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Schopenhauer (The Routledge Philosophers) Paperback – June 15, 2005
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'This is a comprehensive, sensible and lucidly presented account of Schopenhauer's philosophy. The author succeeds in showing why Schopenhauer still deserves to be studied, but at the same time he is appropriately critical when discussing Schopenhauer's doctrines and arguments.' - Severin Schroeder, University of Oxford
'...an accessible, thoughtful, penetrating critical introduction to Schopenhauer... The book's greatest strengths are its clear analysis of Schopenhauer's arguments and its thorough examination of them. An excellent introduction for those new to Schopenhauer and a significant challenge to his apologists.' - William Schroeder, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
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Young gives us the briefest of biographies and an overview of Schopenhauer's works before launching into some serious discussion on the metaphysics of the world as representation, which is the first part of The World as Will and Representation (WWR), Schopenhauer's greatest work. The chapters are presented on a subject by subject basis rather than by working through the philosopher's publications, so that Schopenhauer's other important works are called upon where appropriate: but a critical appraisal of the ideas within WWR is the main subject of this book.
Young tells us of Schopenhauer's admiration for the work of Plato and Kant: `between things and us there always stands the intellect' . . . that which is accessible to us in everyday experience is "appearance" or "phenomenon", merely, not the "thing in itself" . . . the veil of maya as the Upanishads calls it'. Plato's influence is felt in Schopenhauer's view of the world as idea (cf. Plato's Ideas or Forms).
After a quite thorough exploration of the world as representation, Young moves on in Chapter 3 to the world as will. He points out that `The world as will is a world of pain governed by a force that is "not divine but rather demonic" . . . there is no final satisfaction but rather "an endless striving". So much of this philosophy is inspired by the eastern mysticism of Buddhism and Hinduism.Read more ›
I must add that I also enjoyed how dismissive Young is of Schopenhauer in places where he thinks the philosopher goes very wrong, despite the great respect he accords to him overall. Considering how vitriolic and dismissive Schopenhauer was toward so many of his contemporaries, it is amusing to some of his own errors handled in like fashion.
That said, I must say that Young makes dismissive remarks about certain aspects of the philosophy that, at best, illustrate his lack of familiarity of the philosophy itself, and, at worst, show an inability to actually comprehend the philosophy of will & representation. Figure 2.2 shows the author's misguided interpretation with embarrassing clarity; the fact that he could not see that his "thought of an experiencing subject" was nothing more than another object is evidence enough of this problem.
If you are wanting to get some basic information on Schopenhauer, buy the book. If you want to truly understand Schopenhauer, pay the extra money for Bryan Magee's The Philosophy of Schopenhauer. It not only helps you side step the mainstream-shortcomings of materialist/linguist philosophers' critiques of this fine philosophy, but helps you to truly grasp it--to the core.
No matter what you do, know that it is the Will acting through you... ;)