HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Essays and Aphorisms (Penguin Classics) by…
Loading...

Essays and Aphorisms (Penguin Classics) (edition 1973)

by Arthur Schopenhauer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
938914,749 (3.93)6
One of the greatest philosophers of the nineteenth century, Schopenhauer (1788-1860) believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. This selection of his writings on religion, ethics, politics, women, suicide, books and many other themes is taken from Schopenhauer's last work, Parerga and Paralipomena, which he published in 1851. These pieces depict humanity as locked in a struggle beyond good and evil, and each individual absolutely free within a Godless world, in which art, morality and self-awareness are our only salvation. This innovative - and pessimistic - view has proved powerfully influential upon philosophy and art, directly affecting the work of Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Wagner among others.… (more)
Member:jamesshelley
Title:Essays and Aphorisms (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Arthur Schopenhauer
Info:Penguin Classics (1973), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Wishlist
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

Essays and Aphorisms by Arthur Schopenhauer

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)


Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his essays and aphorisms in the financial hub city of Frankford, Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, a world where business owners and financiers ruthlessly competed against one another to amass fortunes, clerks chained to their desks toiled twelve hours a day, uneducated day laborers ground themselves down into faceless, mindless cogs of the urban wheel, and upper class ladies strolled the streets with parasols as they chattered incessantly over petty concerns - but, no matter what one's station in life - ruthless financial baron, toiling clerk, chattering lady or manual drudge - the monotonous hum of this bustling society gave few people encouragement or mental space to think independently or reflect philosophically. But no hustle and bustle for Arthur. Inheriting the family fortune and thus freed from any obligation to work for a living, Schopenhauer became a life-long bachelor and independent scholar, keeping his distance from other people as if they were a colony of doltish, novel-reading lepers.

And, thus, after rousing in the morning and before playing the flute, partaking of lunch, and going for his two hour walk with his pet poodle, Schopenhauer sat at his desk, completely dedicating his time to writing. And this collection is Schopenhauer at his hyper-arrogant best, as self-appointed genius and highbrow aesthete, shooting verbal barbs and passing harsh judgment on everyone and everything in sight - would-be philosophers, journalists, bookworms, scholars, literati, historians, women, among numerous others.

This book is great literature as well as original philosophy, the writing is so incredibly clear, crystal clear, actually - a straightforward, easy-to-follow, elegant prose. What a switch from hopelessly dry, turgid, stale academic philosophy with its endless references, footnotes and qualifications.

On the topic of books and writing, here is a quote which is vintage Schopenhauer: "The thoughts a man is capable of always express themselves in clear, comprehensible and unambiguous words. Those who put together difficult, obscure, involved, ambiguous discourses do not really know what they want to say: they have no more than a vague consciousness of it which is only struggling towards a thought; often, however, they also want to conceal from themselves and others that they actually have nothing to say." Keep this in mind the next time you read an incomprehensible piece of writing - in truth, the burden is on the writer to make their thoughts clear, no matter how impressive the author's credentials.

Among the topics address is aesthetics. As always, Schopenhauer never dances around an issue but goes right to the heart of the matter and tells it like it is. Here is what he has to say on opera: "Strictly speaking one could call opera an unmusical invention for the benefit of unmusical minds." For anybody with a keen interest in listening to music, these words have a very honest ring.

Here is a quote that is especially appropriate to our current age of information: "Students and learned men of every kind and every ago go as a rule in search of information, not insight. They make it a point of honor to have information about everything . . . When I see how much these well-informed people know, I sometimes say to myself: Oh, how little such a one must have had to think about, since he has had so much time for reading!" The truth of this statement is compounded with the omnipresence of the internet.

One more quote, this one capsulizing Schopenhauer's famous pessimistic view of life: "No rose without a thorn. But many a thorn without a rose." Even if you don't agree, you have to admire a brilliant, memorable metaphor.

If you are new to Schopenhauer or philosophy, R. J. Hollindale provides an introduction which includes a mini-history of philosophy leading up to Schopenhauer, the cultural, literary and social context of Germany in the nineteenth century, as well as a mini-biography of Schopenhauer. This is all you will need to have a rich appreciation for one of the most lucid and influential philosophers in the Western tradition. ( )
  Glenn_Russell | Nov 13, 2018 |
". . . only the masterpieces are enjoyable and everything mediocre is unendurable."

"All genuine Thought and Art is to a certain extent an attempt to put big heads on small people: so it is no wonder the attempt does not always come off. For a writer to afford enjoyment always demands a certain harmony between his way of thinking and that of the reader; and the enjoyment will be the greater the more perfect this harmony is."

"There are above all two kinds of writer: those who write for the sake of what they have to say, and those who write for the sake of writing . . . You can see they are writing simply in order to cover paper: and as soon as you do see it you should throw the book down, for time is precious."

"The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. — A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short."

__________
Let us go straightaway to the heart of the man, to his most pronounced and enduring characteristic. Here, with all possible brevity, are five details from his biography . . .

4. One day in August 1821, still in Berlin, Schopenhauer was involved in an altercation at his loodgings with a sempstress, one Caroline Luise Marguet, aged 47, which ended with his throwing her down the stairs. He alleged she was making too much noise; she maintained she was only talking to a friend on the landing . . .

5. From the age of 45 until his death 27 years later Schopenhauer lived in Frankfurt-am-Main. He lived alone, in 'rooms', and every day for 27 years he followed an identical routine. He rose every morning at seven and had a bath but no breakfast: he drank a cup of strong coffee before sitting down at his desk and writing until noon. At noon he ceased work for the day and spent half-an-hour practicing the flute, on which he became quite a skilled performer. Then he went out for lunch at the Englisher Hof. After lunch he returned home and read until four, when he left for his daily walk: he walked for two hours no matter what the weather. At six o'clock he visited the reading room of the library and read
The Times. In the evening he attended the theatre or a concert, after which he had dinner at a hotel or restaurant. He got back home between nine and ten and went early to bed. He was willing to deviate from this routine in order to receive visitors: but with this exception he carried it through for 27 years. —Introduction, R. J. Hollingdale
__________
A hatred of noise, and the value of order in your daily life, are two fundamental parts of myself which I found I shared in common with Schopenhauer, but this list began to rapidly grow as I read through this selection taken from the second volume of his work: [b:Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena: Volume 2: Short Philosophical Essays|28226475|Schopenhauer Parerga and Paralipomena Volume 2 Short Philosophical Essays (The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Schopenhauer)|Arthur Schopenhauer|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1450285832s/28226475.jpg|48254376].

These aren't essays, but rather short sentences or 'miniature' essays on a very wide variety of topics: 37 sections in the original, here collapsed into 17, with excisions including excess repetition and now antiquated speculations on Natural Science.

The selection contains a good sampling from the complete work, and many of the aphorisms contain ideas from his major work, The World as Will and Idea/Representation; all of which can be easily understood by anyone unfamiliar with the latter thanks to the excellent introduction. I would highly recommend this to anyone who perhaps wants a feel for Schopenhauer's Philosophy before buying his major works.
__________
I therefore know of no greater absurdity than that absurdity that characterizes almost all metaphysical systems: that of explaining evil as something negative. For evil is precisely that which is positive, that which makes itself palpable; and good, on the other hand, i.e. all happiness and gratification, is that which is negative, the mere abolition of a desire and extinction of a pain.
This is also consistent with the fact that as a rule we find pleasure much less pleasurable, pain much more painful that we expected.

The scenes in our life resemble pictures in rough mosaic; they are ineffective from close up, and have to be viewed from a distance if they are to seem beautiful. That is why to attain something desired is to discover how vain it is; and why, though we live all out lives in expectation of better things, we often at the same time long regretfully for what is past. The present, on the other hand, is regarded as something quite temporary and serving only as the road to our goal. That is why most men discover when they look back on their life that they have the whole time been living ad interim [in the meantime; temporarily], and are surprised to see that which they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, was precisely that in expectation of which they lived.

He who, by virtue of the strength of his memory and imagination, can most clearly call up what is long past in his own life will be more conscious than others of the identity of all present moments throughout the whole of time.

Only through ordering what you know by comparing every truth with every other truth can you take complete possession of your knowledge and get it into your power.

Now you can only apply yourself voluntarily to reading and learning, but you cannot really apply yourself to thinking: thinking has to be kindled, as a fire is by a draught, and kept going by some kind of interest in its object, which may be an objective interest or merely a subjective one. The latter is possible only with this that affect us personally, the former only to those heads who think by nature, to whom thinking is as natural as breathing, and these are very rare. That is why most scholars do so little of it.

The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts, as far as his mental powers will permit. That is why he is able to engage men of the most differing capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small. The poet can thus be compared with one who presents flowers, the philosopher with one who presents their essence.

. . . the future is already totally fixed and precisely determined, and can be no more altered than the past can.

Music, as the mightiest of the arts, is capable by itself of completely engrossing the mind receptive to it; one, its highest products, if they are to be properly comprehended and enjoyed, demand the undivided and undistracted attention of the entire mind, so that it may surrender to them and immerse themself in them in order to understand their incredibly intimate language.

A novel will be the higher and nobler the more inner and less outer life it depicts; and this relation will accompany every grade of novel as its characteristic sign, from Tristram Shandy down to the crudest and most action-packed romance.

The Art lies in setting the inner life into the most violent motion with the smallest possible expenditure of outer life: for it is the inner life which is the real object of our interest. — The task of the novelist is not to narrate great events but to make small ones interesting.

Thus only what is inborn is genuine and sound: if you want to achieve something in business, in writing, in painting, in anything, you must follow the rules without knowing them.

People need external activity because they have no internal activity . . . The fact also explains the restlessness of those who have nothing to do, and their aimless travelling. What drives them from country to country is the same boredom which at home drives them together into such crowds and heaps it is funny to see. I once received a choice confirmation of this truth from a gentleman of 50 with whom I was not acquainted, who told me about a two-year pleasure trip he had taken to distant lands and strange parts of the earth. When I remarked that he must have endured many difficulties, hardships, and dangers, he replied very naively, without hesitation or preamble but as if merely annunciating the conclusion of a syllogism: 'I wasn't bored for an instant.'

. . . problems whose answers have for long stood written in books into which he is too lazy and ignorant to stick his nose.

The public is much more interested in the material than in the form. It displays this tendency in its most ridiculous shape in regard to poetic works, in that it painstakingly tracks down the real events or personal circumstances which occasioned the work, and these, indeed, become more interesting to it than the works themselves, so that it reads more about than by Goethe and studies the Faust legend more assiduously than Faust . . . This preference for the material as against the form is as if one should ignore the form and painting of a beautiful Etruscan vase in order to carry out a chemical analysis of the pigment and clay.

Noise, however, is the most impertinent of all interruptions, since it interrupts, indeed disrups, even our thoughts. Where there is nothing to interrupt, to be sure, it will cause no especial discomfiture.

Childish and altogether ludicrous is what you yourself are, and all philosophers; and if a grown-up man like me spends fifteen minutes with fools of this kind it is merely a way of passing the time. I've now got more important things to do. Good-bye!
( )
  EroticsOfThought | Feb 28, 2018 |
Entertaining and informative though it is in parts, you can't help get the feeling from this selection of his writings that Schopenhauer is just a grumpy old man. The introduction to this collection concerning his life, background and principle line of philosophy (The World as Will and Idea) was probably more interesting than the content. However, I am left wanting to read more of his philosophy of which he was pretty certain would prove him right and attain him the fame and credit he thought he was due. ( )
  Lord_Boris | Feb 21, 2017 |
Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his essays and aphorisms in the financial hub city of Frankford, Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, a world where business owners and financiers ruthlessly competed against one another to amass fortunes, clerks chained to their desks toiled twelve hours a day, uneducated day laborers ground themselves down into faceless, mindless cogs of the urban wheel, and upper class ladies strolled the streets with parasols as they chattered incessantly over petty concerns - but, no matter what one's station in life - ruthless financial baron, toiling clerk, chattering lady or manual drudge - the monotonous hum of this bustling society gave few people encouragement or mental space to think independently or reflect philosophically. But no hustle and bustle for Arthur. Inheriting the family fortune and thus freed from any obligation to work for a living, Schopenhauer became a life-long bachelor and independent scholar, keeping his distance from other people as if they were a colony of doltish, novel-reading lepers.

And, thus, after rousing in the morning and before playing the flute, partaking of lunch, and going for his two hour walk with his pet poodle, Schopenhauer sat at his desk, completely dedicating his time to writing. And this collection is Schopenhauer at his hyper-arrogant best, as self-appointed genius and highbrow aesthete, shooting verbal barbs and passing harsh judgment on everyone and everything in sight - would-be philosophers, journalists, bookworms, scholars, literati, historians, women, among numerous others.

This book is great literature as well as original philosophy, the writing is so incredibly clear, crystal clear, actually - a straightforward, easy-to-follow, elegant prose. What a switch from hopelessly dry, turgid, stale academic philosophy with its endless references, footnotes and qualifications.

On the topic of books and writing, here is a quote which is vintage Schopenhauer: "The thoughts a man is capable of always express themselves in clear, comprehensible and unambiguous words. Those who put together difficult, obscure, involved, ambiguous discourses do not really know what they want to say: they have no more than a vague consciousness of it which is only struggling towards a thought; often, however, they also want to conceal from themselves and others that they actually have nothing to say." Keep this in mind the next time you read an incomprehensible piece of writing - in truth, the burden is on the writer to make their thoughts clear, no matter how impressive the author's credentials.

Among the topics address is aesthetics. As always, Schopenhauer never dances around an issue but goes right to the heart of the matter and tells it like it is. Here is what he has to say on opera: "Strictly speaking one could call opera an unmusical invention for the benefit of unmusical minds." For anybody with a keen interest in listening to music, these words have a very honest ring.

Here is a quote that is especially appropriate to our current age of information: "Students and learned men of every kind and every ago go as a rule in search of information, not insight. They make it a point of honor to have information about everything . . . When I see how much these well-informed people know, I sometimes say to myself: Oh, how little such a one must have had to think about, since he has had so much time for reading!" The truth of this statement is compounded with the omnipresence of the internet.

One more quote, this one capsulizing Schopenhauer's famous pessimistic view of life: "No rose without a thorn. But many a thorn without a rose." Even if you don't agree, you have to admire a brilliant, memorable metaphor.

If you are new to Schopenhauer or philosophy, R. J. Hollindale provides an introduction which includes a mini-history of philosophy leading up to Schopenhauer, the cultural, literary and social context of Germany in the nineteenth century, as well as a mini-biography of Schopenhauer. This is all you will need to have a rich appreciation for one of the most lucid and influential philosophers in the Western tradition. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
I rate this book two stars because I think "it was OK". I have gladly evolved past the thinking of Arthur Schopenhauer. It puzzles me how a man of serious thought could come up with his ideas regarding women. Seems like common sense may have prevailed no matter the societal norms of his century. I am in a galaxy far-removed from this so-called great thinker. I did enjoy the exercise, but I could have done without. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arthur Schopenhauerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hollingdale, R. J.Prefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
If the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world: for it is absurd to suppose that the endless affliction of which the world is everywhere full, and which arises out of the need and distress pertaining essentially to life, should be purposeless and purely accidental.
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.93)
0.5
1
1.5
2 9
2.5 1
3 25
3.5 2
4 29
4.5 3
5 37

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 141,658,124 books! | Top bar: Always visible