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Essays and Aphorisms

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  7,077 ratings  ·  237 reviews
One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 26th 1976 by Penguin Classics (first published 1851)
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Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are emotionally stable?
Each individual misfortune, to be sure, seems an exceptional occurrence; but misfortune in general is the rule.
Arthur Schopenhauer, "On the Suffering of the World"

We are here to shatter your warm and fuzzy world inhabited by unicorns and puppies that eat cupcakes every time it rains. You may have the feeling of never leaving that world. And that's a valid choice, we all have our particular ways of dealing with our existence. If you do, avoid Schopenhauer's work. If you feel you can take it, proc
Glenn Russell
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his essays and aphorisms in the financial hub city of Frankford, Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, a world where business owners and financiers ruthlessly competed against one another to amass fortunes, clerks chained to their desks toiled twelve hours a day, uneducated day laborers ground themselves down into faceless, mindless cogs of the urban wheel, and upper class ladies strolled the streets with parasols as they chattered incessantly over petty concerns -
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
the feel good hit of 1851
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry I didn't read this two years ago, when I thought pessimism was something reserved for those exiled from the general population's way of thinking. Considering it was written in the mid 19th century, everything in this book is highly accessible, written fairly simply, with only a few technicalities in between.
And if it's the pessimism you want, then the opening essays are what you're after. They're drenched in reasons why we as a species are an error in creation, too highly adapted to
Dan Varley
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nietzsche is a ray of f'n sunshine compared to Schopenhauer. Check it: "If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering than our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world" --- holy shit!) but S. lays down some good nuggets on the denial of the will/desire that dovetails nicely with some Eastern philosophies.

Some nice views on aesthetics (they give us a respite from the endless loop of desire->satisfaction -> desire, since when we see something beautiful it r
Rakhi Dalal
Nov 15, 2014 marked it as to-read
Just read the essay "On Women" from the collection. I laughed out loud. (view spoiler) ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
This is a bad book. A really bad book. Hell, it’s even a dangerous book. Anyone that takes Schoperhanuer seriously, is going to expect a rotten world, prolong a rotten world, and thus fortify the self fulfilling prophecy that nothing good has happened, will happen, and can happen. Fortunately this entire foundation is grounded on extremely shoddy philosophy.

Schopenhauer was known in Germany as that guy who lectured in an empty room, while Hegel filled the auditorium. This isn’t surprising, Hegel
To our amazement we suddenly exist, after having for countless millennia not existed; in a short while we will again not exist, also for countless millennia. That cannot be right, says the heart...

I don't really have a review. I like Schopenhauer in both style and content. Everything here is worth reading apart from 'On Women', which I guess was kept in so that the editor could not claim they were ignoring Schopenhauer's virulent misogyny. Schopenhauer's aphorisms on books and writing are of
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.

It appears to be a strange time to be alive. I found the aphorisms especially to be a delight. The misogyny in the middle kept this collection from being five stars. Nietzsche's debt to Schopenhauer can't be overstated. The ideas on morality and on religion are invaluable. I noted midway through this volume how much I enjoyed the dismissal of opera, especially after suffering through Auden's praise thereof.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is a great introduction to Schopenhauer- small, sweet (er...), easily taken in bites every few days to chew on, much more easily digested than his most prominent work, the World as Will and Representation. I wish this had been my first introduction to Schopenhauer, instead of WaWaR. You learn quite a bit more about his psyche and personality here, and I think it sets up nicely for reading his more extended philosophy.

Soapy, as I like to call him, is one of my very favourite philosophers. N
Jun 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
" In our early youth we sit before the life that lies ahead of us like children sitting before the curtain in a theatre, in happy and tense anticipation of whatever is going to appear. Luckily we do not know what really will appear. For to him who does know, children can sometimes seem like innocent delinquents, sentenced not to death but to life, who have not yet discovered what their punishment will consist of. Nonetheless, everyone desires to achieve old age, that is to say a condition in whi ...more
Jan 26, 2016 added it
Shelves: philosophy
Not sure if this counts as philosophy, as it really is more Schopenhauer's literary expression of his ideas. He saved his Big Thoughts for The World as Will and Representation, and these are condensed versions of his-- often immensely unpalatable-- ideas. You get a fuller sense of Schopenhauer as a person in these essays, much like how in the remarkably chatty writing of Nietzsche, you get a strong sense of him, which is to say as a curmudgeon. As a naturally morose person, I have to give him a ...more
Nov 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Aphorismes et Insultes
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

I have not read anything about Schopenhauer’s philosophy for the time being.
I will comment only on what I have retained from this selection published in 1851 named in the original version "Ephorismen zur Lebensweisheit."

To translate this title into the French version as ‘Aphorismes et Insultes’ is quite surprising and more likely the expression of the French editor.

“Schopenhauer quotes the French: Other parts of the world have monkeys, Euro
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
". . . only the masterpieces are enjoyable and everything mediocre is unendurable."

"All genuine Thought and Art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off. For a writer to afford enjoyment always demands a certain harmony between his way of thinking and that of the reader; and the enjoyment will be the greater the more perfect this harmony is."

"There are above all two kinds of writer: those who write for the
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Arthur Schopenhauer's "Essays and Aphorisms" are excerpts taken from his second book "Parerga and Paralipomena." Schopenhauer writes in a clear, concise, and surprisingly very easy to read (especially as compared to his contemporaries such as the convoluted and complex Hegel) prose which was an obvious influence on latter German philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche. In "Essays and Aphorisms" Schopenhauer expostulates on a variety of different subjects ranging from his controversial viewpoint ...more
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: General Philosophy Fans
Recommended to Tyler by: I. Kant
Shelves: philosophy
Schopenhauer's salad bowl of short essays and sayings held out the prospect of an in-depth look at his philosophy of pessimism, which I was most keen to find out about. But this collection, while it contains observations that might be construed as pessimistic, doesn't advance pessimism as a carefully laid out philosophical standpoint. I was a little disappointed.

Most of what he says is a letdown. Either his remarks are a bit pedestrian or they're wildly mistaken. He advances a notion that women
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jan 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I think as a modern woman his views of our sex are difficult to hear. Even given the time period of his writing it makes him seem a bit of an ass to be honest. He doesn't think highly of anyone or anything much except music. Its all a bit dreary for me. I could see that perhaps some might view him as witty but a sharp tongue does nothing to detract from the misfortunes of his character. He would annoy me as a person though at least the conversations would never be boring. Bordom actually being o ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was a satisfying point of curiosity to discover recently that Samuel Beckett had found something in the works of Voltaire and Schopenhauer as I felt I did when first I came to read them. Maybe this is why Beckett's work affects me the way it does, fitting into a larger, allusive scheme of thought- one where an honest confrontation of man's condition precedes the supposition of solutions, much less their pursuit.

Perhaps for this very reason, pretentious Hegelians and discomfited Marxists are e
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: started
I remember I was waiting for a potential girlfriend to meet me at a university library, only to see Schopenhauer left on a dirty cushion, like a dirty magazine. The small fraction of "On Women" I had time to read was hilarious, but then, I was 20.

Now his short essays read very much like some ancient geek writing from his mom's basement. Given that he'd once depended on his mom's largesse, my comment isn't really financially unsound. Generally speaking, he sounds like a kind of man-boy, who, for
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Schopenhauer's clarity cannot be discounted. This is not to say his ideas are simple or do not need some reflection and thought for thorough cognition. The main theme of Schopenhauer is the suffering of life in this world. While some may find this type of pondering sort of pointless, since there isn't much we can do about it, those with the inclination to contemplate the nature of existence will find his musings necessary for further explorations into metaphysics.

Schopenhauer is often only menti
Sanket Hota
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bleak and grey. Pessimistic to the last letter. Not infrequently I felt like a speck of dust.

The aphorisms are very precise and direct. The essays are brief. In short this collection is to be digested slowly.

The old man exudes a great deal of wisdom:

“Riches, one may say, are like sea-water; the more you drink the thirstier you become; and the same is true of fame.”

“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he
M. Sarki
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
I rate this book two stars because I think "it was OK". I have gladly evolved past the thinking of Arthur Schopenhauer. It puzzles me how a man of serious thought could come up with his ideas regarding women. Seems like common sense may have prevailed no matter the societal norms of his century. I am in a galaxy far-removed from this so-called great thinker. I did enjoy the exercise, but I could have done without. ...more
Noah Goats
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Schopenhauer took the core of buddhism and the heart of Kant’s philosophy, bent them into shapes he liked, and then bolted them together. The result is interesting but it’s not a philosophy that you’d want to build your life around. This book contains Schopenhauer’s ideas on subjects ranging from religion (which is terrible), women (even worse), and life in general (a miserable burden lifted from our shoulders only by death).

Even though I frequently disagree with Schopenhauer and think his conc
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
...except for the women part.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Only his pessimistic essays are any good. The rest either rely upon his nonsensical metaphysics or religion, which he finds so ridiculous despite constantly name-dropping Buddhist or Hindu texts.
Nico Bruin
Jan 19, 2021 rated it liked it
First a note on this selection,
All the writings in this book have been taken from Schopenhauer's final work: Parerga and Paralipomena.
For all I can tell the translator and editor has done a fine job of selecting writings which he thought most worth while.
I have no problem with him selecting for the reader what to read and what not to.
However, he also admits to having toned down Schopenhauer's criticism of Hegel, which is completely unacceptable. Why he feels he has the right to edit the writing
Gică Buştiuc
the first book, though not the best, of philosophy that changed the way I was looking at things
Peter Mendrela
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Humanistic Pessimism from a Thorny Rose

Imagine realizing that the Hobbesian "nasty, brutish, and short" state of nature is not just a concept or a nightmare but the world you actually live in.

Schopenhauer is perhaps best known for his saturnine philosophical streak and the discovery of the "Will to live" (or, what he also terms as, "life force") which all living organism share and are subject to. Indeed, the titles of his two most famous essays which open the Penguin edition: "On the suffering
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Schopenhauer is above all a wit, secondly a seeker, thirdly a dilettante, and least of all (but still) a misanthrope. He's like what would happen if Oscar Wilde were straight (perhaps closeted), jealous, and had read Kant. Just when you think Schopenhauer has forsaken anyone who is not he or his few idols, he arrives with a paragraph in passionate defense of animals, or a diatribe against slavery that betrays his deep identification with those who have been most crushed and ground into the earth ...more
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Arthur Schopenhauer was born in the city of Danzig (then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; present day Gdańsk, Poland) and was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. Schopenhauer attempted to make his career as an academic by correcting and expanding Immanuel Kant's philosophy concerning the way in which we experience the world.

He was the son o

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