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philosophical opinion or doctrine that evil predominates over good; the opposite of optimism. Systematic forms of pessimism may be found in philosophy and religion. In religion Buddhism and Hinduism pessimistically appraise the world, while Christianity's pessimism is more restricted. Numerous philosophers have been pessimistic, notably Arthur SchopenhauerSchopenhauer, Arthur
, 1788–1860, German philosopher, b. Danzig (now Gdansk). The bias of his own temperament and experience was germinal to the development of his celebrated philosophy of pessimism, which he presented with such clarity and skill as to gain eventual
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 in the 19th cent. and Martin HeideggerHeidegger, Martin
, 1889–1976, German philosopher. As a student at Freiburg, Heidegger was influenced by the neo-Kantianism of Heinrich Rickert and the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.
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 in the 20th cent.


See also Cynicism, Skepticism.
Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary
or Martha Burke, 1852–1903) frontierswoman; mannish prophetess of doom. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 71]
no credence ever given to her truthful prophecies of doom. [Gk. Myth.: Zimmerman, 51]
City of Dreadful Night, The
expresses a passionate faith in pessimism as the only sensible philosophy. [Br. Poetry: James Thomson The City of Dreadful Night in Benét, 202]
old man who deplores aging, aridity, and spiritual decay and despairs of civilization. [Br. Poetry: Benét, 391]
Gloomy Gus
one with a pessimistic outlook on the world. [Am. Usage: Misc.]
(535–475 B.C.) “Weeping Philosopher”; grieved over man’s folly. [Gk. Hist.: Brewer Dictionary, 1146]
always prophesied misfortune for King Ahab. [O.T.: I Kings 22:8]
Murphy’s Law “If
anything can go wrong, it will.” [Am. Culture: Wallechinsky, 480]
Schopenhauer, Arthur
(1788–1860) German philosopher known for philosophy of pessimism. [Ger. Hist.: NCE, 2447]


Philosophy, Religion
1. the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of evil over good
2. the doctrine that this world is corrupt and that man's sojourn in it is a preparation for some other existence
References in periodicals archive ?
Pervasiveness: A pessimist sees negative events in one area of life affecting other areas of life as well.
In the long run, my pessimist son and I will be proved right, and can only hope that we have enough dying breath to utter the magic words "I told you I was ill.
When he returned later, he went to the room where he left the pessimist and found him throwing a fit, complaining that he did not have more toys to play with.
The pessimist nibbles at the negative; the optimist is nourished by the positive.
The pessimist understands this and smiles when no one is looking.
Though the book is structured primarily as a historical survey of pessimist thought, Dienstag also hopes to persuade readers of the tradition's contemporary appeal.
Employees are faced every day with adversity Much research shows us that optimists resist blows, while pessimists become paralyzed and get depressed; that optimists persist more than pessimists; and that optimists think more about the consequences of their work and are more satisfied with their work.
People who contemplate the downfall of society are commonly criticised as pessimists, and labeled as being too negative to deserve a hearing.
WILBUR (WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF) (15): Black comedy of a pessimist so disillusioned with life that his only thought is how to end it -but who always bungles his suicide and is rescued by his overbearing brother.
One way to prevent the pessimist from doing damage is to give him as little to work with as possible.
According hi Seligman, a pessimist assumes that the problem is never-ending or "stable," while the optimist believes that file problem is "temporary.
Today, the pessimist is a hospital consultant but he's unpopular, worries constantly and has high blood pressure.