Arthur Schopenhauer On Authorship And Style

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) was a German philosopher who is best known for his work in metaphysics and ethics. He was born in Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) and was influenced by Eastern philosophy, particularly Indian and Buddhist thought. Schopenhauer’s philosophy is often characterized by its pessimism and emphasis on the fundamental role of suffering in human existence.

Some key aspects of Schopenhauer’s philosophy include:

Will and Representation: Schopenhauer’s major work, “The World as Will and Representation” (“Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung”), proposes that the underlying force of the world is an irrational, blind, and unconscious will. This will is the driving force behind all phenomena and manifests itself in the world through representations.

Pessimism: Schopenhauer believed that suffering is an inherent part of the human condition. He argued that the will is insatiable and that desires are never fully satisfied, leading to a perpetual cycle of want and suffering. Consequently, he held a pessimistic view of human life.

Ethics: Schopenhauer’s ethical views were influenced by his emphasis on compassion. He believed that recognizing the suffering inherent in all living beings could lead to a moral transformation. Compassion, for him, was the basis for ethical behavior, and he regarded it as a fundamental virtue.

Aesthetics: Schopenhauer also made significant contributions to aesthetics. He argued that the experience of beauty arises when individuals momentarily escape the domination of the will and engage in contemplation. He believed that art, especially music, provides a unique avenue for achieving this state of aesthetic contemplation.

Influence: Schopenhauer’s ideas had a substantial impact on later philosophers, including Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Nietzsche initially admired Schopenhauer but later became critical of some of his ideas. Freud acknowledged Schopenhauer’s influence on his early work, particularly in the development of psychoanalytic theory.

Despite facing limited recognition during his lifetime, Schopenhauer’s philosophy gained more attention and influence in the later 19th and 20th centuries. His unique perspective on the nature of reality, the will, and the role of suffering continues to be studied and discussed in contemporary philosophy.


There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject’s sake, and those who write for writing’s sake. The first kind have had thoughts or experiences which seem to them worth communicating, while the second kind need money and consequently write for money.

They think in order to write, and they may be recognised by their spinning out their thoughts to the greatest possible length, and also by the way they work out their thoughts, which are half-true, perverse, forced, and vacillating; then also by their love of evasion, so that they may seem what they are not; and this is why their writing is lacking in definiteness and clearness.

Again, it may be said that there are three kinds of authors. In the first place, there are those who write without thinking. They write from memory, from reminiscences, or even direct from other people’s books. This class is the
most numerous. In the second, those who think whilst they are writing. They think in order to write; and they are numerous. In the third place, there are those who have thought before they begin to write. They write solely because they have thought; and they are rare.

But although the number of those authors who really and seriously think before they write is small, only extremely few of them think about the subject itself; the rest think only about the books written on this subject, and what has been said by others upon it, I mean. In order to think, they must have the more direct and powerful incentive of other people’s thoughts.

Hence their talk is often of such avague nature that one racks one’s brains in vain to understand of what they
are really thinking.

No greater mistake can be made than to imagine that what has been written latest is always the more correct; that what is written later on is an improvement on what was written previously; and that every change means progress.

Men who think and have correct judgment, and people who treat their subject earnestly, are all exceptions only.

In general, the following rule holds good here as elsewhere, namely: what is new is seldom good; because a good thing is only new for a short time.

A book can never be anything more than the impression of its author’s thoughts. The value of these thoughts lies either in the matter about which he has thought, or in the form in which he develops his matter—that is to say, what he has thought about it.

The matter of books is very various, as also are the merits conferred on books on account of their matter.

So that when a book becomes famous one should carefully distinguish whether it is so on account of its matter or its form.

Quite ordinary and shallow men are able to produce books of very great importance because of their matter, which was accessible to them alone. Take, for instance, books which give descriptions of foreign countries, rare natural phenomena, experiments that have been made, historical events of which they were witnesses, or have spent both time and trouble in inquiring into and specially studying the authorities for them.

Recommended books:

If you’re interested in exploring the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer further, here are some recommended books by and about him:

“The World as Will and Representation” (“Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung”) – This is Schopenhauer’s magnum opus and provides a comprehensive exposition of his philosophical system.

“Essays and Aphorisms” (“Essays und Aphorismen”) – This collection includes some of Schopenhauer’s shorter writings and aphorisms, offering insights into various aspects of his philosophy.

“On the Suffering of the World” (“Über die Weiber”) – This is a shorter work by Schopenhauer that delves into his thoughts on human suffering and the nature of existence.

“Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction” by Christopher Janaway – This is part of the “Very Short Introductions” series and provides a concise overview of Schopenhauer’s life and key ideas.

“The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer” edited by Christopher Janaway – This collection of essays by various authors provides in-depth analyses of different aspects of Schopenhauer’s philosophy.

“Arthur Schopenhauer: Philosopher of Pessimism” by Julian Young – This biography explores Schopenhauer’s life and philosophy in a detailed and accessible manner.

“Schopenhauer’s Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas: Five Stories of Psychotherapy” by Deborah Anna Luepnitz – While not directly about Schopenhauer, this book draws on his metaphor of the porcupines to explore the challenges of human intimacy, applying psychological insights.

“Schopenhauer: A Biography” by David E. Cartwright – This biography provides a comprehensive account of Schopenhauer’s life and intellectual development.

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