Schopenhauer vs Nietzsche: The meaning of suffering

The answer depends on how you respond to tragedy

We know that every life contains a good deal of suffering. However, what counts is how we respond to it. Schopenhauer recommends a limiting of desire and resignation from life. While Nietzsche recommends an artistic response to the tragedy of life and an embracing of the suffering it entails. The best response, really, might be to laugh, writes Joshua Foa Dienstag.


“If there are happy people on this earth,” wrote E.M. Cioran, “why don’t they come out and shout with joy, proclaim their happiness in the streets? Why so much discretion and restraint?”

Some people have easier, more privileged lives than others, but all human lives contain suffering and some contain a great deal of it. Centuries of technological progress, although relieving some sources of extreme distress, have on the whole not made humans much happier, as numerous studies confirm. What explains the persistence of suffering and what attitude should we take toward it?

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Nithesh B 24 February 2024

@Jill I think its more about the way we respond to the suffering in our lives, while Schopenhauer's recommendation is limiting of our desires, Nietzsche takes a method that embraces life more. At least that's my understanding.

Jill 21 May 2021

This article seems biased towards Neitzsche - I wonder if they are really talking about the same thing? Is Schopenhauer's suffering more deeply existential? Whereas Nietzsche more concerned with values at odds with the imperfect world around us?