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Essays and Aphorisms [Anglais] [Broché]

Arthur Schopenhauer , R. J. Hollingdale

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Description de l'ouvrage

26 août 1976 PP TRANS. TXTS
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.

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Arthur Schopenhauer was born in Danzig in 1788 where his family, of Dutch origin, owned a respected trading house. Arthur was expected to inherit the business, but hated the work and in 1807, after his father's suicide and the sale of the business, he enrolled in the grammar school at Gotha. He went on to study medicine and science at Gottingen University and in 1810 began to study philosophy. In 1811 he transferred to Berlin to write his doctoral thesis, and began to write The World as Will and Idea, a complete exploration of his philosophy, which was finished in 1818. Although the book failed to sell, his belief in his own views sustained him through twenty-five years of frustrated desire for fame. During his middle life he travelled widely in Europe and in 1844 brought out a much 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 collection of dialogues, essays and aphorisms. He died in 1860.R.J. Hollingdale has translated works by, among others, Schopenhauer, Goethe, T.A. Hoffmann, Lichtenburg and Theodor Fontane, as well as eleven of Nietzsche's books, many for the Penguin Classics. He has published two books on Nietzsche and was Honorary President of the British Nietzsche Society until his death in 2003.

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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 mat 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. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.6 étoiles sur 5  36 commentaires
141 internautes sur 145 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An exceptional translation of a brilliant mind 31 mars 2004
Par Campbell Roark - Publié sur
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?
His views, maxims and opinions are straightforwardly put with all the deceptive elegance of a minor key Chopin Nocturne. A refreshing break from the tireless jargon-juggling of contemporary, pomo, academic charlatans... And the man was brilliant. The kind of brilliance that engenders humility in readers and makes young, would-be philosophers reconsider their choice of profession. You cannot help but enter into dialogue with this man. And hey- All you young, winsome, despairing, romantically-inclined teenagers- take note! This guy was the real deal, it takes serious cajones to spit in the face of the Enlightenment and proclaim to the progress-minded 19th C. that, "Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of existence, then our existence must have no object whatever," (which is the first sentence in this nice little book) and then back that statement up with serious argumentation. And as a literary influence Schopenhauer is in a league entirely of his own. Thomas Mann is unthinkable without him (well, and Nietzcsche). Borges once opined that the only thinkers he thought accurately depicted the world were Schopenhauer and Berkeley.
Finally, The introduction by Hollingdale is .. superb. It is possibly the best brief introduction to Schopenhauer (by way of Kant and 19th C. trends in German philosophy) that I have come across; it manages to be (simultaneously) anecdotal, psychological, historical, humorous and analytic- all in under 40 pages. No easy achievement, that. It should be noted that Hollingdale is a fine scholar/translator; his work with the late, great Walter Kaufmann on a variety of his Nietzsche translations comes to mind, as does his own fantastic critical biography, `Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy,' which still may be the best work of its kind in terms of its approachability.
My only beef with Hollingdale is minor: he doesn't mention the effects of the `Nachmearz,' (a period in the mid 19th C. Germany, following revolts in 1848, wherein the public became disenchanted with `academic' philosophy and turned to more literary-outsider intellectuals) as influential in producing the kind of cultural climate in which a thinker and writer such as Schopenhauer could find a mass readership. This is odd because in `The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche,' Hollingdale discusses (at length) the far-reaching effects of said cultural phenomenon in producing the legends that permeate the widespread public perception of Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer...
But I digress. Cheap copies of this are abound. Do yourself a massive favor, live a little- take a chance, as Nietzsche did, when he was a college student, nosing about in a bookstore...
39 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 insightful 4 août 2003
Par Un client - Publié sur
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. The result of the Greek outlook was "the fairest unfolding of humanity, a spelndid state structure, wise laws, a carefully balanced legal administration, rationally regulated freedom, all the arts, together with poetry and philosophy, at their peark, creating works which after thousands of years still stand as unequalled models of their kind, almost as the production of higher beings whom we can never hope to emulate.." while when Christianity took over as the reigning religion in Europe there was a "hideous ignorance and darkness of mind, and in consequence intolerance, quarrelling over beliefs, religious wars, crusades, persecution of heretics and inquisitions..." etc. From my perspective, Christianity's dogmatism and its devaluation of life caused the cultural stagnation in the dark ages (Why champion reason and seek insight through philosophical inquiry when the catechism of Christianity has all of the answers?) but the devaluation seems to be what Scopenhauer is attracted to and yet he fails to realize that. Nevertheless, Scopenhauer ends his dialogue on religion with Demopheles declaring to Philalethes, "Let us see, rather that, like Janus - or better, like Yama, the Brahmin god of death - religion has two faces, one very friendly, one very gloom: you have had your eyes fixed on one face, I have had mine fixed on the other."
My second problem is that Scopenhauer proposes that the intellect is a result of the Will and does not exist on its own accord. But in the section "On Philosophy and the Intellect" he says that which inspires the genius is not related to subjective self-interest, and in turn the Will, but to objectivity. But since intellect, in Scopenhauer's view, arose in organisms as a function to serve the Will, how can the intellectual pursuits of the genius evade servicing the Will? The pursuits of the genius might be a result of a surplus of energy from within, causing him to seek knowledge beyond himself and his own self-serving interests, but isn't the very attempt of coping with such a surplus of energy a fulfillment of need and isn't an unquelled need a source of suffering? Need arises from self-interest and therefore from the subjective Will.
One final problem is that Scopenhauer's ontological premise is that everything is Will but then he insists that it be renunciated. Wouldn't the desire to renounce the Will be in vain if the Will is the fundamental drive behind all aims, including intellectual ones? So perhaps what Scopenhauer really intends is not the renunciation of the Will but rather the sublimation of it.
Scopenhauer lived a very participatory lifestyle so in light of that we should not take his pessimism too seriously. Good read.
36 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 one of the greatest philosophers to ever live 9 novembre 2001
Par J from NY - Publié sur
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. schopenhauer's greatest and most vital characteristic is his uncompromising intellectual integrity and his refusal to ignore the very real and in fact almost immobilizing fact of horrendous evil and senseless, unjustified human suffering. his philosophy of renunciation and asceticism, which he in no way actually lived or practiced personally, is the only flaw or inconsistency i can find in his work, and like nietzsche i would say that it is the result of weakness and lack of courage rather than logical thinking or supposed 'objectivity'. also unique is schopenhauer's stubborn belief and recognition that only the present actually exists, and that 'the future' is an illusory projection we create to make up for the inevitable and inescapable dissatisfaction and perpetual disillusion with the here and now. he doesn't offer any fictitious solutions or illusions of salvation which cannot be verified empirically, and he exhorts the individual to stand apart from the crowd of people and realize their potential while understanding that he or she will never attain to what the majority of people pursue frantically, perfect happiness. "in this existence, in which no perfect state exists and satisfaction can only be relative and minimal, we must aim less for the delusion of positive pleasure and more for the securing of our safety and the careful avoidance of suffering or impoverishment." truer words have never been spoken. it is, as with all legendary artists and thinkers, as if arthur schopenhauer is sitting in your room and talking to you himself--such is the power of his incredibly accurate and poignant commentary on our existence and it's ultimate meaninglessness and emptiness.
29 internautes sur 31 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 excellent introduction to Schopenhauer's style and thought 19 janvier 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur
Taken from the nineteenth-century philosopher's last book, Parerga and Paralipomena (1851), Essays & Aphorisms is a superb introduction to Schopenhauer's thought, a sampling of his final views on a wide range of subjects. Admittedly, the author's original two-volume work is often tedious and repetitive, but the selections and abridgements by Hollingdale have produced an easily consulted and highly readable result. As explained in the Introduction, Parerga was actually not a collection of essays or of aphorisms, but, in Schopenhauer's own words, one of "single but systematically ordered thoughts on diverse subjects." The "Essays" contained in this volume are really chains of such thoughts on specific subjects. Schopenhauer is famous, or rather infamous, primarily for his pessimistic outlook, and only secondarily so for the adaptation to Kant's metaphysics that he constructed to support it. Pessimism is at least as old as literature - Sophocles wrote: "Not to be born at all is the most to be desired; but having seen the light, the next best is to die as soon as possible" - but Schopenhauer's contribution was to try to show that this is justified. The background for this attempt is the system he had worked out and published by 1818 in his principle work, The World as Will and Representation (or Idea), 1200 pages in its final form, and recommended only to the reader who already possesses a healthy interest in Schopenhauer's complete system as the outcome of German metaphysics. Thankfully, Hollingdale outlines this background, and the background necessary to understand it, in an amazingly concise Introduction, which also includes an illuminating biographical sketch. As Hollingdale notes, there is nothing to prevent the reader completely unacquainted with Kant and with Schopenhauer's life and times from picking up Essays & Aphorisms and enjoying it immensely, but it is the reviewer's opinion that the Introduction will prove invaluable to such a reader, and helpful or at least interesting to most others. After the obscure and awkward writing styles of the two giants of German philosophy, Kant and Hegel, Schopenhauer, who revered the former and despised the latter, really comes across as much as an heir to Goethe's legacy as to Kant's. His stylistic strengths, which are both presented and, indirectly, discussed, in the penultimate section "On Books and Writing," partly accounts for his enduring popularity and the enthusiasm with which at least two of his most famous adherents, Richard Wagner and the young Nietzsche, embraced his philosophy. It is of course, though, the substance of his writing which strikes the reader most in such a condensed book as Essays & Aphorisms. The initiation is brutal. The first two essays "On the Suffering of the World" and "On the Vanity of Existence" leave no doubt as to the overriding sentiment in Schopenhauer's world-view and ethics: "the world is Hell, and men are on one hand the tormented souls and the other the devils in it." Like his metaphysics, his pessimism threads its way through every section, but not oppressively so. It receives an even-handed treatment and, again like his metaphysics, is not the end of his philosophy but only the context in which one must read the selections, which display, as often as not, a psychological rather than conventionally philosophical insight. A number of his aphorisms "On Psychology" are included, and many of these, as well as others, suggest that he was indeed, as is often claimed, a precursor to Freud, though his direct influence is probably magnified, even distorted, in such a compact selection. As Schopenhauer was an influential figure in Nietzsche's thought, the reader unfamiliar with the reasons for Nietzsche's abandonment of him might expect, seeing the "Dialogue on Religion" and section "On Religion" in the table of contents, religion to be butchered completely, but the material selected, especially if read with Hollingdale's Introduction, is sufficient for the careful reader to realize how the tenets of Augustinian Christianity, with its "sin of existence," and Buddhism, with its aim of nothingness, are by no means antithetical to his disparagement of life. These systems differ from his primarily in their understanding of the nature rather than the worth of this world. Essays & Aphorisms offers the first-time reader of Schopenhauer a selection of his thought and his thinking, including some of the best and worst of both. From his ludicrous essay "On Women" to his brilliant reflections on genius and intellect, Schopenhauer is present in these pages in all his Romantic splendor and misery, and is to be considered, at the very least, in light of a note about him penned seven years after his death by Nietzsche: ". . . The errors of great men are venerable because they are more fruitful than the truths of little men. . ."
17 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant & Provocative 17 mai 2002
Par Ian Vance - Publié sur
The one overriding fault I tend to find in western philosophers of the last couple centuries stems from the strange-but-prevalent affliction coequally termed `diarrhea of the pen.' I suppose verboseness is to be expected, after all: most (if not all) of these famed deep thinkers are attempting to condense/define the human experience within the vast ocean of existence itself; given these parameters and the innumerable tangents available, it is no real surprise then that those of philosophic bent tend to express their concepts in complicated and convoluted form. If nothing else, it keeps the proles away in droves (j/k)--but seriously, it also makes reading these conceptions a tedious task; it off-times seems to me that Kant, Hegel et al would have benefited greatly from the presence of a stern editor.
But here we have an innovation! Penguin Classics has published an abridged version of Arthur Schopenhauer's _Parerga and Paralipomena_ into this nice digestible volume, _Essays and Aphorisms_. R.J. Hollingdale's translation is a clear, lucid read, and with the repetition and grandiloquence removed, the pessimistic outlook of Herr Schopenhauer gains a keen sharpness; his controversial musings cut quick and to the bone.
As for the material itself...well, let's take a look:
"The social structure, the state, will stand quite firm only when it is founded on an universally recognized metaphysical system. Such a system can naturally be only one of folk-metaphysics, that is, religion: ...the social structure could hardly exist at all if religion did not lend weight to the government's authority and the ruler's dignity..." (On Religion: A Dialogue, pg. 109)
" the weaker sex, [women] are driven to rely not on force but on cunning: hence their instinctive subtlety and their ineradicable tendency to tell lies: for, as nature has equipped the lion with claws and teeth, the elephant with tusks, the wild boar with fangs (etc), so it has equipped women with the power of dissimulation as her means of attack and defense..." (On Women, pg. 83)
"A constitution embodying nothing but abstract justice would be a wonderful thing, but it would not be suited to beings such as men. Because the great majority of men are in the highest degree egoistic, unjust, inconsiderate, deceitful, sometimes even malicious, and equipped moreover with very mediocre intelligence, there exists a need for a completely unaccountable power..." (On Law and Politics, pg. 152-153)
"States of human happiness and good fortune can as a rule be compared with certain groups of trees: seen from a distance they look beautiful, but if you go up to and into them their beauty disappears and you can no longer discover it. That is why we so often feel envy for other people." (On Psychology, pg.171)
"Few write as an architect builds, drawing up a plan beforehand and thinking it out down to the smallest details. Most write as they play dominoes: their sentences are linked together as dominoes are, one by one, in part deliberate, in part by chance." (On Writing, pg. 207)
This is great stuff, people, whether you agree with Schopenhauer's statements or not. Brilliant & provocative, and an enjoyable read as well. Highly recommended.
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