Will to Life
Over at the Philosophy Talk blog, they are wondering what the effects of contemporary psychiatric treatment would have been on Schopenhauer, had he lived in our era. Would history's greatest pessimist have been deprived of the impetus for his genius?
I don't know. I do know, however, that Schopenhauer truly was a genius of the highest order. I usually hesitate to list quotes from famous thinkers, because it can quickly get out of hand, especially with someone like Schopey. But the man was so goddamn brilliant, I can't resist; here are some of Schopenhauer's choice comments:
At the age of five years to enter a spinning-cotton or other factory, and from that time forth to sit there daily, first ten, then twelve, and ultimately fourteen hours, performing the same mechanical labour, is to purchase dearly the satisfaction of drawing breath. But this is the fate of millions, and that of millions more is analogous to it.
The life of every individual, viewed as a whole and in general and when only its most significant features are emphasised, is really a tragedy; but gone through in detail, it has the characteristics of a comedy.
We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness.
I was gripped by the misery of life as Buddha was in his youth when he saw sickness, old age, pain and death ... This world could not have been the work of an all-loving being, but that of a devil, who had brought creatures into existence in order to delight in the sight of their sufferings.
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.
Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right.
Every possession and every happiness is but lent by chance for an uncertain time, and may therefore be demanded back the next hour.
If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.
In the sphere of thought, absurdity and perversity remain the masters of the world, and their dominion is suspended only for brief periods.
Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point.
The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.
The wise have always said the same things, and fools, who are the majority have always done just the opposite.
There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
That last one somehow seems especially pertinent to the present time.