Telic vs. Atelic Activities: A Response to Schopenhauer’s Pessimism

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The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote extensively on — what he believed to be — the intrinsic misery of existence. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with Schopenhauer’s pessimistic worldview, reading some of his writings on the human condition is still a reliable way to dampen your mood. As I will elaborate in this discussion, Schopenhauer’s pessimism does hold merit and weight, but his bleak view of the human condition can also be countered if we compare how telic and atelic activities affect our happiness. Before examining these concepts, though, let’s take a look at Schopenhauer’s pessimism in more depth.

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Originally published at on March 25, 2019.

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