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Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century, the basic statement of one important stream of post-Kantian thought. It is without question Schopenhauer's greatest work. Conceived and published before the philosopher was 30 and expanded 25 years later, it is the summation of a lifetime of Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century, the basic statement of one important stream of post-Kantian thought. It is without question Schopenhauer's greatest work. Conceived and published before the philosopher was 30 and expanded 25 years later, it is the summation of a lifetime of thought. For 70 years, the only unabridged English translation of this work was the Haldane-Kemp collaboration. In 1958, a new translation by E. F. J. Payne appeared that decisively supplanted the older one. Payne's translation is superior because it corrects nearly 1,000 errors and omissions in the Haldane-Kemp translation, and it is based on the definitive 1937 German edition of Schopenhauer's work prepared by Dr. Arthur Hübscher. Payne's edition is the first to translate into English the text's many quotations in half a dozen languages. It is thus the most useful edition for the student or teacher.


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Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century, the basic statement of one important stream of post-Kantian thought. It is without question Schopenhauer's greatest work. Conceived and published before the philosopher was 30 and expanded 25 years later, it is the summation of a lifetime of Arthur Schopenhauer's Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung is one of the most important philosophical works of the nineteenth century, the basic statement of one important stream of post-Kantian thought. It is without question Schopenhauer's greatest work. Conceived and published before the philosopher was 30 and expanded 25 years later, it is the summation of a lifetime of thought. For 70 years, the only unabridged English translation of this work was the Haldane-Kemp collaboration. In 1958, a new translation by E. F. J. Payne appeared that decisively supplanted the older one. Payne's translation is superior because it corrects nearly 1,000 errors and omissions in the Haldane-Kemp translation, and it is based on the definitive 1937 German edition of Schopenhauer's work prepared by Dr. Arthur Hübscher. Payne's edition is the first to translate into English the text's many quotations in half a dozen languages. It is thus the most useful edition for the student or teacher.

30 review for The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mark Flores

    Two years ago, while reading a philosophy textbook, I’ve learned that for German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, our world is “the best of all possible worlds.” This is because God, who is good and omnipotent, chose to create our world of all the possible worlds. But contrary to that, the textbook pointed out, another German philosopher will say one hundred years later that our world is instead “the worst of all possible worlds.” I found that funny then, being young and innocent, and somewhat a b Two years ago, while reading a philosophy textbook, I’ve learned that for German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, our world is “the best of all possible worlds.” This is because God, who is good and omnipotent, chose to create our world of all the possible worlds. But contrary to that, the textbook pointed out, another German philosopher will say one hundred years later that our world is instead “the worst of all possible worlds.” I found that funny then, being young and innocent, and somewhat a believer of the human race, but nevertheless that was my first encounter with the philosopher whose philosophy will today serve as my guiding light. That was my first encounter with Arthur Schopenhauer. But I didn’t study Schopenhauer immediately after I read about him. Back then, I have no reason to study someone who says our world is the worst of all possible worlds. His philosophy was simply too bleak, too dark, too pessimistic for me who then believed in utilitarianism, in the greatest happiness principle. And yet, as my life slowly got screwed up, as I started to make mistakes that I normally don’t, as I got disillusioned with everything I believed on—particularly with myself—I sometimes said privately that perhaps this Schopenhauer guy is correct, that we live in the worst of all possible worlds. Yet I still projected a very optimistic character. I still made myself believe that something better is waiting for me and for everyone else in the future. It all changed during the summer of 2012. It’s a very memorable summer and I think it’s the turning point of my life towards maturity. It divided a period of youth and innocence on the one hand, and the current period of adulthood and disillusionment on the other. I’ve lost many things in my personal life that summer, but I’ve gained a lot in my intellectual life. Among others, that’s when I first become acquainted with Scott Fitzgerald and Woody Allen. That’s also the time when I first seriously read Ernest Hemingway. And more importantly, I started studying Schopenhauer during the summer of 2012. My first formal meeting with him was through Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy, and the first thing I’ve read from Schopenhauer was his infamous essay “On Women.” And I wasn’t even able to finish Durant’s chapter on Schopenhauer. I was just too amazed to finish it. Schopenhauer’s philosophy—the negative way he sees things, his misanthropy, and the hope that lies in it—attracted me. It was what I needed. And because Durant quoted heavily from Schopenhauer, I had been provided a glimpse of Schopenhauer’s brilliant writing technique. I was used to reading complicated and boring philosophers, but when I’ve read passages from Schopenhauer, I realized philosophy could also be interesting and relaxing, like literature, while keeping its profundity. I’ve realized that I could really enjoy philosophy, and not just pretend to enjoy it, as I had been doing before I met Schopenhauer. I liked philosophy, I believed on it, but I never enjoyed it. It was painful for me to read all those complicated wanderings about things that don’t make sense. But with Schopenhauer, everything started to make sense. But I only considered Schopenhauer seriously during the last days of 2012, after I read Irvin Yalom’s novel The Schopenhauer Cure. Reading that novel was one of the most profound literary experiences that I’ve had. Because of it, I realized many things about life my life, and Philip Slate, the solitary scientist-turned-philosopher, became a mirror of my own mad self. Although I didn’t like the novel’s ending, I nevertheless got its point—that Schopenhauer was a cure for those who are disillusioned, destroyed, and nearly-defeated. And that’s when I decided that my thesis would be about solitude—the novel’s central theme, one of the virtues glorified by Schopenhauer—and how solitude could lessen our sufferings. It would be about the solaces of solitude in light of Arthur Schopenhauer’s curative philosophy. And writing about that, I thought, would not only give me an undergraduate thesis, it will also provide me a philosophical guide for my life. A guide that I could use to go away and escape from the muck that has become of my life. * After reading The Schopenhauer Cure, I read articles and books about Schopenhauer to know more about him. I also read some of his essays—like “On Authorship and Style,” “The Emptiness of Existence,” and “Metaphysics of Love”—to learn more about his philosophy. But I only started to read his chief work The World as Will and Representation six months later. Perhaps it was because I was very busy last school year, and I was rather occupied this summer, so I only had the time to read his chief work during the start of the new school year last June. But albeit being relatively free this school year, I still felt that I didn’t have the time to read it. I just pressured myself to read the book because by that time I only had less than a year to write my thesis. I needed to read The World as Will and Representation already, even if I would read it slowly and a few pages at a time. That’s better compared to not reading it at all. Aside from the academic necessity, I really wanted to read the book. I was then facing so much emotional stresses that I was in desperate need to be cured by Schopenhauer. Reading articles about him helps, reading his essays eases the pain, but I know that their curative effects are nothing compared to the cure itself that I could acquire only from reading The World as Will and Representation. As Schopenhauer himself pointed out, all else that Schopenhauer wrote are but footnotes to his chief work. If you really want to know Schopenhauer, you got to read the four books of The World as Will and Representation—there’s no shortcut, no easier way, no other way. And so, when the semester has started, whenever I’m free, I read ten and sometimes twenty pages at a time from the book. Sometimes I read fast, but sometimes, when the pages are heavily filled with wisdom, I read slowly to enjoy the philosophic experience. I took notes, I underlined Schopenhauer’s well-written passages, and I related his expositions about the nothingness of life to my own life. I read the book on McDonald’s, on my dorm at Manila, on my room at Tarlac—everywhere. But there are days when I failed to read from the book, particularly when I’m busy with school and occupied reading other books or doing other things, so I didn’t finish the 400-paged book in a short period of time. In fact, after five months, when the semester has already ended, I still haven’t finished the book. I was just, then, on the fourth and last book of The World as Will and Representation. But last 13 November 2013, while I was on our university’s library, alone, waiting for a meeting, I read from Schopenhauer that “for those in whom the will has turned and negated itself, this world of ours which is so very real with all its suns and galaxies is—nothing.” And that was the end of it. That was the last line of Schopenhauer’s chief work. Of course there was still the appendix which contained Schopenhauer’s critique to Kantian philosophy, and his supplements for the four books of The World as Will and Representation, but for my current purposes what I read was already enough. I had already grasped Schopenhauer’s philosophy. The rest, of course, are merely academic trifles, and there will be time in the future to read them. But right now, I had already read what I needed, I had already acquired a decent understanding of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, and more than those, I had already consumed the curative Schopenhauerian pessimism. I’m only waiting for it to take effect. * And what did I learn from the book? Many things, of course. But each book from The World as Will and Representation contains one important concept from which other concepts would come from. From the first book, I’ve learned that the world is divided between will (Wille), the thing in itself, and representation (Vorstellung), the appearance of the thing in itself. The world we perceive is the world of representation, and this world is in space and time, and it is governed by the principle of individuation and the principle of sufficient reason. But the world of representation is not real. It is just a copy world, an illusion. And that is why everything that we perceive in this world, particularly the individuality of everything—our differentiation from the world and everything in it—is just an illusion. This is because what is real is the will, which is just one, and everything else are but appearances and manifestations of the will. The reality of the will is what I learned from the second book. The reality that you and me and everyone else, and everything else, is a manifestation of this ever hungry, ever striving will. And so, being manifestations of the will, its hunger and striving is also manifested on us. We feel a lack in our egos and in our bodies, we desire for many things, but because the will is never satisfied, we are also never satisfied. We have this hunger for material things, for fame and power, and sex, and our hunger could be satisfied once in a while, but never wholly, never totally. Our hunger is essentially insatiable. And so, we spend most of our lives dissatisfied and in pain. Sometimes, the pain could be negated and that is what we call happiness, but happiness lasts only for a while, only to be replaced by a new pain, or boredom. Because when we are always satisfied, we would still suffer from ennui—suffering is thus our constant state. The third book gave me hope. It argued that our sufferings could stop once we stop being controlled by the will, once we free ourselves from the whims and caprices of the will, once we stop willing. But the third book didn’t give the cure itself—it just gave an appearance of the cure, which could be found in art, the clearest appearances of the will. According to Schopenhauer, works of art—paintings and sculptures, literary works, and musical pieces—has the ability to calm and silence the will. Because of their beauty, because of their almost accurate manifestation of the will, works of art gives us an aesthetic experience. And this aesthetic experience could make us, at least for a while, a pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of cognition. We forget about our own individuality when we perceive things aesthetically, we identify ourselves with everyone and everything else—albeit ephemerally—and we almost see the world as it really is. And this, for a while, relieves us from pain and boredom, from suffering. But the path that would free us totally and wholly from the will, the path that will bring us to lasting peace, is discussed on the fourth book. Aside from discussing his ethics—his concept of egoism, malice, and compassion—Schopenhauer discussed on the fourth book of The World as Will and Representation his concept of the denial of the will. Once we deny the will, Schopenhauer argues, all of our sufferings would vanish. Because when we deny the will, we would lose our egos, our individuation from the world, and we would now see everyone as our fellow-sufferer and everything in the world as fellow-manifestations of the same will. We would understand the illusion that is the world of representation, and instead we would realize that “we are that.” As I see it, the denial of the will is the absolute acceptance of reality—of all the evils and hungers and ennuis of reality. There are two ways how one could deny the will. The first is through ascetism, which is perfect chastity and intentional poverty, and this is how Eastern monks and Christian saints had denied the will. The second path is through experiencing a great amount of suffering and resigning from life because of it. The second path is the rarer path, and it only happens when the personal experience of suffering had broken one’s will, making one renounce everything that he had previously desired. Either way, Schopenhauer’s presentation is rather suggestive and Oriental—and very romantic—meaning his arguments does not rest on reason, but on intuition, and his emphasis is not on theory, but on application. But I, at least, understood what Schopenhauer wants to say. I had heard his suggestions. And through his philosophy, I saw the nothingness of life and the hope albeit that nothingness. * I couldn’t express how Schopenhauer’s philosophy is a cure. Perhaps it’s a rather personal experience and you just wait for it to happen. And I don’t even know if it would really cure me from my sufferings. Nevertheless, to truly feel Schopenhauer’s curative philosophy, you must read his chief work. You must read The World as Will and Representation, the four books of it, and you must not read Schopenhauer’s chief work critically, academically, and philosophically—because you will not get Schopenhauer’s point through that. To appreciate the curative effects of Schopenhauer’s philosophy, you must read him innocently, romantically, and aesthetically. You must let Schopenhauer’s prose carry you away from the web of māyā (illusion) and into the bliss of nirvāṇa (enlightenment)—that’s the only way for you to appreciate Schopenhauer’s philosophy. But there’s no guarantee that Schopenhauer’s philosophy would work for you. Like any other medicine, Schopenhauer’s curative philosophy is just for certain illnesses—it could not solve all pathologies. But I felt that it could solve mine, and I hope that it will, because the problem with me is my restlessness and madness—which are characteristic of the will. I don’t know if I have the fortitude to become an ascetic, but I had already experienced a personal suffering that almost led me to renouncing life. Perhaps I could take the second path, and I am trying to take that path, but it is not easy because Schopenhauer’s path to the denial of the will is like the Tao—it is paradoxical, elusive, and mystical. Right now, I view this world, our world, as the worst of all possible worlds. Of course this doesn’t mean that the world really is the worst of all possible worlds. All that evil and suffering and boredom exists only in my world, in my perspective. But the world as it really is, the will itself, could neither be the best or the worst of all possibilities. This is because the will is the one and only possibility, and human concepts such as good and evil does not apply to it. Nothing applies to the will. And that is what the world itself, with all its philosophies and art and love, is—nothing. I could already see the nothingness of reality, and although my perspective is still vulnerable to the violent desires of the will, although it is still susceptible to the disturbances of circumstances, although I am still a servant of the past, I had already seen nothingness. And I know I would one day get away from my entanglement in the web of māyā. I know I would eventually recognize the illusoriness of my many fears which brings me suffering, as I would accept the illusoriness of the few joys that causes me happiness. I’m very hopeful that that would happen, and having hope in this hopeless existence is the effect of Schopenhauer’s pessimism. Mystical optimism is the cure hiding in Schopenhauer’s philosophy. And the paradox lies in making the worst of all possible worlds the best of all possible worlds. And you do that through art, not philosophy. 24 November 2013

  2. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    To truth only a brief celebration of victory is allowed between the two long periods during which it is condemned as paradoxical, or disparaged as trivial. Arthur Schopenhauer is possibly the Western philosopher most admired by non-philosophers. Revered by figures as diverse as Richard Wagner, Albert Einstein, and Jorge Luis Borges, Schopenhauer’s influence within philosophy has been comparatively muted. True, Nietzsche absorbed and then repudiated Schopenhauer, while Wittgenstein and Ryle to To truth only a brief celebration of victory is allowed between the two long periods during which it is condemned as paradoxical, or disparaged as trivial. Arthur Schopenhauer is possibly the Western philosopher most admired by non-philosophers. Revered by figures as diverse as Richard Wagner, Albert Einstein, and Jorge Luis Borges, Schopenhauer’s influence within philosophy has been comparatively muted. True, Nietzsche absorbed and then repudiated Schopenhauer, while Wittgenstein and Ryle took kernels of thought and elements of style from him. Compared with Hegel, however—whom Schopenhauer detested—his influence has been somewhat limited. For my part, I came to Schopenhauer fully prepared to fall under his spell. He has much to recommend him. A cosmopolitan polyglot, a lover of art, and a writer of clear prose (at a time when obscurity was the norm), Schopenhauer certainly cuts a more dashing and likable figure than the lifeless, professorial, and opaque Hegel. But I must admit, from the very start, that I was fairly disappointed in this book. Before I criticize it, however, I should offer a little summary. Schopenhauer published The World as Will and Representation when he was only thirty, and held fast to the views expressed in this book for the rest of his life. Indeed, when he finally published a second edition, in 1844, he decided to leave the original just as it was, only writing another, supplementary volume. He was not a man of tentative conclusions. He was also not a man of humility. One quickly gets a taste for his flamboyant arrogance, as Schopenhauer demands that his reader read his book twice (I declined), as well as to read several other essays of his (I took a rain check), in order to fully understand his system. He also, for good measure, berates Euclid for being a bad mathematician, Newton for being a bad physicist, Winckelmann for being a bad art critic, and has nothing but contempt for Fichte, Schlegel, and Hegel. Kant, his intellectual hero, is more abused than praised. But Schopenhauer would not be a true philosopher if he did not believe that all of his predecessors were wrong, and himself wholly right—about everything. The quickest way into Schopenhauer’s system is through Kant, which means a detour through Hume. David Hume threw a monkey wrench into the gears of the knowledge process with his problems of causation and induction. In a nutshell, Hume demonstrated that it was illogical either to assert that A caused B, or to conclude that B always accompanies A. As you might imagine, this makes science rather difficult. Kant’s response to this problem was rather complex, but it depended upon his dividing the world into noumena and phenomena. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is phenomena—the world as we know it. This world, Kant said, is fundamentally shaped by our perception of it. And—crucially—our perception imposes upon this observed world causal relationships. This way, Hume’s problems are overcome. We are, indeed, justified in deducing that A caused B, or that B always accompanies A, since that is how our perception shapes our phenomenal world. But he pays a steep price for this victory over Hume. For the world of the noumena—the world in-itself, as it exists unperceived and unperceivable—is, indeed, a world where causal thinking does not apply. In fact, none of our concepts apply, not even space and time. The fundamental reality is, in a word, unknowable. By the very fact of perceiving the world, we distort it so completely that we can never achieve true knowledge. Schopenhauer begins right at this point, with the division of the world into phenomena and noumena. Kant’s phenomena become Schopenhauer’s representation, with only minimal modifications. Kant’s noumena undergo a more notable transformation, and become Schopenhauer’s will. Schopenhauer points out that, if space and time do not exist for the noumena, then plurality must also not exist. In other words, fundamental reality must be single and indivisible. And though Schopenhauer agrees that observation can never reveal anything of significance about this fundamental reality, he believes that our own private experience can. And when we look inside, what we find is will: the urge to move, to act, and to live. Reality, then, is fundamentally will—a kind of vital urge that springs up out of nothingness. The reality we perceive, the world of space, time, taste, and touch, is merely a kind of collective hallucination, with nothing to tell us about the truly real. Whereas another philosopher could have turned this ontology into a kind of joyous vitalism, celebrating the primitive urge that animates us all, Schopenhauer arrives at the exact opposite conclusion. The will, for him, is not something to be celebrated, but defeated; for willing leads to desiring, and desiring leads to suffering. All joy, he argues, is merely the absence of suffering. We always want something, and our desires are painful to us. But satisfying desires provides only a momentary relief. After that instant of satiety, desire creeps back in a thousand different forms, to torture us. And even if we do, somehow, manage to satisfy all of our many desires, boredom sets in, and we are no happier. Schopenhauer’s ethics and aesthetics spring from this predicament. The only escape is to stop desiring, and art is valuable insofar as it allows us to do this. Beauty operates, therefore, by preventing us from seeing the world in terms of our desires, and encouraging us to see it as a detached observer. When we see a real mountain, for example, we may bemoan the fact that we have to climb it; but when we see a painting of a craggy peak, we can simply admire it for what it is. Art, then, has a deep importance in Schopenhauer’s system, since it helps us towards the wisdom and enlightenment. Similarly, ethics consists in denying the will-to-live—in a nutshell, asceticism. The more one overcomes one’s desires, the happier one will be. So much for the summary; on to evaluation. To most modern readers, I suspect, Schopenhauer’s metaphysics will be the toughest pill to swallow. Granted, his argument that Kant should not have spoken of ‘noumena’ in the plural, but rather of a single unknowable reality, is reasonable; and if we are to equate that deeper reality with something, then I suppose ‘will’ will do. But this is all just a refinement of Kant’s basic metaphysical premises, which I personally do not accept. Now, it is valid to note that our experience of reality is shaped and molded by our modes of perception and thought. It is also true that our subjective representation of reality is, in essence, fundamentally different from the reality that is being represented. But it strikes me as unwarranted to thus conclude that reality is therefore unknowable. Consider a digital camera that sprung to life. The camera reasons: “The image I see is a two-dimensional representation of a world of light, shape, and color. But this is just a consequence of my lens and software. Therefore, fundamental reality must not have any of those qualities—it has no dimensions, no light, no shape, and no color! And if I were to stop perceiving this visible world, the world would simply cease to exist, since it is only a representation.” I hope you can see that this line of reasoning is not sound. While it is true that a camera only detects certain portions of reality, and that a photo of a mountain is a fundamentally different sort of thing than a real mountain, it is also true that cameras use real data from the outside world to create representations—useful, pleasing, and accurate—of that world. If this were not true, we would not buy cameras. And if our senses were not doing something similar, they would not help us to navigate the world. In other words, we can acknowledge that the subjective world of our experience is a kind of interpretive representation of the world-in-itself, without concluding that the world-in-itself has no qualities in common with the world of our representation. Besides, it does seem a violence done to language to insist that the world of our senses is somehow ‘unreal’ while some unknowable shadow realm is ‘really real.’ What is ‘reality’ if not what we can know and experience? I also think that there are grave problems with Schopenhauer’s ethics, at least as he presents it here. Schopenhauer prizes the ascetics who try to conquer their own will-to-live. Such a person, he thinks, would necessarily be kind to others, since goodness consists in making less distinction between oneself and others. Thus, Schopenhauer’s virtue results from a kind of ego death. However, if all reality, including us, is fundamentally the will to live, what can be gained from fighting it? Some respite from misery, one supposes. But in that case, why not simply commit suicide? Schopenhauer argues that suicide does not overcome the will, but capitulates to it, since it is an action that springs from the desire to be free from misery. Be that as it may, if there is no afterlife, and if life is only suffering punctuated by moments of relief, there does not seem to be a strong case against suicide. There is not even a strong case against murder, since a mass-murderer is arguably riding the world of more suffering than any sage ever could. In short, it is difficult to have an ethics if one believes that life is necessarily miserable. But I would also like to criticize Schopenhauer’s argument about desires. It is true that some desires are experienced as painful, and their satisfaction is only a kind of relief. Reading the news is like that for me—mounting terror punctuated by sighs of relief. But this is certainly not true for all desires. Consider my desire for ice cream. There is absolutely nothing painful in it; indeed, I actually take pleasure in looking forward to eating the ice cream. The ice cream itself is not merely a relief but a positive joy, and afterwards I have feelings of delighted satisfaction. This is a silly example, but I think plenty of desires work this way—from seeing a loved one, to watching a good movie, to taking a trip. Indeed, I often find that I have just as much fun anticipating things as actually doing them. The strongest part of Schopenhauer’s system, in my opinion, is his aesthetics. For I do think he captures something essential about art when he notes that art allows us to see the world as it is, as a detached observer, rather than through the windows of our desires. And I wholeheartedly agree with him when he notes that, when properly seen, anything can be beautiful. But, of course, I cannot agree with him that art merely provides moments of relief from an otherwise torturous life. I think it can be a positive joy. As you can see, I found very little to agree with in these pages. But, of course, that is not all that unusual when reading a philosopher. Disagreement comes with the discipline. Still, I did think I was going to enjoy the book more. Schopenhauer has a reputation for being a strong writer, and indeed he is, especially compared to Kant or (have mercy!) Hegel. But his authorial personality—the defining spirit of his prose—is so misanthropic and narcissistic, so haughty and bitter, that it can be very difficult to enjoy. And even though Schopenhauer is not an obscure writer, I do think his writing has a kind of droning, disorganized quality that can make him hard to follow. His thoughts do not trail one another in a neat order, building arguments by series of logical steps, but flow in long paragraphs that bite off bits of the subject to chew on. Despite all of my misgivings, however, I can pronounce Schopenhauer a bold and original thinker, who certainly made me think. For this reason, at least, I am happy to have read him.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom Campbell

    It is fair to suggest that Schopenhauer recorded the first and still unsurpassed critigue of human nature. A hundred years ago, he was vastly influential. Joseph Conrad, Thomas Mann, Leo Tolstoy, Nietzsche and Freud had read him extensively. Today he is scarcely read because few modern thinkers realize the importance of his recorded thoughts. Schopenhauer maintained that we humans are at one with other animals in our inner-most essence. Some of us may think that we are separated as distinct indi It is fair to suggest that Schopenhauer recorded the first and still unsurpassed critigue of human nature. A hundred years ago, he was vastly influential. Joseph Conrad, Thomas Mann, Leo Tolstoy, Nietzsche and Freud had read him extensively. Today he is scarcely read because few modern thinkers realize the importance of his recorded thoughts. Schopenhauer maintained that we humans are at one with other animals in our inner-most essence. Some of us may think that we are separated as distinct individual beings, but this individual selfhood is an illusion. Rather, we are embodiments of universal will. He elaborated by pointing out that our actual experiences in the world are not of freely choosing the way we live but of being driven along by our mental drives and needs. Our intellects are not impartial observers of the world but active participants in it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Griffin Wilson

    Of all philosophical systems (we may think of Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegel, Kant, Fichte, Marx, etc.) that I have engaged with which modern philosophy produced, I must say that, so far, I am the most impressed and inspired by the system of Mr Arthur Schopenhauer -- this work will surely go into my favorites, and is one I plan to read again (as a whole or in sections) with great care. Briefly summarized, the work proceeds as follows Book I: Epistemology/ Metaphysics -- wherein Schopenhauer pr Of all philosophical systems (we may think of Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegel, Kant, Fichte, Marx, etc.) that I have engaged with which modern philosophy produced, I must say that, so far, I am the most impressed and inspired by the system of Mr Arthur Schopenhauer -- this work will surely go into my favorites, and is one I plan to read again (as a whole or in sections) with great care. Briefly summarized, the work proceeds as follows Book I: Epistemology/ Metaphysics -- wherein Schopenhauer provides justification for the first sentence of the work "the world is my representation." This is done along Kantian lines, of course, but Schopenhauer has his own addendums and criticisms of Kant's First Critique, which he outlines here and in "The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason." Book II: Ontology/ Metaphysics -- wherein the will-to-life, the kernel of all existence, is deduced from its universal objectification in our representation. Book III: Aesthetics -- wherein the aesthetic (and perhaps some practical) implications of his system are expounded upon. Architecture, painting, poetry, and music all receive consideration. Book IV: Ethics, or Practical Philosophy -- the dreadful implications of our innermost essence, the will-to-life, which was proven as characterized by incessant and insatiable striving, receives a thorough treatment. The 'path to salvation' (found in asceticism or, as elaborated in Book III, aesthetic contemplation, which lifts the subject into a state of will-less knowing) is considered, as well as ethics. Appendix: A critique of the Kantian philosophy. The vast majority concerns the faults of Kant's Transcendental Analytic; however, most other works at least find some cursory polemics (or praises). I consider Schopenhauer's prose unmatched; a great pleasure to read, so long as you can at least hang on by a fingernail to the main thrusts of this genius, which should not be too hard if you have an at least decent grounding in German Idealism.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zac

    Schopenhauer rocks my world! This book blew me away. Its so good, I'm going to read it all again. Schopenhauer starts with Kantian notions of our limits of reason (that the in-itself of objects is unknown to us), mixes in some eastern philosophy, and finally tops it off with some platonic idealism. Unlike Kant, Schopenhauer thinks we have access to the "in-itself" of the world. This in-itself is the will, the blind striving behind everything. The best parts of this volume, however, are when he co Schopenhauer rocks my world! This book blew me away. Its so good, I'm going to read it all again. Schopenhauer starts with Kantian notions of our limits of reason (that the in-itself of objects is unknown to us), mixes in some eastern philosophy, and finally tops it off with some platonic idealism. Unlike Kant, Schopenhauer thinks we have access to the "in-itself" of the world. This in-itself is the will, the blind striving behind everything. The best parts of this volume, however, are when he contemplates suffering. And he does so on a grand scale. Suffering has a central place in his philosophy, and his ethics (Deny the will-to-live) deal directly with this aspect of living. Most importantly, on a personal note, this book is changing the direction i want to take my philosophy studies. Instead of analytic philosophy of mind, as I was leaning towards, I feel compelled instead to study continental philosophy. Never has a book so spoken to the philosophical problems that consume my being.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    “Truth is no harlot who throws her arms round the neck of him who does not desire her; on the contrary, she is so coy a beauty that even the man who sacrifices everything to her can still not be certain of her favours.” Tucked inside these wise, few lines is the sine qua non of any pursuit in this world: The necessity of absolute devotion; and the humility that even such allegiance does not entitle one to any recompense whatsoever. History shows that even the most powerful minds are undermined by “Truth is no harlot who throws her arms round the neck of him who does not desire her; on the contrary, she is so coy a beauty that even the man who sacrifices everything to her can still not be certain of her favours.” Tucked inside these wise, few lines is the sine qua non of any pursuit in this world: The necessity of absolute devotion; and the humility that even such allegiance does not entitle one to any recompense whatsoever. History shows that even the most powerful minds are undermined by ignorance of this. The example unavoidable in the work of Schopenhauer is Kant. Critique of Pure Kantianism Don’t mistake Schopenhauer’s alternation between acclaim: “the most important phenomenon which has appeared in philosophy for two thousand years,” and criticism: “the apparent depth of thought and difficulty of the discussion merely serve to conceal from the reader the fact that its content remains an entirely undemonstrable and merely arbitrary assumption,” of the Kantian philosophy as anything but the consequence of said devotion to the truth. Truth and ignorance are never mutually exclusive of one another and the Kantian philosophy is perhaps one of the most severe expressions of this fact. In my all-too-limited estimation, it is always an impoverishment of the spirit of philosophy when its participants pervert its purpose into a sport of originality; as if, as long as a certain threshold of truth-seeming is met, history should set its worshipping eye on s/he whom has accomplished it most contrastingly against the theretofore prevailing dogma. Schopenhauer stands as a way out such poverty. Acquainting with his brilliance helps return philosophy to the primacy of truth and away from the ego and sectarianism that ubiquitously plagues the social animal in question. Indeed, even before acquiring the sense to follow suit ourselves, many of us have benefited for such minds as Campbell, Jung, Borges, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Mann, Einstein having found their way to Schopenhauer. It is no small or meaningless thing that Schopenhauer was remarkably consistent in his thought throughout his life. However his philosophy corresponds to reality, he at least knew what he was saying. Kant, by contrast, was maddened by his own vacillations, and thus burdened the world with a prolific output of contradiction. This is to say that without a sturdy grasp on his/her own understanding, a philosopher can be neither consistent nor clear. Which brings us to Schopenhauer’s equally remarkable lucidity–something rather foreign to the wonted operations of philosophy. Wherever his prose is to be paused over, it is not for any lack of clarity but for the profundity that that clarity exposes. How much more thrilling is the necessity of a slow read when the time served is due to the wonders revealed behind miles of the clearest water, as opposed to the labor of having to slog through the murk–which, even if it does reach similar depths, cannot even provide a functional trace of what we seek. “We find philosophy to be a monster with many heads, each of which speaks a different language.” Schopenhauer is My Spirit Animal During this reading I penned some 12,000 words of definitions, notes, and mostly quotes–each of which spins off, as I read them back, into an essay of its own. I.e. I cannot even approximate a justice to the brilliance of this book in a review short of another entire book. So I’ll just leave you with a few samples, and to what they may provoke you: “no truth is more certain, more independent of all others, and less in need of proof than this, namely that everything that exists for knowledge, and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject, perception of the perceiver, in a word, representation.” “That which knows all things and is known by none is the subject. It is accordingly the supporter of the world, the universal condition of all that appears, of all objects, and it is always presupposed; for whatever exists, exists only for the subject.” “This world is the succession of the representations of this consciousness, the form of its knowing, and apart from this loses all meaning, and is nothing at all.” “This will constitutes what is most immediate in his (man’s) consciousness, but as such it has not wholly entered into the form of representation, in which object and subject stand over against each other; on the contrary, it makes itself known in a immediate way in which subject and object are not quite clearly distinguished,” “Therefore, in a certain sense, it can also be said that the will is knowledge a priori of the body, and that the body is knowledge a posterior of the will.” “it is a consequence of the scientific form, namely subordination of everything particular under something general, and then under something more and more general, that the truth of many propositions is established only logically, namely through their dependence on other propositions, and hence through syllogisms which appear simultaneously as proofs. But we should never forget that this entire form is a means only to facilitating knowledge, not to greater certainty.” “In respect of this withdrawal into reflection, he (man) is like an actor who has played his part in one scene, and takes his place in the audience until he must appear again. In the audience he quietly looks on at whatever may happen, even though it be the preparation of his own death; but then he again goes on stage, and acts and suffers as he must.” “It is an error as great as it is common that the most frequent, universal and simple phenomena are those we best understand;” “If we lose ourselves in contemplation of the infinite greatness of the universe in space and time, meditate on the past millennia and on those to come; or if the heavens at night actually bring innumerable worlds before our eyes and so impress on our consciousness the immensity of the universe, we feel ourselves reduced to nothing; we feel ourselves as individuals, as living bodies, as transient phenomena of will, like drops in the ocean, dwindling and dissolving into nothing. But against such a ghost of our own nothingness, against such a lying impossibility, there arises the immediate consciousness that all these worlds exist only in our representation, only as modifications of the eternal subject of pure knowing. This we find ourselves to be, as soon as we forget individuality; it is the necessary, conditional supporter of all worlds and of all periods of time. The vastness of the world, which previously disturbed our peace of mind, now rests within us; our dependence on it is now annulled by its dependence on us.” “Therefore, in this sense, the old philosophical argument about the freedom of the will, constantly contested and constantly maintained, is not without ground, and the Church dogma of the effect of grace and the new birth is also not without meaning and significance. But now we unexpectedly see both coincide into one, and can understand in what sense the admirable Malebranche could say: ‘Freedom is a mystery’.” “Our philosophical attempts can go only so far as to interpret and explain man’s action, and the very different and even opposite maxims of which it is the living expression, according to their innermost nature and content. … It will not, in opposition to Kant’s great teaching, attempt to use as a jumping pole the forms of the phenomenon, whose general expression is the principle of sufficient reason, in order to leap over the phenomenon itself, which alone gives those forms meaning, and to land in the boundless sphere of empty fictions. This actual world of what is knowable, in which we are and which is in us, remains both the material and the limit of our consideration. It is a world so rich in content that not even the profoundest investigation of which the human mind is capable could exhaust it. Now since the real, knowable world will never fail to afford material and reality to our ethical observations any more than it will to our previous observations, nothing will be less necessary than for us to take refuge in negative concepts devoid of content, and then somehow to make even ourselves believe that we were saying something when we spoke with raised eyebrows about the ‘absolute,’ the ‘infinite,’ the ‘supersensuous’ and whatever other mere negations of the sort there may be.” A few last comments: 1 - If you’re only going to read three more books, read this one three times. 2 - For those whom it may interest, know that this is remarkably congruous with the Buddhist cosmology, which imparts a practice (see Vipassana) equally brilliant to what Schopenhauer does to theory. 3 - Finally, if you happen to be interested in my review of another translation/edition click here: my link text

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    (Based on my very limited understanding) Schopenhauer assumes your having knowledge of Kant's philosophical system (I had only read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason) and his own doctoral thesis 'On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason' which I might read next time I want to give this philosopher a try. It seems to me that philosophers are mostly at their best when (1) When they are criticizing other philosophers (2.) when they are criticizing the ways through which we can 'know' a (Based on my very limited understanding) Schopenhauer assumes your having knowledge of Kant's philosophical system (I had only read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason) and his own doctoral thesis 'On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason' which I might read next time I want to give this philosopher a try. It seems to me that philosophers are mostly at their best when (1) When they are criticizing other philosophers (2.) when they are criticizing the ways through which we can 'know' anything. His argument that very rules of logic were created more out of the convention by Greeks rather than some beautiful epiphany spoke directly to me. As much as Socrates' dialogues can be amusing and give you food for thought, if you think his use of syllogism to win debates shows he was always right, then you put too much value on logic and reason. The world doesn't have to stand by our rules of logic. Even syllogisms. Hydrogen is combustible, oxygen too - combine them and you get water which is used to fight the fire. syllogism and other such rules of logic are only useful in worlds entirely dependent on such systems like mathematics. And even in mathematics, they don't seem to tell us a lot of new things except the interconnection between different patterns. As much as I liked maths in school it bothered me to no end that we should have to 'prove' a geometrical theory like that angles of a triangle always adds to 180 degrees because it could be discerned by eyes and often you could use the theory to prove what you had earlier assumed as given. Schopenhauer has some best (and also ironically logically sound) arguments against such reasoning after Kant. Will and Representation While I don't agree with the main theory itself which seemed to me like an exercise in creating an idea so minimal that you could use it to explain it everything; it is an interesting book. You can understand the word 'will' in the same sense as it generally understood - desire, urge, etc. He says that the whole world has a single insatiable will - and it is basically what makes the world move. It is what makes birds create nests for offsprings they don't know yet they will have etc. Now if you know anything about Hindu philosophy, this assumption is important to them too. In fact, the Hindu word for God 'Paramatma' (figuratively 'prime soul') seems to mean as same thing as Schopenhauer's. Of course, you don't see the will in itself, only its representation - which in Hinduism is called 'Maya'. Yes, Schopenhauer was a big fan of Hinduism. Will is what operates behind the bird above and makes it act so (as far as I understand), representation is the bird you see. 'WIll' is me, 'representation' is my body. Book 1 The representation is held in our mind by the principle of sufficient reason which is basically arguing if something is there / occurs, it must have a cause or reason - another silly convention if you ask me. What might be interesting to me is the idea of comparing Schopenhauer's theory of will as it manifests itself in living things to theories of Evolution. What Schopenhauer seems to try to explain in the behavior of animals through his idea of that single all-encompassing 'will'; is now probably explained by evolutionary incentives (such as how does an animal know that falling from a height might cause it an injury?). Schopenhauer's treatment of Will as something we are not conscious can be linked to the unconscious in the fields of psychoanalysts like Freud and Jung too. Book 2 Will is also what called the thing-in-itself (as against its representation in our mind). The whole world is one thing-in-itself and this unity (the one soul or Paramatma) is only seen as a number of entities because of time and space which are two forms of intuition and deceive us into seeing many differ Wills. Outside of time and space, we won't be able to differentiate among different things. Add in here a lot of pessimism of religious philosophers. Since everything (including non-living things) have a will of itself, everything suffers too. And it must go on suffering till it wills which is why asceticism is awesome. Not my favorite book. Book 3 My favorite part. Kant talks about aesthetics. Art is an improved 'representation' of will's 'representation' in nature - the play within the play. You take a part of the representation of Will - the platonic idea (for example lakes, love, etc) and you contemplate it individually so as to stop willing (lose consciousness of your own desires) for a moment which in turn reduces suffering causing what is called aesthetic pleasure. We have different capacities for this aesthetic pleasure and having a high capacity of the same makes you 'genius'. A genius then tries to communicate the aesthetic experience by creating copies of these 'ideas'. These copies of ideas are called works of art. The above theory holds true for all arts (Schopenhauer has interesting things to say about a lot of art forms) with the sole exception of music. Music is not a copy of an idea. It is the same level as the original representation of the 'one' Will itself and yet offering us pleasure. For example when you paint a leave - there is a (level 1) WIll behind leave which can't be seen, (level 2) an original leave (the representation), (level 3) the idea of it in your mind and (level 4) the work of art or the copy of that idea in form of the painting. All arts are at level 4 but music is at level 2 and so closer to will. Despite being so close to the will, it offers just as much pleasure as the other art forms which do so by distancing us from the will. If something pleases us by being 'beautiful' then it pleases us by tempting and feeding our desires (nudes, chocolates, and artworks depicting them). Like every preacher of asceticism, Schopenhauer too thinks that world is full of suffering and things that satisfy our desires (beautiful things) only tempt stronger desires in us. A 'sublime' pleasure, on the other hand, is derived when we struggle with our natural hostility to the object and this pleasure is thus driven by our getting closer to Will. Book 4 If you see things at the level of Representation (Maya), you develop egoism and egos clash and hence immoral actions, etc. To someone who sees beyond the representation of WIll, the whole world is One - his or her own suffering is not any different from that of any other; hence compassionate acts come naturally. Schopenhauer talks of suicide in detail which he thinks is basically running away from the problem manifestation of Will or its individual phenomena rather than fighting it which can only be done through asceticism. This book was boring too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gary Beauregard Bottomley

    Schopenhauer is wrong when he says this is a difficult book, that it needs to be read twice, or it's necessary to have had read Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" in order to follow his arguments. The author writes such that if you don't understand what he's saying just wait awhile and he'll explain it to you later on in another section of the Volume. When I read books like this, I long for today's writers to be as entertaining, informative, and as challenging to my current beliefs as this book is Schopenhauer is wrong when he says this is a difficult book, that it needs to be read twice, or it's necessary to have had read Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" in order to follow his arguments. The author writes such that if you don't understand what he's saying just wait awhile and he'll explain it to you later on in another section of the Volume. When I read books like this, I long for today's writers to be as entertaining, informative, and as challenging to my current beliefs as this book is. It's rare to find a primary philosophy book that gives a whole world view that's as accessible as this book. It takes a while to understand what the author is attempting to explain within this book, but when you do you start to realize the pure genius that is being explained by the author. The author is really writing four books and ties them together under his one big thought. He'll independently consider 1) knowledge, 2) being, 3) art and 4) ethics. Essentially all of philosophy. There's a sense that I got when he wrote these four 'books' that make this volume that he wrote them independently and ties them together in such a way that if you don't understand a concept in one section it will be restated in the next book in the terms of that book so that you will understand that original section upon reflection. To really appreciate a great philosopher and their over all philosophy, I find it best to accept their premises and see where that leads. In book one Schopenhauer starts to tell the reader how he sees the world (universe). He'll say that Bishop George Berkeley is one of his primary models. Schopenhauer replaces Berkeley's 'all reality is in the mind of God' with the universe as will (to live). (If you don't remember who Berkeley is, I'll jog your memory. He's the guy who said that "if a tree falls in a forest does it make a sound" and he would respond, 'of course it does because God hears everything". Also, 'to perceive is to be". As a follow-up to this book, I've started listening to his "Three Dialogs" available at audible). Schopenhauer really didn't seem to like the Enlightenment thinkers except for Kant. He doesn't like the materialist (or positivist) and ultimately makes 'will' the ground of all being and by 'will' explains it in the terms of the Eleatics (his word, think Parmenides) and the Stoics as contrasted with the Epicureans. A stoic will accept the things he can not change and only be concerned with the things within his control. This is how he ends his first book and sets up the other books from what he means by 'will to live'. All things that exist have this will he speaks of. He does appeal to Kant and the Kant's thing-in-itself, the thing that exist in itself and for itself that which remains after the categories of intuitions of space, time and cause are removed. That which remains is the will (Kant would call it noumena as opposed to the thing as it appears to us, the phenomenon). Within his second book he will tie Plato's Ideal with Kant's noumena as being basically the same thing and both point to the 'will to live'. He'll say that all forces in the world (e.g. Gravity and EM) are the "immediate objectivization of the will". Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure you can take Schopenhauer to be monist in the vain of Parmenides. Parmenides says there is no becoming as such there is only being and that there is no 'not being'. Schopenhauer seems to follow that kind of thought concerning 'Being' and if anything makes the dichotomy between 'being' with 'ought' because his unfolding of the universe as will is that the universe is meant to be one way due to 'fate' that is inherent within the world because of the world's will, and like Karma he tends take the cause and effect out of the world and for Schopenhauer he's going to replace them with will. At the very end of the Volume, he has one add-on to the story where he explicitly speaks of Grace (God's unearned mercy) in Augustinian terms and contrasts that with what he calls the obviously incorrect Pelagius belief in a person's ability to control their own destiny and he'll even give a special shout out to Martin Luther and the role that Grace must play (he even mentions at the end about the distinction between salvation by works verse by faith). I can say this was add-on because they really don't flow with how he dealt with Christianity anywhere else within the Volume. He will describe life mostly in terms of our will (wishes, desires, wants) never being satisfied, and even when we get what we want that only leads to more wanting and more struggling. The one who cause suffering causes himself to suffer (he'll say). There is a repressed guilt that is within our unconscious that causes us just as much suffering as we created in others (even if Freud says he wasn't influenced by Schopenhauer a modern reader can see Freud within this text). I just recently listened to Kierkegaard's "Anxiety" and Nietzsche's "Genealogy of Morals". There's no doubt that they take some of this book and makes it their own. Kierkegaard takes similar thoughts expressed in this book such as the nature of the "now", the particular to the general of a thing to the whole ("Adam is a man and all men make the race"). Kierkegaard uses the same kind of formation of which Schopenhauer used in book 2 and 4, and the nature of guilt and other items but makes them his own by having a passion for the now (Schopenhauer is definitely not passionate for the now, he puts us into the future in terms of will or even when we consider the past we extrapolate a will from today to our projection of the past, he says). Nietzsche will uses his passion for the now and inverts Schopenhauer's aesthetics and makes it about the artist not the art, and also takes the 'will to live' and changes it to 'will to power' a return to the primal instincts that are within all of us. A couple of things, he really does a good job at integrating Eastern thought into Western thought. He explains the world in terms of Maya, Shiva and Brahman (creation, destruction and generation). He likes the mystics and saints and thinks they provide the role models for today (he's very positive towards asceticism ). There is definitely a strand of pessimism within his philosophy. Death is a good thing. Life is struggle. Better to have not been born at all. Everything is an illusion and our knowledge can only takes us so far and at the heart of all things is the will that acts as the ground for all being. This book stands on its own and is definitely one of the easier original philosophy books to follow. I only wish that modern writers would write as well as this writer did and assume that their readers are as interested in learning about the world as Schopenhauer did for his potential readers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ilias

    Whenever you feel happy and think the world is all rainbows and unicorns, I suggest reading something from Arthur Schopenhauer to get a reality p*mp slap. While you are at it, I suggest doing it with a reader's guide. Whenever you feel happy and think the world is all rainbows and unicorns, I suggest reading something from Arthur Schopenhauer to get a reality p*mp slap. While you are at it, I suggest doing it with a reader's guide.

  10. 5 out of 5

    C. Quabela

    To begin, I’ve never been a big fan of Kant. The way in which he subordinates thought to universals and imperatives has always come off as repugnant to me. Nevertheless his fundamental of the phenomenal and noumenal have struck me as just right. I could never really reconcile my aversion to him though. Schopenhauer’s critique of Kant, for this reason, I found as liberating. Schopenhauer does away with all that which I had found objectionable in such an elegant and compelling manner, his accusati To begin, I’ve never been a big fan of Kant. The way in which he subordinates thought to universals and imperatives has always come off as repugnant to me. Nevertheless his fundamental of the phenomenal and noumenal have struck me as just right. I could never really reconcile my aversion to him though. Schopenhauer’s critique of Kant, for this reason, I found as liberating. Schopenhauer does away with all that which I had found objectionable in such an elegant and compelling manner, his accusation of Kant’s fetish for “architectonic symmetry” (in other words outdated Aristotelian logic) was quite simply masterful and I loved that whole appendix. As a whole, this work is beautiful. He is lucid and poetic throughout, without ever losing sight of the human aspect, which I feel is what Kant essentially killed through his faith in pure reason. Schopenhauer’s justification for the human condition as a pre-rational, intuitive constitution is quite simply liberating – and is justifiably why he is so often cast aside in academic philosophy. This book is fully worth the read. Frankly it’s a piece of literature, intimately concerned with the human condition and devoid of equivocal abstractions. Everything that he sets out to do is by means of applying a few fundamental and clear principles from which he deals solely with existence. The very fact that he spends the whole of the third book on art is enough to captivate any reader. Nevertheless, his is not an entirely solid philosophy. My biggest problem with his philosophy is his bringing into the thing-in-itself the Platonic Idea. Now granted, his re-evaluation of said Idea’s is very compelling in and of them self. He basically lays out a epistemological elegance that prevents the scholastic philosophy’s attempt to explain the why of things to merely the how. I simply though could not accept the assimilation of those basic ideas into the noumenal world. There is no justification for them being there and it is for that reason that I have never been able to swallow and philosophical “idealism.” Of greatest value though is his conviction that any attempt at conceiving of some form of ‘teleology’ is “charlatanism.” He gives the individual his due worth in this respect, and gives precedence to the significance of the individual as the primary role of philosophical thought – without any appeal to anything but man himself. I look forward to continuing his thought in the second volume. His is a truly unique mind that despite some questionable fundamentals offers some purely inspiring insights (too many of which to list). The main reason I wanted to attempt Schopenhauer in full is that I wanted to give a thorough re-reading of Nietzsche, who was himself a proponent of Schopenhauer in his early career. I can see why. A truly moving philosophy. Something that one does not come across very often.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Xander

    After reading Kant and being impressed by his whole new philosophical system, there were some questions left open. I found Kant's system impressive, but it sounds just too convenient to postulate an extra - unknowable - world in which to place all the difficult philosophical issues (freedom, souls, god, etc.). I read somewhere that Schopenhauer tried to improve Kant's system and that he created - in general - a more consistent and honest philosophical world system. I had read some loose material After reading Kant and being impressed by his whole new philosophical system, there were some questions left open. I found Kant's system impressive, but it sounds just too convenient to postulate an extra - unknowable - world in which to place all the difficult philosophical issues (freedom, souls, god, etc.). I read somewhere that Schopenhauer tried to improve Kant's system and that he created - in general - a more consistent and honest philosophical world system. I had read some loose material of Schopenhauer before (his essay on free will and some short texts), so I decided to read his magnum opus Die Welt as Wille und Vorstellung (1818). To be blunt: I cannot recommend this work to anyone. In 1844 Schopenhauer decided to publish a second edition, now with an extra volume (!) of additional chapters, to elucidate the original material (which during his entire life, wasn't in need of any change at all, according to Schopenhauer himself). This means in effect: 1200 pages of dry, abstract material, which is repeated on and on and on. And to top it off, Schopenhauer's philosophy is interwoven with the science of his day; this means that his whole system is basically useless nowadays, since we have drastic new insights in biology, physics, physiology, etc. But this might be a bit infair, since 1200 pages might contain some important thoughts. Does it? So let me quickly proceed to the book itself. The main work (volume 1) is split into four parts. The first part deals with the phenomenal world - the world as representation (Vorstellung), which basically is Kant's epistemology, with some peculiar changes here and there. The second part deals with the noumenal world - the world as will (Wille), which basically is Kant's ontology, with some more peculiar changes here and there. The third part deals with the objectification of the phenomenal world as will (of which more later) - in short: genius and aesthetics - the roads to becoming one with the world. The last book, part 4, then completes the whole system by dealing with ethics. So, it is easy to see that Schopenhauer was a complete system-builder. This is also the main drawback for Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung: it takes two whole books - 1200 pages - to offer the reader this system, so this means the reader has to invest loads of time. In part 1, Schopenhauer explains Kant's notions of the phenomenal world in his own terms. He claims that everything we experience in the world is a phenomenon. Where Schopenhauer differs from Kant, is that he only recognizes three forms by which we order the world around us: time, space and causality. The only object of unity (i.e. not dependent on either time or space) is the will it self; all the rest is phenomena. This means that our own bodies, nay, even our own intellect and motivation, are phenomena - objects in the phenomenal world. This is, in effect, 'the world as representation' (as mentioned in the book's title). In part 2, Schopenhauer then explains the same topic of book 1, but then from the opposite route. He now explains what this 'will' is. The will is the only thing in itself, the only noumenon, according to Schopenhauer. This is a strange notion indeed. Does it mean that the whole world is just one will? Well, actually, it means exactly this. Schopenhauer claims that everything in the phenomenal world depends on processes of causation (i.e. time and space), but that the ultimate ground for all these causal processes is the Will. This means, strangely, that natural processes as gravity and electricity, are objectifications of the Will; the same with plants, animals and even humans - every phenomenon is, ultimately, an object of the Will. This Will strives to objectify itself, accomplishes this in various degrees of objectification (with humanity as highest objectification) and this strife of the Will creates the pain and suffering in the world around us. The Will feeds off of itself, leaving only drama in its path. It really is no wonder to see Schopenhauer's philosophy labeled as 'pessimism'. So, now we have the one Will, which objectifies itself in nature in all the different phenomena that we see around us. Now what? Well in book 3, Schopenhauer claims that we have some lucky persons among us, called geniuses, who can 'transcend' the phenomenal world - ceasing to be subject, for a moment, and becoming fully an object, becoming one with nature. They then can translate these experiences for the masses by using art. In other words, the genius communicates his contemplative experiences of becoming one with nature by making art, and this enables the public to share in these experiences of the genius. Schopenhauer then goes on describing all the different forms of art available to the genius and mentioning the right and the wrong ways to communicate contemplations per art form. So, we can use art (especially music) to lose, for a brief moment, our notion of being a subject and becoming a pure object with the rest of all the objects of nature - in other words: becoming one with nature and losing ourselves in this. Is this all? Of course not. As every great philosopher did before him, Schopenhauer has to come up with a system of ethics. This is the main subject of book 4 and it is entirely based on his pessimistic philosophy. According to Schopenhauer, freedom rests entirely in the Will as thing in itself. And since this Will is one and unified, individual wills of human beings (or animals, for that matter) don't exist. There is only one Will, and each individual human being is an object of this will; only phenomena such as character and motivation differ between humans; these phenomena can only influence the Will (via knowledge), but they don't determine the Will in any way at all. The Will wills, and the character and motivation of the person make it possible to learn, to gain knowledge, and this might alter the way the Will objectifies itself in us. But this accumulation of knowledge - almost by definition - doesn't alter what the Will wills. If you don't understand the above, don't blame yourself: it is all very strange. In running the risk of over-simplication, Schopenhauer's ethical system boils down to the following. Life is nothing more but the Will objectifying itself in phenomena. This Will has no aim or purpose, it just objectifies itself and does so in different degrees. Since we, as human beings, are phenomena ourselves, this continuous strife of the Will is in us as well. It makes us desire future things and fear future pains; therefore, we continually busy ourselves with becoming or attaining, and at the same time are never satisfied and always in pain. What we have, we want to keep and improve; what we don't have, we want to obtain Life is, therefore, nothing but pain and suffering. Schopenhauer claims there is no escape to the Will's strife. When we have alleviated one pain, we suffer many more pains; so, life is an endless cycle of hurdles that we have to take and bullets that we have to dodge. The only escape plan, according to Schopenhauer, is to seize being a subject and become an object. In other words, we should try to stop being the Will objectifying itself in us, as phenomenon, and become a pure object, become one with nature. In still other words: we should deny our will to live. Only in this renunciation of the will to live, we find true peace of mind. How can we reach this trainquil state of mind, this being in pure nothingness? Well, according to Schopenhauer, this can be reached momentarily by art (see my comments on book 3 above), but to reach this state of mind continuously, we have to improve our self knowledge. We should contemplate ourselves as subjects, and try to locate this Will inside us, see how it affects us as phenomenal object. Once we have this self knowledge, we know what we should deny outright; we should deny our own Will. This leaves us in a state of pure nothingness: the Will in us is abolished and we no longer suffer our pains or fear death, since these are just phenomenal objectifications of the Will. Deny the Will, and you deny all the nasty side effects of its continuous strife. So, to summarize all of the above: the whole world that we experience, including our own bodies and mental faculties (intellect, motivation, time, space and causality) consists of phenomena, representations. These phenomena are all objectifications of the thing in itself: the Will. This Will strives to objectify itself in phenomena and does so in different degrees: matter, plants, animals and, the summum bonum: the human being. This is a gradual ladder of objectification, becoming more perfect the higher you climb. Incidentally, this means that animals have intellects and motivations as well (a position that not many philosophers took in those times). In order to overcome the worldly drama of the striving Will, which feeds off of itself, we have to reach a trascendental, tranquil state of mind, either by using art as a temporary vehicle or by reaching a contemplative state ourselves, in which we seize to be subject (i.e. Will) and become pure object, and thus, become one with nature. Now, what should we think of all these strange notions and ideas? First, it is easy to see that Schopenhauer radically alters Kant's philosophy. Gone is the the noumenal world with God, the immaterial soul and freedom; there's only one, unified Will, which objectifies itself in all the different phenomena. We don't have souls, there's just a Will; even killing yourself doesn't alleviate your suffering. Schopenhauer was an atheist and scoffs a lot at religion (judaism, christianity and islam) it is easy to see why: there is simply no place for a God (let alone christianity, which, apart from Catholicism, preaches optimism - reward in the next life). I have no real knowledge of oriental religions, but Schopenhauer remarks multiple times that his philosophy is almost similar to hinduism - for example, the notion of becoming one with nature and losing yourself (as subject) in the process. It seems to me, that Schopenhauer was the first (and up to today one of the few) philosopher(s) that radically broke with revealed monotheistic religion and offered an independent, and truly new system of philosophy. For this, he deserves our respect. But the totality of his philosophy is at the same time its weakness. Schopenhauer was steeped in the science of his time and he chose to build a philosophical system that is intensely interwoven with the 19th century scientific knowledge. It is ironic that about the same time that Schopenhauer wrote an immense second volume (700 pages) with additional material, Charles Darwin took his first steps toward a new science of biology. We nowadays see evolutionary biology as one of the corner stones of scientific knowledge; this means that Schopenhauer's whole second book (of volume 1) on the Will, which is entirely based on the biological science of his time, becomes problematic. To illustrate this with an example, Schopenhauer explains in the additional material in book 2, that the Will is the ultimate ground for the 'life force' contained in blood, which is in itself the first cause (via a long chain of cause and effect) of building bodies. In other words: Schopenhauer builds his biology on the notion of a life force, vis viva, which natural philosophers at the time used to explain how organisms became what they became. This is a sort of teleology, in which the Will strives to objectify itself in natural phenomena. Nowadays, we simply say: DNA contains the digital code by which proteins are synthesized and build, via long chains of proteins building proteins, bodies. It is this last point, the fact that Schopenhauer's philosophy is clearly outdated, that makes him not really interesting to read. True, compared to Kant, Schopenhauer developed a more consistent and complete philosophy. And true, he assimilated epistemology, ontology, aesthetics and ethics into one great system. But he outlines all of this in 1200 pages, repeating himself many, many times (which becomes boring pretty quick), and meanwhile a modern day reader knows (on the basis of modern scientific insights) the whole system is doomed to failure to begin with. Therefore, even though Schopenhauer's philosophy is interesting in and of itself, it is tiring, long winded and outdated. Thus: not a recommendation for other readers. Are there any insights that we can use in our daily lives? Well, personally I admire Schopenhauer's form of stoicism: life is suffering - pain always outweighs pleasure, if not in effect, at least in feeling, and is endless - so, we should try to find a way to deny ourselves our wills-to-live, in order to avoid the most (as possible) pains and sufferings. But this was a notion that was already developed in ancient Greece, so we shouldn't need to read 1200 pages of abstract philosophy to learn this. It seems, therefore, that these two books of Schopenhauer were just another hurdle in life that I had to take (pun intended). As a last remark, I want to add two comments. 1) I find the whole idea of there being one, unified Will, objectified in all of nature in different degrees, a very strange notion. This means that the Will, of which I am a representation, and you too, is the same Will as the force that binds atoms together in molecules and the force that makes the planets revolve around the Sun. It is all Will, just in different (degrees) of objectification. I can see the beauty in this idea, since it lets us feel one with all of nature and makes us respect our fellow human beings as well as all organisms on this planet, but utility is not a criterium for truth. It seems to absurd for me to feel really convinced of the truth, even though the idea itself is useful - even pleasant. But then again, modern day particle physics tells us that the entire universe ultimately consists of energy fluctuations in fields, so is this not - in a metaphorical sense, at least - a vindication of Schopenhauer's key insight? Who knows. 2) Schopenhauer was openly atheistic and it is easy to see why. In Schopenhauer's world, there is just the Will, objectifying itself continuously in the phenomenal world and in perpetually striving without aim or purpose, causing endless suffering and pain. For Schopenhauer, there is basically just Will, nothing more. This means there is no room for a God, as a transcendental Being. But apart from this obvious fact, it is also plain to see that all the endless suffering and pain cannot be reconciled with most of the optimistic, monotheistic religious creeds. Protestantism, Judaism and Islam are optimistic religions: they promise rewards after death; Schopenhauer has no room for optimism, since his whole world is, by definition, pessimistic. We only exist as objectified Will; death is not annihilation for Schopenhauer - hence his remarks on suicide; it being futile as an escape plan - but just us being annihilated as objects. We live on as Platonic Idea, as species. The best we can do is to seize to be subjects for the moment - by art and contemplation - and become pure objects ourselves. In other words: give up the will to live. For Schopenhauer there are only two comparable creeds that teach us (the same) wisdom. (1) First, the asceticism of the Catholic faith, which teaches us to undergo all suffering and thereby transcend ourselves. For example, the early hermits of the church, who actively sought to starve themselves in deserts, in order to become one with God through their suffering and bodily ordeal. (2) And second, the Hindu and Buddhist teachings, which teach us to become one with the world (i.e. Schopenhauer's pure object/denial of the will to live). So asceticism, buddhism and certain forms of hinduism can help us to completely abolish the Will. To end, let the master speak for himself: "To those in whom the will has turned and denied itself, this very real world of ours with all its suns and galaxies, is - nothing." So 1200 pages about nothing. Amazing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Prash

    a book to be digested. in the preface the author "boasts" that he couldn't convey his solitary idea in fewer words. i was forever looking for a superfluous word or sentence while reading the book to point out . could find none so far. the style is beautiful and majestic. he is a seer. for example he repudiates the concept of an "ether" almost a century before it was actually disproved by the michelson-morley experiment. he also tells of the impossibility of a "theory of everything" to which we s a book to be digested. in the preface the author "boasts" that he couldn't convey his solitary idea in fewer words. i was forever looking for a superfluous word or sentence while reading the book to point out . could find none so far. the style is beautiful and majestic. he is a seer. for example he repudiates the concept of an "ether" almost a century before it was actually disproved by the michelson-morley experiment. he also tells of the impossibility of a "theory of everything" to which we seem to be reconciling ourselves now. have completed reading only a third of it. the prospect of further riches is enticing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    The thesis of Schopenhauer's doctoral dissertation concerned the four aspects, discovered by him, of which only two are very certain, the physical and the moral, of the principle of sufficient reason - nihil est sine ratione cur potius sit quam non sit. The general nature of this principle, and indeed its fundamental quality for all thought, renders it easy to misinterpret, so that grounds and consequences have been almost constantly confused in the history of philosophy with causes and effects, The thesis of Schopenhauer's doctoral dissertation concerned the four aspects, discovered by him, of which only two are very certain, the physical and the moral, of the principle of sufficient reason - nihil est sine ratione cur potius sit quam non sit. The general nature of this principle, and indeed its fundamental quality for all thought, renders it easy to misinterpret, so that grounds and consequences have been almost constantly confused in the history of philosophy with causes and effects, with motives and acts, etc. Once distinguishing these relations, and placing them into their respective spheres, Schopenhauer proceeds, in this, his magnum opus, to declare that these forms are really just the world according to the principle of individuation, which, in Indian thought, is the veil of Maya. Although one may analyze the phenomena according to the principle of sufficient reason, there is no possibility of arriving by its means at the thing-in-itself - which therefore is, properly speaking, groundless. If the thing-in-itself is correctly understood as falling outside the scope of the principle of sufficient reason, then the basis of reality, very clearly and simply, must be something irrational. Now, if one introspects, one will notice two aspects of one's being - intellect and will. The thing-in-itself cannot be anything like the former, for the intellect deals with chains of things, of reasons, etc., which clearly implies that it is that aspect that comes most fully under the principle of sufficient reason, and therefore of the phenomenal world. The will, however, is irrational, and, since therefore falling outside the scope of grounds, etc., is the inner touchstone by means of which we may sound the truth of the nature of all being. The philosopher, concerned with the universal, and therefore not, like the scientist, concerned with the principium individuationis, is the student of the thing-in-itself, which lies outside of time, space, and causality, the forms of knowing through the principle of sufficient reason. The scientist is therefore bound to these forms, which are the forms of the phenomena. The artist, however, sees through these forms, and presents a representation of the world in its essence, to varying degrees of approximation. There are three levels of reality - the thing-in-itself, the Platonic Ideas, and the phenomenal world. The artist is concerned with the second level, and sees the Ideas, and only has to represent them through some medium. The appreciation of art, as one step removed from the phenomenal, acts as a quieter of the will, which gives everyone a big hint that the ultimate meaning of life is to be found in the total suppression of will (music is the greatest hint, for it is "an exact copy of the will", and, as everyone will agree, affords the greatest release from the pain of existence - an experience accessible to every kind of human person). The lover of art will therefore become the ascetic, the lover of humanity will become the hermit. Just as on the phenomenal level, the will everywhere appears to be in conflict with itself, the greatest task is to contradict the thing-in-itself in its ceaseless striving by extinguishing it in one's own person - i.e., shunning pleasure and embracing pain. This, it is thought, is the greatest thing that can be done, because it negates the essence of this world, which can only be construed as evil. The pragmatic mind inevitably looks upon this deed as the greatest foolishness, just as the ascetic looks upon the pragmatic and its deeds with precisely the same conceit.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shannon McCue

    i'm interested in schopenhauer. i don't buy everything (that would be scary) but... i like it. sorry i'm so inarticulate i'm interested in schopenhauer. i don't buy everything (that would be scary) but... i like it. sorry i'm so inarticulate

  15. 5 out of 5

    gemasphi

    Religion and metaphysics sit in the same corner for me as they are not things that I am able to be "rationally convinced" or believe in. All these theories seem to stem from a need for a more beautiful and orderly reality: There might be or not a true nature to things which I might or not have access to, but certainly what I see is not the real true nature of things for I cannot believe that the world is this messy. The true nature of things can thus be organize into triads, dualities, trees and Religion and metaphysics sit in the same corner for me as they are not things that I am able to be "rationally convinced" or believe in. All these theories seem to stem from a need for a more beautiful and orderly reality: There might be or not a true nature to things which I might or not have access to, but certainly what I see is not the real true nature of things for I cannot believe that the world is this messy. The true nature of things can thus be organize into triads, dualities, trees and other mathematical structures and they will be eternal and beautiful. Maybe if we can ever truly know these ideal forms, they will not be ideal and they will not have any form - they will be utterly incomprehensible, impossible to characterize, no hierarchies to be made; they will decay and be inconsistent and will be an offence to Beauty™. Or maybe, this is just my aesthetic preference when it comes to metaphysics, honestly, my uninformed opinion is that its unknowable.[1] Even you if are like me, there's a lot of value to be had in this book, specially when it comes to the book 3 and 4, where he discusses his thoughts on aesthetics and ethics. They are quite a pleasure to read and I think that there's a lot of truth to it in some way. [1] - Ass, Out of My; 2020

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kress

    To date I have read many works on philosophy (although I have yet to read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason), so I have some reference points to the comparative greatness of this volume. If you are interested in metaphysics, this is the book for you. Arthur Schopenhauer had an encyclopedic knowledge on this topic and The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1 leaves no stone unturned. The scope of this volume is enormous. After reading only a small portion of it, I had gained so much knowledge To date I have read many works on philosophy (although I have yet to read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason), so I have some reference points to the comparative greatness of this volume. If you are interested in metaphysics, this is the book for you. Arthur Schopenhauer had an encyclopedic knowledge on this topic and The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1 leaves no stone unturned. The scope of this volume is enormous. After reading only a small portion of it, I had gained so much knowledge on metaphysics that it was hard to imagine how he could elaborate further. But he does elaborate, and in a way greater than I have seen done by any other philosopher. There is no filler in this lengthy volume. It’s a damn shame this is not more popular than it is. This volume is divided into four books. Book One deals with “representation.” As all philosophers who followed Kant were influenced by him, so was Schopenhauer, but his views are somewhat different. Kant argued that we have a limited perception of reality, and that we can never perceive an object as the “thing in itself.” Schopenhauer believes that “The world is representation.” This means that an object cannot exist without a subject, and that our perception is what the world is. He goes on to lecture more about the nature of subjects and objects. This was something discussed by Descartes as well, but Schopenhauer adds to Descartes’s metaphysics and is more interesting to read. Book Two deals with “will.” I had heard lectures on “free will” by contemporary philosophers like Sam Harris, but Schopenhauer puts Harris to shame, because he has a more nuanced view. He lectures in this book on how the will relates to the body. The subject feels that he is “willing” the body (object) to take action. Therefore action (object) and will (subject) exist separately and simultaneously. We view others as objects, but we can view ourselves as both objects and subjects. Therefore, the subject is the "thing in itself.” Book Three returns to the topic of representation by discussing how the will of objects are represented to the subject. The universe is perpetuated through the will. It expresses itself through individuals, be they inorganic, plants, animals, or humans. It is the will of the rock that has been thrown to fly through the air, just like it is the will of a human to make the choices he makes. A human has more “freedom” than a lower form of life, and a lower form of life has more freedom than inorganic matter. Book Four gets ethical and spiritual in its return to the topic of the will. One can become familiar with the idea of “oneness” through meditation, and there are many great books throughout the ages that cover it. Tao Te Ching is a great example. But I have yet to find one as thorough and articulate as this book. The “will-to-life” is what drives us and our ever-demanding desires can never be met; the only way to escape misery is to acknowledge the illusion of our separateness and that the will of the world is One. My review has only scratched the surface of this volume. If you care about philosophy, you’ve got to check out this masterpiece by the greatest metaphysician of all time!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott Gates

    As the young philosopher below concisely put it, you can think of Schop’s will as Kant’s noumena and his representation as Kant’s phenomena. Will and representation has analogues in Plato as well, the former being what is, the latter being what we see. So Schop places himself in the long line of canonical metaphysicians. As usual with philosophy, it’s okay if you miss one of his points because he’ll repeat the exact same idea at least fifteen more times (along with prolix, meandering examples). As the young philosopher below concisely put it, you can think of Schop’s will as Kant’s noumena and his representation as Kant’s phenomena. Will and representation has analogues in Plato as well, the former being what is, the latter being what we see. So Schop places himself in the long line of canonical metaphysicians. As usual with philosophy, it’s okay if you miss one of his points because he’ll repeat the exact same idea at least fifteen more times (along with prolix, meandering examples). Schop wrote this in his late twenties and it’s clear that often when discoursing on Will he’s really going on about lust. “Through the casual connexion of things, most desires remain unfulfilled, and the will is more often crossed than satisfied.” (p.363). Or earlier: “Desiring lasts a long time, demands and requests go on to infinity; fulfillment is short and meted out sparingly.” (p.196). “Meted out sparingly”: well put! Similar to Wittgenstein sometimes in his investigation of solipsism in relation to the world. Schop concludes that the world needs us as much as we need it (so, the tree didn’t fall). His prose is pretty readable, about 6 times more so than Hegel and 13 times more so than Kant (it took a lot of mental effort to come up with these numbers; doing long division on the level of paragraph turgidity is no walk in the park). He’s not the stylist Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are, but you still get the sense that he’s actually trying to communicate with you. Departing from Kant, his thoughts on Will veer towards animism and monism, Will as a force that acts in all things, from a thrown stone to a person making a decision. In Kant, the noumena is a separate realm, largely unknowable in existence. With Schop, the Will, the thing-in-itself, is in you as much as it is in anything else. Since the Will is present in all things equally, the “principium individuationis” is an illusion (a stuffy way of saying that the stark division between you and others and you and phenomena is illusory) (you can see here the influence on Wittgenstein, like when Witt says that if x thinks y, it’s just similar to saying that y thinks y). Happiness, according to Schop, can come from realizing our connectedness with the world around us and losing ourselves in this contemplation (kind of like Mahayana Buddhism’s goal of becoming one with an object, like pure water poured into water). What’s pretty indicative of Schop’s temperament is that the World as Will and Rep. was published when he was thirty(!); twenty years later, he wrote that there was not one sentence in the book he felt should be retracted; and he reaffirmed this again when he was seventy! Having figured out the world when he was thirty, I wonder what he did with the rest of his time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/38427 Translated From The German By R. B. Haldane, M.A. and J. Kemp, M.A. Opening: “The world is my idea:”—this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/38427 Translated From The German By R. B. Haldane, M.A. and J. Kemp, M.A. Opening: “The world is my idea:”—this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only as idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness, which is himself. If any truth can be asserted a priori, it is this: for it is the expression of the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience: a form which is more general than time, or space, or causality, for they all presuppose it; and each of these, which we have seen to be just so many modes of the principle of sufficient reason, is valid only for a particular class of ideas; whereas the antithesis of object and subject is the common form of all these classes, is that form under which alone any idea of whatever kind it may be, abstract or intuitive, pure or empirical, is possible and thinkable. No truth therefore is more certain, more independent of all others, and less in need of proof than this, that all that exists for knowledge, and therefore this whole world, is only object in relation to subject, perception of a perceiver, in a word, idea. This is obviously true of the past and the future, as well as of the present, of what is farthest off, as of what is near; for it is true of time and space themselves, in which alone these distinctions arise. All that in any way [pg 004] belongs or can belong to the world is inevitably thus conditioned through the subject, and exists only for the subject. The world is idea.

  19. 4 out of 5

    GD

    Schopenauer kind of epitomizes my favorite kind of philospher, the guy who does what he does more out of a desire to know and understand than for anything else. Sure he's a crotchety old bastard who insults people he doesn't agree with, and his hero-worship of Kant is only acceptable because of the way he later flays the shit out of Kant's categories, but underneath everything like that there really seems to be an honest will to understand existence. There are some problems, I thought, such as s Schopenauer kind of epitomizes my favorite kind of philospher, the guy who does what he does more out of a desire to know and understand than for anything else. Sure he's a crotchety old bastard who insults people he doesn't agree with, and his hero-worship of Kant is only acceptable because of the way he later flays the shit out of Kant's categories, but underneath everything like that there really seems to be an honest will to understand existence. There are some problems, I thought, such as suicide. He just kind of skirts around why suicide isn't a good idea, and keeps saying that it wouldn't really end anything, but I just can't see how that's tenable. And he seems so pessimistic it's almost funny, like a a goth parody, but overall this is the greatest kind of book I think exists.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christian

    Amazing. I loved the parts about the subjective nature of reality, art, and the relationship between love and suffering.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    I first read this a long time ago and will confess to not feeling in command of what Schopenhauer was presenting. More recently, I was reading a lot on 19th century Europe and his name popped up more than a few times. Somebody wise once suggested to me that the best way to read was to do so in bunches, with several somewhat related books whose contents would overlap partially and enhance one’s overall experience. I do not know if this is sufficient reason for diving into Schopenhauer’s master wo I first read this a long time ago and will confess to not feeling in command of what Schopenhauer was presenting. More recently, I was reading a lot on 19th century Europe and his name popped up more than a few times. Somebody wise once suggested to me that the best way to read was to do so in bunches, with several somewhat related books whose contents would overlap partially and enhance one’s overall experience. I do not know if this is sufficient reason for diving into Schopenhauer’s master work, but that is what I did. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The writing style is complicated and highly multisyllabic. Sentences that I am sure were nearly a page long in the original German abound. But with a little bit of focus and a little more constraint on distractions, it is possible. I am not worried about providing spoilers but I can make some observations. 1). Rather than having to reread Kant before jumping in here, Schopenhauer is a clear writer (sometimes) whose summary of Kant is actually helpful and welcome. 2) S is a Platonist and his discussion of forms and categories versus particulars is helpful in understanding some of this. I had not recognized this the first time around with S. 3) S really does not like Hegel at all. 4) The ability that individuals have to gain insight into Will by access to their own interiority and personal Will seems a bit of a stretch, especially the extension to the global Will. I do not really get it, even though it seems like a good try at telling a comprehensive story. 5). It is intriguing how eastern religions get molded into the presentation. More generally, although S was an atheist, there is a lot of religion in the book, more of the order of religion as philosophy. His particular system seems good at generating answers to various longstanding problems, such as the conflict between faith and reason. 6) There is an interesting line of thought throughout about dissociation between nature and individuals and a dynamic of adaptation to conditions through struggle. This does not seem like a close anticipation of evolution, since I did not see a theoretical mechanism by which evolutionary change would occur and persist in new generations. 7) It is intriguing to see S make reference to nascent areas of science and social science at a time when these had not developed into their modern institutional structures and several pseudo-disciplines, such as phrenology, persisted. His discussion of gravity stuck in my mind. 8) I understand how he is seen as a pessimistic philosopher, given the inability of individuals to ever satisfy their willing needs and the huge importance he places on suffering as a basis of insight and even mystical breakthroughs. It is edifying to see the efforts of someone to grasp everything at once. The more one considers it, the easier it is to see why philosophy tended to move away from such efforts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Null Ghostman

    It's amazing to see a 19th century German philosopher so directly influenced by Vedanta Hindu philosophy, almost straight out of the Upanishads. There is a heavy pessimistic accent to the metaphysical system he expounds (which is very much a creation of his own), with a model very much influenced by Kant but replacing the noumenal realm with will and the phenomenal with "mere representation," but outside of that his ideas, especially on ethics, renunciation as the highest ethical position, and h It's amazing to see a 19th century German philosopher so directly influenced by Vedanta Hindu philosophy, almost straight out of the Upanishads. There is a heavy pessimistic accent to the metaphysical system he expounds (which is very much a creation of his own), with a model very much influenced by Kant but replacing the noumenal realm with will and the phenomenal with "mere representation," but outside of that his ideas, especially on ethics, renunciation as the highest ethical position, and his reliance on the veil of Maya/principium individuationis break through as a sort of enlightenment experience, are lifted straight out of the vedas. It is interesting to compare the core of Schopenhauer's belief system with Nietzsche's ideas and try to imagine how the two must have interacted, and what must have caused the radical break that led Nietzsche down his own unusual path.

  23. 5 out of 5

    InYourFaceNewYorker

    Very tedious at the beginning (but I suppose that's simply the nature of philosophy)-- it took me five minutes to read each page-- but it gets much more interesting in the third and fourth parts, especially the fourth part. Like anything written this long ago, some of it is mental masturbation. However, it is still an interesting read and Schopenhauer's thoughts on death were fascinating. Some parts of this book foreshadow evolutionary psychology... and Schopenhauer lived before Darwin! I didn't Very tedious at the beginning (but I suppose that's simply the nature of philosophy)-- it took me five minutes to read each page-- but it gets much more interesting in the third and fourth parts, especially the fourth part. Like anything written this long ago, some of it is mental masturbation. However, it is still an interesting read and Schopenhauer's thoughts on death were fascinating. Some parts of this book foreshadow evolutionary psychology... and Schopenhauer lived before Darwin! I didn't read the appendix--Criticism of Kant's Philosophy-- because I never read Kant and don't have a point of reference (although Schopenhauer said at least once that he expected that anybody reading this book read Kant, so perhaps had I been familiar with Kant the beginning of this work would not have been so tedious).

  24. 5 out of 5

    ehk2

    This is one of the greatest books of I've read, if not the greatest. I loved every second spent on its each and every page. It's eloquently written, it's accessible but needs effort (a background and familiarity with Kant's theories, especially to delve into the appendix in which Schopenhauer presents his detailed criticisms against Kant). Reading Schopenhauer is like listening to the wisest person in history. But that is not surely refreshing. In line with his theory, he does not present rules, This is one of the greatest books of I've read, if not the greatest. I loved every second spent on its each and every page. It's eloquently written, it's accessible but needs effort (a background and familiarity with Kant's theories, especially to delve into the appendix in which Schopenhauer presents his detailed criticisms against Kant). Reading Schopenhauer is like listening to the wisest person in history. But that is not surely refreshing. In line with his theory, he does not present rules, 'oughts', prescriptions. I guess, there have been probably only a handful number of people achieving to comprehend how to 'quieter' his will. That is pretty shaking, depressing and inconceivable within reason. I wish I could have the opportunity to read a few similar books of this calibre in the rest of my life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    joycesu

    I picked a bit at this, and I'll probably go back into it eventually to gain a better understanding on his critique of Kant. It's a pretty good read- he tends to be repetitive so skimming the tome is basically mandatory. I would not recommend it if you tend to get emotionally involved with your readings. He doesn't say too many kind things about the human race and tends to be rather pessimistic about life. To sum it all up- life is suffering, people all strive towards suffering, and the only way I picked a bit at this, and I'll probably go back into it eventually to gain a better understanding on his critique of Kant. It's a pretty good read- he tends to be repetitive so skimming the tome is basically mandatory. I would not recommend it if you tend to get emotionally involved with your readings. He doesn't say too many kind things about the human race and tends to be rather pessimistic about life. To sum it all up- life is suffering, people all strive towards suffering, and the only way to get out of that cycle is it deny your "will," which is to say- dissolve egoism... but no one ever really does (according to Schopenhauer).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I read a few Schopenhauer essays and aphorisms in college. I remember vaguely admiring them. The World as Will and Representation is a different beast. A behemoth it took me two weeks to fight my way through, through his (inconsistent but interesting) epistemology, his (nowadays silly-seeming, but still interesting as a historical note) metaphysics, his (ever so romantic, but sadly dated) aesthetics, and his (little bitch) ethics. A challenging philosopher, a necessary bridge to Nietzsche, Heideg I read a few Schopenhauer essays and aphorisms in college. I remember vaguely admiring them. The World as Will and Representation is a different beast. A behemoth it took me two weeks to fight my way through, through his (inconsistent but interesting) epistemology, his (nowadays silly-seeming, but still interesting as a historical note) metaphysics, his (ever so romantic, but sadly dated) aesthetics, and his (little bitch) ethics. A challenging philosopher, a necessary bridge to Nietzsche, Heidegger, and later thought, an important grounding of the mind in the body, and a philosophy I disagree with again and again and again. But one that I have to respect.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jackson Cyril

    The first two sections of the book are a bit difficult to understand. Schopenhauer's metaphysics derives much from Kant and my ignorance of Kant's metaphysics made it difficult for me to understand his first two books. That being said, the last book is magnificent; this being the part of the book where Schopenhauer expounds his philosophy, which I think everyone is familiar with. The first two sections of the book are a bit difficult to understand. Schopenhauer's metaphysics derives much from Kant and my ignorance of Kant's metaphysics made it difficult for me to understand his first two books. That being said, the last book is magnificent; this being the part of the book where Schopenhauer expounds his philosophy, which I think everyone is familiar with.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lance

    The most underrated philosopher in the West. His ability to unfold his one thought across many pages is amazing, which culminates in a kind of defense for mysticism . . . truly a rarity in his time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Srividya

    This is a very short impression of a work that is quite detailed.It extends mostly on the philosophical theories of Kant and Plato and at the same time resonates well with the eastern philosophies in explaining how the world as idea is created in the mind of the subject.The book is easy to read and assimilate compared to the works of other philosophers I have read.Book one establishes the world as Idea quoting the Indian and Buddhist philosophies,Spinoza,Plato and Kant all the way.While he build This is a very short impression of a work that is quite detailed.It extends mostly on the philosophical theories of Kant and Plato and at the same time resonates well with the eastern philosophies in explaining how the world as idea is created in the mind of the subject.The book is easy to read and assimilate compared to the works of other philosophers I have read.Book one establishes the world as Idea quoting the Indian and Buddhist philosophies,Spinoza,Plato and Kant all the way.While he builds on Plato and Kant’s philosophies , it is neatly divergent from them. According to him their works run parallel to one another in reaching the same goal, while Plato didn’t consider explaining change ,Kant’s philosophy doesn’t explain multiplicity that is explained in his second book.The will as our being and the thing in itself remains groundless and indivisible, in the medium of time and space it manifests as multiplicity of coexistent and successive phenomena.The knowledge of the objects around us is the one sided Idea that makes our world.. There is an interesting story from Buddhist work near the end of book one : Buddha after his passing away asks Brahma if he created this world and Brahma responds he didn’t. Brahma asks Shakyamuni if he knew the answer.Buddha explains that there is no reality in the world and all is empty.Schopenhauer explains that he did not have enough to read on Buddhism but from what translations were available, his philosophy was closest to this religion. His work acknowledges the many sided view of the world and aims at finding out what is reflected as the world in each mind . Beyond the reason/concepts and differences/ commonalities what is the innermost nature and how to understand transformation.He understands that philosophy is again only abstract knowledge and human action cannot be understood with a one sided view.The innermost nature is the true unchanged being and ‘it receives its complete expression only through a whole connected series of events’. This inner most core is the will which is the metaphysical connect to the intellect which works as its subordinate. Book IV is a complete assertion of the Indian philosophy quoting the Vedas, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Nature has her centre in everything and the spirit lives fearless and without care in the presence of anhilations. He explains the significance of Hindu God Siva, one of the Trimurtis to illustrate - how life and death are the constant change of matter against the permanence of form - how nourishment is a process of constant creation and anhilation.He reiterates the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita that only a man indifferent to pleasures and pain can lead a well rounded life on earth for he is himself the will! If we want to look beyond vacillations and passing influences we will have to understand the self and this is the best way of reconciling the outer world to the inner nature.The happiness that we seek is more inclined towards self preservation and satisfaction of vanity.It is happiness that is the veil to realizing the truth and pain is the actual positive to awaken the conviction that nothing is worth striving. What made me persist with this book was his clarity in expressing the deductions without resorting to technical roundabout explanations.

  30. 5 out of 5

    William

    The first volume of Arthur Schopenhauer's most elaborate contribution to philosophy, The World as Will and Idea, outlines a rigorous systemization of an insurgent transcendental idealism. Filled with reference and quotation, whether of other figures or Schopenhauer himself, even the very first volume is itself meant to consumed with a large body of materials, whether of the author or his contemporaries, or previous thinkers, it is meant to be far-reaching and interrelated to works outside of its The first volume of Arthur Schopenhauer's most elaborate contribution to philosophy, The World as Will and Idea, outlines a rigorous systemization of an insurgent transcendental idealism. Filled with reference and quotation, whether of other figures or Schopenhauer himself, even the very first volume is itself meant to consumed with a large body of materials, whether of the author or his contemporaries, or previous thinkers, it is meant to be far-reaching and interrelated to works outside of its own composition. None of this makes it worse, as, for the most part, it's all quite cogent. I can see already in this approach an attempt to incorporate all that is possible to incorporate, as in this vein it is apparent that Schopenhauer's goal is a provide more than just vagueries or tautologies, he wishes to strike at the heart of the matter and expose with vigorous investigative competence the most he can. I can now appreciate further than I could previously the potential influence this work had, it exceeds all the work even in his essays and aphorisms. Now, hopefully, I will go on to see the full picture of Schopenhauer's thought in volumes 2&3.

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