biography & philosophy
Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22 1788 in Danzig (now -
Gdansk, Poland) which was then
a "Free City" largely controlled by Germanic trading
interests and functioning within the constitutional arrangements of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonmwealth.
In the late eighteenth century Poland featured some serious social and political turmoils which contributed to several
partitions of that ancient kingdom.
When Prussia took Danzig over in 1793 as a result of the so-called Second Partitition of Poland, his
father, a successful and liberal-minded merchant, moved the
family to Hamburg.
In 1809 Schopenhauer enrolled at the University of
Göttingen where he studied medicine for two years but later studied
philosophy at the University of Berlin. He completed his
doctorate in philosophy at Jena in 1813.
Following on from this period of formal education he relied
on his inherited income to finance a period of private
contemplation, study and philosophy writing. From 1814 to 1818 he
lived in Dresden where his principal work, The World as Will
and Representation, which is also known as The World as
Will and Idea, was written. In 1819 it was published - to
meet with very little in the way of public acclaim.
After an unsuccessful period of lectureship in Berlin prior
to 1831 he settled in Frankfurt am Main, where he led a solitary
life and became deeply involved in the study of Buddhist and
Hindu philosophies and mysticism where he seems to have found
echoes of the approach to philosophy that he was independently
He was also influenced by the ideas of the German Dominican
theologian, mystic, and eclectic philosopher Meister Eckhart, the
German theosophist and mystic Jakob Boehme, and the scholars of
the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
Schopenhauer had suffered a great disappointment circa 1820
as his publication of The World as Will and Idea had
fallen flat in terms of a public response - he himself considered
that his philosophy explained a great deal!!!
A second edition published, in two volumes, some twenty five
years later did not fare much better. This 1844 edition was
remarkable in that the first volume was effectively the work of
1819 whilst the second, and larger, volume was a book of
In the intervening years he had written several works
including On the Will in Nature (1836), The Freedom of
the Will (1841), and The Foundations of Morality
Although an Essay on the Freedom of the Will had been
recognised through the awardance of a cultural prize in Norway in
1839 he was into his sixties when the publication of his
collection of essays Parerga and Paralipomena (i.e.
Additions and Omissions - 1851) really brought public attention
to his life's work.
Arthur Schopenhauer was seventy-two years of age, and
internationally famous, at the time of his death on September 21