For anyone who still thinks of philosophy as a loose collection of schools of thought or method headed by major thinkers, as Randall Collins roughly pictured in 1098 pages in THE SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES / A GLOBAL THEORY OF INTELLECTUAL CHANGE, then the major thinkers Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche had differing degrees of success, as Kant and Hegel have far more lines in the index of the Randall Collins book than Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Nietzsche expressed a contrary view, possibly more ancient than modern, which applied far more accurately to the pre-Platonic Greeks, that there is no philosophy, only philosophers. For those whose idea of meaning depends mainly on context, Schopenhauer must now be evaluated primarily in what he was able to learn from Kant, how he reacted to his contemporary Hegel, and whether he deserved the repudiation which Nietzsche eventually expressed as a sign of triumph over the denial of will lying in the heart of Schopenhauer's philosophy. I have the big major volumes of Schopenhauer's philosophy, but I was hoping to find more when I checked the shelf in a used book store and found something tiny by Michael Tanner called SCHOPENHAUER / Metaphysics and Art (1997, 1999).
There is too much of Schopenhauer's work to expect a short explanation of all of it. He wrote at such great length on so many topics that the 54 pages of Michael Tanner's book would only be valuable as a summary of a particular aspect that is important for distinguishing Schopenhauer from the other thinkers with which he has become inextricably entwined in the minds of readers whose approach to philosophy has not been as systematic as the great books approach. My own interest would be more perverse than usual because I would like to find, somewhere in the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), some indication that his interest in music was in some way on the upskirts of rock 'n' roll, even when he is writing, "No one has kept so free from this mistake as Rossini; hence his music speaks its own language so distinctly and purely that it requires no words at all, and produces its full effect even when rendered by instruments alone." (pp. 48-49).
Schopenhauer playing flute by himself for several hours a day is probably the opposite of the kind of music appreciation of modern youngsters who expect to hear, "Let's party, let's get down. Turn the radio on, this is the meltdown" as in Sheryl Crow's "There Goes the Neighborhood" song. Schopenhauer was not even a seminar type thinker, as Michael Tanner seems to expect whenever a universal truth stated by Schopenhauer does not conform to our modern reduction of philosophy to a group discussion format in which individuals take turns expressing points of view. Since Plato, philosophy has been adept at condemning the poets and trying to think in ways that speak with more validity than music, so what do you expect? I think Michael Tanner blames Schopenhauer for indicating that music says more than philosophy, when Schopenhauer's main point of view would then be foolish:
This tiresome need of art to be `truthful', when the truth is disgusting, is what Nietzsche only came to free himself from -- granted his general outlook -- late in life when he wrote (and then only in a notebook): `We have art in order that we may not perish of truth. Truth is ugly.' Why didn't Schopenhauer say the same? (p. 47).
I must say that I was highly impressed by the first page of this book, which mentioned THE WORLD AS WILL AND REPRESENTATION and Kant's CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON with "he espoused some of its key doctrines, and it is necessary to grasp them to see how Schopenhauer moved on, as he saw it, from them to his own highly idiosyncratic position." Pages 2 and 3 trace the fundamental problem back to David Hume, and the beginning of THE WORLD AS WILL AND REPRESENTATION is quoted on pages 5-6. Pages 9-11 quote the second chapter of Book II for the inner nature of the individual for whom "The act of will and the action of the body are not two different states objectively known, . . ." At the end of the second book, Schopenhauer has a position of "Eternal becoming, endless flux, belong to the revelation of the essential nature of the will." (p. 16). In Volume II, in a chapter called `Characterization of the Will-to-Live', most unfortunately, "everyone perseveres in such a mock existence as long as he possibly can" (p. 18).
Finally Richard Wagner, Tolstory, Thomas Mann, Hardy, and Conrad are mentioned as having "a strong satisfaction in having what they regard as the necessary, inescapable misery of life so lucidly conveyed." (p. 19). Book III gives us:
"Thus the subject of willing is constantly lying on the revolving wheel of Ixion, is always drawing water in the sieve of the Danaids, and is the eternally thirsting Tantalus." (p. 20).
Then a discussion of earthly happiness and pain quotes pages with particular sentences examined to find "this is more of the registering of a tendency than the statement of a universal truth, and it is certainly not a necessary or conceptual truth." (p. 28).
On the upskirts of rock 'n' roll, Michael Tanner observes "that the way in which we usually appreciate music, when we are concerned with it from the point of view of emotional expression, is something that we value because it, at best, takes us into the deepest recesses of our empirical selves, the selves which maintain a constant attempt to remain sharply individuated. So whatever the truth about music, how and even if it is expressive, it can't be expressive of ultimate reality." (p. 51). He must mean that when Aimee Mann sings "You Could Make a Killing" on the `I'm with Stupid' CD, it might be true for an individual listener, but if everybody tried it, the chaos would be unreal.