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Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Janaway
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Schopenhauer is the most readable of German philosophers. This book gives a succinct explanation of his metaphysical system, concentrating on the original aspects of his thought, which inspired many artists and thinkers including Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud, and Wittgenstein. Schopenhauer's central notion is that of the will - a blind, irrational force that he uses to interpret both the human mind and the whole of nature. Seeing human behaviour as that of a natural
organism governed by the will to life, Schopenhauer developed radical insights concerning the unconscious and sexuality which influenced both psychologists and philosophers.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product Description


an excellent brief introduction to Schopenhauer's thought - well-written, concise, and pitched at just the right level. (Christopher Norris, University of Wales)

About the Author

About the Author: Christopher Janaway is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birbeck College.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 508 KB
  • Print Length: 168 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0192802593
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (21 Feb. 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005G6O38S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,593 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Schopenhauer 28 Jun. 2004
By A. I. Mackenzie VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a neat little book that actually summarises Schopenhauer's work really effectively. I'm currently wading my way through 'The World as Will and Representation', and this book is a very good shortcut straight to Schopenhauer's central ideas. It's actually better than some longer commentaries like Magee's. It even gives a clear idea of why there is no 'School of Schopenhauer' in the way you get say Kantians and Hegellians and how even though he had few followers Schopenhauer was very inflential, primarily in Philosophy to Nietsche and Wittgenstein and in music to Wagner.
Highly Recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid introduction to an influential thinker 10 Jun. 2007
By Peter Reeve VINE VOICE
Schopenhauer, a German philosopher of the early 19th century, is a greatly neglected thinker today, despite being hugely influential in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably on the thought of Nietzsche, Wagner and Freud. The latter in particular, although he denied it, was greatly influenced by him. Janaway convincingly extends the list to include Mahler, Jung, Mann and others. In fact, if you have not yet delved deeply into the work of Freud or Nietzsche, I would strongly recommend that you tackle Schopenhauer before doing so, and Janaway's is the perfect introduction. It is a well-informed, readable and balanced account, neither an apology nor a savaging. Schopenhauer's metaphysics have not stood the test of time, but his worldview, essentially pessimistic yet with promise of redemption, is still very relevant, and in many ways strikingly modern. If you are at all interested in the development of modern thought, especially that of the various German and Austrian schools, then you need to acquaint yourself with Schopenhauer, and I doubt you will find a better introduction than this book.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The world as will 15 Aug. 2009
By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER
Schopenhauer: A very short introduction by Christopher Janaway, Oxford, 2002, 152 ff.

The world as will
By Howard A. Jones

This is another excellent little monograph in the Oxford University Press series. Unlike one reviewer, I did not find Schopenhauer the easiest of German philosophers to study, even in translation. I did find Bryan Magee's book equally readable as this, but it is three times the length and is therefore obviously more detailed, as is Hamlyn's book for Routledge. The author here is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton and is an expert on Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

This book begins with a synopsis of Schopenhauer's PhD thesis work, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason - a ubiquitous principle in philosophy and science since Aristotle that everything must have a cause. His best known work is On the World as Will and Representation (WWR) that was much inspired by eastern mysticism: Janaway tells us how this came about and how it expands on Plato's world of Ideas, on Berkeley's `reality in perception' and on Kant's view of the numinous: `only the will is thing in itself . . . It appears in every blindly acting force of nature'. The identification of Wille with Kant's Ding-an-sich is one of Schopenhauer's great insights; but while Kant's ethics is an ethics of duty, Schopenhauer's ethics is an ethics of compassion.

The compatibility of Schopenhauer's ideas with the Noble Truths of Buddhism is illustrated by a quote: `as long as our consciousness is filled by our will . . . we never attain lasting happiness or peace.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and compact summary 30 Nov. 2008
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To pack an account of Schopenhauer's philosophy - including discussions of where he is inconsistent or where his metaphysics is questionable - into a book of 127 pages is an achievement. Such a concentrated text requires concentrated reading; and, unlike an earlier reviewer on this website, I have found Bryan Magee's book of 456 pages not only more enjoyable but also more rewarding. But if it has to be done in 127 pages, it is well done here.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a very neat little book and I think meets a genuine need. Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophy has influenced some of the leading creative artists and thinkers in the 160 years since the world woke up to Schopenhauer's philosophical greatness. A list of those significantly influenced by Schopenhauer's work would include Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy, Gustav Mahler, Thomas Hardy, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Conrad, T S Eliot, Thomas Mann, Samuel Beckett, Borges - the list is long and very distinguished.

Many admirers of these great figures will want to gain an understanding of Schopenhauer's thought so as to be able to appreciate the nature and extent of his influence upon Mann, Wagner, Conrad or whoever. A detailed study of Schopenhauer's work from the original works and the extended studies by academic philosophers is quite an undertaking and this little book circumvents the needs for such work.

Christopher Janaway is a deservedly renowned expert in the field of Schopenhauerian philosophy and he takes the reader through all the key areas that need attention.
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