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.

PHILOSOPHY ESSAY: “God is Dead!” / Madison S. Hughes ☮

By Madison S. Hughes (06.05.2013)

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

God is dead!

“Being ‘a Nietzschean’ is no more possible than following someone else’s orders
to be free! After all, it was Nietzsche himself who insisted that ‘Those who
understand me, understand that I can have no disciples’” (Soccio, 477).

This essay will embrace Nietzsche’s philosophy because he proposed that God is dead, life is meaningless, and fate trumps faith. Ultimately, he provided an alternative philosophy of life that is life affirming. The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) has many distracters, for a myriad of reasons. Undoubtedly, most of those in opposition to Nietzsche’s philosophy base their objections on a misperceived threat to their firmly indoctrinated religious beliefs. While this essay may not dissuade those distracters from their religious beliefs, for that is not its purpose, it may help clarify a few of their misperceptions. To illustrate, we begin with one of philosophy’s most contentious, yet misunderstood quotes.

God is Dead

Nietzsche first proposed that God is dead in his 1882 book The Gay Science when he declared,

‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ By this Nietzsche means that society no longer has a use for God; the belief does not in any way help the survival of the species, rather it hinders. (Jackson 56)

Clearly we cannot hold Nietzsche solely responsible for God’s death, nay; Nietzsche was more like a messenger. “Nietzsche claimed he was the first to have “discovered” the death of God. In part, he meant that the idea of God has lost its full creative force, its full power” (Soccio, 468). Recall that Nietzsche witnessed the world through the great transformation of a rural agrarian society rapidly morphing into vast urban sprawls caused by the industrial revolution. He was born less than fifty years after great minds of the scientific revolution nearly liberated humanity from the clench of the Church in the 17th and 18th centuries. While Nietzsche and other great minds of his day could see the dethronement of God before their eyes,

[t]he full extent of the dethronement of God is not yet felt by the great masses, who still believe that they believe in God. Yet if we dig deep into our own psyches, Nietzsche prophesied, we will discover that we no longer have ultimate faith in God: Our true faith is in scientific and technological progress. (468)

“And even though some of us may sense that the old religions are dead and dying, [many] remain unable to face the consequences of life without God” (469).

Life is Meaningless

While the conviction of Supernatural belief provides many with inner comfort, the external Cosmos is not privy to such conviction, and, like it or not, the universe lacks objective meaning and purpose. “Copernicus and Galileo had forever changed our sense of scale: The earth is a tiny, virtually invisible speck in a massive, purposeless universe. ‘What are we doing when we unchained the earth from the sun’” (469)? What’s more, “Darwin had forever altered our sense of ourselves as God’s special creation. The new image of merely human beings is ignoble: We are but one species among millions struggling to survive, descendants of some primordial ooze” (469). These astronomic, and evolutionary biological discoveries led many to a great sense of emptiness.

According to Nietzsche, the death of God leads to nihilism. From the Latin word for ‘nothing,’ nihilism refers to the belief that the universe lacks objective meaning and purpose. . . . Nietzsche predicted that nihilism would be the wave of the future (our present). He predicted that as more and more people perceive religious values to be empty and science as having no meaning or purpose to offer us, a sense of emptiness would initially prevail: It all amounts to nothing. Life is a cosmic accident. There is no Supernatural order; no divinely or rationally ordained goal. (470)

One must be careful not to mistake Nietzsche as a nihilist. He is saying that both Supernatural belief, and superficial values imposed by the Church have proven only to shackle humanity’s mind, and as time goes on will be shown to be fatuous. Nietzsche, like his pessimistic predecessor, Arthur Schopenhauer, had a great appreciation for the aesthetics. Many of us agree, and are quite comfortable with the fact, that the universe lacks objective meaning and purpose; however, the masses are not so content with these facts, and most require faith and external authority to get them through the human condition. Nietzsche offers a viable alternative approach to life for those seeking meaning in a postmodern world.

Fate Trumps Faith

In the infancy of humanity, the benighted masses relied on faith to provide solace for the unexplainable and uncomfortable realities of the human condition. Humankind has evolved from its insipid infancy to the adolescent age of postmodernism. However, this maturity is not without its price, for it requires that we, as individuals, now take individual responsibility for our own existence. Nietzsche expressed this transition from faith to fate when he stated:

In the absence of God . . . we must redeem ourselves with the sacred Yes to life expressed through amor fati, the love of our specific fate expressed as joyous affirmation and delight that everything is exactly as and what it is. (476)

In his 1882 comment titled “For the New Year,” Nietzsche expressed amor fati quite eloquently when he penned,

Amor fati: may that be my love from now on! I want to wage war against the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. May looking away be my only form of negation! And, in all: I want to be at all times hereafter only an affirmer. (478)

“Nietzsche saw nihilism as a positive affirmation of life, to be freed of the burden of hope in an afterlife, in salvation. You should love your fate without the need of fictions and false securities to comfort you” (Jackson 103).


Since God is dead, life is meaningless, and fate trumps faith, it is clear that an alternative philosophy of life is necessary, and Nietzsche provided an alternative philosophy of life that is life affirming. Surely Nietzsche distracters have not been dissuaded from their religious beliefs; however, maybe, just maybe, a few of their misperceptions have been clarified.

“Inasmuch as at all times, as long as there have been human beings, there have
been herds of men (clans, communities, tribes, people, states, churches) and
always a great many people who obeyed, compared with the small number
of those commanding . . . it may fairly be assumed that the need for
[herding together] is now innate in the average man. . . .”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Works Cited

Jackson, Roy. Teach Yourself Nietzsche. First ed. United States: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Seventh ed.    United States: Wadsworth, 2010. Print.