150 Arthur Schopenhauer Quotes on Nature & Free Will

These Arthur Schopenhauer quotes will force you to look at both sides of every situation—both the good and the bad.

Being one of the promoters of Philosophical Pessimism, he’s remembered for his cynical views on life and human nature.

Our list boasts of 150 quotes from highly praised and widely discussed publications like The World as Will and Representation and Essays and Aphorisms.

Read the complete collection below.

And make sure to check out these Immanuel Kant quotes and Nietzsche quotes.

Best Arthur Schopenhauer Quotes

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.

1. “It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

2. “A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.”

3. “The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time.”

4. “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.

5. “Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.”

6. “Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

7. “When we read, another person thinks for us—we merely repeat his mental process.”

8. “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.”

9. “Mostly, it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - One should use common words to say uncommon things.

10. “One should use common words to say uncommon things.”

11. “Life is deeply steeped in suffering and cannot escape from it; our entrance into it takes place amid tears, at bottom its course is always tragic, and its end is even more so.”

12. “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 happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of Albert Camus quotes.

13. “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.”

14. “The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.

15. “The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience.”

16. “They tell us that suicide is the greatest piece of cowardice—that suicide is wrong, when it is quite obvious that there is nothing in this world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

17. “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

18. “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

19. “Life is a constant process of dying.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.

20. “We forfeit three-fourths of ourselves in order to be like other people.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quotes on Man and His Free Will

21. “To free a man from error is to give, not to take away. Knowledge that a thing is false is a truth.”

22. “A sense of humor is the only divine quality of man.”

23. “If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist?”

24. “Books are humanity in print.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - The cheapest sort of pride is national pride.

25. “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.”

26. “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.”

27. “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.”

28. “A man finds himself, to his great astonishment, suddenly existing after thousands and thousands of years of non-existence. He lives for a little while, and then again, comes an equally long period when he must exist no more. The heart rebels against this, and feels that it cannot be true.”

29. “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?”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.

30. “Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.”

31. “Ordinary people merely think how they shall spend their time; a man of talent tries to use it.”

32. “Rascals are always sociable, and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others’ company.”

33. “How very paltry and limited the normal human intellect is, and how little lucidity there is in the human consciousness, may be judged from the fact that, despite the ephemeral brevity of human life, the uncertainty of our existence and the countless enigmas which press upon us from all sides, everyone does not continually and ceaselessly philosophize, but that only the rarest of exceptions do.”

34. “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.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - The conviction that the world, and therefore man too, is something which really ought not to exist is in fact calculated to instil in us indulgence towards one another.

35. “The conviction that the world, and therefore man too, is something which really ought not to exist is in fact calculated to instil in us indulgence towards one another—for what can be expected of beings placed in such a situation as we are?”

36. “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.”

37. “Money is human happiness in the abstract; and so, the man who is no longer capable of enjoying such happiness in the concrete sets his whole heart on money.”

38. “If human nature were not base, but thoroughly honorable, we should, in every debate, have no other aim than the discovery of truth. We should not, in the least, care whether the truth proved to be in favour of the opinion which we had begun by expressing, or of the opinion of our adversary.”

39. “Optimism is not only a false but also a pernicious doctrine, for it presents life as a desirable state and man’s happiness as its aim and object.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts.

40. “We will gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire a knowledge of the superficial nature of their thoughts—the narrowness of their views and of the number of their errors. Whoever attaches a lot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honor.”

41. “It is a wise thing to be polite; consequently, it is a stupid thing to be rude.”

42. “Religion is the masterpiece of the art of animal training, for it trains people as to how they shall think.”

43. “You should read only when your own thoughts dry up, which will of course happen frequently enough even to the best heads; but to banish your own thoughts so as to take up a book is a sin against the holy ghost; it is like deserting untrammeled nature to look at a herbarium or engravings of landscapes.”

44. “The life of every individual, viewed as a whole and in general, and when only its most significant features are emphasized, is really a tragedy; but gone through in detail it has the character of a comedy.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - For the more one reads, the fewer are the traces left of what one has read.

45. “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.”

46. “Hence, it is impossible to reflect; and it is only by reflection that one can assimilate what one has read.”

47. “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.”

48. “The world is my idea.”

49. “After your death, you will be what you were before your birth.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - There is some wisdom in taking a gloomy view, in looking upon the world as a kind of hell, and in confining one's efforts to securing a little room that shall not be exposed to the fire.

50. “There is some wisdom in taking a gloomy view, in looking upon the world as a kind of hell, and in confining one’s efforts to securing a little room that shall not be exposed to the fire.”

51. “Music is the melody whose text is the world.”

52. “Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.”

53. “The scenes in our life resemble pictures in a rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful.”

54. “That is why to attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and why, though we live all our lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - To find out your real opinion of someone, judge the impression you have when you first see a letter from them.

55. “To find out your real opinion of someone, judge the impression you have when you first see a letter from them.”

56. “Life is full of troubles and vexations that one must either rise above it by means of corrected thoughts, or leave it.”

57. “A poet or philosopher should have no fault to find with his age, if it only permits him to do his work undisturbed in his own corner, nor with his fate if the corner granted him allows him to follow his vocation without having to think about other people.”

58. “Whatever torch we kindle, and whatever space it may illuminate, our horizon will always remain encircled by the depth of night.”

59. “Each day is a little life. Every waking and rising a little birth. Every fresh morning a little youth. Every going to rest and sleep a little death.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - A genuine work of art can never be false, nor can it be discredited through the lapse of time.

60. “A genuine work of art can never be false, nor can it be discredited through the lapse of time, for it does not present an opinion but the thing itself.”

61. “Men best show their character in trifles where they are not on their guard. It is in the simplest habits that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feelings of others and denies nothing to itself.”

62. “Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.”

63. “Honor has not to be won; it must only not be lost.”

64. “Why is it that in spite of all the mirrors in the world, no one really knows what he looks like?”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Any beautiful mind full of ideas would always express itself in the most natural, simple, and straightforward way, anxious to communicate its thoughts to others and thus relieve the solitude that he must experience in a world such as this.

65. “Any beautiful mind full of ideas would always express itself in the most natural, simple, and straightforward way, anxious to communicate its thoughts to others and thus relieve the solitude that he must experience in a world such as this. But conversely, intellectual poverty, confusion, and wrong-headedness clothe themselves in the most labored expressions and obscure turns of phrase in order to conceal petty, trivial, bland, or trite thoughts in difficult and pompous expressions.”

66. “Life presents itself first and foremost as a task—the task of maintaining itself, the task of earning one’s living.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quotes on Truth and Contentedness

67. “Truth is no harlot who throws her arms round the neck of him who does not desire her. On the contrary, she is so coy a beauty that even the man who sacrifices everything to her can still not be certain of her favors.”

68. “Life is short and truth works far and lives long. Let us speak the truth.”

69. “There is only one inborn error, and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Faith is like love - it does not let itself be forced.

70. “Faith is like love—it does not let itself be forced.”

71. “What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life.”

72. “Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original.”

73. “Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people. There is no more mistaken path to happiness than worldliness.”

74. “Treat a work of art like a prince—let it speak to you first.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - So the problem is not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees.

75. “So the problem is not so much to see what nobody has yet seen, as to think what nobody has yet thought concerning that which everybody sees.”

76. “Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible.”

77. “Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability.”

78. “Philosophy is a science, and as such, has no articles of faith. Accordingly, in it nothing can be assumed as existing except what is either positively given empirically, or demonstrated through indubitable conclusions.”

79. “Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - If life - the craving for which is the very essence of our being - were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all.

80. “If life—the craving for which is the very essence of our being—were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all. Mere existence would satisfy us in itself and we should want for nothing.”

81. “Reading is merely a surrogate for thinking for yourself. It means letting someone else direct your thoughts.”

82. “Many books, moreover, serve merely to show how many ways there are of being wrong, and how far astray you yourself would go if you followed their guidance.”

83. “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.”

84. “Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.

85. “Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.”

86. “If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.”

87. “In order to read what is good, one must make it a condition never to read what is bad; for life is short, and both time and strength limited.”

88. “To attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and though we live all our lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past.”

89. “We seldom think of what we have, but always of what we lack.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - 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.

90. “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.”

91. “He who writes carelessly confesses, thereby, at the very outset that he does not attach much importance to his own thoughts.”

92. “It often happens that we blurt out things that may in some kind of way be harmful to us, but we are silent about things that may make us look ridiculous; because in this case, effect follows very quickly on cause.”

93. “The business of the novelist is not to relate great events, but to make small ones interesting.”

94. “To be shocked at how deeply rejection hurts is to ignore what acceptance involves.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Our civilized world is nothing but a great masquerade.

95. “Our civilized world is nothing but a great masquerade.”

96. “The actual life of a thought lasts only until it reaches the point of speech.”

97. “For his life was never anything more than a present moment always vanishing; and now it is over.”

98. “Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point.”

99. “The interest in truth, which may be presumed to have been their only motive when they stated the proposition alleged to be true, now gives way to the interests of vanity; and so, for the sake of vanity, what is true must seem false, and what is false must seem true.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - But it is common knowledge that religions don't want conviction on the basis of reasons; but faith, on the basis of revelation.

100. “But it is common knowledge that religions don’t want conviction on the basis of reasons; but faith, on the basis of revelation.”

101. “Truth is most beautiful undraped.”

102. “Education stuffs you full of ideas without the coinciding experience that gave rise to those ideas in the first place—giving you incorrect perspective and notions.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quotes on Life and the Loneliness of Existence

103. “A high degree of intellect tends to make a man unsocial.”

104. “No rose without a thorn, but many a thorn without a rose.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Human life must be some kind of mistake.

105. “Human life must be some kind of mistake. The truth of this will be sufficiently obvious if we only remember that man is a compound of needs and necessities hard to satisfy; and that even when they are satisfied, all he obtains is a state of painlessness, where nothing remains to him but abandonment to boredom.”

106. “To feel envy is human, to savor ‘schadenfreude’ is devilish.”

107. “If we suspect that a man is lying, we should pretend to believe him; for then he becomes bold and assured, lies more vigorously, and is unmasked.”

108. “There is not much to get anywhere in the world. It is filled with misery and pain. If a man escapes these, boredom lies in wait for him at every corner.”

109. “Fate is cruel and mankind pitiable.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Error always does harm; sooner or later it will bring mischief to the man who harbors it.

110. “Error always does harm; sooner or later it will bring mischief to the man who harbors it.”

111. “If the world were a paradise of luxury and ease, a land flowing with milk and honey, where every Jack obtained his Jill at once and without any difficulty, men would either die of boredom or hang themselves or there would be wars, massacres, and murders; so that in the end, mankind would inflict more suffering on itself than it has now to accept at the hands of nature.”

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

113. “The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.”

114. “There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Solitude will be welcomed, or endured, or avoided according as a man's personal value is large or small.

115. “Solitude will be welcomed, or endured, or avoided according as a man’s personal value is large or small.”

116. “The fundamental defect of the female character is a lack of a sense of justice.”

117. “Dissimulation is thus inborn in her, and consequently to be found in the stupid woman almost as often as in the clever one.”

118. “A completely truthful woman who does not practice dissimulation is perhaps an impossibility, which is why women see through the dissimulation of others so easily. It is inadvisable to attempt it with them.”

119. “For the more a man has in himself, the less he will want from other people—the less, indeed, other people can be to him.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - To make enemies by unnecessary and willful incivility is just as insane a proceeding as to set your house on fire.

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

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

122. “Since there is more pain than pleasure on earth, every satisfaction is only transitory, creating new desires and new distresses; and the agony of the devoured animal is always far greater than the pleasure of the devourer.”

123. “Great men are like eagles and build their nest on some lofty solitude.”

124. “Life swings like a pendulum—backward and forward between pain and boredom.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness.

125. “We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness.”

126. “This is direct proof that existence has no real value in itself; for what is boredom but the feeling of the emptiness of life?”

127. “Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every reunion a hint of the resurrection.”

128. “The safest way of not being very miserable is not to expect to be very happy.”

129. “If I maintain my silence about my secret, it is my prisoner. If I let it slip from my tongue, I am its prisoner.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - The shortness of life, so often lamented, may be the best thing about it.

130. “The shortness of life, so often lamented, may be the best thing about it.”

131. “Wealth is like sea-water—the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”

132. “One can never read too little of bad, or too much of good books. Bad books are intellectual poison; they destroy the mind.”

133. “The present, on the other hand, is regarded as something quite temporary and serving only as the road to our goal.”

134. “Men are the devils of the earth, and the animals are the tormented souls.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - What a person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him.

135. “What a person is for himself, what abides with him in his loneliness and isolation, and what no one can give or take away from him, this is obviously more essential for him than everything that he possesses or what he may be in the eyes of others.”

136. “We must never allow our suffering to be compounded by suggestions that there is something odd in suffering so deeply. There would be something amiss if we didn’t.”

137. “The best consolation in misfortune or affliction of any kind will be the thought of other people who are in a still worse plight than yourself; and this is a form of consolation open to everyone.”

138. “We are like lambs in a field, disporting themselves under the eye of the butcher who chooses out first one and then another for his prey.”

139. “To be alone is the fate of all great minds—a fate deplored at times, but still always chosen as the less grievous of two evils.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - For the world is hell, and men are on the one hand the tormented souls and on the other the devils in it.

140. “For the world is hell, and men are on the one hand the tormented souls and on the other the devils in it.”

141. “For where did Dante get the material for his hell, if not from this actual world of ours?”

142. “Animals hear about death for the first time when they die.”

143. “If God made this world, then I would not want to be the God. It is full of misery and distress that it breaks my heart.”

144. “Night gives a black look to everything, whatever it may be.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - Our innate vanity, which is particularly sensitive in reference to our intellectual powers, will not suffer us to allow that our first position was wrong and our adversary's right.

145. “Our innate vanity, which is particularly sensitive in reference to our intellectual powers, will not suffer us to allow that our first position was wrong and our adversary’s right.”

146. “In the end, everyone stands alone, and the important thing is who it is that stands alone.”

147. “If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering, then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world.”

148. “Sociability belongs to the most dangerous, even destructive inclinations, since it brings us into contact with beings the great majority of whom are morally bad and intellectually dull or perverted.”

149. “Today it is bad, and day by day it will get worse―until at last the worst of all arrives.”

Arthur Schopenhauer Quote - The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is, in every individual, something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.

150. “The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is, in every individual, something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.”

Which of These Quotes by Arthur Schopenhauer Left a Lasting Legacy on the Way You Perceive the World?

Though Arthur Schopenhauer’s theories and notions on life were mostly bleak and pessimistic, it also makes us understand life a little better. With the quotes in this collection, we’re reminded that though there may be dark and seemingly hopeless times in our lives, we have the power within us to rise above those situations and instead seek the light that will bring us to a state of bliss and satisfaction.

Did these quotes help you see the brighter side of life? Which ones were your favorites? Let us know and comment them down below.


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Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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