Quotations by Schopenhauer, Arthur


To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Council and Maxims” (2.17), Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. T. Saunders (1851)]
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A little self-control at the right moment may prevent much subsequent compulsion at the hands of others.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Counsels and Maxims” (2.15), Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Experience of the world may be looked upon as a kind of text, to which reflection and knowledge form the commentary.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Counsels and Maxims” (2.8), Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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It can truly be said: Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are the tormented souls.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“On Religion,” Parerga and Paralipomena (1851)
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The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Personality, or What a Man Is,” The Wisdom of Life; Counsels and Maxims [tr. Saunders (1890)]
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Of course it is quite a different matter if we consider the utility of religion as a prop of thrones; for where these are held “by the grace of God,” throne and altar are intimately associated; and every wise prince who loves his throne and his family will appear at the head of his people as an exemplar of true religion.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Religion and Other Essays: A Dialogue,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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You are certainly right in insisting on the strong metaphysical needs of mankind; but religion appears to me to be not so much a satisfaction as an abuse of those needs. At any rate we have seen that in regard to the furtherance of morality, its utility is, for the most part, problematical, its disadvantages, and especially the atrocities which have followed in its train, are patent to the light of day.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Religion and Other Essays: A Dialogue,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Studies in Pessimism,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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In my head there is a permanent opposition party; and whenever I take any step or come to any decision — though I may have given the matter mature consideration — it afterward attacks what I have done, without, however, being each time necessarily in the right.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Studies in Pessimism: Further Psychological Observations,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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We take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“Studies in Pessimism: The Vanity of Existence,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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The scholars learn, not for the sake of knowledge and insight, but to be able to chatter and give themselves airs.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“The Art of Literature: On Men of Learning,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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With health, everything is a source of pleasure; without it, nothing else, whatever it may be, is enjoyable. … Health is by far the most important element in human happiness.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“The Wisdom of Life” (2), The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“The Wisdom of Life” (4.2), Essays of Arthur Schopenhaeur [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves to be like other people.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
(Attributed)
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Governments make of philosophy a means of serving their state interests, and scholars make of it a trade.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
(Attributed)

Speaking of Hegel acting as an agent of the Prussian government.
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The cheapest form of pride however is national pride. For it betrays in the one thus afflicted the lack of individual qualities of which he could be proud, while he would not otherwise reach for what he shares with so many millions. He who possesses significant personal merits will rather recognise the defects of his own nation, as he has them constantly before his eyes, most clearly. But that poor beggar who has nothing in the world of which he can be proud, latches onto the last means of being proud, the nation to which he belongs to. Thus he recovers and is now in gratitude ready to defend with hands and feet all errors and follies which are its own.

[Die wohlfeilste Art des Stolzes hingegen ist der Nationalstolz. Denn er verrät in dem damit Behafteten den Mangel an individuellen Eigenschaften, auf die er stolz sein könnte, indem er sonst nicht zu dem greifen würde, was er mit so vielen Millionen teilt. Wer bedeutende persönliche Vorzüge besitzt, wird vielmehr die Fehler seiner eigenen Nation, da er sie beständig vor Augen hat, am deutlichsten erkennen. Aber jeder erbärmliche Tropf, der nichts in der Welt hat, darauf er stolz sein könnte, ergreift das letzte Mittel, auf die Nation, der er gerade angehört, stolz zu sein. Hieran erholt er sich und ist nun dankbarlich bereit, alle Fehler und Torheiten, die ihr eigen sind, mit Händen und Füßen zu verteidigen.] 

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit [Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life], ch. 2
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Great minds are related to the brief span of time during which they live as great buildings are to a little square in which they stand: you cannot see them in all their magnitude because you are standing too close to them.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Counsels and Maxims, vol. 2, ch. 20, sec. 242 (trans. T. Bailey Saunders)

Full text.

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Talent is able to achieve what is beyond other people’s capacity to achieve, yet not what is beyond their capacity of apprehension; therefore it at once finds its appreciators. The achievement of genius, on the other hand, transcends not only others’ capacity of achievement, but also their capacity of apprehension; therefore they do not become immediately aware of it. Talent is like the marksman who hits a target which others cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target, as far as which others cannot even see.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung [The World as Will and Representation] (1818) [tr. E. F. J. Payne]

Commonly quoted: "Talent hits a target no-one else can hit; genius hits targets no-one else can see." Full text.

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But we live through the fine days without noticing them; only when we fall on evil ones do we wish to have back the former. With sour faces we let a thousand bright and pleasant hours slip by unenjoyed and afterwards vainly sigh for their return when times are trying and depressing. Instead of this, we should cherish every present moment that is bearable, even the most ordinary, which with such indifference we now let slip by, and even with impatience push on.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena (1861)
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To overcome difficulties is to experience the full delight of existence.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, “Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit [Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life],” “Counsels and Maxims” (1851)

Trans. T.B. Saunders. Full text.
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It is a great piece of folly to sacrifice the inner for the outer man, to give the whole or the greater part of one

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, “Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit [Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life],” ch. 2 (1851)
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Every human perfection is allied to a defect into which it threatens to pass; but it is also true that every defect is allied to a perfection.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, “Zur Ethik” (1851)

Full text. Alt trans.: "Every human perfection is linked to an error which it threatens to turn into. "

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Freedom of the press is to the machinery of the state what the safety-valve is to the steam engine.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, “On Law and Politics” (1851)
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Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga und Paralipomena, “Psychological Observations” (1851)

Trans. T. B. Saunders. Full text.
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No one shows himself as he is, but wears his mask and plays his part. Indeed, the whole of our social arrangements may be likened to a perpetual comedy; and this is why a man who is worth anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is quite at home in it.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Studies in Pessimism (1851)
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Books, that paper memory of mankind.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The Art of Literature, ch. 4 “On Men of Learning” [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Life is a business that does not cover the costs.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The World as Will and Idea [Welt als Wille und Vorstellung], vol. II “On the Vanity and Suffering of Life” (1819)
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The happiness which we receive from ourselves is greater than that which we obtain from our surroundings

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
The World as Will and Idea
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