Essay about Life is Suffering

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In Studies in Pessimism, Schopenhauer argues that suffering is intrinsic to human existence; that by nature we will experience suffering regardless of how we live our lives. Similar to Epictetus’ view, Schopenhauer states that the only way to minimize the amount of suffering one feels is by living a life of pure reason. This paper will examine both Schopenhauer’s characterization of human suffering and his recommendations for how to best live our lives. It will then argue that while his characterizations are generally sound, his recommendations are not because they alienate us from our emotions. Schopenhauer states that human life is full of suffering because we lead desire driven lives. We want things that unintentionally make us …show more content…
Man can never be free of suffering because his very nature is the cause of his suffering. A life of emotions and worldly desires, led by reason alone would be free of suffering. Complete freedom from these concepts however is only possible through non-existence making it impossible to achieve while alive. Schopenhauer did not devote the majority of his work convincing one to end their life but instead promoted methods to reduce suffering. His recommendations were generally stoic in nature, convincing one to abandon emotion and “give play to the intellect alone” (11). This would detach one from the emotional element of existence both in terms of material desires and relationships. He then furthers this recommendation by suggesting that one should “turn tum his back upon the world” and “regard this world as a penitentiary, a sort of penal colony” (5). One should cast off emotion as much as possible, including hope because suffering will ultimately follow. To stop looking upon life’s disappointments “great and small, its sufferings, its worries, its misery, as anything unusual or irregular” is to alleviate suffering in one’s lifetime (5). Schopenhauer’s characterization of the world appears to be sound, and for the most part I agree with it. Experience has shown that the world is full of
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