1

A while ago I heard the phrase like this:

A human is just an animal but unhappy because of mindfulness

It may differ cuz I heard it in other language

I remembered that it was said by Arthur Schopenhauer, but now I cannot google any source. Could you please help me to find which philosopher is the author of this quote and when, where it firstly appeared?

  • You might want to check out his "On the Suffering of the World". I don't have access to a copy, but it does say such things as "The animal lacks both anxiety and hope because its consciousness is restricted to what is clearly evident and thus to the present moment: the animal is the present incarnate." – Mary Jun 27 at 15:51
  • @Mary thanks for the reply! It sounds interesting, but it seems to be very different quote and topic... – AivanF. Jun 27 at 18:42
  • Hi, the following quote is from Schopenhauer, although a bit longer. In his The World as Will and Idea Vol I sec.55 "The causes of our pain, as of our pleasure, lie for the most part, not in the real present, but merely in abstract thoughts. It is these which are often unbearable to us—inflict torments in comparison with which all the sufferings of the animal world are very small" – Ram Tobolski Jun 29 at 20:00
  • @RamTobolski Thank you, this sounds quite similar! You can write an answer, I'll accept it. – AivanF. Jun 30 at 8:18
3

Schopenhauer refers to the correlation between human intelligence and suffering in The World as Will and Idea. The capacity for abstract thinking, he writes, is a major condition for suffering, because it inflates the suffering beyond the present moment. Suffering merely in the present moment he judges to be, by comparison, much smaller.

The causes of our pain, as of our pleasure, lie for the most part, not in the real present, but merely in abstract thoughts. It is these which are often unbearable to us—inflict torments in comparison with which all the sufferings of the animal world are very small.
(Vol. I §55)

Schopenhauer further derives from this assumption the right of human beings to use animals for labor and to kill them for food. Schopenhauer did advocate for compassion for animals, and for prevention of cruelty towards animals. This is related to the fact that the sentiment of compassion, rather than abstract principles and reason, stands in the center of Schopenhauer’s moral philosophy. Nevertheless, Schopenhauer judged that human beings have the moral right to e.g. kill animals for food, because they, as intelligent beings, are much more prone to suffering than the non rational animals.

The right of man over the life and powers of the brutes rests on the fact that, because with the growing clearness of consciousness suffering increases in like measure; the pain which the brute suffers through death or work is not so great as man would suffer by merely denying himself the flesh, or the powers of the brutes.
(ibid. §88)

As for antecedents, I am not sure about philosophers, but the general idea that intelligence and suffering are correlated, is mentioned already in the Old Testament.

For in much wisdom is much vexation; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
(Ecclesiastes 1.18)

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.