Mar 5, 2016

Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction

1819, this booklet contains a collection of arguments and considerations made by  philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer about love, women, death and other subjects such as art and morality.

The author refers to these issues by analyzing the factors that influence them in order to reach his own conclusion; thus, for instance, he argues that the attraction (or love) that arises between two people is nothing more than nature’s command on both subjects for the sole purpose of perpetuating the species.

From his view, women are creatures of little understanding and little talent. Beautiful and useful objects that are good to perform household chores and can coexist within a herd in such company under the regime of a man.

And death is the one that truncates everything without considering for a moment how sublime is the task we have devoted to with such passion.
My score:


According to Schopenhauer, love, as we understand, does not exist; the romantic idea that inspires dreamers, artists and teenagers is a fiction created by our imagination. Reality is much more practical and earthy; the genius of the species looks after it to preserve the human race by making the individual believe that they are in love. This being does not act on behalf of his own interests as he believes, but his behavior lies just on instinct; and being lost in his reverie fails to make the difference. Consequently man is the instrument nature uses to fulfill its mission.

Sexual attraction, therefore, is no other than nature’s dominance on its individuals and subdue them to reproduction. The expressions of beauty that we see in one another follow a much more basic instinct, it constitutes an unconscious way to measure the counterpart’s capability when judging their contribution in producing defect-free specimens. As an evidenc sign, the emotion we claim to feel is not such as it can be proved after one reaches the climax it is immediately eclipsed by disenchantment.

While I do not agree a hundred percent with the author's statements, I believe he is right in some of his statements. Generally speaking human beings tend to reproduce, especially women; only a minority of the population believes that a relationship can also be complete without the involvement of children; in some other cases, the presence of children is precisely which deteriorates the relationship of their parents. It is common to hear expressions like: "Children are the basis of marriage" or "A woman is truly complete when she becomes a mother," as if happiness and fulfillment of a human being was directly proportional to their biological capacity to procreate. Personally I think that married life and parenthood are two individual states that do not necessarily have to be related; a couple can be happy without children as well as a person can feel fulfilled with their children without being assisted by a partner; in the latter case we have single mothers (not all of them have a happy life, of course).


Although I could admit, partially, that the writer is right, as to his views on love, I have serious doubts about his perception of women, a verdict that, as a matter of fact, verges on misogyny. Let's see: in the first instance we must consider the time Schopenhauer lived to grasp his perspective a little, (I must admit that it cost me a bit). Taking the insubstantial role women played in the eighteenth century will help to clarify the poor concept the philosopher had about them. According to him women were born only to give their contribution to the procreation of children, for that reason, they, elemental creatures, were more dominated by the genius of the species than men. Woman were totally denied their ability to discuss the divine and the human, leaving them as only option imitate men in order to please others and be accepted in society; so that, to keep them reduced to their minimum expression women should not be allowed to read more than culinary texts.

Records, according to Schopenhauer, women have not produced, in history, any kind of artistic expression, and whether some isolated cases have been reported, this would only represent the exception that proves the rule.

It really catches my attention how Schopenhauer, having such a low opinion of women, has bothered to devote an entire chapter to them. In fact I think that the perception of the philosopher is due to the insipid performance of women at that time which is easily explained pointing to the sad fact that women were mentally castrated from birth of all their capacities to develop as a complete human being. Historically, women have been plunged into a state of lethargy so they can’t think by themselves, much less to conceive a concept of creativity that can bring something extraordinary to the world. This condition of irrelevance is likely to befall anyone who has had a similar upbringing, since it does not lie directly in the gender.

Unfortunately, despite the great progress women have made over the years, there are still remaining remnants of the old guard. Today however it is still a prevalent fact that some people, especially among the female audience, make all efforts to acquire a pleasant physical appearance, but neglect other aspects of such or even more relevance. In many cases for instance, the tendency to buy a hair dryer instead of a book is predominant; resulting in a splendid appearance but an intellect that makes you feel sorry.


Death turns any effort into a vain act, because nothing escapes it. Life forces us to engage in a hard, painful and debilitating battle for the death to come and the cycle is repeated viciously over and over again. God does not exist and proof of this is the prevailing misery in this world that is far light years away from that image of perfection that religion professes. Happiness and well-being are always distant, either in the past or in the future, but present is justly what man wants to escape from.
I guess this is a sick pessimistic view of life, but right from certain angle. If we think that everything will end up with death, many of our tasks and projects in life would lose sense, because not all people feel attracted to the idea of leaving a legacy to humanity.

We only become aware of happy moments once they’ve passed, therefore their remembrance only causes us sadness, why would a god create a world full of misery when nothing at all would be more appealing?, Wouldn’t he have a guilty conscience? Man is condemned to struggle in a permanent state of desire to get something, a longing that never satiates and makes his existence a poor expression of suffering.
"It's a natural story of pain, which is summarized as follows: love with no reason, permanent suffering, continuous fight and then die ...".


Schopenhauer states that morality does not exist for religious people, because the goodness they make is diametrically opposed to the fear they experience before a divine punishment, i.e., they act not inspired by philanthropic purposes but persuaded by a more selfish interest, to occupy a place beside God, just to mention something. This leads me to think that the most important thing in humans are not their virtues but precisely their faults, for who would object to the good in a human being? It is their imperfections specifically that will define our views on them and depending on the outcome we would decide to stay in their company or run away from them.

Religions play a useful role in society to some extent, because many people need a leader to tell them what to believe in, but when they become a band that does not allow you to see the truth it is necessary to move away from them. In my opinion, religions can eventually become a quite harmful influence; they act as the corrupt politician, who once robs the people, they give free meals away.

"Many people censure and criticize pride; certainly they do not have anything to feel proud about." This statement reminds me of people who rant of money, surely they are subjects in serious financial problems; a millionaire would never condemn money.

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