Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his book The World as Will and Representation, which held that human action was driven by unsatisfied will and ultimately lacked direction as well. He was a devotee of Plato and Immanuel Kant, and a rival of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. He was also known for his pessimistic views of human nature.

Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Born: 22/02/1788
  • Birthplace: Gdansk, Poland
  • Year of death: 21/09/1860
  • Place of death: Free City of Frankfurt, present-day Germany

Who was Arthur Schopenhauer?

Arthur Schopenhauer was a renowned German philosopher who had pessimistic views of human nature and whose theories were influenced by Plato's and Immanuel Kant's philosophies, and their teachings led him into constant academic rivalry with Hegel.

Arthur Schopenhauer biography

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig, Poland, on February 22, 1788. He was a descendant of two German families who had a lot of money. His parents moved to Hamburg after Prussia annexed Danzig in 1793. Schopenhauer’s father died in 1805, possibly as a result of suicide. Her mother, Johanna, was a writer and intellectual who started a literary salon in Weimar after her husband’s death.

Schopenhauer enrolled at the University of Göttingen in 1809 where she focused on studying philosophy, studying the ideas of Plato and Immanuel Kant. In 1819, Schopenhauer published The World as Will and Representation, a book that would establish his career as a philosopher. Later, he accepted a position at the University of Berlin, where he had rivalries with his lecturer Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who finally expelled him from the academic world.

This conflict affected Schopenhauer beyond his professional life. While living in Berlin, he was convicted of assaulting a woman named Caroline Marquet after she refused to leave his door and had to make payments to Marquet for the rest of his life.

In 1833, Schopenhauer moved to Frankfurt after a cholera outbreak in Berlin. He lived alone there for the next three decades, accompanied by poodles and cats. His writings on aging were published under the title Senilia. Arthur Schopenhauer died of heart failure on September 21, 1860, at the age of 72, in his home in Frankfurt.

Arthur Schopenhauer’s thought

Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the first philosophers to declare himself an atheist before the world and for this reason he was considered one of the most pessimistic in the history of philosophy. He thought that man was not only unhappy, but also that the only thing he could usually find was unhappiness. The essence that man had was the will, and the essence of this will was the tendency to a certain object, for this reason he thought that man was always in search of something and could never reach full satisfaction. For Schopenhauer there were three different things that could be done to alleviate unhappiness, to seek beauty, mercy to alleviate pain, and the exercises of asceticism to repress one’s will.


His ethics were pessimistic and he closed himself to a behavior that guided us to have a certain way of acting and seeing life, so that, if there was a difficult situation we could not rescue the good part nor focus on seeing that situation in a positive way, then we would have a pessimistic behavior.

Vitalism and historicism

Vitalism and historicism emerged centuries ago as two currents of thought which were developed at the end of the 19th century. These two currents were characterized by force exaltation and by the importance they gave to the irrational instincts of life, since this constitutes the basic and fundamental reality that can explain other realities. Vitalism considered life from an individual point of view and historicism was more interested in the life of humanity in its passage through history.

Importance of Arthur Schopenhauer

The main importance that Schopenhauer had is that he introduced the antecedent to genealogical thought, which was quite developed during the nineteenth century with Nietzsche, Marx and Freud. His attacks against reason managed to remove the mask from a large number of dreams in the century of lights to give way to a new way of seeing and understanding the world.

His legacy can also be seen in 20th century literature which was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer’s ideas, and many of these authors have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their writings.

Works of Arthur Schopenhauer

His most important works were:


Among its most important and recognized phrases we mention:


Some of Arthur Schopenhauer’s curiosities are as follows:

Written by Gabriela Briceño V.

How to cite this article?

Briceño V., Gabriela. (2019). Arthur Schopenhauer. Recovered on 23 February, 2024, de Euston96:

Recommended for you