Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Arthur Schopenhauer

What did Arthur Schopenhauer mean by his acronym WELT?

Schopenhauer thought the omnipresence of will was an endless cause of suffering; he even created an acronym to express this with the word Welt, or “world.” The letters in WELT stood for Weh (woe), Elend (misery), Leid (suffering), and Tod (death). Schopenhauer thought that the only way out of this was to give up will by affirming the Noble Truths of Buddhism: life is suffering; desire causes suffering; eliminating desire eliminates suffering; desire can be eliminated only through a saintly life, which requires chastity, humbling of the body, and extreme poverty.


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