Volume 49, Issue 3, Fall 2019
Boredom and Wonder in the Work of Arthur Schopenhauer
This article examines Arthur Schopenhauer’s theory of boredom. In traditional interpretations of this theory, boredom is understood to be a form of suffering and a key component in Schopenhauer’s argument for the claim that all life is suffering. While such interpretations are correct, I argue that they only capture a single feature of the experience that Schopenhauer describes. Schopenhauer also understands boredom to occasion a unique insight into the nature of reality, and boredom should thereby additionally be thought of as an epistemically significant emotion. To elucidate this epistemic quality, I interpret Schopenhauer’s concept of boredom as revealing the miserable condition of the world, where such revelation compels one to wonder about the nature of this condition, thereby founding a philosophical attitude. Through an evaluation of Schopenhauer’s conceptions of boredom and wonder, I demonstrate that Schopenhauer ultimately conceives boredom as crucial for the development of a philosophical attitude toward existence.