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 ...
Arthur Schopenhauer was born at No. 117 of the Heiligengeist Strasse, at Dantzic, on February 22, 1788. His parents on both sides traced their descent from Dutch ancestry, the great-grandfather of his mother having occupied some ecclesiastical position at Gorcum. Dr. Gwinner in his Life does not follow the Dutch ancestry on the father's side, but merely states that the great-grandfather of Schopenhauer at the beginning of the eighteenth century rented a farm, the Stuthof, in the neighbourhood of Dantzic. This ancestor, Andreas Schopenhauer, received here on one occasion an unexpected visit from Peter the Great and Catherine, and it is related that there being no stove in the chamber which the royal pair selected for the night, their host, for the purpose of heating it, set fire to several small bottles of brandy which had been emptied on the stone floor. His son Andreas followed in the footsteps of his father, combining a commercial career with country pursuits. He died in 1794 at Ohra, where he had purchased an estate, and to which he had retired to spend his closing years. His wife (the grandmother of Arthur) survived him for some years, although shortly after his death she was declared insane and incapable of managing her affairs. This couple had four sons: the eldest, Michael Andreas, was weak-minded; the second, Karl Gottfried, was also mentally weak and had deserted his people for evil companions; the youngest son, Heinrich Floris, possessed, however, in a considerable degree the qualities which his brothers lacked. He possessed intelligence, a strong character, and had great commercial sagacity; at the same time, he took a definite interest in intellectual pursuits, reading Voltaire, of whom he was more or less a disciple, and other French authors, possessing a keen admiration for English political and family life, and furnishing his house after an English fashion. He was a man of fiery temperament and his appearance was scarcely prepossessing; he was short and stout; he had a broad face and turned-up nose, and a large mouth. This was the father of our philosopher.
When he was thirty-eight, Heinrich Schopenhauer married, on May 16, 1785, Johanna Henriette Trosiener, a young lady of eighteen, and daughter of a member of the City Council of Dantzic. She was at this time an attractive, cultivated young person, of a placid disposition, who seems to have married more because marriage offered her a comfortable settlement and assured position in life, than from any passionate affection for her wooer, which, it is just to her to say, she did not profess. Heinrich Schopenhauer was so much influenced by English ideas that he desired that his first child should be born in England; and thither, some two years after their marriage, the pair, after making a détour on the Continent, arrived. But after spending some weeks in London Mrs. Schopenhauer was seized with home-sickness, and her husband acceded to her entreaties to return to Dantzic, where a child, the future philosopher, was shortly afterwards born. The first five years of the child's life were spent in the country, partly at the Stuthof which had formerly belonged to Andreas Schopenhauer, but had recently come into the possession of his maternal grandfather....
I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that.
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks—who had a genius, so to speak, for SAUNTERING, which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going a la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean. Some, however, would derive the word from sans terre without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all; but the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea. But I prefer the first, which, indeed, is the most probable derivation. For every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us, to go forth and reconquer this Holy Land from the hands of the Infidels.
It is true, we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the walk is but retracing our steps. We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms. If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man—then you are ready for a walk....
* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Schopenhauer’s life and works
* Concise introductions to the major treatises
* The complete essays, translated by T. Bailey Saunders in seven volumes, with individual contents tables
* Major works include their original hyperlinked footnotes – ideal for students
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* ‘The World as Will and Idea’ translated by R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, in the much expanded sixth edition of 1909
* Special Essays alphabetical contents list – find the essay you want to read easily
* Features three biographies - explore Schopenhauer’s intriguing life
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to browse through our range of exciting titles
ON THE FOURFOLD ROOT OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SUFFICIENT REASON
THE WORLD AS WILL AND IDEA
THE ART OF BEING RIGHT
ON THE WILL IN NATURE
ON THE BASIS OF MORALITY
WISDOM OF LIFE
COUNSELS AND MAXIMS
RELIGION: A DIALOGUE
THE ART OF LITERATURE
STUDIES IN PESSIMISM
ON HUMAN NATURE
THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
LIST OF ESSAYS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
SCHOPENHAUER by Thomas Whittaker
SCHOPENHAUER by Elbert Hubbard
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER by William Wallace
Please visit www.delphiclassics.com to browse through our range of exciting titles or to purchase this eBook as a Parts Edition of individual eBooks
1. An Inquiry into the Understanding pleasant and useful.
Since it is the UNDERSTANDING that sets man above the rest of sensible beings, and gives him all the advantage and dominion which he has over them; it is certainly a subject, even for its nobleness, worth our labour to inquire into. The understanding, like the eye, whilst it makes us see and perceive all other things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires and art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its own object. But whatever be the difficulties that lie in the way of this inquiry; whatever it be that keeps us so much in the dark to ourselves; sure I am that all the light we can let in upon our minds, all the acquaintance we can make with our own understandings, will not only be very pleasant, but bring us great advantage, in directing our thoughts in the search of other things.
This, therefore, being my purpose—to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of HUMAN KNOWLEDGE, together with the grounds and degrees of BELIEF, OPINION, and ASSENT;—I shall not at present meddle with the physical consideration of the mind; or trouble myself to examine wherein its essence consists; or by what motions of our spirits or alterations of our bodies we come to have any SENSATION by our organs, or any IDEAS in our understandings; and whether those ideas do in their formation, any or all of them, depend on matter or not. These are speculations which, however curious and entertaining, I shall decline, as lying out of my way in the design I am now upon. It shall suffice to my present purpose, to consider the discerning faculties of a man, as they are employed about the objects which they have to do with. And I shall imagine I have not wholly misemployed myself in the thoughts I shall have on this occasion, if, in this historical, plain method, I can give any account of the ways whereby our understandings come to attain those notions of things we have; and can set down any measures of the certainty of our knowledge; or the grounds of those persuasions which are to be found amongst men, so various, different, and wholly contradictory; and yet asserted somewhere or other with such assurance and confidence, that he that shall take a view of the opinions of mankind, observe their opposition, and at the same time consider the fondness and devotion wherewith they are embraced, the resolution and eagerness wherewith they are maintained, may perhaps have reason to suspect, that either there is no such thing as truth at all, or that mankind hath no sufficient means to attain a certain knowledge of it.
It is therefore worth while to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent and moderate our persuasion. In order whereunto I shall pursue this following method:— First, I shall inquire into the original of those ideas, notions, or whatever else you please to call them, which a man observes, and is conscious to himself he has in his mind; and the ways whereby the understanding comes to be furnished with them.