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The Philosophy of Schopenhauer Paperback – April 9, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0198237228 ISBN-10: 0198237227 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (April 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198237227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198237228
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Magee's study should however not merely be reviewed but also read; for it is thorough, lucid and wide-ranging...a substantial work. Times Higher Education Supplement

About the Author


Brian Magee is a noted philosopher, writer, critic, and broadcaster. His publications include Men of Ideas (1982), The Great Philosophers (1988), and (with Martin Milligan) On Blindness (1995). He has held visiting fellowships at Yale and Oxford Universities, among others. He has been Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the History of Ideas at King's College, London since 1984, and he is an Honorary Fellow at Keble College, Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Bryan Magee's "Schopenhauer" is the most lucid presentation of this great philosopher's works.
Stephen Greenfield
There may be "easier" introductions than this book but if you want to actually try and understand Schopenhauer then read this book.
A reader
He is able to eloquently explain in crystal clarity the core ideas of some very complex writing.
Etienne Jackson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Buce on January 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bryan Magee is an ideal candidate for the role of expositor of Schopenhauer. One of Schopenhauer's defining characteristics is his passion for the arts; it is a passion that Magee shares. Schopenhauer is as good a writer as you'll find among major philosophers, and Magee is an easy and graceful stylist himself. Moreover, Magee is a bit of an outsider. And Schopenhauer, for all his appeal, has never quite made it to the first team among philosophers. Indeed, one of the most intriguing points about him is that he seems to have exercised far more influence over artists: Turgenev, Proust, Mann and (most of all) Wagner. Indeed, as a kind of afterthought, Magee offers a "conjecture" that a Schopenhauerian substrate underlies Dylan Thomas' great short lyric, "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower ..."
It's a lucky convergence because Schopenhauer certainly needs an introduction. Not because of the style: as I said above, Schopenhauer is a wonderful stylist, exactly not what you expect from a 19th-century German. But if Schopenhauer did not end quite in the mainstream of western philosophy, he certainly started there. He venerated Kant and he hated Hegel. He set himself the task of finishing or correcting Kant, without ever modifying his admiration for the master. This means that to understand Schopenhauer you need to know something about Kant. And here, Magee does a wonderful job. Magee's introduction to Kant would, with minor emendation, stand pretty well on its own. His exhibition of how Schopenhauer fits into the Kantian framework is equally deft.
In the same vein, he offers an indispensable strategy for reading Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer is one of those authors who wrote only one book "The World as Will and Idea.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Michael S. Valle on January 19, 2004
Format: Paperback
I would just like to echo the wonderful reviews that others have already given for this text, and to give it another five stars. As a serious student of Schopenhauer and of his commentators, I believe that Magee's grasp of Schopenhauer is simply astounding. Magee transforms Schopenhuaer from some obscure German philosopher from days long gone into a pressingly relevant thinker for our modern understanding of the universe. Magee has convinced me that Schopenhauer's understanding of the world is one of the most persuasive candidates out there. One of Magee's finest accomplishments in the text is the way he interweaves Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant into Schopenhauer's thought in order to demonstrate that Schopenhauer truly represents the direction to which we must look for further progress in understanding this incredible mystery in which we live. This is the single best secondary treatment of Schopenhauer on the market, period, and is also one of the best books I have ever read.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By dionysus on January 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a great introduction to one of the 19th century's most important thinkers. But more than this, it clarifies many of the misunderstandings about this thinker's ideas. This is not Schopenhauer as learned through Nietzsche or any other person with an agenda of his own; it is an invaluable resource for the intelligent person who is interested in reading about the thoughts of a great thinker as he originally stated them. Through the large amount of direct quotes from Schopenhauer's work, one can begin to appreciate his style and clarity as a writer. Magee has done a terrific job, and I hope that this book will continue to help more people encounter the wonderful ideas of Schopenhauer.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Luc REYNAERT on July 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Bryan Magee has the marvellous power to arouse the interest of the reader in his books. He does it again in this one on Schopenhauer.
He explains clearly the place and the importance of Schopenhauer in the history of philosophy, the strenght and modernity of his ideas, and his deep influence on later philosophers and artists. He also criticizes vigorously some aspects of his work and life.
Magee shows that Schopenhauer built his worldview on the transcendental idealism of Kant. But he went further by describing the real nature of Kant's 'thing in itself' (the noumenon), which he called rather unfortunately the 'will'. For Schopenhauer, the entire world of phenomena in time and space, internally connected by causality, is the self-objectivation of an impersonal, timelessly active will. It is an unassuageable striving, which means continued dissatisfaction for the individual.
Schopenhauer noticed a flaw in Kant's reasoning that we could only access to the 'thing in itself' through our sensory and intellectual apparatus. We know one material 'thing in itself' subjectively: our own body.
The idea of the 'will' is very modern, because it anticipated Darwin's evolutionism, Freud's unconsciousness and Einstein's holism (everything is energy).
Magee explains magisterially all aspects of Schopenhauer's penetrating worldview, like the defective intellect of mankind, because intelligence is only a late and superficial evolutionary differentiation, developed for the promotion of animal survival.
His investigation of human behaviour is based on what people do in fact, not on what they 'ought to do'. His conclusion was that what traditionally had been considered moral behaviour turned out to be self-interest.
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