What is life without health

Schopenhauer: Health as the key to happiness in life

"Health is not everything, but without health everything is nothing." Hardly any other aphorism by Arthur Schopenhauer is quoted as often as this one. "Nine tenths of our happiness is based on health alone," wrote the philosopher, who died 150 years ago, elsewhere. "With it everything becomes a source of enjoyment." That health is the greatest good - this insight matured during his medical studies, which preceded his philosophical studies.

Business apprenticeship, then medical school

Arthur Schopenhauer was born on February 22nd, 1788 in the Free Hanseatic City of Danzig. His father Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer came from a respected merchant dynasty, his mother Johanna was successful as a writer and, after the death of her husband, ran a literary salon in Weimar, where she also received Goethe. In 1793 the family left Danzig and moved to Hamburg. At the age of 16, Arthur, contrary to his inclinations, began an apprenticeship as a businessman, which he broke off again soon after the sudden death of his father in 1805.

When Arthur comes of age at the age of 21, he gets his share of the inheritance paid out. From now on he is wealthy and can give himself completely to his intellectual inclinations, which are at home in both the natural sciences and philosophy. He decided to move to Göttingen, where he initially enrolled as a medical student. He heard lectures on physiology from the well-known anatomist and anthropologist Johann Friedrich Blumenberg and gradually shifted his focus to philosophy. In 1811 he moved to Berlin, where he hoped for new ideas from his famous colleague Johann Gottlieb Fichte; however, disappointed by Fichte's teaching, he turned his back on the Prussian capital after only two years. At the University of Jena in 1813 he submitted his dissertation "On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason" and became a doctor of philosophy.

Schopenhauer's main work - "The world as will and imagination" - appears only six years later by F.A. Brockhaus in Leipzig. In four books he poses the question of the thing in itself that he himself - unlike his teacher Kant - identifies as will. By degrading reason and intellect and declaring the will to be the actual driving force behind man, he breaks radically with the prevailing philosophical tradition. "The main and basic driving force in humans as in animals is egoism, that is, the urge to exist and be well." The intellect as the executive organ of instinctual action - with his philosophy Schopenhauer paved the way for Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis, among other things.

Schopenhauer, however, has to wait two decades for the longed-for recognition. In 1820 he qualified as a professor at Berlin University and began teaching there. This is where the now legendary quarrel with Friedrich Hegel arises: Schopenhauer wants to provoke his adversary and starts his own lectures at the same time as Hegel's. However, the shot backfires: Instead of switching over to Schopenhauer in droves, most students remain loyal to Hegel. Annoyed, Schopenhauer gave up his teaching activity and left Berlin for an indefinite period.

It is a long way to reach the country's intellectual elite

After long stays in Munich, Bad Gastein and Dresden due to illness, he did not return to the Prussian capital until April 1825 and made another attempt to influence teaching. However, he is still not receiving the hoped-for respect. When cholera broke out in Berlin in 1831 (from which Hegel died among others), Schopenhauer fled to Frankfurt am Main, where he finally settled in 1833.

In 1840 the tide finally began to turn. More and more people recognize the true meaning of his work and praise Schopenhauer as a thinker of world historical importance. He has finally arrived where he thought he was as a young man - in the intellectual elite of his country. In 1851 he published the "Parerga und Paralipomena" with the famous "Aphorisms for Wisdom", perhaps his most popular work. Great minds make a pilgrimage to Frankfurt to pay their respects to Schopenhauer, Richard Wagner has his poem "The Ring of the Nibelung" presented to him. However, Schopenhauer only had a few years left to savor his fame. On September 9, 1860, he fell ill with pneumonia. Months earlier he had already complained of "breathing difficulties with strong palpitations when walking". On September 21, he died of his illness and was buried five days later in Frankfurt's main cemetery.

"The greatest folly is to sacrifice your health," wrote the philosopher in his "Aphorisms on Wisdom of Life", "for whatever it may be, for acquisition, for promotion, for learning, for fame, let alone for lust and fleeting enjoyment: rather should you put everything after her. "