Schopenhauer Aphorisms & Quotes | Philosophy Podcasts

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast. Regular listeners of our podcast may be a little surprised by our choice of authors today, Arthur Schopenhauer, since the German philosopher is well known for his pessimism and rather depressing outlook on life. Indeed this past weekend on Our Sunday Talks, we read from the work of David Starr Jordan, who pointed out the weakness of Schopenhauer’s philosophy of despair versus the superior qualities of hope and optimism.

But we can part ways with Schopenhauer on some subjects, while still recognizing that he often provides useful insights about human nature and life—and today I will read some of those insights for you, which were compiled by J.N. Larned in his book A Multitude of Counsellors, published in 1901.

What you have in yourself is the chief element in your happiness. . . .

What you are, and what you have in your own person, is always the chief thing to consider; for your individuality accompanies you always and everywhere, and gives its color to all your experiences. . . .

The person who is cheerful and merry has always a good reason for being so — the fact, namely, that they are so. . . .

Nothing contributes so little to cheerfulness as riches, or so much as health. . . .

The most general survey shows us that the two foes of happiness are pain and boredom. We may go further, and say that in the degree in which we are fortunate enough to get away from the one, we approach the other. Life presents, in fact, a more or less violent oscillation between the two. Needy surroundings and poverty produce pain; while, if we are more than well off, we are bored. Nothing is so good a protection as inward wealth, the wealth of the mind, because the greater it grows the less room it leaves for boredom. . . .

Ordinary people think merely how they shall spend their time; a person of intellect and wisdom tries to use it. . . .

The conclusion we come to is that the individual whom nature has endowed with intellectual wealth is the happiest. Men and women of inner wealth want nothing from outside but the gift of undisturbed leisure, to develop and mature their intellectual faculties, that is, to enjoy their wealth. In short, they want permission to be themselves, their whole life long, every day and every hour. . . .

The value we set upon the opinion of others, and our constant endeavor in respect of it, are each quite out of proportion to any result we may reasonably hope to attain; so that this attention to other people’s attitude may be regarded as a kind of universal mania which everyone inherits. In all we do, almost the first thing we think about is, what will people say; and nearly half the troubles and bothers of life may be traced to our anxiety on this score. . . .

Honor is, on its objective side, other people’s opinion of what we are worth; on its subjective side, it is the respect we pay to this opinion. From the latter point of view, to be a person of honor is to exercise what is often a very wholesome, but by no means a purely moral influence. . . .

The ultimate foundation of honor is the conviction that moral character is unalterable: a single bad action implies that future actions of the same kind will, under similar circumstances, also be bad. . . .

Fame is something which must be won — honor: only something which must not be lost. The absence of fame is obscurity, which is only a negative; but loss of honor is shame, which is a positive quality. . . .

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