What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?
It often happens that we blurt out things that may in some kind of way be harmful to us, but we are silent about things that may make us look ridiculous; because in this case effect follows very quickly on cause.
Philosophy ... is a science, and as such has no articles of faith; accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.
Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost.
How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.
The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to every one. But what an awful fate this means for mankind as a whole! We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher, who chooses out first one and then another for his prey.
The intellectual attainments of a man who thinks for himself resemble a fine painting, where the light and shade are correct, the tone sustained, the colour perfectly harmonised; it is true to life. On the other hand, the intellectual attainments of the mere man of learning are like a large palette, full of all sorts of colours, which at most are systematically arranged, but devoid of harmony, connection and meaning.
A poet or philosopher should have no fault to find with his age if it only permits him to do his work undisturbed in his own corner, nor with his fate if the corner granted him allows of his following his vocation without having to think about other people.
NOT to my contemporaries, not to my compatriots but to mankind I commit my now completed work in the confidence that it will not be without value for them, even if this should be late recognised, as is commonly the lot of what is good. For it cannot have been for the passing generation, engrossed with the delusion of the moment, that my mind, almost against my will, has uninterruptedly stuck to its work through the course of a long life.preface to the second edition of the world as will and representation
Writers may be classified as meteors, planets, and fixed stars. They belong not to one system, one nation only, but to the universe. And just because they are so very far away, it is usually many years before their light is visible to the inhabitants of this earth.
There is not much to be got anywhere in the world. It is filled with misery and pain; if a man escapes these, boredeom lies in wait for him at every corner. Nay more; it is evil which generally has the upper hand, and folly that makes the most noise. Fate is cruel and mankind pitiable.
For an author to write as he speaks is just as reprehensible as the opposite fault, to speak as he writes; for this gives a pedantic effect to what he says, and at the same time makes him hardly intelligible
Qualsiasi uomo notevole, chiunque cioè non appartenga a quei 5/6 dell'umanità dotati tanto miseramente dalla natura, rimarrà dopo i quarant'anni difficilmente esente da una certa traccia di misantropia.
The most perfect and satisfactory knowledge is that of perception but this is limited to the absolutely particular, to the individual. The comprehension of the many and the various into *one* representation is possible only through the *concept*, in other words, by omitting the differences; consequently, the concept is a very imperfect way of representing things. The particular, of course, can also be apprehended immediately as a universal, namely when it is raised to the (Platonic) *Idea*; but in this process, which I have analysed in the third book, the intellect passes beyond the limits of individuality and therefore of time; moreover, this is only an exception.These inner and essential imperfections of the intellect are further increased by a disturbance to some extent external to it but yet inevitable, namely, the influence that the *will* exerts on all its operations, as soon as that will is in any way concerned in their result. Every passion, in fact every inclination or disinclination, tinges the objects of knowledge with its colour. Most common of occurrence is the falsification of knowledge brought about by desire and hope, since they show us the scarcely possible in dazzling colours as probable and well-nigh certain, and render us almost incapable of comprehending what is opposed to it. Fear acts in a similar way; every preconceived opinion, every partiality, and, as I have said, every interest, every emotion, and every predilection of the will act in an analogous manner.Finally, to all these imperfections of the intellect we must also add the fact that it grows old with the brain; in other words, like all physiological functions, it loses its energy in later years; in this way all its imperfections are then greatly increased.”—from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne in two volumes: volume II, pp. 139-141
I now turn to a *subjective* consideration that belongs here; yet I can give even less distinctness to it than to the objective consideration just discussed, for I shall be able to express it only by image and simile. Why is our consciousness brighter and more distinct the farther it reaches outwards, so that its greatest clearness lies in sense perception, which already half belongs to things outside us; and, on the other hand, becomes more obscure as we go inwards, and leads, when followed to its innermost recesses, into a darkness in which all knowledge ceases? Because, I say, consciousness presupposes *individuality*; but this belongs to the mere phenomenon, since, as the plurality of the homogeneous, it is conditioned by the forms of the phenomenon, time and space. On the other hand, our inner nature has its root in what is no longer phenomenon but thing-in-itself, to which therefore the forms of the phenomenon do not reach; and in this way, the chief conditions of individuality are wanting, and distinct consciousness ceases therewith. In this root-point of existence the difference of beings ceases, just as that of the radii of a sphere ceases at the centre. As in the sphere the surface is produced by the radii ending and breaking off, so consciousness is possible only where the true inner being runs out into the phenomenon. Through the forms of the phenomenon separate individuality becomes possible, and on this individuality rests consciousness, which is on this account confined to phenomena. Therefore everything distinct and really intelligible in our consciousness always lies only outwards on this surface on the sphere. But as soon as we withdraw entirely from this, consciousness forsakes us―in sleep, in death, and to a certain extent also in magnetic or magic activity; for all these lead through the centre. But just because distinct consciousness, as being conditioned by the surface of the sphere, is not directed towards the centre, it recognizes other individuals certainly as of the same kind, but not as identical, which, however, they are in themselves. Immortality of the individual could be compared to the flying off at a tangent of a point on the surface; but immortality, by virtue of the eternity of the true inner being of the whole phenomenon, is comparable to the return of that point on the radius to the centre, whose mere extension is the surface. The will as thing-in-itself is entire and undivided in every being, just as the centre is an integral part of every radius; whereas the peripheral end of this radius is in the most rapid revolution with the surface that represents time and its content, the other end at the centre where eternity lies, remains in profoundest peace, because the centre is the point whose rising half is no different from the sinking half. Therefore, it is said also in the *Bhagavad-Gita*: *Haud distributum animantibus, et quasi distributum tamen insidens, animantiumque sustentaculum id cognoscendum, edax et rursus genitale* (xiii, 16, trans. Schlegel) [Undivided it dwells in beings, and yet as it were divided; it is to be known as the sustainer, annihilator, and producer of beings]. Here, of course, we fall into mystical and metaphorical language, but it is the only language in which anything can be said about this wholly transcendent theme.―from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. In Two Volumes, Volume II, pp. 325-326
What is more, in fact, we very soon look upon the world as something whose non-existence is not only conceivable, but even preferable to its existence. Therefore our astonishment at it easily passes into a brooding over that *fatality* which could nevertheless bring about its existence, and by virtue of which such an immense force as is demanded for the production and maintenance of such a world could be directed so much against its own interest and advantage.―from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. In Two Volumes, Volume II, p. 171
In fact, the balance wheel which maintains in motion the watch of metaphysics that never runs down, is the clear knowledge that this world's non-existence is just as possible as its existence.―from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. In Two Volumes, Volume II, p. 171
Only by the aid of language does reason bring about its most important achievements, namely the harmonious and consistent action of several individuals, the planned cooperation of many thousands, civilization, the State; and then, science, the storing up of previous experience, the summarizing into one concept of what is common, the communication of truth, the spreading of error, thoughts and poems, dogmas and superstitions. The animal learns to know death only when he dies, but man consciously draws every hour nearer his death; and at times this makes life a precarious business, even to the man who has not already recognized this character of constant annihilation in the whole of life itself.
Vladimir Kush , Shell Bronze , Lovers Entwined (painting)“Why, then, does the man in love hang with complete abandon on the eyes of his chosen one, and is ready to make every sacrifice for her? Because it is his immortal part that longs for her; it is always the mortal part alone that longs for everything else. That eager and even ardent longing, directed to a particular woman, is therefore an immediate pledge of the indestructibility of the kernel of our true nature…”―from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. In Two Volumes, Volume II, p. 559
Why, then, does the man in love hang with complete abandon on the eyes of his chosen one, and is ready to make every sacrifice for her? Because it is his immortal part that longs for her; it is always the mortal part alone that longs for everything else. That eager and even ardent longing, directed to a particular woman, is therefore an immediate pledge of the indestructibility of the kernel of our true nature…”―from_The World as Will and Representation_. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. In Two Volumes, Volume II, p. 559
Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people. There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness.
They tell us that Suicide is the greatest piece of Cowardice... That Suicide is wrong, when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in this world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.
Death is the true inspiring genius, or the muse of philosophy, wherefore Socrates has defined the latter as θανάτου μελέτη. Indeed without death men would scarcely philosophise.
A book can never be anything more than the impress of its author's thoughts; and the value of these will lie either in the matter about which he has thought, or in the form which his thoughts take, in other words, what it is that he has thought about it.
Let us see rather that like Janus—or better, like Yama, the Brahmin god of death—religion has two faces, one very friendly, one very gloomy...
It is easy to understand that in the dreary middle ages the Aristotelian logic would be very acceptable to the controversial spirit of the schoolmen, which, in the absence of all real knowledge, spent its energy upon mere formulas and words, and that it would be eagerly adopted even in its mutilated Arabian form, and presently established as the centre of all knowledge.
As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value to you than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself; because only through ordering what you know by comparing every truth with every other truth can you take complete possession of your knowledge and get it into your power.
Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.