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Schopenhauer: Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) Paperback – 1 Jun 2009
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"Recommended for large university and public libraries; accessible to general readers, upper-division undergraduates, and above." Choice
This volume offers Schopenhauer's brilliant and elegant essay on free will and determinism in a previously unpublished translation by Eric F. J. Payne, the leading twentieth-century translator of Schopenhauer into English, together with a historical and philosophical introduction by Günter Zöller.See all Product description
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Freedom is a negative concept, meaning absence of restraint, of necessity, of any cause, of any sufficient ground.
Man's Will is the consciousness of one's own self. It is his authentic self, the true core of his being. The Will manifests itself in emotions and passions (desire, hope, joy, fear, hate etc.).
Freedom and the Will
The Will is not free. Man's actions, like everything else in nature, are necessary effects. Man can do what he wills, but in any given moment of his life he can will only one definite thing and nothing else. To ask man whether he could also will differently than he does, is to ask him whether he can be someone else.
Man has also a consciousness of the external world. The fundamental and universal form of understanding of this external world is the law of causality. This causality can be unconscious (growth) or conscious (motive). All motives are causes, and all causality carries with it necessity. If freedom of the Will were presupposed, every human action would be an inexplicable miracle, an effect without a cause.
Man is capable of deliberation and therefore relatively free. However, that means only that the type of motivation is altered, not the necessity of the effect of motives.
Every man reacts differently to the same motives. This is called his character, which is individual, empirical (known through experience), constant (the same his whole life long) and inborn (the work of nature itself). Through that which man does, he finds who he is.
True Moral Freedom
Another aspect of consciousness is the feeling of `responsibility' for what man does, the accountability of his actions. Necessity doesn't shift the blame from man to the motives, because necessity has a subjective condition: man sees clearly that a different action could have been perpetrated, if only he had been another. The responsibility of his acts falls upon his character (he is a good man or a villain).
The ministerial creature Hegel
Schopenhauer's punching ball is Hegel, who, for him, smothered the freedom of thought and made of philosophy a tool of State aims, obscurantism and Protestant Jesuitism. But in order to cover up the disgrace, Hegel drew over it a cloak of the emptiest word rubbish and silliest galimatias that have ever been heard outside the insane asylum.
Using his superb mind (`which isn't designed in the first place for speculative but for practical purposes), Schopenhauer wrote an astonishingly groundbreaking treatise.
It is a must read for all those interested in the real nature of mankind.
The advantage of this book is it stands alone as regard to Schopenhauer's other works as, as part of the competition he wrote it for, he had to be unidentified to the judges. So this work begins and ends within the same book, but also is a window to many of Schopenhauers idea with a great exposition of his views on the will and a taster of the transcendental view he develops in other works.
Old Schops is way over looked!
Up the Schopenhauerians!
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Another reviewer correctly notes that Schopenhauer undermines his own argument at the last minute, or tries to, in a strange concluding chapter. There he argues that our feelings of personal responsibility for our actions points to freedom of some kind, a species of argument that he had earlier dismantled. Anyway, this freedom would have to exist beyond the empirical level, as his arguments have decisively eliminated any possibility of freedom there. The position Schopenhauer presents in that chapter involves the idea that we, somehow, choose our own characters at some mysterious point of emergence from the Kantian noumena. No commentator I have read has been able to make sense of it. In any case, it's completely skippable, a brief, tacked-on chapter that makes no difference for the rest of the book, which is very well worth reading.
Schopenhauer built on the idea of imperical and metaphysical characters and showed that they are two faces for the same moral character. On that Schopenhauer has built his own moral system supplanting that of Kant's.
Schopenhauer stoped short of providing the answer of why our metaphisical character is as such and not otherwise? This problem has been solved in the book The Will's Harmonic Motion: The Completion of Schopenhauer's Philosophy.
The essay of the freedom of the Will must be red first then the essay of the basis of morality to make both complete. Schopenhauer proves in every book of his that he is the best ever lived, he is clear, concise and straight to the point and always seeking the truth. All his books are a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy.