Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Germany in 1788. One of the more famous philosophers of his time, Schopenhauer also contributed one of the bleakest views on the inner workings of life in his most well known work, "The World as Will and Idea" (1818). His idea of the universal will served as a precursor to Freud's theory of the unconscious mind. To Schopenhauer, every individual is the embodiment of a 'will to live' that motivates every action with the sole purpose of survival. This means that fundamentally every individual is an ego whose interest in staying alive overrides every other, including the life interest of every other individual. The only way to avoid this suffering is through denial of the will. Ultimately, the conscious acceptance of the need for annihilation as the only true cure for the sickness of life is the inevitable outcome drawn by the famous pessimist.

Selected Aphorisms:

  • On The Suffering Of The World

    "Not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip. It ceases to persecute only him it has delivered over to boredom."

  • On Women

    "One needs only to see the way she is built to realize that woman is not intended for great mental or for great physical labour. She expiates the guilt of life not through activity but through suffering, through the pains of childbirth, caring for the child and subjection to the man, to whom she should be a patient and cheering companion. Great suffering, joy, exertion, is not for her: her life should flow by more quietly, trivially, gently than the man's without being essentially happier or unhappier."

  • On Thinking For Yourself

    "There are very many thoughts which have value for him who thinks them, but only a few of them possess the power of engaging the interest of a reader after they have been written down."

  • On Books And Writing

    "Writers can be divided into meteors, planets and fixed stars. The first produce a momentary effect: you gaze up, cry: 'Look!'- and then they vanish for ever. The second, the moving stars, endure for much longer. By virtue of their proximity they often shine more brightly than the fixed stars, which the ignorant mistake them for. But they too must soon vacate their place, they shine moreover only with a borrowed light, and their sphere of influence is limited to their fellow travellers (their contemporaries). The third alone are unchanging, stand firm in the firmament, shine by their own light and influence all ages equally, in that their aspect does not alter when our point of view alters since they have no parallax. Unlike the others, they do not belong to one system (nation) alone: they belong to the Universe. But it is precisely because they are so high that their light usually takes so many years to reach the eyes of dwellers on earth."