Letters of contemplation

Arthur Schopenhauer

I have not yet spoken my last word about women. I believe that if a woman succeeds in withdrawing from the mass, or rather raising herself from above the mass, she grows ceaselessly and more than a man.


 

Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.


 

The inexpressible depth of music, so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from its pain… Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.



Just as one spoils the stomach by overfeeding
and thereby impairs the whole body, so can one overload and choke the mind by giving it too much nourishment. For the more one reads the fewer are the traces left of what one has read; the mind is like a tablet that has been written over and over. Hence it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read. If one reads straight ahead without pondering over it later, what has been read does not take root, but is for the most part lost.


Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.



The cheapest sort of pride
is national pride; for if a man is proud of his own nation, it argues that he has no qualities of his own of which he can be proud; otherwise he would not have recourse to those which he shares with so many millions of his fellowmen. The man who is endowed with important personal qualities will be only too ready to see clearly in what respects his own nation falls short, since their failings will be constantly before his eyes. But every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud adopts, as a last resource, pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and glad to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.



I have long held the opinion
that the amount of noise that anyone can bear undisturbed stands in inverse proportion to his mental capacity and therefore be regarded as a pretty fair measure of it.



There are very few who can think,
but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?



What a man is
contributes much more to his happiness than what he has or how he is regarded by others.



Authors can be divided into
meteors, planets and fixed stars. The meteors produce a loud momentary effect; we look up, shout ‘see there!’ and then they are gone for ever. The planets and comets last for a much longer time….The fixed stars alone are constant and unalterable; their position in the firmament is fixed; they have their own light and are at all times active, because they do not alter their appearance through a change in our standpoint, for they have no parallax. Unlike the others, they do not belong to one system (nation) alone, but to the world. But just because they are situated so high, their light usually requires many years before it becomes visible to the inhabitants of earth.



The actual life of a thought lasts only until
it reaches the point of speech…As soon as our thinking has found words it ceases to be sincere…When it begins to exist in others it ceases to live in us, just as the child severs itself from its mother when it enters into its own existence.



Scholars are those who
have read in books, but thinkers, men of genius, world-enlighteners, and reformers of the human race are those who have read directly in the book of the world.


However, for the man who studies to gain insight, books and studies are merely rungs of the ladder on which he climbs to the summit of knowledge. As soon as a rung has raised him up one step, he leaves it behind. On the other hand, the many who study in order to fill their memory do not use the rungs of the ladder for climbing, but take them off and load themselves with them to take away, rejoicing at the increasing weight of the burden. They remain below forever, because they bear what should have borne them.



Compassion for animals
is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.



Our civilized world is nothing but a great masquerade
. You encounter knights, parsons, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, priests, philosophers and a thousand more: but they are not what they appear – they are merely masks… Usually, as I say, there is nothing but industrialists, businessmen and speculators concealed behind all these masks.



It may sometimes happen
that a truth, an insight, which you have slowly and laboriously puzzled out by thinking for yourself could have easily have been found already written in a book: but it is a hundred times more valuable if you have arrived at it by thinking for yourself. For only then will it enter your thought system as an integral part and living member, be perfectly and firmly consistent with it and in accord with all its other consequences and conclusions, bear the hue, colour and stamp of your whole manner of thinking, and have arrived at just the moment it was needed ; thus it will stay firmly and forever lodged in your mind.


 

Respond to Letters of contemplation

Fire away!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s