Schopenhauer was the son of a wealthy merchant, Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, and his wife, Johanna, who was a famous local writer. In 1793，when Danzig came under Prussian sovereignty, they moved to the free city of Hamburg. Arthur enjoyed a gentlemanly private education. He then attended a private business school, where he became acquainted with the spirit of the Enlightenment and was exposed to a Pietistic attitude sensitive to the plight of man.
The World as Will and Representation was born during Schopenhauer's residence in Dresden. It was written in a non-academic style, with an ironic, aristocratic tone. Friedrich Nietzsche, who found a copy of The World as Will and Representation in a second-hand bookstore, did not put the book down until he had finished it. According to Schopenhauer, existence is the expression of an insatiable, pervasive will generating a terrible world of conflict and suffering, senselessness, and futility. Very shortly, the world is a bad joke. The “will to live” perpetuates this cosmic spectacle. The goal of someone who sees through the illusions of life is the denial of this powerful will to live. Love serves the reproductive interests of the species and sexual impulse, the most powerful motive in human existence.
At the beginning of 1820, Schopenhauer advertised a course of lectures to be given at the same time as Friedrich and Hegel’s. But when Hegel attracted more students the course did not proceed. The epidemic of cholera, during which Hegel died, drove him to Frankfurt. After that, he lived in relative isolation, preferring the company of dogs to people. Five-sixths of human beings are worth only contempt, he once wrote. It was claimed that he once pushed a neighbor down a flight of stairs for disturbing him. As a result, the unlucky seamstress could not continue in his former profession.
1820年初，叔本华建议开一堂课，恰巧这门课与费希特和黑格尔的课是同时开的。当黑格尔吸引了更多学生的时候，叔本华的这门课就无法继续进行了。后来, 因为黑格尔所死于的那场霍乱的流行，叔本华搬到了法兰克福。此后，他生活在一个相对隔绝的环境里，与人的陪伴相比，他更喜欢狗的陪伴。他曾经写道，六分之五的人只佩得到轻蔑。有人称，他曾把邻居推下楼梯， 理由只是他受到了打扰。结果，这个不幸的女裁缝再也不能继续做她的工作了。
Shopenhauer died in Frankfurt of a heart attack on September 21, 1860. Nearing his death he had said to Eduard Grisenbach: “If at times I have thought myself unfortunate, it is because of a confusion, an error. I have mistaken myself for someone else... Who am I really?...”