On Thinking for Yourself (Parerga und Paralipomena: Kleine philosophische Schriften, 1851)


by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

A sardonic essay in twelve short aphoristic sections, in which Schopenhauer emphasizes the differences between scholars and thinkers.

Ultimately it is only our own ideas that we can be sure to understand, and even an unoriginal conclusion reached through one’s own reasoning is more improving than a conclusion learned from a book – akin to the difference between travelling to a country and merely reading about it. Other benefits of truly independent thinking include a natural air of authority and weightless happiness; sophism cannot imitate these. Schopenhauer seems touchingly mystified that so few people ever think about ‘the problem of existence’.

Related recommendation: Kant’s ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784)

Origin: Germany

Themes: Independent Thinking, Anti-Academia

Genres: Aphoristic, Spiritual or Philosophical Meditation

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