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The World As Will And Idea (Everyman) Paperback – Abridged, 5 Jun 1995

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (5 Jun. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460875051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460875059
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) elabore dans sa jeunesse un systeme philosophique dont il explore les consequences dans le domaine de la morale et de la religion. Il passe l essentiel de sa vie a son discours.


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Format: Paperback
The World as Will and Idea is Schopenhauer's major work, intended as a systematic philosophy to go beyond the limits of Kantian critique. It is perhaps because he is judged by this standard that Schopenhauer largely remains a marginal figure in mainstream academic philosophy, a footnote to Kant and Hegel, and worthy perhaps of inclusion in prefatory remarks on Nietzsche. But it is a shame to miss the real originality and insight of his thought and particularly that on art and ethics.

The first two parts of the book deal with matters of the nature of reality and what we can know of it. Schopenhauer here advances arguments that may be rather dry and technical for the layman reader - though certainly far less intimidating than Kant, and often illustrated with illuminating examples - and that collapse under the mildest philosophical scrutiny. But they provide the basis for a rethinking of the nature of man that would be profoundly influential. In Schopenhauer is the idea of man as fundamentally governed by impersonal drives. The idea of philosophy as the study of the divine faculty of human reason - present at least up to Hegel - is here supplanted by an account that brings humans back to earth with a notion of Will that would anticipate Nietzsche's Will to Power along with Freud's theory of the unconscious. What follows is a brilliantly pessimistic account of life as a ceaseless, vain striving after temporary pleasures - but also a sketch of possible redemption in the renunciation of the will and in the contemplation of art. These are the passages that make the text worth reading, creating from the carefully observed analyses of the life of the will a more complete picture of the human being, and bringing to light the possibility of escaping the banality of brute existence.
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Format: Paperback
I wouldn't normally recommend abridgements, since one is always dealing with someone else's judgement about what is truly important or interesting in a given work, and of course this might differ from one's own judgement were one to read the complete work. But this abridgement of Schopenhauer's classic philosophic work is about as good as any abridgement can be. It presents everything that is most interesting about his philosophy in a relatively compendious form. The main casualty of the pruning operation has been Book I, which is scarcely more than eight pages in this version. This, I think, is justified, since this section is, perhaps, the least interesting of Schopenhauer's work. Schopenhauer, of course, took his transcendental idealism from Kant. A great deal turns on how convincing one finds the latter's 'transcendental idealism'. If, like myself, one does not find Kantian idealism persuasive, then a lot of the discussion in Book 1 is apt to seem tedious.

But what to me is interesting is that nothing in the remainder of Schopenhauer's work really depends very much on whether we adopt the standpoint of transcendental idealism or (as I would prefer) transcendental realism. We can still distinguish 'natura naturata' from 'natura naturans' and ask ourselves what constitutes the latter. Now, most previous philosophers (with some honourable exceptions, such as Hume) had supposed that the highest or most ultimate metaphysical reality was something like mind or intellect or Reason. This is true of Hegel as it is of Aristotle. But for Schopenhauer, this is too anthropomorphic a conception. For intellect pertains only to human beings, and not even to the higher animals.
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The World as Will and Idea by Arthur Schopenhauer, Everyman (J.M. Dent), 1995, 336 ff. Eng. trans. by Jill Berman.

Schopenhauer's greatest work
By Howard A. Jones

Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (WWR) was published in 1819. Immanuel Kant, whose work greatly influenced Schopenhauer, had died in 1804. The other most influential philosopher in his life was Plato. The German word "Vorstellung" can be translated as "idea" or "notion", which highlights the development of the philosophy of Schopenhauer out of Plato's world of Ideas or Forms. But "Vorstellung" can also be rendered as "representation", and this meaning emphasises the inspiration Schopenhauer found in the eastern mystical concept of "maya".

Schopenhauer's home life was not a happy one. His mother was a romantic novelist and social butterfly; his father was a depressive who committed suicide when Schopenhauer was in his late teens. This background greatly influenced Schopenhauer whose major work is imbued with a spirit of deep pessimism. Readers would benefit from reading, or reading about, Schopenhauer's doctoral thesis "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason" before tackling WWR as the thesis work is referred to several times and informs Schopenhauer's interpretation of the work of other philosophers.

WWR is written in four Books. Book 1 deals with the world as representation, that is, all we can know of the world is what we glean from the images or representations presented to the senses, and the work opens with the statement `The world is my idea'. Book 2 is really the core of the work - the world as will.
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