The Basis of Morality

By Arthur Schopenhauer; Arthur Brodrick Bullock | Go to book overview

TRANSLATOR’S INTRODUCTION.

—Theognis: 169.

IN 1837 the Danish Royal Society of Sciences propounded, as subject for a prize competition, the question with which this treatise opens; and Schopenhauer, who was glad to seize the opportunity of becoming better known, prepared, and sent to Copenhagen, the earliest form of “The Basis of Morality.” In January, 1840, the work was pronounced unsuccessful, though there was no other candidate. In September of the same year it was published by the author, with only a few unimportant additions, but preceded by a long introduction, which, cast in the form of an exceedingly caustic philippic, is, in its way, a masterpiece. In 1860, (only a month before Schopenhauer’s death,) the second edition was printed with many enlargements and insertions, the short preface, dated August being one of the last things he wrote.1

The reason why the prize was withheld is not far to seek, and need not detain us. At that time the philosophical atmosphere was saturated with Hegel, and, to a certain extent, with Fichte; hence

1 He died September 21st.

-xv-

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