Back to Schopenhauer

Larry Busk


This paper analyzes the philosophy of Schopenhauer with reference to contemporary cultural attitudes, particularly the standard reaction to this philosopher’s “pessimism.” Schopenhauer’s melancholy thought is most often the subject of a kind of insincere ridicule; he is something of a “philosophers’ joke.” Is this because he is a bad philosopher? I think not. His philosophy is taken less than seriously simply because it is overtly and unmistakably pessimistic. Why is this? And what does it say about our culture if this is the case? I briefly discuss the pessimistic aspects of Schopenhauer’s ideas, and then turn to an analysis of how and why these ideas are more often caricatured than critiqued.



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