Existence and pessimism

Christopher Janaway

in Schopenhauer

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780192802590
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191775666 | DOI:

Series: Very Short Introductions

Existence and pessimism

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‘Existence and pessimism’ examines the fourth book of The World As Will and Representation, which addresses the human condition itself. Schopenhauer finds the world full of suffering — frustration, tedium, pain, and misery. Is this merely a highly selective inventory, perhaps a matter of personal propensity? If so, his pessimism would be superficial and gratuitous. But this is not the case. He has arguments for far-reaching conclusions about the value that can attach to human existence. It must contain suffering, and cannot be preferable to non-existence. It would even have been better for reality not to have existed. These claims make Schopenhauer a pessimist in a philosophically interesting sense.

Keywords: death; evil; existence; genius; immortality; life; Friedrich Nietzsche; nirvana; pleasure; self; will

Chapter.  5592 words. 

Subjects: 19th-Century Philosophy

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