For 70 years, the only unabridged English translation of this work was the Haldane-Kemp collaboration. In 1958, a new translation by E. F. J. Payne appeared that decisively supplanted the older one. Payne's translation is superior because it corrects nearly 1,000 errors and omissions in the Haldane-Kemp translation, and it is based on the definitive 1937 German edition of Schopenhauer's work prepared by Dr. Arthur Hübscher. Payne's edition is the first to translate into English the text's many quotations in half a dozen languages. It is thus the most useful edition for the student or teacher.
“Schopenhauer’s philosophy has had a special attraction for those who wonder about life’s meaning, along with those engaged in music, literature, and the visual arts.” —Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
The Essential Schopenhauer delivers the first comprehensive English anthology of the seminal philosopher’s writings. Edited by Wolfgang Schirmacher, president of the International Schopenhauer Association, this indispensible collection affords readers a uniquely accessible gateway into the monolithic thinker’s prodigious body of work. Just as the Harper Perennial Basic Writings series renders the work of Heidegger and Nietzsche accessible for English readers, The Essential Schopenhauer gives us unprecedented access to the complex ideas of this profound and influential thinker.
Starting with his polemic against Kant's ethics of duty, Schopenhauer anticipates the latter-day critics of moral philosophy. Arguing that compassion forms the basis of morality, he outlines a perspective on ethics in which passion and desire correspond to different moral characters, behaviors, and worldviews. In conclusion, Schopenhauer defines his metaphysics of morals, employing Kant's transcendental idealism to illustrate both the interconnectiveness of being and the affinity of his ethics to Eastern thought.
Schopenhauer's influence has proven profound across various disciplines; those who have cited his influence include Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Leo Tolstoy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Mann, and Jorge Luis Borges, among others.
Although everything that Schopenhauer wrote was written more or less as evidence to support his main philosophical thesis, his unifying philosophical principle, the essays in this volume have an interest, if not altogether apart, at least of a sufficiently independent interest to enable them to be considered on their own merits, without relation to his main idea. And in dissociating them, if one may do so for a moment (their author would have scarcely permitted it!), one feels that one enters a field of criticism in which opinions can scarcely vary. So far as his philosophy is concerned, this unanimity does not exist; he is one of the best abused amongst philosophers; he has many times been explained and condemned exhaustively, and no doubt this will be as many times repeated. What the trend of his underlying philosophical principal was, his metaphysical explanation of the world, is indicated in almost all the following essays, but chiefly in the "Metaphysics of Love," to which the reader may be referred.
These essays are a valuable criticism of life by a man who had a wide experience of life, a man of the world, who possessed an almost inspired faculty of observation. Schopenhauer, of all men, unmistakably observed life at first hand. There is no academic echo in his utterances; he is not one of a school; his voice has no formal intonation; it is deep, full-chested, and rings out its words with all the poignancy of individual emphasis, without bluster, but with unfailing conviction. He was for his time, and for his country, an adept at literary form; but he used it only as a means. Complicated as his sentences ...
If my object in these pages were to present a complete scheme of counsels and maxims for the guidance of life, I should have to repeat the numerous rules—some of them excellent—which have been drawn up by thinkers of all ages, from Theognis and Solomon down to La Rochefoucauld; and, in so doing, I should inevitably entail upon the reader a vast amount of well-worn commonplace. But the fact is that in this work I make still less claim to exhaust my subject than in any other of my writings.
[Footnote 1: I refer to the proverbs and maxims ascribed, in the Old
Testament, to the king of that name.]
An author who makes no claims to completeness must also, in a great measure, abandon any attempt at systematic arrangement. For his double loss in this respect, the reader may console himself by reflecting that a complete and systematic treatment of such a subject as the guidance of life could hardly fail to be a very wearisome business. I have simply put down those of my thoughts which appear to be worth communicating—thoughts which, as far as I know, have not been uttered, or, at any rate, not just in the same form, by any one else; so that my remarks may be taken as a supplement to what has been already achieved in the immense field.
However, by way of introducing some sort of order into the great variety of matters upon which advice will be given in the following pages, I shall distribute what I have to say under the following heads: (1) general rules; (2) our relation to ourselves; (3) our relation to others; and finally, (4) rules which concern our manner of life and our worldly circumstances. I shall conclude with some remarks on the changes which the various periods of life produce in us.
Schopenhauer makes a distinction between freedom of acting (which he endorses) and the freedom of willing (which he refutes). The philosopher regards human activity as entirely determined, but he also posits that the variety of freedom that cannot be established in the sphere of human activity resides at the level of individuated will — a reality that transcends all dependency on outside factors. Because the essay's clear and rigorous argument reveals many basic features of his thought, it forms a useful introduction to Schopenhauer for students of philosophy or religion.
subject-headings. These works won widespread attention with their publication in 1851, helping to secure lasting international fame for Schopenhauer. Indeed, their intellectual vigor, literary power, and rich diversity are still extraordinary even today.
Schopenhauer's reasoning encompasses the influence of the Upanishads and Buddhist teachings, as well as the works of Plato and Kant. His philosophy had an enormous impact on contemporary philosophy and literature, and on subsequent thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein. Published toward the end of his life in a collection called Parerga und Paralipomena, these essays include "On the Sufferings of the World," "On the Vanity of Existence," "On Suicide," "Immortality: A Dialogue," "Further Psychological Observations," "On Education," "On Women," and "On Noise," plus "A Few Parables." They remain among Schopenhauer's most popular works, offering insights into his philosophy as a whole as well as the human condition.
In The Wisdom of Life, an essay from Schopenhauer's final work, Parerga und Paralipomena (1851), the philosopher favors individual strength of will and independent, reasoned deliberation over the tendency to act on irrational impulses. He examines the ways in which life can be arranged to derive the highest degree of pleasure and success, presents guidelines to achieving this full and rich manner of living, and advises that even a life well lived must always aspire to grander heights. Abounding in subjects of enduring relevance, Schopenhauer's highly readable work appears here in an excellent translation.
Dem Gerechten keine Gesetze, und dem Weisen keine Rathschläge. Und doch hat noch Keiner so viel gewußt, als er für sich brauchte. Eines hast du mir zu verzeihen, ein Andres zu danken: daß ich nämlich dieses Handbuch der Lebensklugheit ein »Orakel« genannt habe, denn es ist ein solches, wegen des Sentenziösen und Gedrungenen; sodann aber, daß ich dir in Einem Federzuge alle zwölf Werke Gracian's darbiete, deren jedes so hoch geschätzt wird, daß sein »Weltkluger« kaum in Spanien erschienen war, als er schon in Frankreich, in dessen Sprache übersetzt und an dessen Hofe gedruckt, genossen wurde. Gegenwärtiges sei der Vernunft ein Denkbuch bei dem Gastmahl ihrer Weisen, in welches sie die in den übrigen Werken aufzutragenden Schüsseln der Klugheit einschreibe, um den Genuß auf eine anmuthige Weise zu vervielfältigen.
Verden som vilje og forestilling har været til inspiration for blandt andre Nietzsche, Freud, Tolstoj og Thomas Mann.
und anderswo gar nicht.
Schopenhauers Philosophie geht davon aus, dass unser ganzes Leben etwas sei, das besser gar nicht wäre. Da wir aber nun einmal sind, müssen wir unsere Jahre bewältigen. Seine Ratschläge schmähen schnelle Genüsse, verheißen aber demjenigen intellektuelle Freuden, der sich den großen Mühen unterzieht. Der düstere, mitunter sarkastische Zug seines Denkens ist nicht einfach, doch seine spitze Art zu analysieren, beeindruckt zutiefst. Dieses Buch kann niemanden kalt lassen: Entweder man wehrt sich gegen Schopenhauers Weltsicht, und schärft dadurch die eigene Anschauung. Oder man findet bei ihm Erkenntnisse, die tatsächlich helfen, das Dasein auf Erden leichter zu meistern.
For 70 years, the only unabridged English translation of this work was the Haldane-Kemp collaboration. In 1958, a new translation by E. F. J. Payne appeared which decisively supplanted the older one. Payne's translation is superior because it corrects nearly 1,000 errors and omissions in the Haldane-Kemp translation, and it is based on the definitive 1937 German edition of Schopenhauer's work prepared by Dr. Arthur Hübscher. Payne's edition is the first to translate into English the text's many quotatioins in half a dozen languages, and Mr. Payne has provided a comprehensive index of 2,500 items. It is thus the most useful edition for the student or teacher.