Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Minimalist Living

Isn’t is interesting where you may find inspiration for your thoughts?

While driving yesterday I was listening to the excellent CBC radio program IDEAS. This particular episode was on the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His life and writings. It was very interesting.

During the course of the discussion another German philosopher was mentioned who greatly influenced Nietzsche; Arthur Schopenhauer.

One of the main beliefs of Schopenhauer was that the human existence is built on continual dissatisfaction. We are either dissatisfied with our life as it is now, thus we desire things which may bring about a short lived reprieve, but we will be dissatisfied again. It is a cycle that is ongoing.

So how does any of this align with minimalist living?

Was Schopenhauer Onto Something?

It was seem that a great lot of us do indeed experience a certain level of dissatisfaction with our lives. We are always searching for more. More love, more acceptance, and indeed more material possessions.

Could it be that we are trying to fill a void within ourselves?

I also cannot help but now think that all wants and desires for material possessions are complete fabrications within our own mind. They are made up. They do not exist.

How can this be?

Well we have become a society that put much more value on possessions than on the well being of our own health or on the health and well being of others.

Marketers bombard us constantly with images and thoughts that our lives are lacking unless we have more.

How many people have perfectly good kitchens and bathrooms but are compelled to rip it all out and update their surroundings.

I cannot help but wonder what people of a few hundred years ago wanted for.

Certainly there would be times when some new clothing would be needed. But did they want for things the way we constantly want for things now?

If anyone has any insight into this question I would love to hear from you.

Eternal Recurrance

The Portable Nietzsche (Portable Library)

Nietzsche had a thought about our lives. It is known as Eternal Recurrence and it goes something like this:

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.’

The Gay Science

So what would you do? Would you choose to repeat this day exactly as it has been for all of eternity? If you say no, then why not?

Shouldn’t our lives be lived in such a way that we wholeheartedly say YES!?

I want to say yes to this question after each day.

The End Of Desiring Material Possessions

So I am wanting this to mark the end of desire for material possessions in myself. No more researching my next car, or wanting a new sofa, or anything else that is completely frivolous. I have so much more than I need.

I am not suggesting that it will be an easy transition. I may struggle at times, for I too have voids that I try to fill.

But perhaps these voids are in my head. Just like the desires for stuff that I think exist as well.

Please share this post and as usual I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.


NIETZSCHE COMPLETE WORKS COLLECTION 20+ BOOKS and BIOGRAPHY – Including Zarathustra, Wagner, Twilight, Gay Science, Morals, Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil, Birth of Tragedy, Ecce Homo


6 thoughts on “Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Minimalist Living

  1. “I am too poor to buy cheap shoes.”

    This is the old saying that popped into my head as I read this post. I carry a Coach purse but I only purchase a purse every four or five years. I drive a Honda Accord, that I purchased new thirteen years ago and has at least another two to three years left in her.

    If your couch is uncomfortable then it should be replaced. There is no reason to keep a possession that does not serve it’s purpose and serve it well. I believe the purpose of a couch is comfort.

    I appreciate quality. If I purchase it new or used it doesn’t matter as long as it is going to serve it’s purpose and serve it well. I very rarely buy electronics but when I do I purchase used as there are so many people that must have the newest. I have never purchased a new TV (I have never purchased a TV). My computer is a rebuild.

    I do have a point 🙂

    We all have and use possessions, even a monk who lives nude in a cave has tools that are used to survive.

    The way to avoid having what is frivolous is realizing what is essential to leading a life that pleases you, which requires that you look inward for direction.

    There is no reason to own an uncomfortable couch.

  2. I’ve had the urge to downsize for months. Perhaps reading your blog planted the seed. I’ve kept my stuff to a minimum (at least I thought so), but it grows when I’m not watching it. Seeing a new studio apartment (with no closets) around the corner did the trick. I live with more space than I really need. The refrigerator is always empty, so one of those half size ones would be fine. I set the agenda, first to sell the sofa and dining set that I never use. Already started going through closets and cabinets collecting all the stuff to sell. I had a huge bag of clothes and shoes picked up this morning for donation. Sorting out papers and all the clutter that I don’t need (like years of magazines to recycle). My objective is to whittle it all down to a bare minimum, sell the apartment and rent the smallest space I can find for me and my cat. I jumped in with both feet on this project and am working at it each day. I keep reviewing what I have. It feels so good to get rid of stuff by recycling it in some way.

  3. I see this everyday in my work as an architect. The ongoing duel between what we think we must have and what we really need. Personally, I just met with someone to reupholster my grandparent’s furniture and make some minor tweaks throughout the house. In some cases to replace worn out items, in others to address an identified need. I also have a basement full of stuff that needs to be purged. I’m working my way there. Buying quality is the best way to live minimally. The stuff lasts and wears longer. The key is identifying what you truly need and then purchasing the best that you can afford.

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