On the Principle of Sufficient Reason (Paperback)
"Schopenhauer's analyses of causation and related concepts ... rival and probably surpass in their depth and brilliance the more celebrated discussions of David Hume. Where Hume grossly oversimplified these problems and left them riddled with paradoxes, Schopenhauer disentangled them and shed light on what had seemed hopelessly dark" - Richard Taylor
This little-known work by the famous German pessimist and critic of Hegel was originally written as a doctoral dissertation when Schopenhauer was just twenty-six, but it was later revised when the philosopher was sixty. So important did he consider this work, originally titled "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason," that he often underscored the fact that no one could hope to understand his magnum opus, The World as Will and Representation, without having first read this work. Schopenhauer takes up where Kant left off in response to Hume, and his insights into the nature of perception and understanding remain amazingly relevant and still unsurpassed.
"Our knowing consciousness, which manifests itself as outer and inner sensibility (or receptivity) and as understanding and reason, subdivides itself into subject and object and contains nothing else. To be object for the subject and to be our representation are the same thing. All our representations stand towards one another in a regulated connection, which may be determined a priori, and on account of which nothing existing separately and independently, nothing single or detached, can become an object for us. It is this connection which is expressed by the Principle of Sufficient Reason in its generality." - chapter 3, 16.
About the Author
ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER, the famous nineteenth-century Ger-man pessimist who expanded on the ideas of Plato and Immanuel Kant, wrote accessibly, leading his ideas to resonate with both philosophers and artists alike. The son of Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer and Johanna Hen-riette Troisiener, Arthur was born in Danzig on February 22, 1788, just one month after English Romantic poet George Gor-don, Lord Byron. A middle-class Dutch family involved in inter-national trade, the Schopenhauers chose "Arthur" as their son's name because the appellation is spelled the same in English, French, and German. Once Prussia annexed Danzig in 1793, the Schopenhauer family moved first to Hamburg, then Arthur spent much of his youth living throughout Europe, learning many lan-guages. Although his father prepared him to inherit the family mercantile business, Arthur Schopenhauer found that the schol-arly life suited him perfectly. After Heinrich's 1805 death, Johanna moved her family from Hamburg to Weimar, where Johanna, an author herself, befriended the writer Johann Wolf-gang von Goethe. Arthur Schopenhauer enrolled in the University of Gottin-gen and received his doctorate from the University of Jena in 1813. His dissertation, The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Suf-ficient Reason, explored the philosophical assumption that equates reality with rationality. According to Schopenhauer, in order for one to contemplate an explanation for a particular thing, one must assume that there is a subject (oneself) that thinks about the object (thing to be explained). Schopenhauer built his thesis on the work of Kant, who noted that humans can-not transcend themselves and therefore cannot satisfactorily answer metaphysical questions, and G. W. Leibniz, who first defined the principle of sufficient reason, which states that absolutely nothing exists that lacks an adequate reason for its existence. Schopenhauer's most famous work, the two-volume The World as Will and Representation, sprung from ideas put forth in The Fourfold Root. Schopenhauer's philosophical inquiries led him to embrace a pessimistic worldview--life is a mean-ingless struggle against the irrational impulses of the will. One could find some solace, however, through aesthetic perception, morality, and asceticism. With regard to the first, Schopenhauer considered artistic endeavors to be the communication of Pla-tonic Ideas, with music as the highest of all art forms because of its instant objectification of the will. Schopenhauer's ideas influ-enced many literary figures--including Samuel Beckett, Joseph Conrad, Leo Tolstoy, W. B. Yeats, and Emile Zola--as well as musicians such as Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. In the early 1920s, Schopenhauer began lecturing at the University of Berlin, purposely scheduling his classes concur-rent with those of G. W. F. Hegel. Schopenhauer strongly dis-liked Hegel and his philosophy; the former felt that the latter tried to make up for a lack of content in his works by ensnaring the reader in meaningless jargon. Schopenhauer left Berlin in 1831 to escape the threat of a cholera epidemic, eventually settling in Frankfurt, where he spent the rest of his life. By the mid-1850s, Schopenhauer gained the recognition that he had longed for when a review of his philosophical work appeared in the Westminster Review, which connected some of Schopenhauer's thought with that of Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Schopenhauer's health gradually dete-riorated in 1860 until he died of natural causes on September 21 in Frankfurt. New editions of most of Schopenhauer's works began to appear in 1873. Other works by Schopenhauer include On Vision and Col-ors (1816), On the Will in Nature (1836), The Two Fundamen-tal Problems of Ethics (1839-40), Parerga und Paralipomena (1851), and The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims (1886).