Joe's Reviews > The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion

The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion by Arthur Schopenhauer
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Mar 25, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: nonsense, early-19th, german, fiction, reviewed

This volume opens with 'On Religion: A Dialogue' which discusses, alternately, the utility of religion and how it endangers rational thought. Although the points made on either side will be largely familiar to most readers, this constitutes the best portion of the book and is still an entertaining read that occasionally gives pause for thought with relevance to the modern world :-

"Even if a real true philosophy had taken the place of religion, nine-tenths of mankind at the very least would receive it on authority, so that it too would be a matter of belief."



The latter essays 'On Ethics', 'On Psychology', 'On Religion' and 'On Various Subjects' are each split into ordinally sub-headed chunks. The main insight that can be drawn from reading these is, unfortunately, not a philosophical one but only that Schopenhauer was wildly misanthropic and illiberal, and that he held himself in far greater esteem than he did the hoi-polloi.

There are many attempts made to coin aphorisms throughout, so much so that I began to suspect that Schopenhauer's aims lay more in crafting them and having them be quoted than it did in properly and clearly communicating his ideas. It is unfortunate that though several of these would-be aphorisms hit the mark (and the best of them has already been quoted in a review by Jason Mills), the majority lack that necessary ring of truth.

I think that Schoenhauer's distaste for the masses and his desire for validation from his peers (the two principles pervading this volume) is well borne-out by what he states in 'On Various Subjects' 5B:

"The great misfortune for intellectual merit is that it has to wait until the good is praised by those who produce only the bad; indeed, the misfortune already lies in the general fact that it has to receive its crown from the hands of human judgement, a quality of which most people possess about as much as a castrate possesses of the power to beget children."
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Reading Progress

March 25, 2012 – Started Reading
March 25, 2012 – Shelved
March 30, 2012 – Finished Reading
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: nonsense
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: early-19th
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: german
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction
April 12, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Zeli (new)

Zeli I had to look up 'aphorisms'.
I made one of them up the other day but I struggle to remember what it was now or even what it was about. Hmmm. Sounds like it might be worth reading for the lolz. Is it a long book?
I actually like the last quote. It's not strictly true but there is some truth in it, at least in the world of science. And think about... art.


message 2: by Joe (last edited Apr 19, 2012 09:49AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joe It's really very short and quite digestible, being broken up in the way that it is (most of Penguin's Great Ideas imprint consists of collections of short essays like this). A short read, for sure.

By all means, you can borrow it. Just so long as you don't mind all of the highlighted phrases - I generally highlight everything that I agree with, everything that I disagree with, any good turns of phrase, any bad turns of phrase, anything that I think insightful or anything that I think is dumb or ill-thought out. In the end, my highlightings aren't very meaningful to anyone other than myself.

The given quote isn't a bad one, and it does bear some truth - but in the context of the other writings here (and with reference to his particular field, which he describes as being superior to mere sciences [and everything else, to boot]) it comes across as slightly pathetic mewling for validation, which he is apparently unable to provide for himself.

Schopenhauer reminds me of Earl Lemongrab. YouTube it.


message 3: by Zeli (new)

Zeli Have you got any Adventure Time? I'd like to see that!


message 4: by Joe (new) - rated it 2 stars

Joe Of course, I have all of the Adventure Time.


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