Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher whose writings went on to greatly impact bright minds like Albert Einstein, Carl Jung, and Sigmund Freud. Though his writings didn’t get much recognition in his lifetime, his ingenuity couldn’t be ignored forever.

His letters went on to influence a wide range of disciplines including literature, philosophy, and science. Here are some excerpts from some of his writings now packaged into several books.


“If a great many people appear to be better off than yourself, think how many there are in a worse position.”

“A man is loved by others mainly to the degree in which he moderates his claim on their good feeling and intelligence.”

“Intellect is invisible to the man who has none.”

“There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness, revelry, high life.”

“The more a man has in himself, the less others can be to him.”

“Give mature and repeated consideration to any plan before you proceed to carry it out.”

“Life is like a game of chess, where the plan we determined to follow is conditioned by the play of our rival — in life, by the caprice of fate. We are compelled to modify our tactics, often to such an extent that, as we carry them out, hardly a single feature of the original plan can be recognized.”

“Intercourse with others involves the process of leveling down.”

“You cannot see in another man any more than you have in yourself.”

“Man should never let himself be mastered by the impressions of the moment, or indeed by outward appearances at all.”

“Time itself seems to go at a much slower pace when we are young.”

“The youth expects his career to be like an interesting romance; and there lies the germ of that disappointment.”

“There is one thing that, more than any other, throws people absolutely off their balance — the thought that you are dependent upon them.”

“The fool rushes after the pleasures of life and finds himself their dupe.”

“A little self-control at the right moment may prevent much subsequent compulsion at the hands of others.”

“There is always something pleasurable in the struggle and the victory.”

“To forgive and forget means to throw away a dearly bought experience.”

“Vanity cannot be satisfied without comparison with others.”

“The chief result gained by experience of life is the clearness of view.”

“It is most important to allow the brain the full measure of sleep which is required to restore it.”

“Everyone needs to be guided by a preconceived plan and to follow certain general rules.”

“A secret is in my custody if I keep it; but should it escape me, it is I who am the prisoner.”

“For politeness is like a counter — an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.”

“To become indignant at the conduct of others as foolish as to be angry with a stone because it rolls into your path.”

“To combine politeness with pride is a masterpiece of wisdom.”

“Character is incorrigible; because all a man’s actions emanate from an inward principle.”

“If you want your judgment to be accepted, express it coolly and without passion.”

“If we go so far as to condemn a man from every point of view, there will be nothing left for him but to engage us in deadly conflict.”

“The main difference between youth and age will always be that youth looks forward to life and old age to death.”

“To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire.”

“Prudence exacts that a wide gulf should be fixed between what we think and what we say.”

“Some people are charming so long as they are young, and afterward, there is nothing attractive about them.”

“The cheerfulness and vivacity of youth are partly due to the fact that, when we are ascending the hill of life, death is not visible.”

“To show your intelligence and discernment is only an indirect way of reproaching other people for being dull and incapable.”

“Envy shows how unhappy people are; and their constant attention to what others do and leave undone, how much they are bored.”

“The only way to attain superiority in dealing with men is to let it be seen that you are independent of them.”

To forgive and forget means to throw away a dearly bought experience.”

“Every generation, no matter how paltry its character, thinks itself much wiser than the one immediately preceding it.”

“There is a direct pleasure in seeing work grow under one’s hands day by day until at last it is finished.”

“A man should avoid being led on by the phantoms of his imagination.”

“Do not shorten the morning by getting up late, or waste it in unworthy occupations or in talk; look upon it as the quintessence of life, as to a certain extent sacred.”

“We often try to banish the gloom and despondency of the present by speculating upon our chances of success in the future.”

“Those are happiest of all who are conscious of the power to produce great works animated by some significant purpose.”

“It is the wretched way people have of setting up a claim to happiness — and, that to, in a measure corresponding with their desires — that ruins everything in this world.”

“To estimate a man’s condition in regard to happiness, it is necessary to ask, not what things please him, but what things trouble him; and the more trivial these things are in themselves, the happier the man will be.”

“No form of hatred is so implacable as the hatred that comes from envy.”

“Courage comes next to prudence as a quality of mind very essential to happiness.”

“At the beginning of a walk, or at any period of a short stroll, there often comes a feeling of enhanced intellectual vigor.”

“Care should be taken not to build the happiness of life upon a broad foundation — not to require a great many things in order to be happy.”

“It is difficult to keep quiet if you have nothing to do.”

“No man can be in perfect accord with anyone but himself — not even with a friend or the partner of his life.”

“If you have to live amongst men, you must allow everyone the right to exist in accordance with the character he has, whatever it turns out to be.”

“The young should early be trained to bear being left alone; for it is a source of happiness and peace of mind.”

“In the young days, a person should be a very diligent student at the place of learning provided by Nature herself.”

“We very soon get tired of having nothing to do; it is intolerable boredom. This impulse to activity should be regulated.”

“Our life is like a journey on which, as we advance, the landscape takes a different view from that which is presented at first, and changes again, as we come nearer. This is just what happens — especially with our wishes.”

“Ordinary people are sociable and complaisant just from the very opposite feeling; — to bear others’ company is easier for them than to bear their own.”

“Peace of mind is impossible without a considerable amount of solitude.”

“We should be still more on our guard against distressing our hearts by depicting possible misfortunes.”

“The prime reason for social intercourse is mutual need; and as soon as that is satisfied, boredom drives people together once more.”

“Men of great intellect live in the world without really belonging to it.”

“The love of solitude is not a direct, original impulse in human nature.”

“Men of any worth or value soon come to see that they are in the hands of Fate and gratefully submit to be molded by its teachings. They recognize that the fruit of life experiences, and not happiness.”

“At every moment we do just what appears to us right and proper. It is only afterward, when we come to look back at the whole course of our life and its general result, that we see the why and wherefore of it all.”

“The present alone is true and actual; it is the only time that possesses full reality, and our existence lies in it exclusively.”

we should sometimes try to look upon our possessions in the light in which they would appear if we had lost them.”

“That Time works great changes, and that all things are in their nature fleeting — these are truths that should never be forgotten.”

“Every man has an innate talent for mimicry — for making a mask out of his physiognomy so that he can always look as if he really were what he pretends to be.”

“Whether we are in a pleasant or a painful state depends, ultimately, upon the kind of matter that pervades and engrosses our consciousness.”

“He is a prudent man who is not only undeceived by apparent stability but is able to forecast the lines upon which movement will take place.”

“We should, therefore, be careful to preserve the memory of our thoughts at important points in our life; and herein lies the great advantage of keeping a journal.”

“But having once made up your mind and begun your work, you must let it run its course and abide by the result — not worry yourself by fresh reflections on what is already accomplished.”

“We are not always able to form new ideas about; our surroundings, or to command original thoughts: they come if they will, and when they will.”

“We must set limits to our wishes, curb our desires, moderate our anger, always remembering that an individual can attain only an infinitesimal share in anything that is worth having.”

“You will always be the prey or the plaything of the devils and fools in this world if you expect to see them going about with horns or jingling their bells.”

“You ought never to take any man as a model for what you should do or leave undone; because position and circumstances are in no two cases alike.”

“For the course of a man’s life is in no wise entirely of his own making; it is the product of two factors — the series of things that happened, and his own resolve in regard to them.”

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