SCHOPENHAUER: Why Some People Are Easily Offended (And How to Protect Yourself)


Schopenhauer's writings outside of his great philosophical magnum

opus, The World as Will and Representation, are full of psychological observations.

One such observation, concerns people who are easily offended. The sensitivity of these people arises from the fact that they are thoroughly subjective, as most people are. The word "subjective" has a specific meaning here.

It means that these people regard everything through the lens of their own person and experience, and are unable to take an objective, that is to say, disinterested, viewpoint. Therefore, everything that appears before their mind's eye, everything they experience, is colored by their own personality.

Because the common man lacks the intelligence to assume the objective viewpoint, he is stuck viewing things subjectively. In other words, he cannot help but put his personality behind everything. In short: everything is personal.

And when everything is personal, everything can offend.

Another side-effect of having this exceedingly subjective view, is a certain kind of narcissism in conversation. Everything is always about them, and whenever you bring something up, they need to relate whatever you just said to themselves.

Because people always find a reason to make everything about them, and are drawn to whatever affects them personally, the cynical Schopenhauer remarks that it's really easy to win them over by flattery.

Because their opinions are not formed by objective standards but subjective ones, their opinion is easily influenced.

If you want to defend yourself against this manipulation, the solution is to occupy your mind with things other than yourself. In other words, to inject some objectivity into your life. The most straightforward way to do this is by studying philosophy or even reading literature or doing math. In general, the way to escape the subjective viewpoint is to train your mind to engage with big, abstract ideas. The further those ideas are removed from day-to-day reality, the better.