[Arthur Schopenhauer]

Title: Arthur Schopenhauer

Author: Jules Lunteschütz

Year: 1855


Arthur Schopenhauer was born on 22 February 1788 in Danzig, Prussia (nowdays Gdańsk, Poland), one of the greatest philosophers ever lived.He was the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, both descendants of wealthy German families. In 1805, Arthur’s father ended his life by committing suicide. From then on, his mother took over his upbringing, and in 1807, Arthur was enrolled in a gymnasium in Gotha. 

 In 1809, Arthur was accepted at the University of Göttingen, where he pursued a degree in medicine. He also studied philosophy under the direction of G.E. Schulze, who regularly assigned him philosophical readings, his interests were especially peaked by the works of Plato and Immanuel Kant, and they had a significant influence in shaping his ideologies.

In 1813, Schopenhauer received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Jena.

In 1816, Schopenhauer published his most remarkable and highly applauded work, titled ”The World as Will and Representation”, which has influenced economic thought for centuries.

In March 1820, after a lengthy first tour of Italy and a triumphant dispute with Hegel, he qualified to lecture at the University of Berlin. Though he remained a member of the university for 24 semesters, only his first lecture was actually held; for he had scheduled (and continued to schedule) his lectures at the same hour when Hegel lectured to a large and ever-growing audience. Clearly, he could not successfully challenge a persistently advancing philosophy. Even his book received scant attention. For a second time Schopenhauer went on a year-long trip to Italy, and this was followed by a year of illness in Munich. In May 1825 he made one last attempt in Berlin, but in vain. He now occupied himself with secondary works, primarily translations.

 After an unsuccessful period of lectureship in Berlin prior to 1831 he settled in Frankfurt am Main, where he led a solitary life and became deeply involved in the study of Buddhist and Hindu philosophies and mysticism where he seems to have found echoes of the approach to philosophy that he was independently working on.

He published the essay ‘On the Freedom of the Will’ in which he tried to answer the academic question “Is it possible to demonstrate human free will from self-consciousness?” which was posed by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839.

He published a second edition of ”The World as Will and Representation” in 1844. The first was a virtual reprint of the original, and the second was a collection of essays expanding topics covered in the first. The important topics covered in the work were his reflections on death and his theory on sexuality.

He devoted his time to research and reading, and in 1847, he published a revised version of his early works, titled On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason”.

In 1851, he wrote an essay ‘Of Women’ in which he described the women as less reasonable and lacking the capacity to make decisions. In the essay he also referred to women as the “weaker sex”.

Though he enjoyed a robust health, but in 1860 his health began to deteriorate and he died of heart failure on 21 September 1860 while sitting at home on his couch with his cat.

Schopenhauer never married but had a relationship with Caroline Richter, an opera singer, beginning in 1821.

He believed that the actions of all human beings lacked direction and that desire is the root of all evils. According to him, pain and suffering are directly proportional to desire as it creates frustration upon the failure of attaining a particular goal or object.

He was of the opinion that desire never ends which means after achieving something the desire for a new goal creeps in. This is a cycle which continues for an indefinite period..

This great philosopher’s works and teachings inspired a number of philosophers – Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jorge Luis Borges and to some extent Sigmund Freud.

”Sistine Chapel ceiling”

Artist: Michelangelo

Dimensions: 40 m x 14 m

Art form: Fresco

Location: Sistine Chapel , Vatican

Created: 1508–1512

Period or movement: High Renaissance


The Sistine Chapel stands on the foundation of an older chapel called the Capella Magna. In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV instigated a rebuilding of the chapel, which was then named for him.

The chapel is 40.23 meters long, 13.40 meters wide, and 20.70 meters high (about 132 by 44 by 68 feet) — reputedly, the dimensions of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in A.D. 70. The chapel’s exterior is simple and unassuming, giving little hint to the splendid decoration inside.

Pope Sixtus IV commissioned celebrated painters, including Botticelli and Rosselli, to decorate the chapel. At this point, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling was painted like a simple blue sky with stars.

In 1503, a new pope, Julius II, decided to change some of the Sistine Chapel’s decoration. He commanded artist Michelangelo to do it. Michelangelo balked, because he considered himself a sculptor, not a painter, and he was hard at work sculpting the king’s tomb. But Pope Julius insisted, and Michelangelo began work on his famous frescoed ceiling in 1508. He worked for four years. It was so physically taxing that it permanently damaged his eyesight.

More than 20 years later, Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the giant fresco “The Last Judgment” behind the altar. The artist, then in his 60s, painted it from 1536 to 1541.


”Dying Achilles”

Dying Achilles (marble, Ernst Herter, 1884) at Achillion Palace, Gastouri, Corfu. Achillion Palace is a luxurious and beautiful villa in Corfu. It was built in the 1890’s as a summer palace for Elisabeth von Wiltelsbach Empress of Austria, widely known as Princess Sissy. Given her passion and admiration for the Greek mythology, the Empress decided to name the palace Achillion in honour of Achilles, and to populate the building and its surroundings with a plethora of statues representing sundry mythological and historical Greek and Roman figures. The Dying Achilles stands on the terrace in the peristyle with the Muses. It is a marble statue by German sculptor Ernst Herter, made to a commission by Elizabeth in 1884, and originally located in her palace in Vienna.

”Leonidas, the legendary King of Sparta”

Leonidas (540-480 BC), the legendary king of Sparta, and the Battle of Thermopylae is one of the most brilliant events of the ancient Greek history, a great act of courage and self-sacrifice. This man and the battle itself has inspired since then many artists, poets and film-makers that hymn the spirit of him and his Spartans.

Little is known about the life of Leonidas before the Battle of Thermopylae. Historians believe that he was born around 540 BC and the he was son of King Anaxandrias II of Sparta, a descendant of Hercules, according to the myth. Leonidas was married to Gorgo and had a son. He must have succeeded his half-brother to the throne at around 488 BC, till his death in 480 BC. His name meant either the son of a lion or like a lion.

In summer of 480 BC, Xerxes, the king of Persia, was attacking Greece with a big and well-equiped army. As he had already conquered northern Greece and he was coming to the south, the Greeks decided to unite and confront him in Thermopylae, a narrow passage in central Greece. Leonidas and his army, 300 soldiers, went off to Thermopylae to join the other Greek armies. The Greeks altogether were about 4,000 soldiers, while the Persian army consisted of 80,000 soldiers.

Xerxes waited for 4 days before he attacked, believing that the Greeks would surrender. When Xerxes sent his heralds to the Greeks, asking for their weapons, as a sign of submission, Leonidas said the historical phrase Come and get them!, declaring the beginning of the battle.

The first days, the Greeks were resisting, until a local man, Ephialtes, revealed to the Persians a secret passage to circle the Greeks and win the battle. Seeing that the Persian army were about to circle them, Leonidas asked the other Greeks to leave the battlefield. He proposed that he and his army would stay back to cover their escape, while the other Greeks would leave to protect the rest of Greece from a future Persian invasion.

Therefore, Leonidas with his 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians, who refused to leave, stayed back to fight the huge Persian army. They were all killed in the battlefield, in this deathtrap, protecting theie homeland and their values. After all, it was disgraceful for a Spartan to return to Sparta beaten in war. A Spartan would either return from war as a winner, or he should not return at all.

Today, a modern monument lies on the site of the battle in Thermopylae to remind of this courageous action, while the tomb of this legendary king lies in his homeland, Sparta.


”Brandenburg Gate”’

For more than 200 years, Brandenburg Gate has served as the national icon for an evolving German identity. In the 1730s, King Frederick William I issued orders for the Prussian capital of Berlin to be fully enclosed by a wall. Built not to defend the city, but to tax people as they traveled in and out of town, the Customs Wall was intended to reduce the power of the estates general (the clergy, wealthy merchants, and lesser nobles) by transferring their capital to the crown who spent it on a large professional army to expand the kingdom.

Fifty years later, King Frederick William II decided that the Customs Wall, while useful, was not an aesthetically pleasing way to enter the city. He wanted a much grander entrance befitting royalty but that would also serve to impress and intimidate visitors. Of the eighteen small gates originally set into the wall, only one led to the royal palace on the outskirts of Berlin and to the city of Brandenburg beyond. It was at this site that the monument known today as the Brandenburg Gate would be constructed.

Completed in 1791 by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans and sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow, Brandenburg Gate was a Neoclassical masterpiece that immediately became one of the most recognizable structure in Berlin. Its imagery combined representations of peace with classical allusions to famous victories, suggesting that Prussia’s peace rested on its successful military conquests under the leadership of its king.

In 1806, the city of Berlin was invaded by France. To celebrate his conquest, Napoleon used Brandenburg Gate for a triumphal procession before carrying the Gate’s bronze quadriga statue back to Paris as spoils of war. After eight years as a French satellite, Prussia rebelled against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The Prussian army was able to seize the quadriga and return it to its rightful place. To mark this new victory, the goddess statue was supplemented with an Iron Cross, a military decoration first given to Prussian soldiers who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, and the Black Eagle, the primary element of the Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia. These two additions suggest that the symbolism of Brandenburg Gate had shifted slightly, focusing less on the power of the Prussian king and more on the power of the Prussian military.

This victory over France and the increased national pride that followed was exaggerated over the course of the next century, eventually becoming a devastating nationalism that led to the rise of Adolph Hitler and his Fascist government in 1933. Hung with the red flags of the Nazi party, Brandenburg Gate became a party symbol. The Athenian iconography of the relief sculptures of the battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, representing the victory of civilized men over barbaric and nonhuman creatures, would have appealed to Nazi ideals.

Berlin was bombarded in the final days of World War II and Brandenburg Gate, the city’s symbol of victory, national pride, and the Nazi party, was a frequent target. Although it was highly damaged, the Gate survived the war and became a witness to a new era of history. Because of its central location in the city, Brandenburg Gate was used to mark the boundary between Communist East Berlin and the Federal Republic of West Berlin. Walled off from both sides with concrete and barbed wire, the Gate was not accessible to the public for nearly thirty years.

However, with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Brandenburg Gate was integrated back into the reunited country. To ensure its new place as a symbol of unification, West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl, walked through Brandenburg Gate to meet East Germany’s Prime Minister, Hans Modrow on the other side. Although the Gate today represents a united Germany, its solid presence also acts as a reminder of this once divided nation.

Today the Brandenburg Gate is a key symbol of modern Berlin and visited by tourists daily. Still dominating the Pariser Platz after more than two centuries, the Gate remains the visual embodiment of German identity.