LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
The two volumes of this book are Schopenhauer's major work and give a complete account of his philosophy. Schopenhauer took his cue from Kant's transcendental idealism - in particular the notion that time, space and causality are categories by which we understand the world rather than features of an external reality. Unlike Kant he believed that we did have intuitive knowledge of reality in that we know what is is like to exist - we know matter from the inside. For Schopenhauer everything that exists is a manifestation of 'will', will being a principle of blind, insatiable desire, so to experience existence is to experience desire. Humans are the highest manifestation of will and we alone have the power to renounce it. I don't think these ideas are as ridiculous as they first seem. Schopenhauer wasn't saying the world isn't real, he wasn't anti-science or doubting the laws of physics. He was just looking one stage deeper and asking what is the condition upon which our world can exist at all. I personally find the concepts of infinity or plurality just as hard to accept as some form of participatory reality. Although in some ways Schopenhauer anticipated natural selection he was a pre-Darwinian thinker and a lot of this book seems very outdated now. Nevertheless, and whatever you might make of his metaphysics, his ideas stand up well as a metaphor. He has a lot to say about the problems of the human condition and the ways in which we might find consolation through art, although his overall message is bleak and ultimately anti-life. The final paragraphs of volume one were chilling and made me wonder if I really wanted to buy into his philosophy.