Arthur Schopenhauer, a 19th-century German philosopher, is known for his pessimistic philosophy and profound insights into human nature. While he did not focus extensively on psychological observations in the modern sense, many of his philosophical ideas touch upon psychological aspects of human existence. Here are some key points related to psychological observations in Schopenhauer’s philosophy:

Will and Representation: Schopenhauer’s central concept is the “will.” He argued that the fundamental nature of reality is a blind, irrational force that drives all living things. This will is the driving force behind human desires, actions, and suffering. It is an unconscious and irrational aspect of human psychology that shapes our motivations.

Desire and Suffering: Schopenhauer believed that human life is characterized by an insatiable will or desire, and this constant striving leads to suffering. He identified desire as a key psychological force that governs human behavior, often leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.

Individualism and Egoism: Schopenhauer observed the egoistic nature of human beings. He argued that individuals are primarily concerned with their own well-being and survival, often at the expense of others. This egoism contributes to conflict and competition in human relationships.

The Role of Intellect: While Schopenhauer acknowledged the importance of intellect and reason, he believed that they often serve the will rather than being purely objective. Human intellect is subordinated to the will, and rationality is often employed in the pursuit of personal desires and goals.

Aesthetics and Escape from Will: Schopenhauer saw art and aesthetic experiences as a way for individuals to momentarily escape the relentless striving of the will. In the contemplation of beauty, individuals can temporarily transcend their individual desires and find a sense of peace.

Pessimism: Schopenhauer is often associated with pessimism due to his belief in the inherent suffering and dissatisfaction in human life. He observed that desires are rarely permanently satisfied, leading to a constant cycle of longing and disappointment.

Human Relationships: Schopenhauer had a somewhat cynical view of human relationships, emphasizing the egoistic nature of individuals. He believed that love and friendship are often driven by self-interest and the desire for personal satisfaction.

Every animal, and especially man, requires, in order to exist and get on in the world, a certain fitness and proportion between his will and his intellect.

In general, any disproportion between the will and intellect—that is to say, any deviation from the normal proportion referred to—tends to make a man unhappy; and the same thing happens when the disproportion is reversed.

The will to live, which forms the innermost kernel of every living being, is most distinctly apparent in the highest, that is to say in the cleverest, order of animals, and therefore in them we may see and consider the nature of the will most clearly. For below this order of animals the will is not so prominent, and has a less degree of objectivation; but above the higher order of animals, I mean in men, we get reason, and with reason reflection, and with this the faculty for dissimulation, which immediately throws a veil over the actions of the will. But in outbursts of affection and passion the will exhibits itself unveiled. This is precisely why passion, when it speaks, always carries conviction, whatever the passion may be; and rightly so. For the same reason, the passions are the principal theme of poets and the stalking-horse of actors. And it is because the will is most striking in the lower class of animals that we may account for our delight in dogs, apes, cats, etc.; it is the absolute naïveté of all their expressions which charms us so much.

What a peculiar pleasure it affords us to see any free animal looking after its own welfare unhindered, finding its food, or taking care of its young, or associating with others of its kind, and so on! This is exactly what ought to be and can be. Be it only a bird, I can look at it for some time with a feeling of pleasure; nay, a water-rat or a frog, and with still greater pleasure a hedgehog, a weazel, a roe, or a deer. The contemplation of animals delights us so much, principally because we see in them our own existence very much simplified.

There is only one mendacious creature in the world—man. Every other is true and genuine, for it shows itself as it is, and expresses itself just as it feels.

Much that is attributed to force of habit ought rather to be put down to the constancy and immutability of original, innate character, whereby we always do the same thing under the same circumstances; which happens the first as for the hundredth time in consequence of the same necessity. While force of habit, in reality, is solely due to indolence seeking to save the intellect and will the work, difficulty, and danger of making a fresh choice; so that we are made to do to-day what we did yesterday and have
done a hundred times before, and of which we know that it will gain its end.

The wish which every one has, that he may be remembered after his death, and which those people with aspirations have for posthumous fame, seems to me to arise from this tenacity to life. When they see themselves cut off from every possibility of real existence they struggle after a life which is still within their reach, even if it is only an ideal—that is to say, an unreal one.

We wish, more or less, to get to the end of everything we are interested in or occupied with; we are impatient to get to the end of it, and glad when it is finished. It is only the general end, the end of all ends, that we wish, as a rule, as far off as possible.

Every separation gives a foretaste of death, and every meeting a foretaste of the resurrection.

The deep sorrow we feel on the death of a friend springs from the feeling that in every individual there is a something which we cannot define, which is his alone and thereforeirreparable

The same applies to individual animals. A man who has by accident fatally wounded a favourite animal feels the most acute sorrow, and the animal’s dying look causes him infinite pain.

It is possible for us to grieve over the death of our enemies and adversaries, even after the lapse of a long time, almost as much as over the death of our friends—that is to say, if we miss them as witnesses of our brilliant success.

That the sudden announcement of some good fortune may easily have a fatal effect on us is due to the fact that our happiness and unhappiness depend upon the relation of our demands to what we get; accordingly, the good things we possess, or are quite sure of possessing, are not felt to be such, because the nature of all enjoyment is really only negative, and has only the effect of annulling pain; whilst, on the other hand, the nature of pain or evil is really positive and felt immediately.

That fear does not perform an analogous office in cases of good fortune is due to the fact that we are instinctively more inclined to hope than to fear; just as our eyes turn of themselves to light in preference to darkness.

Hope is to confuse the desire that something should occur with the probability that it will. Perhaps no man is free from this folly of the heart, which deranges the intellect’s correct estimation of probability to such a degree as to make him think the event quite possible, even if the chances are only a thousand to one. And still, an unexpected misfortune is like a speedy death-stroke; while a hope that is always frustrated, and yet springs into life again, is like death by slow torture.

He who has given up hope has also given up fear; this is the meaning of the expression desperate. It is natural for a man to have faith in what he wishes, and to have faith in it because he wishes it. If this peculiarity of his nature, which is both beneficial and comforting, is eradicated by repeated hard blows of fate, and he is brought to a converse condition, when he believes that something must happen because he does not wish it, and what he wishes can never happen just because he wishes it; this is, in
reality, the state which has been calleddesperation.

That we are so often mistaken in others is not always precisely due to our faulty judgment, but springs, as a rule as Bacon says, from intellectus luminis sicci non est, sec recipit infusionem a voluntate et affectibus: for without knowing it, we are influenced for or against them by trifles from the very beginning.

The use of the word person in every European language to signify a human individual is unintentionally appropriate; persona really means a player’s mask, and it is quite certain that no one shows himself as he is, but that each wears a mask and plays a r?le. In general, the whole of social life is a continual comedy, which the worthy find insipid, whilst the stupid delight in it greatly.

The ordinary man who has suffered injustice burns with a desire for revenge; and it has often been said that revenge is sweet. This is confirmed by the many sacrifices made merely for the sake of enjoying revenge, without any intention of making good the injury that one has suffered.

All the suffering that nature, chance, or fate have assigned to us does not,ceteris paribus, pain us so much as suffering which is brought upon us by the arbitrary will of another.

For by injuring the man who has injured us, whether it be by force or cunning, we show our superiority, and thereby annul the proof of his. This gives that satisfaction to the mind for which it has been thirsting.

Accordingly, where there is much pride or vanity there will be a great desire for revenge.

The pain of an ungratified desire is small compared with that of repentance; for the former has to face the immeasurable, open future; the latter the past, which is closed irrevocably.

What makes a man hard-hearted is this, that each man has, or fancies he has, sufficient in his own troubles to bear. This is why people placed in happier circumstances than they have been used to are sympathetic and charitable. But people who have always been placed in happy circumstances are often the reverse; they have become so estranged to suffering that they have no longer any sympathy with it; and hence it happens that the poor sometimes show themselves more benevolent than the rich.

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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