Arthur Schopenhauer: biography of this philosopher.
A summary of the life and intellectual legacy of Arthur Schopenhauer.
Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the most important German philosophers of the nineteenth century, bringing a pessimistic vision, with a very original philosophical system of Kantian, Platonic and Buddhist nuances, unifying Western and Eastern metaphysics.
Here we will give an overview of his life through a biography of Arthur Schopenhauer in abridged format.
Biography of Arthur Schopenhauer: his influence on philosophy.
Arthur Schopenhauer's life was spent mostly in Germany, living quite contrary to the lifestyle that he could have afforded considering his roots. His peculiar way of seeing human destiny, terribly pessimistic, together with his way of combining Western and Eastern philosophy have made him a Germanic philosopher who does not leave indifferent.
Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig, today's Gdańsk, Poland, on February 22, 1788.. He was the son of a rather wealthy merchant, Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, and his wife Johanna Henriette Trosenier who, years later, would be known for her novels and essays.
In 1793, when the city of Danzig came under Prussian rule, the Schopenhauer family moved to Hamburg.. There, little Arthur would receive private education, focused mainly on pursuing his father's career.
Later on, attending a school specializing in business education, Schopenhauer would have the opportunity to expose himself to the enlightened ideas of his father.The death of his father in April 1805, which would set a precedent in his pessimistic and unflattering way of looking at the situation of mankind.
His destiny would change with the death of his father in April 1805. After the death of Mr. Schopenhauer, his son, who was no longer pressured to follow the family profession, chose to stay in Hamburg, while his mother and sister moved to Weimar, where Johanna would have the opportunity to surround herself with an important circle of poets, including J.W. von Goethe and Christoph Martin Wieland, known as "the German Voltaire".
While still in Hamburg, the young Arthur would enjoy greater freedom, and arts and sciences, and finally leaving aside the business career that had so little interest for him..
In May 1807 he would leave the city and spend the next two years between the cities of Gotha and Weimar, where he acquired sufficient academic preparation to attend university.
In the fall of 1809 he enrolled in medicine at the University of Göttingen and attended lectures on the natural sciences. However, beginning in the second semester he switched to the humanities, concentrating first on studying philosophers such as Plato and Kant..
In the period from 1811 to 1813 he attended the University of Berlin, where he listened to philosophers such as J.G. Fichte and Friedrich Schleiermacher and, later.
It would be at this time that he would present his dissertation Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde ("On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason"), with which he obtained his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Jena.
During the winter of 1813 he stayed in Weimar with his sister and mother. Thanks to Johanna's poetic circle, Arthur had the opportunity to meet Goethe and discuss philosophy with him..
In the same winter, Friedrich Meier, who was a disciple of Johann Gottfried Herder, introduced him to the knowledge of Hindu antiquity. Thus, Schopenhauer would become acquainted with Eastern philosophies, such as that of Vedānta and the mysticism of Vedas. Later, he would combine these doctrines with those of Plato and Immanuel Kant, laying the foundations of his philosophical system.
Only a year later he left Weimar after a family quarrel. Schopenhauer did not feel comfortable with the lifestyle of his mother, frivolous after the death of his father. It would be from this maternal-filial quarrel that Arthur would decide to move to Dresden, where he would remain until 1818, relating to a group of writers belonging to the Dresdener Abendzeitung, a newspaper.
It would be at this time that Schopenhauer would finish his treatise Über das Sehn und die Farben ("On Vision and Colors"), a treatise in which he gave his gave his support to the ideas on light promoted by Goethe and contrary to those put forward by Isaac Newton..
His main work: The World as Will and Representation.
He would spend the next three years writing his main work, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung ("The World as Will and Representation"), published in 1819. This work is considered the clearest exponent of his staunch pessimism. It expounds, in several volumes, a theory of knowledge, philosophy of nature, aesthetics and ethics..
First of all, we must understand the idea of pessimism understood in a philosophical context. This pessimism argues that we live in the worst of all possible worlds, where Pain is eternal and destiny is a constant attempt to achieve that which, in reality, we will never achieve. There is no progress either in humanity or in civilization.
In the first volume, Schopenhauer talks about Kant. The world is a representation that is only comprehensible with the help of the constructs of the human intellect, such as time, space and causality. But these constructs show the world only as an appearance, as a multiplicity of things, one after the other, not as a whole in itself, a whole that Kant, originally from Kant's own time and space, has not been able to understand.a whole that Kant originally saw as something that was not possible to know.
In the second book, Schopenhauer talks about the only thing we know in two ways: we know our body in appearance, that is, in its external form but, at the same time, we know ourselves at first hand, knowing our will, something like our essence. The will, in itself, is a thing, it is unitary, impossible to change, it transcends beyond space and time, and it has no causes or purposes.It has neither cause nor purpose.
After the publication of this work, Schopenhauer did not develop new philosophy. His later work consisted, basically, in detailing more in depth what was exposed in these four books, besides trying to have a more active university life, although with a rather subtle success.
In March 1820, after having been on tour in Italy and having a triumphant quarrel with Hegel, he obtained permission to lecture at the university, he obtained permission to lecture at the University of Berlin.. Although he trained as a member of the university for 24 semesters, only his first lecture was officially given. Hegel was more popular and overshadowed him, but cholera took his life years later, ending the "competition".
Life in Frankfurt and last years
Unlike Hegel, it seems that Schopenhauer was aware that Berlin was not a very recommendable city to live in considering the presence of the disease. That is why he decided to move to a healthier city, Frankfurt, which served as his home during his last 28 years of life..
Already living in that city he would give up his career as a university professor, living in a very secluded, ascetic way, absorbed by his studies focused on natural sciences. It is also during this period that the personality we know him by today, strict and somewhat old-fashioned even for the time, is formed.
In 1836, after 19 years without publishing anything particularly attention-grabbing, he published a short treatise, Über den Willen in der Natur ("On the Will in Nature"), in which he skilfully combined his skillfully combined his findings about the natural sciences, which at that time were gaining increasing popularity, and related them to his theory of the will in nature.and related them to his theory of the will. In the preface to this treatise he showed his aversion to Hegel, who died in 1831, speaking of him openly as a charlatan.
During the last years of his life, he added some clarifications to his main works. He even made a third edition of "The World as Will and Idea", which appeared in 1859 and in 1860 he would make a second edition of his "Ethics". Arthur Schopenhauer died in Frankfurt am Main on September 21, 1860, due to a cardiorespiratory arrest.
Schopenhauer's character and thought did not leave indifferent both his contemporaries and great later thinkersThe character and thought of Schopenhauer did not leave indifferent both his contemporaries and later great thinkers, such as Leo Tolstoy, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Carl Gustav Jung, Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, etc. It may seem somewhat surprising, but this philosopher has been widely read in the field of physics. In fact, Einstein described Schopenhauer's thoughts as a kind of continuous consolation, despite his marked pessimism of human development.
On the other hand, he had his detractors. Ludwig Wittgenstein, although as a teenager he adopted Schopenhauer's epistemological idealism, after further study, rejected his ideas, turning to the conceptual realism of Gottlob Frege. Wittgenstein himself was to be quite critical of Schopenhauerdescribing him as a superficial thinker. Along with him, Bertrand Russell, in his "History of Western Philosophy", would criticize Arthur Schopenhauer for considering him a promoter of asceticism but who did not carry it out.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)