First published in 1851, “The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims” is a collection of essays by famed German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. He is perhaps best known for his 1818 work “The World as Will and Representation” and developed an enduring reputation for his philosophical pessimism, in contrast to the idealism of Immanuel Kant. Much of Schopenhauer’s work is a reaction to post-Kant German romanticism. In “The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims”, two of Schopenhauer’s well-known essays are brought together and explore the thoughts behind his more realistic and pessimistic worldview. He rejects the usual goals in life of money, fame, pride, social position, and material and physical pleasures in favor of development of one’s inner mind and a strong and healthy body. Schopenhauer was one of the first Western philosophers to embrace Eastern and Buddhist thought and his preference for a more meditative and ascetic life is evident in these essays. While Schopenhauer is well-known for his critical and pessimistic philosophy, his writing style is warm, entertaining, and charming, while at the same time being full of profound thought and substance. “The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims” remains an engaging and thoughtful discourse on life and happiness.
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