Arthur Schopenhauer (; German: [ˈaʁtʊʁ ˈʃoːpn̩haʊ̯ɐ] (listen); 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation (expanded in 1844), wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Building on the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that rejected the contemporaneous ideas of German idealism. He was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Eastern philosophy, such as asceticism and the notion of the world-as-appearance. His work has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism.Though his work failed to garner substantial attention during his lifetime, Schopenhauer has had a posthumous impact across various disciplines, including philosophy, literature, and science. His writing on aesthetics, morality, and psychology have influenced many thinkers and artists. Those who have cited his influence include philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Anthony Ludovici, scientists Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein, psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and writers such as Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, Machado de Assis, Jorge Luis Borges, and Samuel Beckett.
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In 1941 Sergeant James Allen Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross for climbing out onto the wing of his Wellington bomber at thirteen thousand feet to extinguish a fire in the starboard engine. Secured only by a rope around his waist, he smothered the fire and returned along the wing to the aircraft's cabin. Winston Churchill, an admirer of swashbuckling exploits, summoned the shy New Zealander to 10 Downing Street. Struck dumb with awe in Churchill's presence, Ward was unable to answer the prime minister's questions. Churchill surveyed the unhappy hero with some compassion. "You must feel very humble and awkward in my presence," he said.
"Yes, sir," managed Ward.
"Then you can imagine how humble and awkward I feel in yours," said Churchill.
You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. I don't say this as a condemnation–I need regular reminders to stop feeling sorry for myself too. I'm going to address you bluntly, but it's a directness that rises from my compassion for you, not my judgement of you. Nobody's going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you're rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard. No matter what unjust, sad, sucky things have befallen you. Self-pity is a dead-end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It's up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.
The only reason that we don't open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don't feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else's eyes.