Schopenhauer’s Porcupines Theory (A Secret to Happiness?)

Below is the transcript of a footage titled “This Emotional Life” by Elizabeth Gilberth. I find this nice and profound in meaning, thus I publish it here. Hope you all like it, readers.

“Schopenhauer in his book had a theory of human relationships. That was about porcupines. And he used that as a metaphor when he said, “In love and relationships with, woud that be our family, our spouses, our friends, we are all of us on this earth.” Because we are so uncomfortable with our emotions. That all of us are like porcupines which are out in a cold winter night. And they get cold, and they need to huddle together for warmth. They crave connections. They crave warmth. So they come together. And then they prick each other because they have these horrible spines. And it’s painful. And so in order to avoid the pain, they retreat,and then they get cold so they come together and then they get spined, so they retreat. And then they’re cold. And they come together. And this dance of intimacy is what defines our relationships with everybody we encounter. They need to be close. That is followed by needs to be separated in order to protect ourselves from the inevitable hurt that happens when you get too close. And Schopenhauer didn’t have much remedy for that. He didn’t think that it was really gonna end. He saw that as a need to human nature. What he suggested is that those who had learned had generated their own warmth were able to keep the safest distance from the other porcupines. Well, that didn’t mean we have to live a life in isolation. It just meant not impelling yourselves on other people. So you have that critical little space, in which you’ll feel a little bit self-contained to create your own warmth, your own sense of humanity, so that you could be close without being stabbed. The path of that is called a secret to happiness as anything I’ve ever learned. “

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