The best phrases by Arthur Schopenhauer

Explore Arthur Schopenhauer's profound insights on life, will, human nature, and more in this article.
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Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher of the 19th century, is widely recognized for his profound philosophical insight and reflections on life, existence, and human nature. Born on February 22, 1788, in Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), Schopenhauer became one of the most influential thinkers of his time and left a lasting legacy in Western philosophy.

Schopenhauer was a solitary and often pessimistic thinker who immersed himself in philosophy from a young age. He studied at the universities of Göttingen and Berlin, where he was exposed to a variety of philosophical influences, from German idealism to the teachings of Immanuel Kant. Despite this exposure, Schopenhauer developed his own unique philosophical system that centered around the idea of the will.

For Schopenhauer, the will was a fundamental driving force in human life, a kind of desire that was in constant conflict with reason and led to suffering. His writings, especially his magnum opus “The World as Will and Representation,” explored the nature of human existence and offered a bleak yet realistic view of life.

In this article, we will explore some of the best quotes by Arthur Schopenhauer, spanning topics such as life, will, compassion, art, and philosophy. Through these quotes, we can appreciate the depth of his thinking and his ability to shed light on the darker aspects of the human experience.

Quotes on Life and Existence

Arthur Schopenhauer devoted much of his work to contemplating life and human existence. His quotes on these topics reveal his pessimistic yet realistic philosophical approach, where suffering and struggle are central aspects of the human condition. Here are some of Schopenhauer’s most notable quotes regarding life and existence:

  1. “Life is a constant struggle, and struggle is a constant dissatisfaction.”
  2. “Life is not a gift but a problem to be solved.”
  3. “Existence is like a dream, but only those who awaken understand its true nature.”
  4. “Man is condemned to be free; condemned because he did not create himself, yet free because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
  5. “Life is a dark tunnel between two bright eternities: the past and the future.”
  6. “Existence is in itself a form of suffering, but only those who confront suffering can find meaning in it.”

These quotes capture Schopenhauer’s pessimistic view of life and existence but also highlight the importance of reflection and the search for meaning amid difficulties.

Quotes on Will and Desire

Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy largely revolves around will and desire as fundamental forces driving human existence. His quotes on will and desire provide profound insights into how these forces shape our lives and inner struggles:

  1. “Will is the root of all human desire, but it is also the source of great dissatisfaction.”
  2. “Constant and unrestrained desire only leads to suffering, as the will is never fully satisfied.”
  3. “The struggle between reason and will is a constant in human life; reason attempts to guide, but will often prevails.”
  4. “True freedom is to free oneself from the slavery of the will, to find peace in renouncing incessant desires.”
  5. “The will to live is so powerful that even amid suffering, life seeks to perpetuate itself.”
  6. “The satisfaction of one desire only gives way to the emergence of another; the will is insatiable.”

These quotes encapsulate Schopenhauer’s view of will and desire as fundamental human drives that often lead to dissatisfaction and internal conflict. Schopenhauer advocated for self-awareness and renunciation of the will as a path to liberation from suffering.

Quotes on Human Nature

Arthur Schopenhauer’s reflections on human nature are profound and often bleak. His quotes on this subject shed light on his pessimistic view of human essence and the inherent struggle in life. Here are some of his notable quotes on human nature:

  1. “Human nature is, at its core, selfish and self-interested.”
  2. “Envy and competition are innate impulses in the human being.”
  3. “Compassion is the exception in human nature; selfishness is the rule.”
  4. “Man is an animal that thinks, but he is also an animal that suffers.”
  5. “Most people live lives of quiet desperation, trapped in routine and suffering.”
  6. “True greatness lies in those who can transcend their own selfish nature and show compassion towards others.”

These quotes reflect Schopenhauer’s view of human nature as inherently selfish and marked by struggle. Despite his pessimism, he also recognized the human capacity for compassion and personal transcendence.

Quotes on Art and Aesthetics

Arthur Schopenhauer had a unique appreciation for art and aesthetics, and his quotes on this topic reveal his profound understanding of beauty and its significance in human life. Here are some of Schopenhauer’s notable quotes on art and aesthetics:

  1. “Art is the contemplation of beauty in its purest form, and the artist is the recipient of this revelation.”
  2. “Art is a means of escape from worldly concerns; it transports us to a realm where suffering fades away.”
  3. “Music is the purest of all arts, directly expressing the essence of will.”
  4. “Art allows us to see the world from a different perspective and find solace in aesthetic contemplation.”
  5. “True art is timeless; it transcends the limitations of time and fashion.”
  6. “Art is a manifestation of the will to live; it is the expression of life itself in various forms.”

These quotes illustrate Schopenhauer’s deep connection to art and his belief in its ability to elevate us above the struggles of everyday life. For him, art was a refuge that allowed individuals to find beauty and meaning in a world often filled with suffering.

Quotes on Philosophy and Knowledge

Arthur Schopenhauer also had interesting opinions about philosophy and knowledge, and his quotes in this area reflect his critical perspective and his focus on the search for truth. Here are some of Schopenhauer’s notable quotes on philosophy and knowledge:

  1. “Philosophy is the science that seeks fundamental answers, but often gets lost in abstraction and speculation.”
  2. “True philosophy begins when we question established beliefs and dare to doubt what is taken for granted.”
  3. “Knowledge without will is useless; wisdom lies in the practical application of knowledge.”
  4. “Philosophy should aspire to be a guide for life, not just an intellectual exercise.”
  5. “Truth is often uncomfortable, but it is the philosopher’s responsibility to seek it and confront it.”
  6. “Philosophy should not only analyze the world but also offer solutions to human problems.”

These quotes reflect Schopenhauer’s critical view of philosophy and his emphasis on the importance of action and the application of knowledge in everyday life. For him, philosophy was not an abstract discipline but a tool for understanding and improving human existence.


In conclusion, the quotes of Arthur Schopenhauer offer us a profound and often somber insight into life, human existence, will, desire, human nature, art, aesthetics, philosophy, and knowledge. This 19th-century German philosopher is known for his pessimistic yet realistic approach to the human condition.

Schopenhauer invites us to reflect on life as a constant struggle, where will and desire often lead us to suffering. His philosophy reminds us that the satisfaction of one desire gives rise to the emergence of another, and that true freedom lies in renouncing insatiable desires.

Regarding human nature, Schopenhauer presents a selfish and competitive image of human beings, though he also recognizes the potential for compassion and personal greatness in those who can transcend their own limitations.

Art and aesthetics hold a special place in Schopenhauer’s thought, considering them as avenues of escape from worldly concerns and sources of beauty that transport us to a realm where suffering fades away. Music, in particular, is seen as a direct manifestation of the essence of will.

Concerning philosophy and knowledge, Schopenhauer urges us to question established beliefs and seek truth, not as a mere intellectual exercise, but as a tool for understanding and improving human life.

Despite his pessimism and critical focus, Schopenhauer’s quotes remain relevant and thought-provoking today. His ability to shed light on the darker and more complex aspects of the human experience makes him a philosopher who continues to inspire deep reflection and philosophical debates worldwide.

Ultimately, Arthur Schopenhauer challenges us to confront the realities of life and existence with courage, to find beauty in art and aesthetic contemplation, and to seek wisdom through philosophical reflection and the practical application of knowledge on our journey through existence.