The Riddle of the World: A Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy

The Riddle of the World: A Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy

The Riddle of the World: A Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy

The Riddle of the World: A Reconsideration of Schopenhauer's Philosophy

Synopsis

This book is an introduction to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, written in a lively, personal style. Hannan emphasizes the peculiar inconsistencies and tensions in Schopenhauer's thought--he was torn between idealism and realism, and between denial and affirmation of the individualwill. In addition to providing a useful summary of Schopenhauer's main ideas, Hannan connects Schopenhauer's thought with ongoing debates in philosophy. According to Hannan, Schopenhauer was struggling half-consciously to break altogether with Kant and transcendental idealism; the anti-Kantianfeatures of Schopenhauer's thought possess the most lasting value. Hannan defends panpsychist metaphysics of will, comparing it with contemporary views according to which causal power is metaphysically basic. Hannan also defends Schopenhauer's ethics of compassion against Kant's ethics of purereason, and offers friendly amendments to Schopenhauer's theories of art, music, and "salvation." She also illuminates the deep connection between Schopenhauer and the early Wittgenstein, as well as Schopenhauer's influence on existentialism and psychoanalytic thought.

Excerpt

This book is an introduction to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, written in a personal style. I aim to connect Schopenhauer’s ideas with ongoing debates in philosophy and to invite readers to tackle Schopenhauer’s work on their own. Another aim is to increase general appreciation of Schopenhauer’s subliminal influence on other much-studied thinkers. For example, I see many scholars nowadays working on Wittgenstein. While these scholars may be dimly aware that Schopenhauer was an influence on their subject, most of them seem never to have actually read Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer is also insufficiently appreciated as one of the fathers of psychoanalysis and existentialism. To some extent, I would like to remedy this situation and get Schopenhauer more of the credit he deserves.

Schopenhauer speaks to me primarily because my personality is similar in many respects to his. Schopenhauer was an introvert who loved animals more than he loved people. So am I. He loved and respected empirical science (while appreciating its limitations), hated empty verbiage and intellectual pretension, and cared above all about the pursuit of truth. I do as well. He was pessimistic. So am I.

I agree with Schopenhauer that personality, rather than reasoning, is the primary source of philosophical views. In the ways my personality resembles Schopenhauer’s, my philosophical instincts resemble his, too. I am constitutionally inclined to see the world much the same way Schopenhauer did. When I began to read . . .

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