Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Arthur Schopenhauer

1788 – 1860 CE

Though mainly unnoticed during his life, after he died Schopenhauer’s work had a huge impact on psychology, literature, art, philosophy, music and science. He was one of the first Western thinkers to affirm major aspects of Eastern philosophy. He called himself a Buddhist and compared his philosophy to basic Buddhist teachings. Einstein extolled Schopenhauer’s life-long influence and he was also respected and emulated by people like Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Freud, Jung, Joseph Campbell and Thomas Mann. His influence continues today into fields like modern evolutionary psychology.

Eras

Sources

Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Wisdom of Life

Unlisted Sources

Aphorisms

On the Basis of Morality

On the Basis of Morality, 1840

The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Quotes by Arthur Schopenhauer (66 quotes)

“the difficulty is… that something can be both true and untrue at the same time… mankind cannot get on without a certain amount of absurdity.”

Chapters: 22. Heaven's Door

Themes: Paradox

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“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”

Chapters: 42. Children of the Way

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“A man can do what he wants, but not want what he wants.”

Chapters: 10. The Power of Goodness

Themes: Desire Freedom

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“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

Themes: Truth

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“Compassion is the basis of morality.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Compassion

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“Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Chapters: 72. Helpful Fear
78. Water

Themes: Nationalism

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“Every true thinker for himself is so far like a monarch… He takes as little notice of authority as a monarch does of a command; nothing is valid unless he has himself authorized it.”

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

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“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... 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.”

Chapters: 48. Unlearning

Themes: Contemplation

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“Genius always rises like a palm-tree above the soil in which it is rooted.”

Chapters: 61. Lying Low

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“Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability.”

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

Themes: Confusion Hope

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“If I maintain my silence about my secret it is my prisoner...if I let it slip from my tongue, I am its prisoner.”

Chapters: 15. Inscrutability

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“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

Chapters: 81. Journey Without Goal

Themes: Happiness

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“Life is a constant process of dying.”

Chapters: 52. Cultivating the Changeless

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.”

Chapters: 71. Sick of Sickness

Themes: Religion Reason

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“Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

Chapters: 73. Heaven’s Net

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“The actual life of a thought lasts only until it reaches the point of speech... As soon as our thinking has found words it ceases to be sincere.”

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

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“The art of not reading… remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.”

Chapters: 2. The Wordless Teachings

Themes: Books

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“The bad thing about all religions is that, instead of being able to confess their allegorical nature, they have to conceal it.”

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

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“The charlatan… is a man who cares nothing about knowledge for its own sake, and only strives to gain the semblance of it that he may use it for his own personal ends, which are always selfish and material.”

Chapters: 24. Unnecessary Baggage

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“The safest way of not being very miserable is not to expect to be very happy.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Letting Go

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“there are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?”

Chapters: 38. Fruit Over Flowers

Themes: Opinion

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“Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Creativity Reason

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“vulgar minds who are swayed by all kinds of current opinions, authorities, and prejudices, are like the people which in silence obey the law and commands.”

Chapters: 71. Sick of Sickness

Themes: Law and Order

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“We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.”

Chapters: 18. The Sick Society

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“When we read, another person thinks for us: we merely repeat his mental process… we gradually lose the capacity for thinking... This is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid.”

Chapters: 48. Unlearning

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“The ordinary man places his life’s happiness in things external to him – in property, rank, wife and children, friends, society and the like so that when he loses them or finds them disappointing, the foundation of his happiness is destroyed.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“My philosophy has never brought me a sixpence; but it has spared me many an expense.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Philosophy

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“Riches are like sea water: the more you drink, the thirstier you become; and the same is true of fame.”

from Wisdom of Life

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

Themes: Wealth Fame

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“Wealth is nowhere more at home than in the merchant class because merchants look upon money only as a means of further gain, just as a workman regards his tools so they try to preserve and increase it by using it.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Business Money

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“What everyone most aims at in ordinary contact with his fellows is to prove them inferior to himself; and how much more is this the case in politics.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“Respect is paid to age because old people have necessarily shown in the course of their lives whether or not they have been able to maintain their integrity. Young people have not yet been tested.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Old Age

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“When we come to see how superficial and futile are most people’s thoughts, how narrow their ideas, how mean their sentiments, how perverse their opinions; we will understand that to lay great value upon what other people say is to pay them too much honor.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Conformity

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“Wife and children I have not considered among a man's possessions: he is rather in their possession.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Family

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“If you stroke a cat, it will purr; if you praise a man, a sweet expression of delight will appear on his face even though the praise is a palpable lie.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“The most essential factor in happiness is health.”

from Wisdom of Life

Themes: Health

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“Deeply rooted in human nature is the mistaken belief that the ultimate goal for all our effort is gaining greater respect from other people… set limits on this great weakness and susceptibility to public opinion.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“To greatly increase your happiness, just realize the simple truth that the value and the meaningfulness of our lives is within and not based on external factors.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“Too much reading robs the mind of all elasticity... the surest way of never having any thoughts of your own is to pick up a book (smart phone or computer) every time you have a free moment.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“As the biggest library in disorder is not as useful as a small, well organized one; a vast accumulation of knowledge is of far less value than a much smaller amount thought through and compared to personal experience and other knowledge.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“It is only our own basic thoughts that possess truth and life… other people’s thoughts are like crumbs form another’s table, the cast-off clothes of an unfamiliar guest.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Truth Pluralism

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“The human need for socialization drives human porcupines together [‘Schopenhauer’s or The Porcupine’s dilemma’] only to be mutually repelled by the many irritating qualities of the others (‘familiarity breeds contempt’). Codes of politeness and manners create a tolerable but unsatisfying balance between social warmth and irritation so the more independent and self-sufficient prefer more solitude.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“You can only know what you have thought about and thinking has to be kindled like a fire. Reading can spark this kind of thinking when it forcibly imposes ideas on the mind foreign to it’s mood, beliefs, and prejudices.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Education

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“A truth won by thinking for ourselves is like a natural limb: it alone really belongs to us. This is the difference between a thinker and a mere scholar.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“While the intellectual horizon of the normal man is wider than that of the animal—one continual present with no consciousness of past or future—it is not so immeasurably wide as generally supposed.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Here and Now

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“Between the ethics of the Greeks and those of the Hindus, there exists a glaring antithesis—the Greek goal to lead a happy life, the Hindu to liberate and redeem from life altogether.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“Between the spirit of Graeco-Roman paganism and the spirit of Christianity, the real antithesis is the pagan affirmation of the will to life opposed to the Christian denial of the will to life with a search for a redemption from the world.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Christianity

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“Religions are the children of ignorance and do not long survive their mother... Mankind is growing out of religion as out of its childhood clothes.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“Christianity is dead and no longer exercises much influence. When it did, civilization was at a very point in Christian countries.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Christianity

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“All religion is antagonistic to culture... genuine morality is dependent on no religion”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Culture Integrity

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“Time ceases to persecute only those it has delivered over to boredom.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Time

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“Nevertheless, everyone desires to achieve old age, that is to say a condition in which one can say, 'Today it is bad, and day by day it will get worse—until at last the worst arrives.'”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Old Age

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“Pride works from within; it is the direct appreciation of oneself. Vanity is the desire to arrive at this appreciation indirectly, from without.”

from Wisdom of Life

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“Sexual desire—especially when concentrated with fixated infatuation on a particular person—becomes the quintessence of this world's delusion because it promises so excessively much and delivers so miserably little.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Sex Desire

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“The more active the imagination, the fewer perceptions from outside transmitted to us by the senses. Long periods of silence and solitude nurture it, journeys, the bustle of life, and high noons of stimulation chase it far away.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

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“Accustom yourself to regarding the world as a place of suffering, a sort of penal colony and expect the calamities, torments, and miseries of life as normal... this makes us see other people in their true light and reminds us of what is most important: tolerance, patience charity”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Suffering

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“History is the national conscience of the human race... only by virtue of it does the human race come to be whole, come to be a humanity This is the true value of history.”

from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: History

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“Happy marriages are well known to be rare, just because it lies in the nature of marriage that its chief end is not the present but the coming generation.”

from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: Marriage

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“To desire immortality is to desire the perpetuation of a great mistake.”

from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: Longevity

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“The relation of the sexes is really the invisible and central point of all action and conduct... the cause of war and the end of peace; the basis of what is serious, the key to all illusions, and the meaning of all mysterious hints.”

from The World as Will and Idea, 1819

Themes: Love Sex

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“Opinion is like a pendulum and obeys the same law. If it goes past the center of gravity on one side, it must go a like distance on the other; and it is only after a certain time that it finds the sure point at which it can remain at rest.”

from Parerga and Paralipomena, "Appendices" and "Omissions"

Themes: Middle Way

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom is a book made for constant use, a companion for life... to read it only once is obviously not enough.”

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“If we suspect that a man is lying, we should pretend to believe him; for then he becomes bold and assured, lies more vigorously, and is unmasked.”

Themes: Lies

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“Money alone is absolutely good, because it is not only a concrete satisfaction of one need in particular; it is an abstract satisfaction of all.”

from Aphorisms

Themes: Money

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“Shame on such a morality that fails to recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing and shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see the sun.”

from On the Basis of Morality

Themes: Inscrutable

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“Profound reader of the human heart and undoubtedly the greatest moralist of modern times; Rousseau drew his wisdom not from books, but from life, and intended his philosophy not for the professorial elite, but for humanity. Foster-child of nature and enemy of all prejudice, he could moralize without tediousness, because he hit with the truth and stirred the heart.”

from On the Basis of Morality, 1840

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“There is more to be learned from each page of David Hume than from the collected philosophical works of Hegel, Herbart and Schleiermacher taken together.”

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Quotes about Arthur Schopenhauer (5 quotes)

“What we like in Schopenhauer is his honesty. How refreshing it is to turn to him from philosophers who dig their heals into the sand at the sight or the mention of evil... Schopenhauer opens both eyes without pity and without fear. Let the truth be spoken mercilessly!”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from The Works of Schopenhauer

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“Schopenhauer's saying, that 'a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,' has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others'. This feeling mercifully mitigates the sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralyzing, and it prevents us from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of life in which humor, above all, has its due place.”

Albert Einstein 1879 – 1955 CE
from My World-view, 1931​

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“Buddha, Moses, Plato, Socrates, Schopenhauer are to me the real sovereigns.”

Leo Tolstoy 1828 – 1910 CE

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“Schopenhauer is in many ways peculiar among philosophers... a pessimist, not fully academic, as much interested in art as ethics, unusually free from nationalism... His appeal has always been less to professional philosophers than to artistic and literary people in search of a philosophy that they could believe.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

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“Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for the best in the fundamentals of the universe, to be the first to speak of the suffering of the world which visibly and glaringly surrounds us, and of the confusion, passion, evil—all those things which the [other philosophers] hardly seemed to notice and always tried to resolve into all-embracing harmony and comprehensibility.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1961

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