project Gutenberg

Read about Arthur Schopenhauer on Wikipedia

Read about Arthur Schopenhauer on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Please note: the BBC accepts no responsibility for the content of external websites.

 Listen to Christopher Janaway say why you should vote for Arthur Schopenhauer

Christopher Janaway

Christopher Janaway is Professor of Philosophy at Southampton University, and formerly Birkbeck College University of London. He is a distinguished Schopenhauer and Nietzsche scholar. His article Nietzsche's illustration of the art of exegesis discusses an issue concerning Nietzsche's method in the Genealogy of Morals. Amongst other books Professor Janaway has written The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer (1999); Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche's Educator (edited 1998); and Schopenhauer (1994).

 
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