In my last article – Can feeling grumpy be good for you? I mentioned one of my favourite philosophers – Arthur Schopenhauer – who was a grumpy old man already by the age of 19. I first read him at 15 and developed a ‘bah humbug’ attitude which was delicious and self-indulgent while it lasted although I no longer think it is clever – or even profound – to be pessimistic about life. Even so, I still think that Schopenhauer possessed a genius for philosophy. (He also wrote a lot about sex).
Here are a few gems:
After your death you will be what you were before your birth.
Everyone takes the limit of his own field of vision for the limit of the world.
The conscious mind may be regarded as a kind of parasite of the organism, a pensioner, as it were, who dwells within the body.
If you want to know your true opinion of someone, watch the effect produced in you by the sight of a letter/email from that person.
The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.
We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.
Console yourself by remembering that the world doesn’t deserve your affection.
Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.
There is no absurdity so obvious but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to introduce it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
The closing years of life are like a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped.
Compassion is the basis of all morality.
Wicked thoughts and worthless efforts gradually set their mark on the face, especially the eyes.
The greatest of mistakes is to sacrifice health for any other kind of reward.
There is no doubt that life is given us, not to be enjoyed, but to be overcome.
In my next article I will write about the advantages – and disadvantages – of pessimism for life.