Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Arthur Schopenhauer

What was Schopenhauer like as a person?

Schopenhauer was willful, misanthropic, and misogynistic—in short, not much of a “people person.” While at the University of Berlin, he called Johann Fichte (1762–1814) a “charlatan.” And he later wrote:

Fichte, Schelling and Hegel are in my opinion not philosophers, for they lack the first requirement of a philosopher, namely a seriousness and honesty of enquiry. They are merely sophists who wanted to appear to be, rather than to be, something. They sought not truth but their own interest and advancement in the world.

So much for men, in Schopenhauer’s opinion. In his twenties, Schopenhauer experienced unrequited love for the mistress of the Duke of Weimar. He and his mother, a successful novelist, quarreled over his treatment of her guests and he never saw her again after age 26. Women, in general, he said:

… are directly fitted for acting as the nurses and teachers of our early childhood by the fact that they are themselves childish, frivolous and short-sighted; in a word, they are big children all their life long … an undersized, narrow-shouldered, broad-hipped and short legged race…. [T]hey have no proper knowledge of anything; and they have no genius.

Schopenhauer was also said to have abused at least one female servant. In his old age, he lived alone, except for a poodle.


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