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"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see."
- Arthur Schopenhauer.


Arthur SchopenhauerBorn in the late 18th century, Arthur Schopenhauer inherited a substantial sum from his father and was therefore able to devote most of his life to the study of philosophy. His 1813 PhD dissertation, The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, opined that, contrary to the popular philosophical notion of the time, the universe was a thoroughly irrational and unpleasant sort of place.

Building on the work of Kant, and inspired by philosophical Indian writings from both the Vedic and Buddhist traditions (texts that he was, apparently, one of the first Western scholars to have access to), Schopenhauer believed that people did not have individual wills, but instead were part of a vast, cosmic will that pervades the universe and is ultimately wicked.

The natural extension of this conclusion is that no human desires can be properly fulfilled, so Schopenhauer proposed a lifestyle that, through moral, artistic and ascetic forms of awareness, would minimize natural desires in order to best overcome the natural misery of the universe.

Although some consider him a thoroughly pessimistic and depressing character, others point to him being the first to have the courage to acknowledge the glaring suffering of the world and to try to make sense of it. Whatever one's view of Arthur Schopenhauer, there's no doubt he could turn a good phrase. Here are some more of his words of wisdom:

  • All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
  • After your death you will be what you were before your birth.
  • 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.
  • Compassion is the basis of morality.
  • Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.
  • Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.
  • Every nation ridicules other nations, and all are right.
  • "Hatred is an affair of the heart; contempt that of the head.
  • Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.
  • Just remember, once you're over the hill you begin to pick up speed.
  • The difficulty is to try and teach the multitude that something can be true and untrue at the same time.
  • Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else's head instead of with one's own.
  • The first forty years of life give us the text; the next thirty supply the commentary on it.

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