12/27/2009

Schopenhauer's wisdom

I know very little about Schopenhauer's philosophy. This is partly because I don't like big books and Schopenhauer's central work, The World as Will and Representation, is very very big. In any case, I am fairly certain that I would not like the book even if I read it, for it is mostly speculative metaphysics. But Schopenhauer wrote quite a large number of essays and some small books on more practical matters, most of which are very readable. The small book The Wisdom of Life, for example, is a book that would be enjoyed by most of those who like to think about how they should live their lives. He divided the subject into "Personality, or What a Man is", "Property, or What a Man Has", and "Position, or a Man's Place in the Estimation of Others". Here is a nice passage from the last part:

The truth is that the value we set upon the opinion of others, and our constant endeavour in respect of it, are each quite out of proportion to any result we may reasonably hope to attain; so that this attention to other people's attitude may be regarded as a kind of universal mania which everyone inherits. In all we do, almost the first thing we think about is: What will people say; and nearly half the troubles and bothers of life may be traced to our anxiety on this score; it is the anxiety which is at the bottom of all that feeling of self-importance, which is so often mortified because it is so very morbidly sensitive.

If you are interested in reading the book, click the link above. The whole book is there.

1 comment:

  1. His two books of essays, as published, not the few small collections since culled from it, are well worth finding. There is a modern two volume translated version. Though it's fair to say S was obsessed by "metaphysics" he is the only German writer who makes reading about it a pleasure.

    ReplyDelete