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Essays and Aphorisms (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 30, 1973

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

About the Author

Arthur Schopenauer was born in Danzig in 1788, where his family, of Dutch origin, owned one of the most respected trading houses. In 1793 the business moved to Hamburg, and in 1805 Arthur, who was expected to inherit it, was apprenticed as a clerk to another Hamburg house. He hated the work, so in 1807, two years after his father’s suicide and the sale of the business, he enrolled at the grammar school at Gotha. In 1809 he entered Göttingen University to study medicine and science; the following year he took up philosophy. In 1811 he transferred to Berlin to write his doctoral thesis (1813). During the next four years he lived in Dresden and wrote The World as Will and Idea (1818), a complete exposition of his philosophy. Although the book failed to sell, Schopenhauer’s belief in his own philosophy sustained him through twenty-five years of frustrated desire for fame. During his middle life, he traveled widely in Europe. In 1844 he brought out a greatly expanded edition of his book, which after his death became one of the most widely read of all philosophical works. His fame was established in 1851 with the publication of Parerga and Paralipomena, a large collection of essays, dialogues and aphorisms. From 1833 until his death from a heart attack in 1860 he lived in Frankfurt-am-Main.

R. J. Hollingdale has translated eleven of Nietzsche’s books and published two books about him. He has also translated works by, among others, Schopenhauer, Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Lichtenberg and Theodor Fontane, many of these for the Penguin Classics. He is Honorary President of the British Nietzsche Society, and was for the Australian academic year 1991 Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Melbourne.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (May 30, 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140442278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140442274
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Campbell Roark on March 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is a classic. I love it and cart it around everywhere- so much so that my wife took to calling me `Schopey,' soon after we married. Oh what a kidder... The text in question is basically an abbreviated form of "Parerga and Paralipomena," a collection of, you guessed it, essays and aphorisms that Arthur published towards the end of his life. In fact, he owed much of his early popularity to these little bits of brain, blood and bile- they paved the way for the interest in his earlier, more thorough and more intimidating work- `The World as Will and Representation,' his central text. Intense, brooding, and enthrallingly lucid (a trait much lacking in philosophy in general and German philosophy in particular), these little pensees and barbs will provide you with much enjoyment, quotes, quips and boundless food for thought. If you are at all the kind of person who enjoys reading, or if you are buying books with such a person in mind (and if you weren't I don't see how you would have ended up here) I cannot say enough good things about this tiny volume!
Whether or not you agree with Schopenhauer's central philosophic themes, his high-jacking/hybridization of Kantian metaphysics and Eastern Vedic/Buddhist Scripture, his pessimistic misanthropy, his irrational and intuitive bent, his (huge) influence on psychology and psychoanalysis, his dismissal of Judeo-Christian religion, or his overbearing arrogance- he is not a thinker to be dismissed lightly. I disagree with him on practically everything important (as did Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy notwithstanding), except his scathing misanthropy and his views on opera (page 163- he loathed it by the way, as a philistine piling up of styles, an `unmusical invention for unmusical minds...'), but so what?
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
Insighful ideas written in lucid language (very rare for a philosopher) with thoughts on existence, suicide, women, religion, politics, ethics, aesthetics, psychology, and other sundry ideas.
Scopenhauer's ideas are a reflection of the post-Kantian era. The Zeitgeist of spiritual nihilism, which is nothing more than greater minds expressing the religious tendency. Scopenhauer seems like one who finds very little value in the world but he doesn't reverberate the nihilist slogan, "Since all is false, everyhing is permitted." He at once preaches to us that the world is inherently meaningless and that all movement is the result of an obscure force he calls "Will," and yet he proscribes compasion and empathy, as can be exemplified by his outrage over slavery and his sensitivity to animals.
While it's easier to tear down walls then to build them up, I nevertheless have a few problems with his ontological presuppositions.

Scopenhauer writes that his "ethics is ... actually in the spirit of the New Testament.." obviously appreciating it's ascetic nature yet in his dialogue on religion, he castigates Christianity and surprisingly exalts the Greeks (who affirmed life and did not practice an official religion ), exemplifying the superiority of their metaphysics to that of Christian metaphysics. He does this by comparing the periods in which these two systems reigned over their respective societies.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on November 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
arthur schopenhauer is, without a doubt, one of the most important, poetic, talented, brilliant, and also humorously misanthropic thinkers to ever live. his writing is so brilliant that i have trouble understanding that why his greatest admirer friedrich nietzsche is so much more well known and constantly discussed than he is. i would say that they are both on the same par, ingenious equals who are indispensable in terms of philosophical greatness and force of personality. these essays and aphorisms are so vivid and beautifully written that not only is the attentive reader riveted by his thoughts and theories, but even temporarily convinced by his extreme cynicism and pessimism? i am one of those who see schopenhauer's dark view of life and the world as less temperamental and more grounded in reality than many scholars and biographers of the man like to admit. schopenhauer is perhaps, along with nietzsche and other monumental evolutionary thinkers like bergson and stirner, one of the most prophetic and simply gigantic men to ever live. he is, as the back of this particular edition of his aphorisms and essay says, "aware that everything might not be all for best." no false optimism or transcendentalism here, and no sugary coating on the disturbing truths of man's isolation and confusion in a universe that seems to be purposeless, indifferent, and entirely ephemeral. he rails bitterly against the majority of human beings with the hatred and resentment of one who, as a result of his brilliance and intellectual genius, been ostracized and at times actively abused by the more mediocre and less passionate masses all through his life.Read more ›
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