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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

God and Evil - Schopenhauer

The world is a place that ought not to exist; it would have been better never to have been born.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer

If you believe that, it sounds like you are what is known as a global antenatalist. This view is sometimes also known as Silenian wisdom, after the teaching of the mythical Greek sage Silenus. It’s most famously associated with the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).

Nevertheless, Schopenhauer thinks that life can contain some valuable experiences, specifically those that help you to escape from its drudgery, such as aesthetic experiences of art and beauty or moral experiences of selfless compassion or saintly self-denial. So the world is truly awful, according to Schopenhauer, but there are ways of finding relief.


To learn more about this topic, you might like to read Susan Neiman’s Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, or the online Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy entry on ‘The Problem of Evil’. 
At Southampton, you can learn about the problem of evil as well as the nature of God, faith and belief as part of the first-year module Faith and Reason. You can also learn more about famous philosophers interested in questions of evil, suffering, and religion on modules such as Existentialism and its Origins, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard. Southampton lecturers with expertise in these topics include Dr. Genia Schönbaumsfeld, Prof. Chris Janaway, Prof. Aaron Ridley, Dr. Alex Gregory, and Dr. David Woods.


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