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Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 21 Feb 2002
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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
Christopher Janaway is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birbeck College, University of London.
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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.' Schopenhauer believed that transcendence of the material world was possible through aesthetic experience, and the role of art and music are discussed in Book III of WWR and the whole of Chapter 6 in Janaway.
Schopenhauer was hugely influential on Nietzsche, on composers like Mahler and Wagner, on novelists like Thomas Mann and on C.J. Jung. Other commentators see Schopenhauer as anticipating Freud in his idea of the role of the unconscious rather than influencing him. This highly readable book provides an excellent introduction to and summary of the main points in Schopenhauer's thought.
Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.
The Philosophy of Schopenhauer
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