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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.
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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]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Chang (Ed.), Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for theory, research, and practice (pp.
We do, to some degree, acknowledge the presence of pessimism in late nineteenth-century literary culture.
Yet these studies fail to address optimism or pessimism directly, and reliable measures are only available for individual self evaluation for optimism through the use of the OPS (Dember, et al.
Psychologists have also found that pessimism can actually motivate us.
It does not exploit the minorities nor does it possess any pessimism against its neighbours.
Growing concern on governance and government policies, inflation and security conditions together with pessimism about the future due to upcoming election related political uncertainty and developing energy crises were stated as the leading reasons for the decline of the business confidence.
Although there is ample evidence that defensive pessimism is effective in the short term but extremely detrimental for emotional well-being in the long run (Norem & Chang, 2000), one of the issues that aroused more controversy is the role played by self-esteem in the functioning of this strategy.
Global Banking News-October 10, 2017--Credit Suisse sees too much pessimism over UK-based banks
17, 2016 in BMC Public Health tested levels of pessimism in nearly 3,000 men and women ranging in age from 52 to 76, and followed participants for 11 years.
The questionnaire clearly presented two partially independent factors, and the items assessing optimism demonstrated greater discriminant validity than the items assessing pessimism. Optimism was positively linked to psychological well-being and negatively related to psychological-distress.
Weltschmerz: Pessimism in German Philosophy 1860-1900.
Bulgariaas consumer confidence index has dropped by 0.6 percentage points in July compared to April, mainly due to increased pessimism among the urban population.