The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 91 pages of information about The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism.
when we are occupied with some purely intellectual interest—­when in reality we have stepped forth from life to look upon it from the outside, much after the manner of spectators at a play.  And even sensual pleasure itself means nothing but a struggle and aspiration, ceasing the moment its aim is attained.  Whenever we are not occupied in one of these ways, but cast upon existence itself, its vain and worthless nature is brought home to us; and this is what we mean by boredom.  The hankering after what is strange and uncommon—­an innate and ineradicable tendency of human nature—­shows how glad we are at any interruption of that natural course of affairs which is so very tedious.

That this most perfect manifestation of the will to live, the human organism, with the cunning and complex working of its machinery, must fall to dust and yield up itself and all its strivings to extinction—­this is the naive way in which Nature, who is always so true and sincere in what she says, proclaims the whole struggle of this will as in its very essence barren and unprofitable.  Were it of any value in itself, anything unconditioned and absolute, it could not thus end in mere nothing.

If we turn from contemplating the world as a whole, and, in particular, the generations of men as they live their little hour of mock-existence and then are swept away in rapid succession; if we turn from this, and look at life in its small details, as presented, say, in a comedy, how ridiculous it all seems!  It is like a drop of water seen through a microscope, a single drop teeming with infusoria; or a speck of cheese full of mites invisible to the naked eye.  How we laugh as they bustle about so eagerly, and struggle with one another in so tiny a space!  And whether here, or in the little span of human life, this terrible activity produces a comic effect.

It is only in the microscope that our life looks so big.  It is an indivisible point, drawn out and magnified by the powerful lenses of Time and Space.

ON SUICIDE.

As far as I know, none but the votaries of monotheistic, that is to say, Jewish religions, look upon suicide as a crime.  This is all the more striking, inasmuch as neither in the Old nor in the New Testament is there to be found any prohibition or positive disapproval of it; so that religious teachers are forced to base their condemnation of suicide on philosophical grounds of their own invention.  These are so very bad that writers of this kind endeavor to make up for the weakness of their arguments by the strong terms in which they express their abhorrence of the practice; in other words, they declaim against it.  They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice; that only a madman could be guilty of it; and other insipidities of the same kind; or else they make the nonsensical remark that suicide is wrong; when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in the world to which every mail has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.

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The Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer; Studies in Pessimism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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