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NOTE H.—P. 53.

THE PREVALENCE OF PESSIMISM.

It is a singular phenomenon,” says Luthardt, “that in our time, in which so much complaint is made of the decay of philosophical study and interest, a definite philosophical system has attained a popularity which is almost without precedent in earlier systems; and a philosophical work has had a success which usually falls only to the lot of the most spirited literary works, and to romances. I refer to the philosophy of Pessimism and to the work of E. von Hartmann, The Philosophy of the Unconscious.”—Die mod. Welt. p. 183.

Caro observes: “We can now understand in what sense, and how far it is true that the disease of Pessimism is a disease ‘essentially modern.’886886Martensen remarks of modern Pessimism that “a Pessimism like it, though it be far from Christian, can only be found in the Christian world, where the infinite craving of personality has been awakened.”—Christian Ethics, i. p. 178 (Eng. trans.). . . . How strange this revival of Buddhistic Pessimism, with all the apparatus of the most learned systems, in the heart of Prussia, at Berlin! That three hundred millions of Asiatics should drink in long draughts the opium of these fatal doctrines which enervate and act as a soporific on the will, is already sufficiently strange; but that a race, energetic, disciplined, so strongly constituted for knowledge and for action, at the same time so practical, a rigorous calculator, warlike and stern, certainly the opposite of a sentimental race,—that a nation formed of these robust and lively elements should give a triumphant welcome to these theories of despair divulged by Schopenhauer,—that its military optimism should accept with a sort of enthusiasm the apology for death and for annihilation,—it is this which at the first view seems inexplicable. And the success of the doctrine is not confined to the banks of the Spree. The whole of Germany has become attentive to this movement of ideas. Italy, with a great poet, had outstripped the current; France, as we shall see, has followed in a certain measure; she also, at the present hour, has her Pessimists.”—Le Pessimisme, pp. 25, 26. 401“There can be no question,” says Karl Peters, “that Schopenhauerism is for the time the dominating tendency in our fatherland. One needs only to consult Laban’s book-list to be convinced of the fact; our whole atmosphere is, so to speak, saturated with Schopenhauer’s views and ideas. . . . Hand in hand with the colossal forward development of our race in all departments goes the fact that the sorrow of earthly existence is felt to-day more keenly than ever by the masses. A decided pessimistic current goes through our time.”—Willenswelt, pp. 109, 244.

Pessimism, according to Hartmann, is the deeper mood of humanity—its permanent undertone (Selbstzer. d. Christ. p. 96).

401
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