Book Review: The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer

I fear I read this book wrong because I utterly detest it. Yet I see everyone praise its wisdom and profoundness. For me, it felt elitist and removed from the world. It generalized masses and saw their short lives as brutish and joyless. Not that he spared kindness for the upper-classes who meander their life away. So here we are, reading the works of a man who sits in his chamber and spews out his hatred towards the world, customs, and man himself. I searched for some understanding, some thought that circumstances play an important part, that there is joy even in the utter darkness, that our perception colors our views. But that is me trying to put words in his mouth rather than hearing what he says. Unfortunately, I did listen to what he wanted to say. I think I did. I just disagree with his angle. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I agree with him that pain and boredom play big roles in our lives and that they drive us to act in all sorts of manners. But there, he jumps on and attacks the very people he tries to educate; I guess.

I understand frustration, hatred, disappointment, and the rest. I get it. I even understand wanting to deliver harsh words while being removed from the world. But how can such words guide me? Make me see the world better and understand it? I fear I found no profound wisdom here. No changed mind. Just a want to argue back at him. But at least there was that. I had to formulate my own thoughts and look inside at my judgmental nature. It is there. I definitely have one, and it is highly misanthrope at times. I have accepted that, because if you pause to look at our actions, they are utterly silly and downright harmful, often enough to merit my misanthropy. But I don’t hate a person, just humanity as a whole. And only occasionally. 

All this is somewhat beside the point. Another reason I detested the book was that half of it was dedicated to dueling and why it should be banned. But that is the fault of the publisher. As I gather, this has been cut from a more substantial work. There were some great observations made about dueling, laws, honor, and shame, but not enough to keep my interest up. So it was a task to get through half of the book or a pamphlet as I would see it.

As you can see, this was an interesting journey. I don’t regret reading the book. Not at all. It forced me to reformulate my views and strengthen some of my values about kindness and understanding towards our fellow prisoners, who have been birthed here without their consent (as Arthur Schopenhauer proposes elsewhere). The book wasn’t just what I expected. Another way I went astray. Expectations rarely meet the reality.

Thank you for reading and have a beautiful day ❤

1 comment on “Book Review: The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer

  1. I’m reading this right now and am at the honour and dueling part which I’m also not enjoying too much. Everything before that though I like. This book is definitely not for everyone and by everyone I mean probably 90% of people as it would offend most of them.

    To enjoy this book you have to partially subscribe to the idea that life is mostly BS and people are mostly uninteresting.

    Liked by 1 person

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