European Journal of Philosophy 29 (1):120-136 (2021)

Byron Simmons
Syracuse University (PhD)
Pessimism is, roughly, the view that life is not worth living. In chapter 46 of the second volume of The World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer provides an oft-neglected argument for this view. The argument is that a life is worth living only if it does not contain any uncompensated evils; but since all our lives happen to contain such evils, none of them are worth living. The now standard interpretation of this argument (endorsed by Kuno Fischer and Christopher Janaway) proceeds from the claim that the value—or rather valuelessness—of life’s goods makes compensation impossible. But this interpretation is neither philosophically attractive nor faithful to the text. In this paper, I develop and defend an alternative interpretation (suggested by Wilhelm Windelband and Mark Migotti) according to which it is instead the actual temporal arrangement of life’s goods and evils that makes compensation impossible.
Keywords Schopenhauer  pessimism  anti-natalism  compensation  well-being
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/ejop.12561
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Schopenhauer, Pessimism and Suicide.Dennis Vanden Auweele - 2014 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 76 (2):307-330.
Schopenhauer on Religious Pessimism.Dennis Vanden Auweele - 2015 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 78 (1):53-71.
Chronic Pain, Compensation and Clinical Knowledge.George Mendelson - 1991 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 12 (3).
Schopenhauer on Action and the Will.D. W. Hamlyn - 1982 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 13:127-140.
Schopenhauer on Action and the Will: D. W. Hamlyn.D. W. Hamlyn - 1982 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 13:127-140.
Revaluing Schopenhauer's Pessimism.Yu-Chang Yang - 2010 - Modern Philosophy 2:96-102 + 115.


Added to PP index

Total views
228 ( #49,302 of 2,507,867 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
95 ( #7,790 of 2,507,867 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes