The Essential Schopenhauer: Key Selections from the World as Will and Representation and Other Works
“Life is a business that fails to meet its costs,” declares Schopenhauer (1788-1860), setting off to demonstrate that we live in the worst of all possible worlds. The human condition is that of “a pendulum between suffering and boredom”, and yet we persist, drawn into and through existence by an unsuppressable and unsatisfiable “will-to-live”, a malignant innate force against we must struggle to escape. Life should consist of a constant (paradoxical) struggle against one’s own willing, which “springs from want, and hence from suffering” which in turn is “simply nothing but unfulfilled and thwarted willing”. Schopenhauer’s strident pessimism and his investigations into individual motivation introduced Eastern philosophies into European thought, and underlie the work of Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein, Tolstoy, Mann, Borges, Beckett and many others. How then to go on? Society, and indeed all functional existence, is predicated on collective and individual self-deception. Thomas Bernhard puts it well in ‘Walking’: “There is no doubt that the art lies in bearing what is unbearable and in not feeling that what is horrible is something horrible. Of course we have to label this art the most difficult of all. The art of existing against the facts.”
What is the meaning of life? How should I live? Is there any purpose to the universe? Generations have turned to the great German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer because he tackled the big issues. This title presents a collection of Schopenhauer's work.
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860) is the author of The World as Will and Representation. Wolfgang Schirmacher is Director of the European Graduate School and President of the International Schopenhauer Society. He lives in New York City.