Home Discussion Forum How do you disprove Schopenhauer's Pessimism?

How do you disprove Schopenhauer's Pessimism?

I’m having a hard time disproving Schopenhauer’s arguments. Basically he claims that the driving force of life is an irrational “will to live”. Life is meaningless. But when we rationally examine the world we see that evil, pain and suffering far outweigh the good. The best we can hope for is acheiving our random goals- but that only leads to disapointment and boredom. WE only continue to live because of some irrational drive you could call Dawkin’s Selfish gene.
I try to disprove it historically by looking at how far we’ve come from clouds of cosmic dust, to life, to consciousness, to modern industry. But that doesn’t answer Schopenhauer’s challenge to the individual


  1. Funny that you should ask this now, because I’ve just recently written a paper on Nietzsche’s “The Birth of Tragedy”, which is essentially a rejection of this pessimism of Schopenhauer’s. It’s a complicated argument that’s difficult to summarize, but the essence of it is that art, through the affirmation of existence, “justifies” it, and this is exemplified by Greek tragedy. A quote from Wikipedia:
    “Nietzsche found in Greek tragedy an art form that transcended the pessimism and Nihilism one might find in a fundamentally meaningless world. The Greek spectators, by looking into the abyss of human suffering and affirming it, passionately and joyously, affirmed the meaning in their own existence. They knew themselves to be infinitely more than the petty individuals of the apparent world, finding self-affirmation, not in another life, not in a world to come, but in the terror and ecstasy alike celebrated in the performance of tragedies.”

  2. I find that the good in my life easily outweighs the evil, pain and suffering. Schopenhauer may speak for himself, he doesn’t speak for me.
    Fulfillment doesn’t come from some cosmic grand design, it comes from the various goals we set for ourselves – goals which really aren’t so “random” at all. My life and my goals may not have any grand cosmic meaning, but they have plenty of meaning to *me*, and that’s enough to allow me to thoroughly enjoy life.
    The fulfillment doesn’t lie in the destination, it lies in the journey itself. The journey is its own reward.


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