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Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

By Christopher Janaway (Author)
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Item description for Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Christopher Janaway...

Schopenhauer is considered to be the most readable of German philosophers. This book gives a succinct explanation of his metaphysical system, concentrating on the original aspects of his thought, which inspired many artists and thinkers including Nietzsche, Wagner, Freud, and Wittgenstein. Schopenhauer's central notion is that of the will--a blind, irrational force that he uses to interpret both the human mind and the whole of nature. Seeing human behavior as that of a natural organism governed by the will to life, Schopenhauer developed radical insights concerning the unconscious and sexuality which influenced both psychologists and philosophers

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Pages   137
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.02" Width: 4.5" Height: 0.39"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 16, 2002
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0192802593  
ISBN13  9780192802590  

Availability  0 units.

More About Christopher Janaway

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Christopher Janaway is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birbeck College, University of London.

Christopher Janaway has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Southampton, UK University of Southampton University of.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > History & Surveys
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Metaphysics
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Modern

Reviews - What do customers think about Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)?

A splendid introduction to an influential thinker  Jun 10, 2007
Schopenhauer, a German philosopher of the early 19th century, is a greatly neglected thinker today, despite being hugely influential in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most notably on the thought of Nietzsche, Wagner and Freud. The latter in particular, although he denied it, was greatly influenced by him. Janaway convincingly extends the list to include Mahler, Jung, Mann and others. In fact, if you have not yet delved deeply into the work of Freud or Nietzsche, I would strongly recommend that you tackle Schopenhauer before doing so, and Janaway's is the perfect introduction. It is a well-informed, readable and balanced account, neither an apology nor a savaging. Schopenhauer's metaphysics have not stood the test of time, but his worldview, essentially pessimistic yet with promise of redemption, is still very relevant, and in any ways strikingly modern. If you are at all interested in the development of modern thought, especially that of the various German and Austrian schools, then you need to acquaint yourself with Schopenhauer, and I doubt you will find a better introduction than this book.
First Rate  Nov 5, 2006
Janaway is a top-notch Schopenhauer scholar, so there is no question that he knows his subject forwards and backwards. The first time I tried to read this Short Introduction, I didn't get very far before setting it aside with the feeling that I just wasn't getting it. A year later, after reading a lot of Schopenhauer and a several longer treatments of his ideas, I found that Janaway's book was clear as a bell, and I read right through it. I'm not sure what to make of that, but I think that I just didn't approach this kind of material with the right attitude and that the fault was therefore entirely mine. See below.

In any case, this is a first-rate introduction to Schopenhauer, and a very well-written one, too. Schopenhauer himself was a very clear and careful writer (no Hegel, by far), and Janaway continues in that tradition. Schopenhauer's metaphysics is, of course, speculative and that can be a problem if, like me, you come to it from an analytic tradition where everything has to be provable to be considered meaningful or taken seriously. In reading Schopenhauer, or a book like this describing his philosophy, you need to suspend those criteria temporarily and to look at his system as one extremely smart man's best guess about the nature of the world. Call it a working hypothesis that is necessarily underdetermined by the possible empirical evidence. The judgment required therefore must be an overall one as to how well you think that picture fits with the world as you experience it, granting that some number of alternative systems are possible that would fit equally well. To some degree, it's an aesthetic judgment, or perhaps a decision about what kind of world view you can be comfortable with; the key question is whether you are willing to entertain the possibility that the empirical world might not be all there is.

If you are shopping around for a congenial view at that level, then Schopenhauer's ideas are well worth considering, and Janaway's introduction would be a good place to start. Or, if you just have a detached curiousity about what one of the giants of 19th-century philosophy had to say, then it's a good book for that purpose, also. One thing about Schopenhauer is that once you understand his view of things, you will have a hard time seeing the world in quite the same way as you previously did.
By and large a solid introduction  Jan 24, 2006
This book focuses on the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).

The author states in his preface that "This book aims to give a sympathetic but critical account of Schopenhauer's philosophy." Indeed, the book at times is certainly critical; the very last paragraph of the book begins "Though Schopenhauer's metaphysics is not credible as a system..." Janaway's basic message throughout seems to be that Schopenhauer is very important for the influence he had on others (for example, Wagner and Nietsche), for the unique and often troubling questions he raised, and for the new ideas he brought into philosophy - but he is not a Schopenhauer apologist.

The focus of the book is on Schopenhauer's ideas about philosophical topics like will, the body, the self, metaphysics, character, sexuality, the unconscious, art and aesthetic experience, ethics, and other issues. Special focus is given to Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, which is presented as his greatest work, and much is made of the philosopher's idea of the will to life and physical reality as a manifestation of this will.

All in all I would say that Janaway does a decent job in introducing Schopenhauer's ideas, although his summary at times is a bit less clear than some of the other books in the Very Short Introduction series.
A superb concise introduction to Schopenhauer's thought.  Sep 21, 2000
Concise yet engaging, this book is an excellent introduction to Schopenhauer's life and thought. The author's remarks on the difficulties and limitations of Schopenhauer's metaphysics are highly illuminating. His notes highlighting the important and influential aspects of this philosophy provide a perfect contrast to his critical remarks, and give the reader a sober, balanced view of the subject. All in all, this is a great book to read before and after delving into Schopenhauer's own works.

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