On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason - Arthur Schopenhauer - PDF-ebook

On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason, and On the will in nature; two essays.


From the translator's introduction:

In venturing to lay the present translation x before the public, I am aware of the great difficulties of my task and indeed can hardly hope to do justice to the Author. In fact, had it not been for the considerations I am about to state, I might probably never have published what had originally been undertaken in order to acquire a clearer comprehension of these essays, rather than with a view to publicity. 

The two treatises which form the contents of the present volume have so much importance for a profound and correct knowledge of Schopenhauer s philosophy, that it may even be doubted whether the translation of his chief work, "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung," can contribute much towards the appreciation of his system without the help at least of the " Yierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grande." Schopenhauer himself repeatedly and urgently insists upon previous thorough knowledge of Kant s philosophy, as the basis, and of his own " Fourfold Boot," as the key, to his own system, asserting that knowledge is indispensable condition for a right comprehension of his meaning. 

So far as I am aware, neither the " Fourfold Root" nor the "Will in Nature " have as yet found a translator; therefore, considering the dawning interest which has begun to make itself felt for Schopenhauer s philosophy in England and in America, and the fact that From the fourth edition by Julius Frauenstadt. " Fourfold Boot," Leipzig, 1875 ; "Will in Nature," Leipzig, 1878. no more competent scholar has come forward to do the work, it may not seem presumptuous to suppose that this version may be acceptable to those who wish to acquire a more than a superficial knowledge of this remarkable thinker, yet whose acquaintance with German does not permit them to read his works in the original. 

Now although some portions of both the Essays published in the present volume have of course become antiquated, owing to the subsequent development of the empirical sciences, others such as, for instance, Schopenhauer s denunciation of plagiarism in the cases of Brandis and Rosas at the beginning of Physiology and Pathology I can have no interest for the reader of the present day, I have nevertheless given them just as he left them and refrained from all suppression or alteration. 

And if, on the whole, the " Will in Nature " may be less indispensable for a right understanding of our philosopher s views than the " Fourfold Root," being merely a record of the confirmations which had been contributed during his lifetime by the various branches of Natural Science to his doctrine, that the thing in itself is the will, the Second Essay has nevertheless in its own way quite as much importance as the First, and is, in a sense, its complement. 

For they both throw light on Schopenhauer s view of the Universe in its double aspect as Will and as Representation, each being as it were a resume of the exposition of one of those aspects. My plea for uniting them in one volume, in spite of the difference in their contents and the wide lapse of time (seventeen years) which lies between them, must be, that they complete each other, and that their great weight and intrinsic value seem to point them out as peculiarly fitted to be introduced to the English thinker. 

In endeavouring to convey the Author s thoughts as he J See " Will in Nature," pp. 9-18 of the original j pp. 224-234 of the present translation expresses them, I have necessarily encountered many and great difficulties. His meaning, though always clearly expressed, is not always easy to seize, even for his countrymen; as a foreigner, therefore, I may often have failed to grasp, let alone adequately to render, that meaning. 

In this case, besides, the responsibility for any want of perspicuity cannot be shifted by the translator onto the Author; since the consummate perfection of Schopenhauer s prose is universally recognised, even by those who reject, or at least who do not share, his views. 

An eminent German writer of our time has not hesitated to rank him immediately after Lessing and Gothe as the third greatest German prose-writer, and only quite recently a German professor, in a speech delivered with the intent of demolishing Schopenhauer s philosophy, was reluctantly obliged to admit that his works would remain on account of their literary value. Gothe himself expressed admiration for the clearness of exposition in Schopenhauer s chief work and for the beauty of his style. 

The chief obstacle I have encountered in translating these Essays did not, therefore, consist in the obscurity of the Author s style, nor even in the difficulty of finding appropriate terms wherewith to convey his meaning; although at times certainly, the want of complete precision in our philosophical terminology made itself keenly felt and the selection was often far from easy: it lay rather in the great difference in the way of thinking and of expressing their thoughts which lies between the two nations. 

The regions of German and English thought are indeed separated by a gulf, which at first seems impassable, yet which must be bridged over by some means or other if a right comprehension is to be achieved.

 The German writer loves to develop synthetically a single thought in a long period consisting of various members; he proceeds steadily to unravel the seemingly tangled skein, while he keeps the reader ever on the alert, making him assist actively in the process and never letting Vlll him lose sight of the main thread. 

The English author, on the contrary, anxious before all things to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, and ready for this end not only to sacrifice harmony of proportion in construction but to submit to the necessity of occasional artificial joining, usually adopts the analytical method. He prefers to divide the thread of his discourse into several smaller skeins, easier certainly to handle and thus better suiting the convenience of the English thinker, to whom long periods are trying and bewildering, and who is not always willing to wait for half a page or more for the point of a sentence or the gist of a thought. 

Wherever it could be done without interfering seriously with the spirit of the original, I have broken up the long periods in these essays into smaller sentences, in order to facilitate their comprehension. At times however Schopenhauer recapitulates a whole side of his view of the Universe in a single period of what seems intolerable length to the English reader:, for instance, the resume contained in the Introduction to his "Will in Nature," l which could not be divided without damage to his meaning.

 Here therefore it did not seem advisable to sacrifice the unity and harmony of his design and to disturb both his form and his meaning, in order to minister to the reader s dislike for mental exertion; in keeping the period intact I have however endeavoured to make it as easy to comprehend as possible by the way in which the single parts are presented to the eye.

the book details :
  • Author:Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Translator: Mme. Karl Hillebrand
  • Publication date:  1903
  • Company: London, G. Bell

  • Download On the fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason  17.4 MB

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