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Suffering plays an important role in the philosophies of both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Why, and in what ways, does human suffering lead Schopenhauer to encourage compassion and renunciation while leading Nietzsche to call for a new mode of valuation and hope for the future?

Suffering leads Schopenhauer to encourage compassion and renunciation because he believes that all human beings are a manifestation of a single will to live. This is why we are able to develop fellow-feeling and sympathy for each other. Nietzsche, on the other hand, sees suffering as something to be embraced, an inevitable outcome of the struggle to achieve. He thus regards compassion as a sign of weakness, not a source of solidarity.

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Schopenhauer regards compassion as the basis of morality. This notion arises out of one of his most important metaphysical ideas that each and every one of us is a manifestation of a single will to live. All forms of moral behavior consist of an intuitive recognition of this. What unites...

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Schopenhauer regards compassion as the basis of morality. This notion arises out of one of his most important metaphysical ideas that each and every one of us is a manifestation of a single will to live. All forms of moral behavior consist of an intuitive recognition of this. What unites us is a realization that life consists of nothing more than endless struggle and strife due to the pursuit of goals which can never be satisfied.

This realization that we're all in the same boat, so to speak, encourages mutual solidarity from which develops a sense of compassion towards our fellow man. Ultimately, everyone is related through suffering; my sufferings are my neighbor's sufferings and vice versa.

Nietzsche, however, strongly rejects Schopenhauer's moral philosophy. Though he accepts the existence of suffering in the world, he regards it as something to be embraced as an intrinsic part of our existence. All aspects of human existence, the good and the bad, should be embraced in their entirety as part of an affirmation of all that life has to offer.

For Nietzsche, compassion is a form of asceticism, a way of withdrawing from the world. And this is the very last thing that we should do. On the contrary, we should immerse ourselves in the world, asserting our strengths and showing utter contempt for all forms of weakness, however they manifest themselves.

One such weakness is compassion, which emerges out of what Nietzsche regards as the demeaning pity ethic of Christianity. Showing compassion is a way of showing contempt for another human being. Far better, thinks Nietzsche, to encourage those who are suffering to face up to life's difficulties and struggle against them as best they can.

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