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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pessimism or realism, 13 Oct 2011
This review is from: Essays and Aphorisms (Classics) (Paperback)
The essays in this book are probably a good starting place for anyone wanting to begin to get to grips with Schopenhauer's philosophy. The opening chapters, to do with suffering and the meaninglessness of existence, will help the reader to understand why he is taken to be a pessimist. It is hard to argue with his philosophy. Even if we don't embrace his entire system we have to agree with his assessment of the conditions of life. For him, the whole world is completely bankrupt and would be better off not existing at all. Whereas Leibniz, as a Christian, viewed the world as `the best of all possible worlds' Schopenhauer took the opposing view, namely, that it was the worst of all possible worlds as anything worse would cease to function at all. Everything is a prisoner to what he calls `Will', whether it be rocks obeying gravity, birds flying, sexual acts etc., and it all happens so that the same meaningless spectacle can be repeated ad infinitum.

His philosophy will be familiar to those who follow Buddhism. The world, according to Buddhism is similarly poisoned and full of suffering (Dukkha). Their solutions are not too dissimilar either. Both too are accused of pessimism.

You don't have to agree with what Schopenhauer says in these essays to enjoy them. They are great literature themselves and it is enough to know that his philosophy influenced many great writers and artists (Konrad, Hardy, Wagner and Thomas Mann to name but a few); we would be much the poorer without these.
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