What if this world is actually one giant prison? When the 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer observed the amount of pain that we experience during our lifetimes, he concluded that it’s not happiness and pleasure we’re after, but a reduction of the ongoing suffering that’s an inherent part of existence.
When we remove the veil of ignorance and behold the harsh reality we live in, we might start to question, as Schopenhauer does, the idea that, I quote, “this world is the successful work of an all-wise, all-good, and, at the same time, all-powerful Being.” For Schopenhauer’s view of the world is one of agony — devoid of divine grace — and it has much more in common with a “penal colony” than with the creation of a benevolent deity. Now, seeing the world as a prison sounds like a recipe for personal misery. Why not adopt a more positive, more hopeful perspective? Why look at it with such pessimism?
Well, Schopenhauer’s idea comes with a twist. Within his pessimistic worldview lies an outlook that could be very beneficial to humanity. Based on his essay On the Sufferings of the World, this video explores Schopenhauer’s pessimistic outlook on life and reveals a secret to be gained from it.