Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
374
SCHOPENHAUER

escape is possible from the spectre of materialism, theoretical and practical; and so, says Schopenhauer, "the just and good must all have this creed: I believe in a metaphysic." The mere reasonings of theoretical science leave no room for art, and practical prudence usurps the place of morality. The higher life of aesthetic and ethical activity - the beautiful and the good - can only be based upon an intuition which penetrates the heart of reality. Towards the spring of 1818 the work was nearing its end, and Brockhaus of Leipzig had agreed to publish it and pay the author one ducat for every sheet of printed matter. But, as the press loitered, Schopenhauer, suspecting treachery, wrote so rudely and haughtily to the publisher that the latter broke off correspondence with his client. In the end of 1818, however, the book appeared (with the date 1819) as Die Welt als Wille and Vorstellung, in four books, with an appendix containing a criticism of the Kantian philosophy (Eng. trans. by R. B. Haldane and J. Kemp, 1883). Long before the work had come to the hands of the public Schopenhauer had rushed off to Italy. He stayed for a time in Venice, where Byron was then living; but the two did not meet. At Rome he visited the art galleries, the opera, the theatre, and gladly seized every chance of conversing in English with Englishmen. In March 1819 he went as far as Naples and Paestium. About this time the fortunes of his mother and sister and himself were threatened by the failure of the firm in Danzig. His sister accepted a compromise of 70%, but Schopenhauer angrily refused this, and eventually recovered 9400 thalers.

After some stay at Dresden, hesitating between fixing himself as university teacher at Göttingen, Heidelberg or Berlin, he finally chose the last-mentioned. He was, however, not a good lecturer, and his work soon came to an end. His failure he attributed to Hegelian intrigues. Thus, except for some attention to physiology, the first two years at Berlin were wasted. In May 1822 he set out by way of Switzerland for Italy. After spending the winter at Florence and Rome, he left in the spring of 1823 for Munich, where he stayed for nearly a year, the prey of illness and isolation. When at the end of this wretched time he left for Gastein, in May 1824, he had almost entirely lost the hearing of his right ear. Dresden, which he reached in August, no longer presented the same hospitable aspect as of old, and he was reluctantly drawn onwards to Berlin in May 1825.

The six years at Berlin were a dismal period in the life of Schopenhauer. In vain did he watch for any sign of recognition of his philosophic genius. Hegelianism reigned in the schools and in literature and basked in the sunshine of authority. Thus driven back upon himself, Schopenhauer fell into morbid meditations, and the world which he saw, if it was stripped naked of its disguises, lost its proportions in the distorting light. The sexual passion had a strong attraction for him at all times, and, according to his biographers, the notes he set down in English, when he was turned thirty, on marriage and kindred topics are unfit for publication. Yet in the loneliness of life at Berlin the idea of a wife as the comfort of gathering age sometimes rose before his mind - only to be driven away by cautious hesitations as to the capacity of his means, and by the shrinking from the loss of familiar liberties. He wrote nothing material. In 1828 he made inquiries about a chair at Heidelberg; and in 1830 he got a shortened Latin version of his physiological theory of colours inserted in the third volume of the Scriptores ophthalmologici minores (edited by Radius).

Another pathway to reputation was suggested by some remarks he saw in the seventh number of the Foreign Review, in an article on Damiron's French Philosophy in the 19th Century. With reference to some statements in the article on the importance of Kant, he sent in very fair English a letter to the writer, offering to translate Kant's principal works into English. He named his wages and enclosed a specimen of his work. His correspondent, Francis Haywood, made a counter-proposal which so disgusted Schopenhauer that he addressed his next letter to the publishers of the review. When they again referred him to Haywood, he applied to Thomas Campbell, then chairman of a company formed for buying up the copyright of meritorious but rejected works. Nothing came of this application.[1] A translation of selections from the works of Balthazar Gracian,. which was published by Frauenstlldt in 1862, seems to have been made about this time.[2]

In 1833 he settled finally at Frankfort, gloomily waiting for the recognition of his work, and terrified by fears of assassination and robbery. As the years passed he noted down every confirmation he found of his own opinions in the writings of others, and every instance in which his views appeared to be illustrated by new researches. Full of the conviction of his idea, he saw everything in the light of it, and gave each aperçu a place in his alphabetically arranged note-book. Everything he published in later life may be called a commentary, an excursus or a scholium to his main book; and many of them are decidedly of the nature of commonplace books or collectanea of notes. But along with the accumulation of his illustrative and corroborative materials grew the bitterness of heart which found its utterances neglected and other names the oracles of the reading world. The gathered illhumour of many years, aggravated by the confident assurance of the Hegelians, found vent at length in the introduction to his next book, where Hegel's works are described as three-quarters utter absurdity and one-quarter mere paradox - a specimen of the language in which during his subsequent career he used to advert to his three predecessors Fichte, Schelling, but above all Hegel. This work, with its wild outcry against the philosophy of the professoriate, was entitled Über den Willen in der Natur, and was published in 1836 (revised and enlarged, 1854; Eng. trans., 1889).

In 1837 Schopenhauer sent to the committee entrusted with the execution of the proposed monument to Goethe at Frankfort a long and deliberate expression of his views, in general and particular, on the best mode of carrying out the design. But his fellow-citizens passed by the remarks of the mere writer of books. More weight was naturally attached to the opinion he had advocated in his early criticism of Kant as to the importance, if not the superiority, of the first edition of the Kritik; in the collected issue of Kant's works by Rosenkranz and Schubert in 1838 that edition was put as the substantive text, with supplementary exhibition of the differences of the second.

In 1841 he published under the title Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik two essays which he had sent in 1838-1839 in competition for prizes offered. The first was in answer to the question "Whether man's free will can be proved from self-consciousness," proposed by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences at Drontheim. His essay was awarded the prize, and the author elected a. member of the society. But proportionate to his exultation in this first recognition of his merit was the depth of his mortification and the height of his indignation at the result of the second competition. He had sent to the Danish Academy at Copenhagen in 1839 an essay "On the Foundations of Morality" in answer to a vaguely worded subject of discussion to which they had invited candidates. His essay, though it was the only one in competition, was refused the prize on the grounds that he had failed to examine the chief problem (i.e. whether the basis of morality was to be sought in an intuitive idea of right), that his explanation was inadequate, and that he had been wanting in due respect to the summi philosophi of the age that was just passing. This last reason, while probably most effective with the judges, only stirred up more furiously the fury in Schopenhauer's breast, and his preface is one long fulmination against the ineptitudes and the charlatanry of his bête noire, Hegel.

In 1844 appeared the second edition of The World as Will and Idea, in two volumes. The first volume was a slightly altered reprint of the earlier issue; the second consisted of a series of chapters forming a commentary parallel to those into which the original work was now first divided. The longest of these new chapters deal with the primacy of the will, with death and with the metaphysics of sexual love. But, though only a small edition was struck off (500 copies of vol. i. and 750 of vol. ii.),

  1. It was not till 1841 that a translation of Kant's Kritik in English appeared.
  2. He also projected a translation of Hume's Essays and wrote a preface for it.