Lifetime: 1788 - 1860 Passed: ≈ 162 years ago
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation (expanded in 1844), which characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable noumenal will. Building on the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that rejected the contemporaneous ideas of German idealism. He was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Indian philosophy, such as asceticism, denial of the self, and the notion of the world-as-appearance. His work has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism.
Though his work failed to garner substantial attention during his lifetime, Schopenhauer had a posthumous impact across various disciplines, including philosophy, literature, and science. His writing on aesthetics, morality, and psychology have influenced many thinkers and artists.
Schopenhauer was born on 22 February 1788, in Danzig (then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; present-day Gdańsk, Poland) on Heiligegeistgasse (present day Św. Ducha 47), the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) (1766-1838) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer (1747-1805), both descendants of wealthy German-Dutch patrician families. Neither of them was very religious; both supported the French Revolution, and were republicans, cosmopolitans and Anglophiles. When Danzig became part of Prussia in 1793, Heinrich moved to Hamburg—a free city with a republican constitution —although his firm continued trading in Danzig where most of their extended families remained. Adele, Arthur's only sibling, was born on 12 July 1797.
He moved to Weimar but did not live with his mother, who even tried to discourage him from coming by explaining that they would not get along very well. Their relationship deteriorated even further due to their temperamental differences. He accused his mother of being financially irresponsible, flirtatious and seeking to remarry, which he considered an insult to his father's memory.
Schopenhauer left Berlin in a rush in 1813, fearing that the city could be attacked and that he could be pressed into military service as Prussia had just joined the war against France. He returned to Weimar, but left after less than a month disgusted by the fact that his mother was now living with her supposed lover, Georg Friedrich Konrad Ludwig Müller von Gerstenbergk (1778–1838), a civil servant twelve years younger than her; he considered the relationship an act of infidelity to his father's memory.
He died of pulmonary-respiratory failure, on 21 September 1860 while sitting at home on his couch. He was 72.
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