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Penguin Great Ideas : On The Suffering of the World Mass Market Paperback – 2 Sep 2004
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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.
About the Author
Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig in 1788. He went on to study medicine and science at Gottingen University and in 1810 began to study philosophy. In 1811 he transferred to Berlin to write his doctoral thesis, and began to write The World as Will and Idea, a complete exploration of his philosophy, which was finished in 1818. Although the book failed to sell, his belief in his own views sustained him through twenty-five years of frustrated desire for fame. In 1844 brought a much expanded edition of his book, which after his death became one of the most widely read of all philosophical works. His fame was established in 1851 with the publication of Parerga and Paralipomena. He died in 1860.
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"For the Creator created not only the world, he also created possiblity itself: therefore he should have created the possibility of a better world than this one".
Consider the Creator to be officially told off - work is just not up to scratch!!
I can't help laughing at his boundless wit.
Superb set of essays.
(I also recommend a more recent book "Better Never to Have Been" for a similar philosophical view).
True art reveals out of the endless confusion with a single scene, mood or sensation an essential aspect of life or the nature of man. True art leads one from that which exists only once and never again (the phenomena, the individual, the actuality) to the enduring element in all change. Works of genius contain an unpremeditated, unintentional, unconscious and instinctive element.
For Schopenhauer, music (not opera) is the true universal language (pure weal and woe). Poetry is the art of setting the imagination in action by means of words, while the novel will be higher and nobler the more inner and the less outer life it depicts.
Writers and writing
For Schopenhauer, there are two kinds of writers: those who write for the sake of what they have to say and those who write for the sake of writing (for money).
A multitude of bad writers lives exclusively on the stupid desire of the public: the journalists (in English: day-labourers).
Obscurity and vagueness of expression are always a bad sign: what is clearly thought easily finds it appropriate expression. Those who put together difficult, obscure, ambiguous discourses want to conceal that they have nothing to say.
World, life, death, suicide
For Schopenhauer, `the world is Hell. Life is the expiation for the crime of being born. It is a process of disillusionment. One begins in madness of carnal desire and end in the dissolution of all our parts.'
`Nothing in the world a man has a more incontestable right to than his own life and person.'
Religion and metaphysics
For Schopenhauer, `that a God should create this world of want and misery voluntarily and `de gaité de coeur' saying it is all very good, is quite unacceptable.'
`Metaphysics will never put forth its full powers, because the various religions have taken possession of the metaphysical tendency and paralyze it through imprinting their dogmas upon man in the earliest years. Free investigation of man's existence has been made impossible.'
These short essays and aphorisms reveal crystal-clearly Schopenhauer's formidable and original talent to unearth fundamental and essential aspects of the way of the world, of art and of writing. His magisterial texts should be a model for all those who (want to) have something to say.
A must read for all.
Schopenhauer is widely regarded as the "pessimist philosopher" and this book must surely be the major source of this unflattering moniker. However, you're unlikely to find such a rich, well written and thought provoking book which also happens to fit snugly inside a largish pocket.
This is a different translation to the version I was expecting but when comparing the two I'd be hard pressed to choose one over the other - they both have strengths and weaknesses. At least by reading both you get a much better flavour of the original German. However, this version has the edge, since it's a more beautiful object and well worth the modest price.
Never was serious philosophy easier to read.
Schopenhauer has been all too often unfairly neglected by British Academic philosophy, something not mirrored on the continent, where as much space is devoted to him on the bookshelves as the likes of Nietzsche and Hegel. The structural foundations of his great philosophical system might have left many unconvinced, but there is no doubting that his attempts to combine the metaphysics of Plato and Kant, together with the wisdoms contained in hinduism and buddhism, produced something unique, terrifying and yet oddly consolling. Underlying Schopenhauer's synthesis of West and East, was his own vividly felt insight that human life and the world itself was inherently irrational and blind, a lived intuition that throughout this collection is captured in prose that is both beautifully clear and strikingly prophetic - he wrote decades before Darwin and Freud, yet both thinkers are remarkably presaged here...as well as the violence and destruction of the 20th century. His reputation as one of the greatest German philosophers may wax and wane on this side of the channel, but even in translation, nobody could possibly deny his standing as one of the greatest of German writers.
Schopenhauer's reputation as the philosopher of pessimism is also, it has to be said, richly deserved. Yet although the first 3 essays in the collection contain the greatest arguments ever constructed for the inherent pointlessness of existance, those that fill the remainder of the book strikingly remove the accusation of nihalism from the charge sheet. Renouncing the blind strivings of the will becomes an end in itself, something that gives meaning and purpose to the comedy that is an individual human life. The most influential and beautiful of Schopenhauer's writings are those on Art and this collection contains his essay outlining the role that it can play in releasing oneself from personal bondage to the will. Redemption is not to be found in suffering, but rather, redemption from suffering is to be found in art.