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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 ?
Part 1 of the early "Chigi form" of the collection concluded pessimistically with the shipwreck poem, "Passa la nave mia colma d'oblio" (189 in his final ordering); Petrarch's deferral of shipwreck in later versions allowed him, according to Cachey, "to hold out hope for rescue from his moral abyss" (37) while at the same time resisting Dante's theological-poetic system and reaffirming the validity of his own vernacular poetic enterprise.
Others made similar mistakes by letting fear be their guide, and they overreacted pessimistically.
The Palestinians recently resumed indirect peace talks with Israel, mediated by the United States, but both sides have spoken pessimistically about the chances of tangible results.
But, he adds pessimistically, 'the high value placed on conformity in Arab societies is suffocating change.
With the wave of arrests and further security crackdowns, bookstores became even emptier and publishers had once again to postpone print runs and looked pessimistically towards the future.
He said the differences could be explained by the fact that people in business tend to view economic prospects more pessimistically.
The respondents tended to view their household situations pessimistically as well.
One government report pessimistically predicted mid-2010 before funds could be distributed.
Pasternak, managing director of Hawick firm Peter Scott, added: "At Peter Scott we expect, very pessimistically, to have an increase in turnover this year of pounds 3.
Pessimistically she says that unless the Euro 308 billion budget for 'structural' economic development funds (cohesion and regional policy money especially) is subject to "substantial modifications in the present system up to 2013, they will suffer from the same weaknesses as the previous period.
While some may look at the list of mega trends pessimistically, Freidman sees it as a list of incredible opportunity since all five problems have the Same solution--abundant, cheap, clean, reliable electrons and molecules.