Philipp Mainländer

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The kingdom of heaven after death, nirvana and absolute nothingness are one and the same.

Philipp Mainländer (October 5, 1841 – April 1, 1876) was a German philosopher and poet. Born Philipp Batz, he later changed his name to "Mainländer" in homage to his hometown, Offenbach am Main. In his central work Die Philosophie der Erlösung (The Philosophy of Redemption or The Philosophy of Salvation) — according to Theodor Lessing, "perhaps the most radical system of pessimism known to philosophical literature" — Mainländer proclaims that life is absolutely worthless, and that "the will, ignited by the knowledge that non-being is better than being, is the supreme principle of morality."


  • God died and His death was the life of the world.
  • And who is and should be a pessimist? He who is mature for death. He can love life so scarcely as he [the optimist] can depart from it. If he does not realize that he will survive in his children, his procreation loses its horrible character; but if he realizes it, he will recoil in horror from it, just like Humboldt noticing that it is paying dearly for a few minutes of pleasure with the torments that another being must endure perhaps for eighty years, and consider the procreation of children as a crime and justly so.
  • Every action of man, the highest as well as the lowest, is egoistic; for it flows from a certain individuality, a certain I, with a sufficient motive, and can in no way be omitted. To go into the reason of the difference of characters is not the place here; we have simply to accept it as a fact. Now it is just as impossible for the merciful man to let his neighbor starve as it is for the hard-hearted man to help the poor. Each of the two acts according to his character, his nature, his ego, his happiness, consequently egoistically; for if the merciful one did not dry the tears of others, would he be happy? And if the hard-hearted one relieved the suffering of others, would he be satisfied?
  • The will must not only despise death, it must love it; for chastity is the love of death.
  • The man who has known clearly and distinctly that all life is suffering; that, whatever the way in which it may appear is essentially unhappy and full of pain (even in the ideal state), so that he, like the Christ Child on the arms of Sistine Madonna, can only look into the world with eyes filled with horror, and who then contemplates the deep tranquility, the inexpressible happiness in aesthetic contemplation and, in contrast to the waking state, the happiness of dreamless sleep, whose elevation into eternity is only absolute death, - such a man has to be kindled by the advantage offered, - he cannot do otherwise. The thought of resuscitating in his unhappy children, that is, having to follow his way through the streets of existence, full of thorns and hard stones, without rest or repose, is, on the one hand, the most shocking and exasperating he can have; and, on the other hand, it must be the sweetest and most refreshing thought to be able to break the long course of the process, in which he was forced to walk by, with bloody feet, beaten, tormented and martyred, languishing in search of quietude. And once he is on the right track, the sexual instinct worries him less with every step, little by little becoming easier for his heart, until at last his inner being stands in the same joyfulness, blessed serenity and complete immobility as the true Christian saint. He feels in harmony with the movement of humanity from being into non-being, out of the agony of life into absolute death; he gladly enters into this movement of the whole, he acts eminently morally, and his reward is the undisturbed peace of heart, the "calmness of the sea of the mind," the peace that is higher than all reason. And all this can take place without the belief in a unity in, above or beyond the world, without fear of a hell or hope for a kingdom of heaven after death, without any mystical intellectual view, without incomprehensible effect of grace, without contradiction with nature and our awareness of our own self: the only sources from which we can draw with certainty, - merely as a result of an unprejudiced, pure, cold realization of our reason, "man's supreme power".
  • What is the ideal state? It will be the historical form that encompasses all mankind. However, we will not define this form in more detail, because it is quite a minor matter: the main thing is the citizen of the ideal state. He will be what individuals have been since the beginning of history: a thoroughly free man. He has completely outgrown the taskmaster of historical laws and forms and stands above the law, free from all political, economic and spiritual fetters. All external forms are fragmented: man is completely emancipated. All driving forces have gradually disappeared from the life of mankind: Power, property, fame, marriage; all emotional ties have gradually been torn: man is weary. His spirit now judges life correctly and his will is kindled by this judgment. Now the heart is filled with only one longing: to be blotted out forever from the great book of life. And the will reaches its goal: absolute death.
  • The kingdom of heaven after death, nirvana and absolute nothingness are one and the same.
    • Philosophie der Erlösung, Erster Band (2014), Metaphysik (Anhang: Kritik der Lehren Kant’s und Schopenhauer’s) ISBN 978-1494963262

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