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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 ?
The July survey also showed increased pessimism among consumers with regard to unemployment over the next 12 months.
Defensive pessimism is associated with fear of failure and negatively, with self-concept, enjoyment and the desire to participate (Ntoumanis, Taylor, & Standage, 2010).
On the methodological front, some researchers have viewed optimism and pessimism as a bipolar one construct while others have argued that optimism and pessimism are two distinct but related constructs (Abdel-Khalek, 2000, Abdel-Latif & Hamadeh, 1998).
Both pessimism and optimism, according to Dienstag, trace their origins to a transformation in time-consciousness --a shift to a distinctively linear conception of time--that occurred in the early modern period.
dispositional optimism, whereas pessimism refers to general expectancies that are bad (Scheier & Carver, 1993).
He speaks of a "courageous pessimism" that makes life meaningful in paving "the way of 'myself, to my task"--the type of pessimism that he calls Dionysian.
Goya's exquisite pessimism, brought on by debilitating illness, guided his exploration of the fundamental mystery of human behavior.
The complementary parallelism of macrocosm and microcosm is turned into the antithesis of optimism and pessimism, humanism and skepticism.
Camp can have varying degrees of therapeutic impact on this pessimism and resultant passivity.
There are two major reasons for the current pessimism, the first concerning the political situation.
In an extreme example of such pessimism, a subject migh explain his lack of advancement in the military by saying, "I seem to be unwilling to face reality," and then noting the pervasiveness of this fault, which he believes has kept him from firmly pursuing a postwar career.