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Animal Rights History Timeline » [1785-1837] Romantic Age » Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

The World as Will and Idea

Assertion and Denial of the Will to Live


[1819 [1818]] Arthur Schopenhauer, "Assertion and Denial of the Will to Live," in vol. 1 of The World As Will and Idea [Google Books] trans. by R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp (London, 1906).

What is here referred to is the myth of the transmigration of souls. It teaches that all sufferings which in life one inflicts upon other beings must be expiated in a subsequent life in this world, through precisely the same sufferings; some time in endless time, be born as the same kind of brute and suffer the same death. … As a reward, on the other hand, it promises re-birth in better, noble forms, as Brahmans, wise men, or saints. The highest reward, which awaits the noblest deeds…that they shall never be born again…or, as the Buddhists express it…"Thou shalt attain to Nirvana.…Never has a myth entered, and never will one enter, more closely into the philosophical truth which is attainable to so few than this primitive doctrine of the noblest and most ancient nation.…Therefore Pythagoras and Plato have seized with admiration on that ne plus ultra of mythical representation, received it from India or Egypt, honoured it, made use of it, and, we know not how far, even believed it. We, on the contrary, now send the Brahmans English clergymen and evangelical linen-weavers to set them right out of sympathy, and to show them that they are created out of nothing, and ought thankfully to rejoice in the fact. But it is just the same as if we fired a bullet against a cliff. In India our religions will never take root. The ancient wisdom of the human race will not be displaced by what happened in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian philosophy streams back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and thought. (459)

The suffering which he sees in others touches him almost as closely as his own. He therefore tries to strike a balance between them, denies himself pleasures, practices renunciation, in order to mitigate the suffering of others. He sees that the distinction between himself and others, which to the bad man is so great a gulf, only belongs to a fleeting and illusive phenomenon. He recognizes directly and without reasoning that the in-itself of his own manifestation is also that of others, the will to live, which constitutes the inner nature of everything and lives in all; indeed, that this applies also to the brutes and the whole of nature, and therefore he will not cause suffering even to a brute. (481)

In my opinion, that right [of the use man may make of the powers of a brute without a wrong] does not extend to vivisection, particularly of the higher animals. (481)

Animal Rights History Timeline: Romantic Age [1785-1837]
Romanticism; Romantic Poets


Animal Rights History-Timeline

[1778-1860] Arthur Schopenhauer

[1819 [1818]] World as Will and Idea
First Book, The World as Idea:
Idea Subordinated to the Principle of Sufficient Reason: The Object of Experience and Science
Fourth Book, The World as Will: Assertion and Denial of Will to Live
Appendix: Criticism of the Kantian Philosophy
Supplements to the First Book: The Doctrine of the Abstract Idea, or Of Thinking
5. On the Irrational Intellect
8. On the Theory of the Ludicrous
17. On Man's Need of Metaphysics
Supplements to the Second Book:
20. Objectification of the Will in the Animal Organism
Supplements to the Fourth Book
41. On Death and Its Relation to the Indestructibility of Our True Nature
47. On the Doctrine of the Denial of the Will to Live
50. Epiphilosophy
[1840] On the Basis of Morality
II. Critique of Kant's Basis of Ethics
II. The Founding of Ethics
[1851] Parerga and Paralipomena, A Collection of Philosophical Essays
Psychological Observations
The Christian System
On the Sufferings of the World
On Noise
On Human Nature



The Bookworm, Carl Spitzweb
The Bookworm, Carl Spitzweg


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