WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: “SCHOPENHAUER: Being Alone (How to Deal With Society)” / Weltgeist ☮

“To be self-sufficient, to be all in all to oneself, to want for nothing, to be able to say omnia mea mecum porto [everything I have, I carry with me]—that is assuredly the chief qualification for happiness.”

In order to live and to function in society, we must make sacrifices. This is inevitable. We must get along with other people to get what we want. We must be cooperative and generally be pleasant to be around. Above all, we must be able to relate to the common man.

For the intelligent person, and especially the man of genius, this is a big burden to carry. For the genius, it’s hard to relate to the common man. He will inevitably feel alone.

Therefore, it’s for the best if he learns to enjoy solitude. But why is society so dull in the first place? Schopenhauer’s answer is elitist: because most people are dull. And it’s exactly because most people are dull, that they are driven to interaction with others. It’s as if the average person is not a full person by himself, and needs others to complete him.

The intelligent mind can occupy itself and does not need distractions or empty activity. But for the average person, this kind of activity, literally just passing the time, becomes necessary.

However, Schopenhauer also concedes that the need for solitude is directly related to age. The younger you are, the more need you have for socializing. This is also because your mind is not yet fully developed: the younger we are, the more we are like others.

The essay closes with a word of warning. Seclusion, being alone, has its drawbacks. For example, Schopenhauer notes that we become more irritable by being alone. We are more easily annoyed by minor things because we aren’t accustomed to the turmoils of regular life.

A small rock, thrown into a still lake, causes a notable disturbance. The same rock thrown into a stormy sea, not nearly as much. But this is a small price to pay for peace of mind, which we attain by removing ourselves from the stormy seas of society.

WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: “What If The World is Actually a Prison? | The Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer” / Einzelgänger ☮

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.

PHILOSOPHY: “Arthur Schopenhauer: The Darkest Philosopher in History” / Pursuit of Wonder ☮

In this video, we cover the life and philosophy of one histories darkest and most comprehensive philosophers, the original pessimist, Arthur Schopenhauer.

WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: “Brief Overview of Schopenhauer’s Thought” ☮

A few clips of Professor Christopher Janaway discussing the thought of Arthur Schopenhauer. This comes from an episode of the Essay on Wagner’s Philosophers. I thought it provided a good overview of Schopenhauer’s general philosophy

WESTERN PHILOSOPHY: “Arthur Schopenhauer: Deeply Influenced by Buddhist Thought” / The School of Life / Alain de Botton ☮

Arthur Schopenhauer was deeply influenced by Buddhist thought and is in many ways the West’s answer to it: he too tells us to reign in our desires and adopt a consolingly pessimistic attitude to our struggles.