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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 ?
Turkish stocks reacted pessimistically to the lowering of the price estimate, because of weaker earnings and possible unexpected changes in monetary policy.
You could feel more inhibited today and more inclined to think pessimistically about people and life.
But there are those who view this development more pessimistically.
Crane: I'll answer that question both optimistically and pessimistically.
The Real Hebrew You Were Never Taught in School (Plume, February)the subtitle of which suggests the book has set its sights pessimistically on the rather limited audience of ex-Hebrew day schoolers (who, honestly, have probably picked up at least the basic obscenities).
Despite documented populist appeal of the Muslim brotherhood, and its ability to mobilize the Egyptian population, Naguib concludes pessimistically that the movement itself will not survive "conditions of extreme repression" or "political and social crises.
What this says, is that a relatively large percentage of the population remains pessimistically fixated on a negative interpretation of current economic events.
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.
Type D personalities tend to look at all major life events somewhat pessimistically, so they certainly have an impaired quality of life.
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.