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A fascinating examination of ethics, religion and psychology, this selection of Schopenhauer's works contains scathing attack on the nature and logic of religion, and an essay on ethics that ranges from the American slavery debate to the vices of Buddhism. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other A fascinating examination of ethics, religion and psychology, this selection of Schopenhauer's works contains scathing attack on the nature and logic of religion, and an essay on ethics that ranges from the American slavery debate to the vices of Buddhism. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.


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A fascinating examination of ethics, religion and psychology, this selection of Schopenhauer's works contains scathing attack on the nature and logic of religion, and an essay on ethics that ranges from the American slavery debate to the vices of Buddhism. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other A fascinating examination of ethics, religion and psychology, this selection of Schopenhauer's works contains scathing attack on the nature and logic of religion, and an essay on ethics that ranges from the American slavery debate to the vices of Buddhism. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

30 review for The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julian Worker

    It takes a lot of time to read this short book. It is thought-provoking and I understood some of what he meant, but not all of it I am sure. I agree with some things he wrote, for example about man's treatment of animals. Can I recommend a book I didn't fully completely understand? I think so, because the parts I didn't understand are probably down to my lack of suitable comprehension of the subject rather down to the writer not being able to explain them properly. I will read it again in a few It takes a lot of time to read this short book. It is thought-provoking and I understood some of what he meant, but not all of it I am sure. I agree with some things he wrote, for example about man's treatment of animals. Can I recommend a book I didn't fully completely understand? I think so, because the parts I didn't understand are probably down to my lack of suitable comprehension of the subject rather down to the writer not being able to explain them properly. I will read it again in a few months and see whether I understand more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    João Fernandes

    "It is not all the evil but all the good things of the world which Pandora had in her box (...) When Epimetheus rashly opened the it the good things flew out and away: Hope alone was saved and still remains with us." The main treaty of this book ("On Religion: A Dialogue") is that most sacred form of philosophy, the Socratic dialogue, where two epitomes of philosophical arguments arrogantly disagree with each other with huge leaps of logic until the one the author dislikes surrenders in shame "It is not all the evil but all the good things of the world which Pandora had in her box (...) When Epimetheus rashly opened the it the good things flew out and away: Hope alone was saved and still remains with us." The main treaty of this book ("On Religion: A Dialogue") is that most sacred form of philosophy, the Socratic dialogue, where two epitomes of philosophical arguments arrogantly disagree with each other with huge leaps of logic until the one the author dislikes surrenders in shame. As much as I love Plato's work, it can get quite biased. The missing star comes from that same bias. I have to preface that I agree with almost all of the arguments made by Schopenhauer. But to have Philatethes, the champion of reason, call for the end of religious freedom, is hypocrisy at his finest. And the reason? Religion is the proxy truth for the unwashed masses, to be extinguished with the rise of intellectualism. Historically, atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, and indeed scientific and social progress was often slumped by persecution from one religion or the other. But to simply state that religion only has a place as the 'opium of the masses' is shortsighted. If philosophy is indeed the quest for truth and knowledge, then it must accommodate all possibilities, as we strive to do in science and in the arts, and keep an open mind. If someone can find consensus between truth and their beliefs, they should be welcome to - they may not be antagonistic, and they may even be complimentary. Although this is not my personal experience, this work does a lousy job at attempting to bridge the two; and in failing to do so, it becomes incredibly one sided. Other than that, it is a very good read in terms of the history and philosophical basis for many different religions, and has some interesting treaties on psychology and on Greek mythology.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Mills

    This is a pocket-book collection of five essays, translated by R J Hollingdale in 1970. Penguin lazily provide no background information whatsoever, not even dates, let alone context, so I have no idea whether these were spread across decades of Schopenhauer's career or written all at one go. The first essay, "On Religion: A Dialogue", is the best, being a fair and shrewd discussion of the utility of religion. The next, "On Ethics", is perhaps the worst, packed with spurious claims and special pl This is a pocket-book collection of five essays, translated by R J Hollingdale in 1970. Penguin lazily provide no background information whatsoever, not even dates, let alone context, so I have no idea whether these were spread across decades of Schopenhauer's career or written all at one go. The first essay, "On Religion: A Dialogue", is the best, being a fair and shrewd discussion of the utility of religion. The next, "On Ethics", is perhaps the worst, packed with spurious claims and special pleading that would require a much longer work to justify. There's also a startling pomposity in its pronouncements, particularly this one:After my prize essay on moral freedom no thinking person can remain in any doubt that moral freedom is never to be sought in nature but only outside of nature.No thinking person can doubt..? Is this a joke, or the arrogance or youth, or was the author an insufferable prig? The remaining three essays are "On Psychology", "On Religion" and "On Various Subjects". All the essays, bar the dialogue, are in choppy bite-size pieces, which makes for easy reading. Schopenhauer does make some arresting observations, aspiring to aphorisms:If you want to know how you really feel about someone take note of the impression an unexpected letter from him makes on you when you first see it on the doormat.I enjoyed his dissection of the particular problems faced by christian theologians in attempting to reconcile their scriptures, and there is much in here that is striking. Equally, however, much is simply asserted without philosophical rigour, and the essays make little effort to develop substantial arguments. This is not, then (I would guess), a representative summation of his philosophy, but simply a spicy taster.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    An interesting first encounter with Schopenhauer and in conclusion, another reading of this or a more complete work is needed. A deep and meaningful read that cannot be digested in one sitting. Looking forward to it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tammam Aloudat

    The books is good, and here, I am reviewing the book rather than Schopenhauer as the book does very little to reflect the philosophical ideals and ideas, but I don't think it was meant to give an idea of what one of the biggest philosophers of the nineteen century. However, my little issue with it, despite being a good quotable book, is that the book doesn't give a view of how much of a pessimist he was. Anyhow, I am not sure what to do with a book like that beyond appreciate the composition of The books is good, and here, I am reviewing the book rather than Schopenhauer as the book does very little to reflect the philosophical ideals and ideas, but I don't think it was meant to give an idea of what one of the biggest philosophers of the nineteen century. However, my little issue with it, despite being a good quotable book, is that the book doesn't give a view of how much of a pessimist he was. Anyhow, I am not sure what to do with a book like that beyond appreciate the composition of some little quotes out of context and idea. If you have read some of Schopenhauer, it won't add much, if you haven't, it won't be much of an idea. Not sure how to think, I have the "Aphorisms of Love and Hate" of Nietzsche lining up!!

  6. 5 out of 5

    James Millen

    A fantastic collection, the first philosophy book I've fully enjoyed. Devastatingly enlightening, particularly the bits NOT about religion! A fantastic collection, the first philosophy book I've fully enjoyed. Devastatingly enlightening, particularly the bits NOT about religion!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Sometimes the synchronicity of the world is just plain weird. I was reading this alongside 'State of Wonder', where there's a small but vital subplot involving magic mushrooms, and 'How to change your mind,' which is all about the clinical potential of psilocybin and LSD. And then there's this book. The Penguin Great Ideas series is great in the sense that they are small and cute and portable, and they come free of any long-winded spoilery introduction by an expert in the field of the writer. How Sometimes the synchronicity of the world is just plain weird. I was reading this alongside 'State of Wonder', where there's a small but vital subplot involving magic mushrooms, and 'How to change your mind,' which is all about the clinical potential of psilocybin and LSD. And then there's this book. The Penguin Great Ideas series is great in the sense that they are small and cute and portable, and they come free of any long-winded spoilery introduction by an expert in the field of the writer. However, that also leaves you-the-reader completely contextless, because they don't give any bio about the writers either, or even the true date of publication - just the first date PENGUIN published them, which is usually like '1995'. Not helpful in the case of Schopenhauer, who presumably published this sometime between 1788 and 1860 (the only biographic information provided). The book doesn't even say what language this was published FROM. Hence I don't know two key things about Schopenhauer the man, which are: whether he was religious or not, or pro-religion or not; or whether he ever did psychedelics. The tone of some of what he says would suggest to me that he's a pro-religion atheist, and that he's definitely in the course of his interaction with Buddhists and India and whatnot taken something mind-altering. All the chat about the 'will' and the wider consciousness suggests to me he dropped acid at some point. It's funny, too, that over my life I have come to various conclusions 'on my own' that I then read about in books. It's nice to not feel alone and also a bit annoying that other people got there first. Then I suppose the physician’s would be: fiant pilulae et pereat mundus [Let pills be distributed though the world perish] – which would be the one most likely to be realised. LOL. Don’t worry about the baroque and apparently paradoxical forms it [religion] assumes: for you, with your learning and culture, have no idea how torturous and roundabout a route is required to take profound truths to the mass of the people, with their lack of them. Yes, I have thought for a long time that religion was designed to appease the stupid. Latterly I have thought it left a hole that something needs to fill. It is common knowledge that religions don’t want conviction, on the basis of reasons, but faith, on the basis of revelation. And the capacity for faith is at its strongest in childhood: which is why religions apply themselves before all else to getting these tender years into their possession. Also sounds legit. Even if a really true philosophy had taken the place of religion, nine-tenths of mankind at the very least would receive it on authority, so that it too would be a matter of belief. As does this. You ought to guard against letting your theoretical cavilling discredit in the eyes of the people and finally wrest from them something which is an inexhaustible source of consolation and comfort, and which they need so much, indeed, with their hard lot need more than we do; for this reason alone it ought to be inviolable. […] Before you deprive someone of something you must have something better to put in its place. I don't know what side of this argument Schopenhauer actually came down on - this is written in the form of a dialogue - but he didn't live in a time when religion had been erased, and I do, and from that standpoint can categorically say if you take it away something just as awful fills the spot. (Hi, Instagram!) rites of all kinds soon come to be pronounced of more immediate interest to the divine will than moral actions whereby the priests finally appear as virtually no more than go-betweens in a trade with bribeable gods. This reminded me of Bertrand Russell (although of course it's the other way around). Re: courage - a finite individual […] should not place the preservation of self before all else. A wholly immanent, that is to say purely empirical, explanation based on the utility of courage would be inadequate. Interesting. This is where I wondered does he then believe in God, because he's saying courage is a pointless trait if we don't have some inherent feeling that there's a greater existence beyond this life? The mushroom episodes: There are in fact two anthetical ways of becoming conscious of one’s own existence: firstly, by empirical perception, by seeing it as it appears from without, an evanescently small existence in a world boundless in space and time […] secondly, however, by plunging into one’s own inner self and realising that it is all-in-all Sounds very like the realisations all the trippers had in Pollan's book. by what we do we know what we are, just as by what we suffer we know what we deserve. OK cool. an accurate knowledge of a man’s character can be arrived at from a single characteristic action Hmm. all enjoyment is really only negative, only has the effect of removing a pain, while pain or evil, on the other hand, is the actual positive element and is felt directly. Double hmm. He’s good on revenge: A great deal of hatred, indeed, has no other source than a compelled respect for the superior qualities of some other person This restless, confused dream constitutes the lives of millions of men. They know only for the purposes of their present wants; they give no thought to the coherence of their existence, not to speak of that existence itself; to a certain extent they exist without really being aware of it. This again sounds like the remains of an acid-trip, which Pollan commented left a lot of people quite arrogant about how they'd experienced divine mysteries and everyone else hadn't. Then again, this might just be the usual arrogance of the smart towards the dumb, which I also get. He, on the other hand, who wants to be altogether uncommon, that is to say great, must never let a preponderant agitation of will take his consciousness over altogether, however much he is urged to do so. He must, eg, be able to take note of the odious opinion of another without feeling his own aroused by it Reminds me of the Ultimate Bae, Marcus Aurelius. There certainly is a common theme in philosophy about how 'you are not your thoughts', presumably because it's the only way out of suffering and concomitantly allows for the rumination required for philosophical theorising. it is all one whether you live and die trusting in your own thoughts or in those of others […] the enormous intellectual inequality between man and man, then the thoughts of one may very well count with another as revelation Ha fair. we have to recognise that the absurd is to a certain extent appropriate to the human race, indeed an element of its life, and that deception is indispensable to it Very Pratchettian. According to this dogma, then, he called into existence out of nothing a weak and sin-prone race in order to hand it over to endless torment. […] the God who prescribes forbearance and forgiveness of every sin […] fails to practice it himself, but does rather the opposite: since a punishment which is introduced at the end of things, when all is over and done with forever, can be intended to neither improve nor deter; it is nothing but revenge. Again this reminds me of Russell, and also how the whole edifice collapses with just a tiny poke of logic.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This volume opens with 'On Religion: A Dialogue' which discusses, alternately, the utility of religion and how it endangers rational thought. Although the points made on either side will be largely familiar to most readers, this constitutes the best portion of the book and is still an entertaining read that occasionally gives pause for thought with relevance to the modern world :- "Even if a real true philosophy had taken the place of religion, nine-tenths of mankind at the very least would recei This volume opens with 'On Religion: A Dialogue' which discusses, alternately, the utility of religion and how it endangers rational thought. Although the points made on either side will be largely familiar to most readers, this constitutes the best portion of the book and is still an entertaining read that occasionally gives pause for thought with relevance to the modern world :- "Even if a real true philosophy had taken the place of religion, nine-tenths of mankind at the very least would receive it on authority, so that it too would be a matter of belief." The latter essays 'On Ethics', 'On Psychology', 'On Religion' and 'On Various Subjects' are each split into ordinally sub-headed chunks. The main insight that can be drawn from reading these is, unfortunately, not a philosophical one but only that Schopenhauer was wildly misanthropic and illiberal, and that he held himself in far greater esteem than he did the hoi-polloi. There are many attempts made to coin aphorisms throughout, so much so that I began to suspect that Schopenhauer's aims lay more in crafting them and having them be quoted than it did in properly and clearly communicating his ideas. It is unfortunate that though several of these would-be aphorisms hit the mark (and the best of them has already been quoted in a review by Jason Mills), the majority lack that necessary ring of truth. I think that Schoenhauer's distaste for the masses and his desire for validation from his peers (the two principles pervading this volume) is well borne-out by what he states in 'On Various Subjects' 5B: "The great misfortune for intellectual merit is that it has to wait until the good is praised by those who produce only the bad; indeed, the misfortune already lies in the general fact that it has to receive its crown from the hands of human judgement, a quality of which most people possess about as much as a castrate possesses of the power to beget children."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Frank Aaskov

    It was an okay read. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with the book, as I thought it would deliver a short and precise argument against religion, which it does the first 10 pages, but sadly fails to do for the remaining 90+ pages. Often it just discussed the philosophy of enlightenment, instead of the absurdity and horrors of religions. Unless you have read extensively on the topic and need a new/other angle, then I would not recommend that you read this book. Instead, start with Dawkins' It was an okay read. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with the book, as I thought it would deliver a short and precise argument against religion, which it does the first 10 pages, but sadly fails to do for the remaining 90+ pages. Often it just discussed the philosophy of enlightenment, instead of the absurdity and horrors of religions. Unless you have read extensively on the topic and need a new/other angle, then I would not recommend that you read this book. Instead, start with Dawkins' The God Delusion or Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, as they are far better reads and are more precise in their argumentation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roisin

    Small but mighty! Often amusing and enlightening, this is a fabulous series of short writings against religion and examines ethics too. Schopenhauer uses the words, ideas and beliefs of Kant, Herodotus, Ancient Greece, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, among others to make short and to the point comments about religious ideas and concepts that don't make sense or have been borrowed, or influenced by other religions. In some of the writings further on he considers belief and what leads in Small but mighty! Often amusing and enlightening, this is a fabulous series of short writings against religion and examines ethics too. Schopenhauer uses the words, ideas and beliefs of Kant, Herodotus, Ancient Greece, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, among others to make short and to the point comments about religious ideas and concepts that don't make sense or have been borrowed, or influenced by other religions. In some of the writings further on he considers belief and what leads individuals to trust in such ideas, the devil, sin, hypocrisy, human behaviour using the treatment of slaves in American slave owning states for example. Well thought, well argued. Wonderful stuff!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Not really a page-turner, or even very compelling. Not much to disagree with, however. Of interest to students of the Enlightenment, or those who have suffered (even if only psychologically), at the hands of dogmatic religions and their adherents. I'm interested in philosophy, but often, works by philosophers, such as this, are merely the collections of their random, unedited, and unstructured thoughts. Not really a page-turner, or even very compelling. Not much to disagree with, however. Of interest to students of the Enlightenment, or those who have suffered (even if only psychologically), at the hands of dogmatic religions and their adherents. I'm interested in philosophy, but often, works by philosophers, such as this, are merely the collections of their random, unedited, and unstructured thoughts.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doug Newdick

    This short collection of Schopenhauer's writings focusses on religion, but in a way that may be unfamiliar. Schopenhauer argues that religion is an allegory that cannot reveal it is an allegory. That somehow it uses falsehood to tell greater truths. He seems ambivalent towards religion, especially Christianity. Alternatively he defends it and condemns it. He appears to be too much a creature of his time to understand the full implications of his reasoning. This short collection of Schopenhauer's writings focusses on religion, but in a way that may be unfamiliar. Schopenhauer argues that religion is an allegory that cannot reveal it is an allegory. That somehow it uses falsehood to tell greater truths. He seems ambivalent towards religion, especially Christianity. Alternatively he defends it and condemns it. He appears to be too much a creature of his time to understand the full implications of his reasoning.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    Some good thoughts from a man who learned from the ancients (and was an early student of Buddhism and Indian religions) but thought for himself. Random example, from a dialogue on religion - and I pick this one just because it's short, while some of his aphorisms are a little wordy: "in the eyes of the friend of truth every fraud, however pious, is still a fraud. A pack of lies would be a strange means of inducing virtue." Recommended. Some good thoughts from a man who learned from the ancients (and was an early student of Buddhism and Indian religions) but thought for himself. Random example, from a dialogue on religion - and I pick this one just because it's short, while some of his aphorisms are a little wordy: "in the eyes of the friend of truth every fraud, however pious, is still a fraud. A pack of lies would be a strange means of inducing virtue." Recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    the funniest, and most negative, philosopher. makes nietzsche look like the dalai lama. he says reading alot makes one lose the capacity to think - "this is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid" the funniest, and most negative, philosopher. makes nietzsche look like the dalai lama. he says reading alot makes one lose the capacity to think - "this is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid"

  15. 5 out of 5

    George Neville-Neil

    If you not read these arguments in other forms then this is an amusing little book. Otherwise it's only OK. If you not read these arguments in other forms then this is an amusing little book. Otherwise it's only OK.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Femi

    One hundred six pages of mental torture. I was not prepared for this. An extreme discussion on religion, ethics, psychology, and philosophy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Khalifa Said

    Simple and straight to the point, I consider this book to be philosophy simplified.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anders

    “Now if, having taken stock of human wickedness as we have just done, you feel a sense of horror at it, you should straightaway turn your eyes to the misery of human existence. (And if you are shocked at the misery you should turn your eyes to its wickedness.) Then you will see that they balance one another, you will become aware of the existence of an eternal justice, that the world itself is its own universal Last Judgement, and you will begin to understand why everything that lives must atone “Now if, having taken stock of human wickedness as we have just done, you feel a sense of horror at it, you should straightaway turn your eyes to the misery of human existence. (And if you are shocked at the misery you should turn your eyes to its wickedness.) Then you will see that they balance one another, you will become aware of the existence of an eternal justice, that the world itself is its own universal Last Judgement, and you will begin to understand why everything that lives must atone for its existence, first by living and then by dying.” Ah good ol' Schopenhauer. A friend of mine kept bringing him up because he was interested in articulating a coherent version of metaphysical pessimism and then I ran across this edition, a part of the Penguin great ideas series which I love for their covers so of course I bought it. This cover in particular is a Dürer which makes it even better. So what about Schopenhauer? Well the first part is a dialogue on religion. Very tongue in cheek. The guy who argues against religion is called truth-lover. And the basic point is that religion is only ever allegorically true but that really just means its either trivial or deceptive so there you have it. The rest of the stuff is observations, some interesting, others perplexingly logical. I've included a few for your amusement. I will say the pessimism is interesting. Maybe not compelling, but interesting in its own way. The idea of necessity he brings up in the second quote below is compelling in its connection with what we deserve. I'm not so sure about this notion of deserving and whether we know what we deserve. But maybe suffering does indicate to us something of what we deserve. Sometimes when philosophy borders too much on aphorism its hard to really delve into it. Or maybe I'm just being lazy. The third quote below made me think maybe more pointedly about how suffering conditions people to see their lives. Happiness, unhappiness. Well anyway, I didn't plan on saying a whole lot in this review and I'm tired tonight besides so I'll just say this is a fast read if at times a little obtuse and at others too Schopenhauer. I will say that his very very brief analysis of Greek mythology is absolute fucking horeshit. So there's that. Anyway, happy reading! “Philalethes: Suppose a public proclamation were suddenly made at this moment repealing all laws relating to crime: I fancy neither you nor I would have the courage even to go home alone under the protection of religious motives. If, on the other hand, all religions were in the same way declared untrue, we should go on living as before under the protection of the law alone without any special precautions.” “The fundamental reason this is so[=empirical facts of a person's life are predetermined] is that the mode in which the metaphysical free act referred to enters the knowing consciousness is that of perception, the form of which is space and time; through the agency of space and time the unity and indivisibility of this act from then on appears drawn out into a series of states and occurrences which take place in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason in its four forms, this being precisely what is meant by necessity. The outcome however is a moral one, namely this, that by what we do we know what we are, just as by what we suffer we know what we deserve.” “The reason the sudden announcement of a great piece of good fortune can easily prove fatal is that happiness and unhappiness is no more than the ratio between what we demand and what we receive, so that we are not sensible of the goods we possess or are quite certain of possessing as such; because all enjoyment is really only negative, only has the effect of removing a pain, while pain or evil, on the other hand, is the actual positive element and is felt directly. With possession, or the certain prospect of it, our demands straightway increase and this increases our capacity for further possessions and wider prospects. If, on the contrary, constant misfortune has contracted our spirit and reduced our demands to a minimum, we lack the capacity to receive a sudden piece of good fortune; for since it meets with no existing demands which neutralize it, it produces an apparently positive effect and thus acts with its full force: so that it can burst the spirit asunder, i.e. prove fatal.”

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Percy

    I have second-hand knowledge of Schopenhauer's "the will to live is consecrated in the act of procreation" thesis, and while it makes a brief appearance, much of this collection is focused on religion. The "On Various Subjects" section reads a little like La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, and makes some interesting assertions about genius (it is OK to make mistakes, just your masterpiece ought to be inimitable); on the farcical nature of higher education (perception must precede concept, not the other I have second-hand knowledge of Schopenhauer's "the will to live is consecrated in the act of procreation" thesis, and while it makes a brief appearance, much of this collection is focused on religion. The "On Various Subjects" section reads a little like La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, and makes some interesting assertions about genius (it is OK to make mistakes, just your masterpiece ought to be inimitable); on the farcical nature of higher education (perception must precede concept, not the other way around); an early statement concerning animal rights (p. 77); and that great works have to wait until enough idiots agree that it is great - such insight is possessed by the majority in the same way that a "castrate possesses of the power to beget children". Now to religion. Some of my favourites: All religion is antagonistic towards culture; The absurdities of dogma... arise from the need to link together two heterogeneous doctrines as those of the Old and the New Testaments; Hatred and contempt are decidedly antagonistic to one another and mutually exclusive (p. 52); The more prudent rulers enter into an alliance with [priests]; and Faith and knowledge are totally different. The latter explains the dialogue On Religion, which, although I understand Schopenhauer was atheistic, appeared on the surface to be bombastic, but might otherwise resonate with court judges who have been confronted with decisions concerning the existence of God, and have deferred on the grounds that, in effect, "faith and knowledge" are different. Nevertheless, there is in this work the attitude (of The Enlightenment) that rational individuals cannot possibly believe in God. I have heard this sentiment expressed by senior academics, in addition to the buffoons who drool over the Facebook echo-chamber "I F***ing Love Science" which confirms empirically that God does not exist because it has 25 million "likes" (see quote above about "castrates"). That said, there is little to surprise the modern reader, but Schopenhauer was one of the few Western students of India and Buddhism, and his insights demonstrate that the glory days Conservatives dream about did not really exist in the nineteenth century, the counterfactuals were simply hidden from majority view. But to disclose the real gem in this work, I found another piece to the riddle of Benjamin Franklin. One of his "virtues" is "moderation". This is not a riddle in itself, but when "temperance" is also one of the virtues, what is so special about moderation that it should stand alone? Schopenhauer explains in the essay On Ethics by setting out some of the differences between Eastern and Western virtues and vices. For Schopenhauer, "virtues are qualities of will", which means that cowardice cannot be a vice if we have the "will to live"! The Platonic virtues closely align with Franklin's,one of which Cicero translated as temperantia, which is"in English moderation". Schopenhauer states:[Moderation] is a very vague and ambiguous expression under which many different things can be subsumed, such as prudence, sobriety, keeping one's head.Prudence. Cautious. To Franklin, "avoiding extremes". "Sobriety", therefore, belongs with "temperance". But "prudence" and "keeping one's head", then, belong to moderation. Whether "keeping one's head" is the same thing as to "forbear resenting injuries so much as one is able" remains to be seen, but I daresay Schopenhauer and Franklin were conversant in the literature on virtues, and eventually I will solve the riddle. But what of Schopenhauer? Religion is something we believe because we are indoctrinated as children, but as humanity "grows up", religion must inevitably die because it doesn't make sense (irrational). Yet the final paragraph tells the story of adolescents throwing out the baby with the bathwater - Aesop's fables are too childish because everybody knows foxes, wolves, and ravens can't talk! Thus, Schopenhauer ends with a real noodle-baker (about the boy who was too grown up to read Aesop):Who cannot see in this hopeful lad the future enlightened Rationalist?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    It's amazing how similar Schopenhauer's arguments in favor and against religion are to the arguments one hears today. The first section of the book, a long dialogue between two educated individuals, an atheist and a theist, could easily be misconstrued for a conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson. Unfortunately Schopenhauer's biases make this collection somewhat unbearable. He is arrogant, makes scoping claims, and bases much of his information on false premises. I was particularly It's amazing how similar Schopenhauer's arguments in favor and against religion are to the arguments one hears today. The first section of the book, a long dialogue between two educated individuals, an atheist and a theist, could easily be misconstrued for a conversation between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson. Unfortunately Schopenhauer's biases make this collection somewhat unbearable. He is arrogant, makes scoping claims, and bases much of his information on false premises. I was particularly turned off by his fetishization of eastern religions (Buddhism in particular) and his poorly informed opinions on Judaism and Zoroastrianism. There is no doubt, however, that his arguments are (at least for the 19th century) sound. While I would disagree with him on a lot of things, I don't think I would on everything - it was an interesting read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Felix Kirkby

    I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to Schopenhauer, as many of the concepts he develops within it are picked up from the rest of his oeuvre. Nevertheless, it's succinct and eminently readable, and (with the exception of Philalethes's bizarre logical leap to advocating against religious freedom) provides a compelling critique of the architecture of Christian faith. Although some of the aphorisms presented later seem out-of-place or disjointed, and one or two come across more as attempts I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to Schopenhauer, as many of the concepts he develops within it are picked up from the rest of his oeuvre. Nevertheless, it's succinct and eminently readable, and (with the exception of Philalethes's bizarre logical leap to advocating against religious freedom) provides a compelling critique of the architecture of Christian faith. Although some of the aphorisms presented later seem out-of-place or disjointed, and one or two come across more as attempts to coin a phrase than legitimate philosophical arguments, they are broadly viable in themselves and serve as interesting insights into the minutiae of Schopenhauer's philosophy. All in all, a solid book - and definitely one worth a second read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Makhloufian

    As my first read of Schopenhauer, I wasn't braced for the true pessimist that he is. Nor did I expect the air of superiority with which he discusses ideas. This was a great short read, but there are many abrupt thoughts that require further reading elsewhere. Consider it an intro to the way he thinks & argues. The first section, "On Religion: A Dialogue", was definitely the most well constructed & enjoyable portion of this volume. I'll leave this here. Found on page 94: "The great misfortune for i As my first read of Schopenhauer, I wasn't braced for the true pessimist that he is. Nor did I expect the air of superiority with which he discusses ideas. This was a great short read, but there are many abrupt thoughts that require further reading elsewhere. Consider it an intro to the way he thinks & argues. The first section, "On Religion: A Dialogue", was definitely the most well constructed & enjoyable portion of this volume. I'll leave this here. Found on page 94: "The great misfortune for intellectual merit is that it has to wait until the good is praised by those who produce only the bad"..."..that it has to receive its crown from the hands of human judgement"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Fancutt

    The titular essay was worth reading the book for, but that is all I would recommend from this slapdash collection of Schopenhauer musings. If there is one criticism of this series, it is the absence of context and background for the essays included, which leave the reader rather confused than enlightened. I doubt I'll be tackling Schopenhauer elsewhere, so I'm glad this was around, but no wow. One thing that did impress itself on me was the directness with which he tackled (was able to tackle) h The titular essay was worth reading the book for, but that is all I would recommend from this slapdash collection of Schopenhauer musings. If there is one criticism of this series, it is the absence of context and background for the essays included, which leave the reader rather confused than enlightened. I doubt I'll be tackling Schopenhauer elsewhere, so I'm glad this was around, but no wow. One thing that did impress itself on me was the directness with which he tackled (was able to tackle) his subject matter. He wrote incredibly directly regarding religion, and I was surprised that no circumlocution was necessary even in the early 18thC. Of course I couldn't even get that timeframe from this text.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neil Fix

    This was pretty dull to be honest. In both senses of the word: it was sometimes boring, and also the ideas weren’t great. What was worse was his arguments; they were few. He made quite a lot of claims, but rarely showed how he got there. Plus there were ideas that were just wrong, particularly with his specific ideas about religions. For instance, he puts forward an interpretation that Zeus could represent matter; which makes no sense, as his mother was Gaia, Earth. He doesn’t know the difference This was pretty dull to be honest. In both senses of the word: it was sometimes boring, and also the ideas weren’t great. What was worse was his arguments; they were few. He made quite a lot of claims, but rarely showed how he got there. Plus there were ideas that were just wrong, particularly with his specific ideas about religions. For instance, he puts forward an interpretation that Zeus could represent matter; which makes no sense, as his mother was Gaia, Earth. He doesn’t know the difference between pantheism and panentheism, though that may be a matter of usage. There are bright spots in the book, but overall it’s not great.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Edmond

    Arthur Schopenhauer gives arguments against religion that has made it into the public square. If one reads, one is not controlled by others, one is now in control. There is nothing new under the sun, all knowledge or experiences are in a library. This book gives a good overview of religion since the enlightenment. One can see Kant’s epistemology in Schopenhauer’s argument that religion is for children, humanity has grown up, we are beyond religion telling us what to do since we have our reason. Arthur Schopenhauer gives arguments against religion that has made it into the public square. If one reads, one is not controlled by others, one is now in control. There is nothing new under the sun, all knowledge or experiences are in a library. This book gives a good overview of religion since the enlightenment. One can see Kant’s epistemology in Schopenhauer’s argument that religion is for children, humanity has grown up, we are beyond religion telling us what to do since we have our reason. This is rationalism, truth becomes what one wants to be true. One can see the process of thought from Schopenhauer to the modern philosophers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jake Collingwood

    A broad and often poorly connected collection of writings from Arthur Schopenhauer, a man who seems to have been born old and moody. Why exactly it was considered necessary to include Schopenhauer's thoughts on emotions, predetermination and analysis of others' faces in the same book is frankly beyond me. The end result is that while I'm interested in reading more of some of his ideas, some others interest me not at all. A broad and often poorly connected collection of writings from Arthur Schopenhauer, a man who seems to have been born old and moody. Why exactly it was considered necessary to include Schopenhauer's thoughts on emotions, predetermination and analysis of others' faces in the same book is frankly beyond me. The end result is that while I'm interested in reading more of some of his ideas, some others interest me not at all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kris Demey

    Sometimes cryptic, sometimes hopelessly dated but always original and thought-provoking. There’s more to Schopenhauer than the tired clichés. Read this if you want a gentler, less bullying version of God Is Not Great. At least Schopenhauer doesn’t attack something you can’t attack and focuses his slings and arrows on organised religion instead of a god.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    Some essays are great, some are meh.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michał

    Arthur Schopenhauer's thoughts on religion can be described as "orientophylic". A bit too much words for the topic. It reminds me of Nietzche's "Antichrist". Arthur Schopenhauer's thoughts on religion can be described as "orientophylic". A bit too much words for the topic. It reminds me of Nietzche's "Antichrist".

  30. 4 out of 5

    Helen Innes

    Wow! This essay provides new and influential thinking that challenges man's relationship with religion. A must read for anyone interested in our philosophical relationship with a greater power. Wow! This essay provides new and influential thinking that challenges man's relationship with religion. A must read for anyone interested in our philosophical relationship with a greater power.

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