It was on this date, February 22, 1788, that the “philosopher of pessimism,” Arthur Schopenhauer, was born into a wealthy family of Danzig, on the Baltic coast. Danzig is now Gdańsk, Poland, but in Schopenhauer’s day it was part of German-speaking Prussia. His business education was cut short by the death of his father, leaving Schopenhauer with a fortune and the leisure to study philosophy. He followed Immanuel Kant to some extent, and reacted against idealism – understandable for a man who lived through his father’s suicide. Schopenhauer also followed Kant in his skepticism about finding logical proofs for the existence of God. For example, he wrote in A Few Words on Pantheism (1851), “The chief objection I have to Pantheism is that it says nothing. To call the world God is not to explain it; it is only to enrich our language with a superfluous synonym for the word world.”
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Originally published February 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
Here’s your Week in Freethought History: This is more than just a calendar of events or mini-biographies – it’s a reminder that, no matter how isolated and alone we may feel at times, we as freethinkers are neither unique nor alone in the world. Last Sunday, November 11, but in 1922, science fiction and satire […]