ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER 1788-1860

BIOGRAPHY

1788 Born in Danzig (Gdansk), son of a wealthy merchant and a noted novelist mother. Attended schools in Germany, France, and England. Was fluent in four languages.

1803-4 His father allowed him to tour England, France and other countries on the understanding that he would take up work in a business house upon the tour's conclusion.

1804 On the insistance of his father, he joined him in the family business. His father's death a year later freed Schopenhauer from this work, and he resumed his studies.

1809 Entered the university at Göttingen as a medical student, but in a year he came to his senses and changed to philosophy. Life is a problem, as he put it, and he had decided to spend his life reflecting on it.

1811 Transferred to the University of Berlin to study philosophy and listen the lectures of Fichte and Schleiermacher. Schopenhauer found Fichte's obscurity repugnant, and thought Schleiermacher's assertion that nobody could be a real philosopher without being religious silly--he said that a religous person has no need of philosophy.

1813 Wrote his thesis On the Fourfold Root of Sufficient Reason which won him the doctorate at Jena. At a salon his mother established at Weimar, he met literary figures, including Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe's conversations inspired On Vision and Colors, written in 1816, in which he supported Goethe against Newton.

1814 Settled in Dresden after a period of travel, and wrote his only major work, The World as Will and Idea (published 1819). It sold few copies and received no recognition.

1820 Moved to Berlin to expound in his views verbally in lectures. He received a position as Privatdozent, and purposely scheduled his lectures at the same time as Hegel. This ensured the failure of his lectures, as no one attended. He soon left Berlin and gave up any aspirations to an academic career. He thereafter often referred to Hegel, Schelling and Fichte as "charlatans" and "windbags." A later essay, On University Philosophy, aired his personal resentment.

1833 Settled in Frankfurt am Main. Published On the Will in Nature (1836), The Basis of Morality (1941), and a revised and expanded edition of World as Will (1844), with fifty supplemental chapters!

1848 After a series of democratic revolutions, the optimistic philosophy of Hegel passed "out of vogue" and Schopenhauer's pessimism came into style.

1851 Produced Parerga and Paralipomena, a collection of diverse essays, which was successful. Spent his final years editing World as Will for one final edition (1859) and entertaining admirers.

1860 Died an old man angry at everyone. Everyone I’ve read remarks about Schopenhauer's egoism, vanity, quarrelsomeness and boorishness. He had few gifts of the heart, and his theoretical sensitivity to suffering was not accompanied by any practical efforts to alleviate it. He once pushed an elderly seamstress down the stairs, seriously injuring her.

 

MAJOR WORKS

The World as Will and Idea [Representation]