Schopenhauer on Race Differences in Intelligence and on Judaism

Brenton Sanderson
Occidental Observer
July 15, 2014

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer is renowned as the philosopher of pessimism. White nationalists certainly have much to be pessimistic about these days, and we might be tempted to seek consolation in the wisdom of a man who undoubtedly possessed one of the most powerful minds in history.  Schopenhauer, who was an atheist, saw human existence as essentially meaningless and a mistake. The life of sentient beings, of which man is the highest form, is one of constantly jangling appetites that can never be sated, and the result is that pain and suffering are the inevitable accompaniments of any life. He concluded that the only way to get beyond the suffering of this world is to renounce life and thereby quell the appetites that constantly assail us — a conclusion he later discovered had also been arrived at by the Hindus and the Buddhists.

It is a testament to Schopenhauer’s genius that, writing many years prior to the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, and almost a century before geneticists like Fritz Lenz and then evolutionary psychologists like J. Philippe Rushton and Richard Lynn arrived at the same conclusion, he was already citing differential evolution (though he was unsure of the exact mechanism) to account for the higher civilization of the lighter-skinned races, whom, he correctly intuited, had gained sensitivity and intelligence as a result of surviving in a rigorous Northern climate. Schopenhauer observes that:

The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want and misery, which in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it came their high civilization.[i]

Before the rise of Boasian anthropology in the 1920s and 1930s, virtually all Western anthropologists and intellectuals posited a direct correlation between external racial traits and internal psychological traits. Skin color was regarded as not just a physical attribute, but an external racial marker tied to a correlated set of intellectual, political, and cultural capabilities. Schopenhauer was, of course, writing in an age when the reality of racial differences was taken for granted, and this is reflected at various points in his work. For instance, in positing that higher intellectual powers are often accompanied by a relatively lesser tendency toward sociability, he asserts that “the most sociable of all human beings are said to be the Negroes who intellectually are decidedly inferior.”[ii]

This approach was largely abandoned after World War II with the rise of Boasian anthropology which was instrumental in totally suppressing evolutionary theory in the social sciences. The Jewish historian Norman Cantor noted that “since 1945 and more intensively since the 1960s all forms of racialist thinking are excluded from rational and enlightened discourse, especially in the United States, where the liberal civil libertarians have made racial doctrine intrinsically wrong, evil, and undiscussable.” The reason for this exclusion is that “modern anthropology, as defined the German-Jewish expatriate Franz Boas, for three decades head of the anthropology department at Columbia University, declared nineteenth-century race theory without foundation.” Cantor admitted that “this behavioral egalitarianism and universality was itself an ideology,” and that the Boasians never actually disproved social-Darwinian race theory, but rather insisted that it be “excluded from civil discourse as a result of what the Nazis and other such hate-mongering groups did with it.”[iii]

Franz Boas: Jewish ethnic activist and pseudoscientist par excellence
Franz Boas: Jewish ethnic activist and pseudoscientist par excellence

Schopenhauer’s intuitive understanding of the link between race and intelligence has been more recently affirmed by psychologists like Richard Lynn and the late J. Philippe Rushton, who posited that groups that resided for many millennia in regions with cold winters gradually — through the process of natural selection — evolved higher intelligence than groups living in milder climates. Rushton noted that “colonizing temperate and cold environments leads to increased cognitive demands to solve the problems of gathering food and gaining shelter and general survival in cold winters.” According to Rushton, “cognitive demands of manufacturing sophisticated tools and making fires, clothing, and shelters (as well as regulating the storage of food) would have selected for higher average intelligence levels than in the less cognitively demanding environment in sub-Saharan Africa. Those individuals who could not solve these problems of survival would have died out, leaving those with alleles for higher intelligence as the survivors.”[iv]

A consequence is that those tracing their origins to northern Asia and northern Europe now have mean IQs of about 100, while those from sub-Saharan Africa have a mean IQ of around 70, and those from the broad intermediate zone (stretching from north Africa across southern Asia and into Indonesia) have mean IQs in the 80-90 range. These figures are confirmed by numerous IQ tests taken over a period of more than 80 years from around the world, measures of average brain size (which is correlated with general intelligence at 0.45), the poor relative performance of blacks in Europe and America in intellectual endeavors, and the extreme backwardness of the countries in the “secluded zone” of sub-Saharan Africa before they had contact with either Islamic or European civilization, continuing up to the present day. These differences in mean IQ (and associated behavioral tendencies) among the races had, and continue to have, profound consequences in determining the civilization-building capacities of different racial groups. It is also a key reason why Third-World immigration to the West is so dysfunctional.

IQ around the world
IQ around the world

Invoking Aristotle, Schopenhauer asserted that the pleasures to be gained from this life (which, as mentioned, he believed consisted overwhelmingly of pain and suffering) are essentially hierarchical in nature. At the top of this hierarchy are those pleasures obtainable from intellectual activity. The capacity of an individual to access the higher pleasures of the intellect is, however, contingent upon his native endowment of intellect:

No one can get outside his own individuality. In all the circumstances in which the animal is placed, it remains confined to that narrow circle, irrevocably drawn for it by nature, so that, for instance, our endeavors to make a pet happy must always keep within narrow bounds precisely on account of those limits of its true nature and consciousness. It is the same with man; the measure of his possible happiness is determined beforehand by his individuality. In particular the limits of his mental powers have fixed once and for all his capacity for pleasures of a higher order.[v]

Therefore, to be born with a higher level of intellect is an indispensable prerequisite, Schopenhauer argues, to accessing the higher forms of human happiness. A corollary of his argument is that, as with individuals within a race, the capacity of a particular population to access the higher human pleasures is genetically predetermined by its racial particularity. The limits of a given race’s average intellectual powers have fixed once and for all its collective capacity to access pleasures of a higher order. Schopenhauer points out that:

If those [intellectual] powers are small, all the efforts from without, everything done for him by mankind or good fortune, will not enable him to rise above the ordinary half-animal human happiness and comfort. He [the intellectually inferior] is left to depend on the pleasures of the senses, on a cozy and cheerful family life, on low company and vulgar pastimes. Even education, on the whole, cannot do very much, if anything to broaden his horizon. For the highest, most varied, and most permanent pleasures are those of the mind, however much we may deceive ourselves on this point when we are young; but these pleasures depend mainly on innate mental powers. Therefore it is clear from this how much our happiness depends on what we are, our individuality, whereas in most cases we take into account only our fate, only what we have or represent.[vi]

Of course our individuality is essentially a product of our genetic inheritance, which, in turn, is a product of the evolutionary history of our ancestors. The fact that certain races have lower levels of general intelligence (as measured by mean IQ) would suggest that for a relatively larger percentage of these populations the higher order pleasures that Schopenhauer is talking about are simply inaccessible. Conversely, pursuit of the lower order pleasures will be the preoccupation of a larger percentage of less intelligent races compared with more intelligent races.

Schopenhauer asserts that as individuals we are, depending on our native endowment of intellect, predisposed to suffer either boredom (if that endowment is low) or increased sensitivity to physical pain (if that endowment is high). For Schopenhauer, a great affliction of less intelligent human beings is that idealities afford them no entertainment, but to escape from boredom they are always in need of realities: “The emptiness of their inner life, the dullness of their consciousness, the poorness of their minds drive them to the company of others which consists of men like themselves, for similis simili gaudet [like takes pleasure in like]. They then pursue pastime and entertainment in common which they seek first in sensual pleasures, in amusements of every kind, and finally in excess and dissipation.”[vii]

The dysgenic trends that have been set in motion by mass non-White immigration into Western nations have ensured that, for a growing percentage of these nations’ populations, “idealities” will indeed afford them little or no entertainment — instead these populations will increasingly look to realities to escape from boredom. A manifestation of this phenomenon was the rioting and looting in London in 2011. It was reported in the media at the time that the only shops that were left untouched by the rampaging mobs of largely Afro-Caribbean youths were book shops. These “temples of ideality” ostensibly offered nothing of interest to these people — in large part because this low-IQ population is largely devoid of intellectual needs.

As these people and their descendants progressively make up an ever larger segment of Western societies, the cultures of these nations are set to change profoundly, as public life increasingly takes on the characteristics of the source countries of these immigrant and immigrant-descended communities. According to Schopenhauer, “the life of the masses [and presumably that of the masses of the dark races to a greater degree than the white masses] is passed in dullness since all their thoughts and desires are directed to the petty interests of personal welfare and thus to wretchedness and misery in all its forms. For this reason, intolerable boredom befalls them as soon as they are no longer occupied with those aims and they are now thrown back on themselves, for only the fierce fire of passion can stir into action the dull and indolent masses.”[viii]

In this connection, it is interesting to note that a contemporary Danish researcher, psychologist Helmuth Nyborg, has highlighted how the projected decline in the mean IQ of nations like Denmark — mostly a result of low-IQ Third World immigration — will (if left unchecked) have momentous social and political consequences. Nyborg concludes that: “The genotypic IQ decline will ruin the economic and social infrastructure needed for quality education, welfare, democracy and civilization.” Schopenhauer would have doubtless agreed with this assessment.

Schopenhauer on Judaism

Schopenhauer conceptualized Judaism in terms akin to Kevin MacDonald’s theory of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy that emerged historically to promote the economic welfare and reproductive success of Jews as a genetically distinct group. For Schopenhauer, the religious doctrines and trappings of Judaism are merely cultural glue that holds the Jews together as a nation founded on blood ties. Referring to the Jews, Schopenhauer notes that

many great and illustrious nations with which this pettifogging little nation cannot possibly be compared, such as the Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Etruscans and others have passed to eternal rest and entirely disappeared. And even so today, this gens extorris [refugee race], this John Lackland among the nations, is to be found all over the globe, nowhere at home and nowhere strangers. Moreover it asserts its nationality with unprecedented obstinacy and, mindful of Abraham who dwelt in Canaan as a stranger but who gradually became master of the whole land, as his God had promised him (Genesis 17:8), it would like to set foot somewhere and take root in order to arrive once more at a country, without which, of course, a people is like a ball floating in air. Till then, it lives parasitically on other nations and their soil; but yet it is inspired with the liveliest patriotism for its own nation. This is seen in the very firm way in which Jews stick together on the principle of each for all and all for each, so that this patriotism sine patria inspires greater enthusiasm than does any other. The rest of the Jews are the fatherland of the Jew; and so he fights for them as he would pro ara et focis [for hearth and home], and no community on earth sticks so firmly together as does this.

As a formidably cohesive group whose loyalty to their ethnic kindred vastly outstrips their loyalty to the non-Jewish nations within which they dwell, Jews should absolutely never, Schopenhauer affirmed, be allowed to play any role whatsoever in the governance of these nations. If allowed to do so they would unquestionably exploit this power for their own ends — inevitably at the expense of the majority non-Jewish population:

It follows from this that it is absurd to want to concede to them a share in the government or administration of any country. Originally amalgamated and one with their state, their religion is by no means the main issue here, but rather merely the bond that holds them together, the point de ralliement [rallying-point], and the banner whereby they recognize one another. This is also seen in the fact that even the converted Jew who has been baptized does not by any means bring upon himself the hatred and loathing of all the rest [of the Jews], as do all other apostates. On the contrary, he continues as a rule to be their friend and companion and to regard them as his true countrymen, naturally with a few orthodox exceptions. … Accordingly, it is an extremely superficial and false view to regard the Jews merely as a religious sect. But if, in order to countenance this error, Judaism is described by an expression borrowed from the Christian Church as “Jewish Confession,” then this is a fundamentally false expression which is deliberately calculated to mislead and should not be allowed at all. On the contrary, “Jewish Nation” is the correct expression. The Jews have absolutely no confession; monotheism is part of their nationality and political constitution and is with them a matter of course.

Schopenhauer’s conception of the Jews as a distinct and highly ethnocentric ethnic entity — arrived at well before the advent of modern population genetic studies — is very accurate. While not entirely uniform, all Jews comprise a genetic cluster that share large swaths of DNA. For instance, the study by Atzmon et al. from 2010 confirmed that all the different Jewish groups comprise a distinct genetic community. This study examined genetic markers spread across the entire genome, and showed the Jewish groups (Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi) share large swaths of DNA, indicating close relationships, and while each Jewish group in the study (Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Italian, Turkish, Greek and Ashkenazi) had its own genetic signature, each was more closely related to the other Jewish groups than to their non-Jewish countrymen. Atzmon and his colleagues found that the SNP markers in genetic segments of 3 million DNA letters or longer were 10 times more likely to be identical among Jews than non-Jews, and that any two Ashkenazi Jewish participants in the study shared about as much DNA as fourth or fifth cousins.[ix]

The overlapping genetics of Jewish populations
The overlapping genetics of Jewish populations

Of course, Judaism could still be a group evolutionary strategy even if Jews were not a genetically separate group, providing that Jews believed that they were, and behaved accordingly — which is exactly what they did believe and behaved like for centuries before recent population genetic studies confirmed what they had always assumed. The Zionist writer Robert Weltsch nicely summed up this hyper-ethnocentric mentality when he noted in 1913 that: “When it comes to the unity of the Jews, there is one irrefutable proof: the consciousness of this unity, which is an inner experience that every individual Jew possesses.”[x]

Schopenhauer concludes his comments on the Jews by again emphasizing their ethnically alien status with Europe and by using an anecdote to reiterate his position that the Jews (as a group whose intense loyalty to its own people and hostility to outsiders is so profound) should absolutely never be given the right to exercise power over other people.

They are and remain a foreign oriental race, and so must be regarded merely as domiciled foreigners. When some twenty-five years ago the emancipation of the Jews was debated in the English Parliament, a speaker put forward the following hypothetical case. An English Jew comes to Lisbon where he meets two men in extreme want and distress; yet it is only in his power to save one of them. Personally to him they are both strangers. Yet if one of them is an Englishman but a Christian, and the other a Portuguese but a Jew, whom will he save? I do not think that any sensible Christian and any sincere Jew would be in doubt as to the answer. But it gives us some indication of the rights to be conceded to the Jews.[xi]

Schopenhauer’s observations on the Jews influenced a range of notable figures, most famously including Adolf Hitler who (according to an inventory of the books he borrowed between 1919 and 1921 at the National Socialist Institute in Munich) read a volume entitled Schopenhauer and the Jews alongside such works as Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Nineteenth Century and the German translation of Henry Ford’s The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.[xii] Schopenhauer is mentioned by name twice in Mein Kampf. One of these references relates to Schopenhauer’s observation in his Parerga and Paralipomena that “the Jews were at all times and by all nations loathed and despised. This may be due partly to the fact that they were the only people on earth who did not credit man with any existence beyond this life and were, therefore, regarded as cattle, as the dregs of humanity, but as past masters in telling lies.”[xiii]


Schopenhauer is universally recognized as an intellectual giant and for good reason. His thinking was often decades, and sometimes centuries, ahead his contemporaries. Nevertheless, the philosophy of Nietzsche (despite its contradictions) has enjoyed far wider acceptance among those on the racialist right. That is largely because of the marked anti-egalitarianism of Nietzsche, and the fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism and advocacy of life-renunciation is profoundly dysfunctional from a group evolutionary standpoint. As MacDonald has pointed out, we are all free to decide to not play the evolutionary game. We Westerners are particularly prone to moral idealisms that compromise their legitimate ethnic/racial interests. However, if we (or our racial or ethnic kindred) decide to not play the evolutionary game, we automatically lose. We are destined for ultimate extinction.

This is why, while recognizing the genius of Schopenhauer’s thought, we must, in the end, eschew his pessimistic conclusions and side with Nietzsche’s doctrine of life-assertion. The White race did not become the dominant force on the planet through renouncing life and avoiding conflict in the manner of Buddhists monks. Our European ancestors, who built Western civilization and spread it around the globe, lived life to the full, affirmed life, and did not shirk from conflict. They behaved as all healthy living creatures behave spontaneously in nature. Asserting our racial interests will inevitably bring us into conflict with others doing the same (especially Jewish interests) but this is inevitable and natural and is simply the price we must pay to secure our existence. We have to embrace the fight for the survival of our race, and to strive to enlist others in this fight, because, in the end, there is no acceptable alternative.


[i] Arthur Schopenhauer, Parega and Paralipomena — Volume 2, Trans. By E.F.J. Payne (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1974), 158-59.

[ii] Arthur Schopenhauer, Parega and Paralipomena — Volume 1, Trans. By E.F.J. Payne (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1974),  331.

[iii] Norman Cantor, The Sacred Chain — The History of the Jews (New York, HarperCollins, 1994), 336.

[iv] J. Philippe Rushton J.P. (2000) Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, Third Edition (Port Huron, Charles Darwin Research Institute, 2000) 228-29.

[v] Schopenhauer, Parega and Paralipomena — Volume 1, op cit., 317.

[vi] Ibid., 318.

[vii] Ibid., 321.

[viii] Ibid., 338.

[ix] Atzmon, G.; Hao, L.; Pe’er, I.; Velez, C.; Pearlman, A.; Palamara, P. F.; Morrow, B.; Friedman, (2010) “Abraham’s Children in the Genome Era: Major Jewish Diaspora Populations Comprise Distinct Genetic Clusters with Shared Middle Eastern Ancestry,” American Journal of Human Genetics 2010,  86 (6), 850—859.

[x] Robert Weltsch, (1913) “Concerning Racial Theory,” In: Jews and Race: Writings on Identity and Difference 1880-1940, Ed. Mitchell B. Hart, (Massachusetts, Brandeis University Press, Waltham, 2011). 311-16, 312.

[xi] Schopenhauer, Parega and Paralipomena — Volume 2, op cit., 261-64.

[xii] Timothy Ryback, Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life (New York: Vintage, 2010), 50.

[xiii] Schopenhauer, Parega and Paralipomena — Volume 2, op cit., 357.