Schopenhauer’s Moral Pessimism: Reflections on The World as Will and Representation



Schopenhauer’s philosophy has special appeal to those who want to know the meaning of life. As one of the core philosophers of the 19th century, his work has inspired the most influential thinkers and artists of that time.Schopenhauer believes that will is hungry.We see it all around us in the strife and suffering that pervades every aspect of life, and even in the non-living material world.Nothing exists except the will as “a thing-in-itself”and its objectification in the world as its representation.The hungry will, as a result, can only rely on their own to feed themselves.In fact, there is no prospect of lasting peace or endless will to satisfy needs, which is the basis for Schopenhauer’s moral pessimism.There is no philosophical basis for expecting the suffering in the world to be alleviated meaningfully, because the real world, as “a thing-in-itself”, will never be satisfied.The psychological objectification of the will is correspondingly caught up in a never-ending cycle of suffering and frustration in its brutal confrontations with others.All willing life will inevitably suffer, because the will must feed on itself, and through its objectification in the world as representation, it will always be opposed to itself.


Schopenhauer; Moral pessimism; Will; Representation

Full Text:



Beer, M. (2000). Schopenhauer. Kitchener: Batoche Books.

E. F. J. Payne (trans.) (1974). The world as will and representation (Vol.2), New York: Dover Publications.

Jacquette, D. (2005). The philosophy of Schopenhauer. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

Lewis, P. B. (2012). Arthur Schopenhauer. London: Reaktion Books Limited.



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