Talk:The World as Will and Representation

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when was this written?[edit]

This is probably a question many will have on their minds when looking for information on this book. Should be in first sentence.

This book was published in 1819. It was written in the years immediately prior to that date.Lestrade 01:44, 22 January 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

I have made substantial edits to the page for style and NPOV. I have tried to limit my addition of new content, because it has been a while since I read this book and I don't have it with me. Plus I've never read vol. 2 or the appendix. However, there were some points that really needed to be explained better and I've tried to improve these. This page still needs a lot of help. I don't think I removed to much, but there may be a few things that I've deleted. kpearce 05:44, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

Could you please provide an example for us beginners of why "Kant saw inner-sense as subject to time. Schopenhauer was thus violating Kant's laws when he said that the thing-in-itself could be known through inner-experience." From whence cometh your "thus?" Can we know the thing-in-itself Now (and now, and now, ...) in the Buddhist sense of raw awareness without conceptualization?

To be honest, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Schopenhauer thought that the will - the noumena or thing-in-itself - could be known through our inner-experiene [e.g. our feelings, emotions, conscious actions and indeed subconscious]. He thought that this was a path into the thing-in-itself and we were experiencing the noumena, which is outside of time and space. This concept of the thing-in-itself is borrowed from Kant and he claimed that he was only modifying it in saying that we could know things about it; he maintained that we could not know it absolutely. However, as Kant saw these feelings inside us as subject to inner-time [which is too complicated to go into here], Schopenhauer was not employing the concept properly and was not completing Kant's philosophy in quite the way that he thought he was.

I really don't understand the second part of your question at all.

On a different note, I wrote an earlier page for this subject and it was taken down, after being up for two whole months, on the grounds of copyright violation. Could someone explain this to me, please? I did not copy anybody!

"Inner sense" is awareness of activity inside of the brain. (This is in contrast to "outer sense" which is awareness of activity understood as being outside of the brain, that is, activity in the rest of the body and in its surrounding world.) Inner sense can be separated into form and content. For Kant and Schopenhauer, the form of the inner sense is time. The form (way or manner) of inner sense is succession, that is, one mental activity follows another in a sequence. This is called "time." On the other hand, the content of inner sense, for Schopenhauer, is equivalent to what is commonly named "will." What we sense in our inner activity is designated "will." In short, the form of the inner sense (how we sense, or the way we sense) is time (succession). The content of the inner sense (what we sense) is will (impulse, desire, craving, needing, wanting to live and continue living).Lestrade (talk) 01:46, 4 February 2011 (UTC)Lestrade

Notes on style, etc[edit]

I just edited this article to make it conform more to the Wikipedia Manual of Style. If you've never looked at that you should give a once-over. No need to memorize it all – the points that one regularly violates are likely to draw attention.

Specifically, besides putting the title as the subject of the first paragraph, in bold, I removed a lot of duplicate internal links. You generally only need to link the first occurrence of a term. It may be justifiable to link the same term twice in disparate sections if you expect that the article won't necessarily be generally read from top to bottom by everyone, but it is not necessary to link every occurrence of will.

Concerning the copyright takedown, I don't know if I flagged that or not, though I do so to articles that I find that appear to be violations. The takedown notice would have linked to or included other information on the infringed source. If you find that that happens in the future to any articles to which you've contributed, please read the notice carefully and follow the instructions for resolution. (I did some quick searching on the current text just now and didn't see any potential infringment.)

As for this page, please consider adopting the habit of signing your posts on discussion pages with "~~~~". That will automatically be replaced by your user name, linked to your user page, and a timestamp. It's very handy for people who come after you – I'll have used it at the bottom of this note.

Consider indenting your responses to others on these discussion pages. You use a colon (:) as the first character in the paragraph to do that, but make sure it's not preceded by any spaces – let the program indent it for you. What with the lack of signatures and lack of indenting in the preceding section, I can hardly tell where one comment ends and the next starts!

Finally, consider using section headers, as I have done, when starting a new topic of conversation.

Thanks all for your (non-infringing) contributions to Wikipedia! Not the management, just an interested user — Kbh3rd 19:36, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The "Criticisms" are absurd[edit]

Evidently, someone has made it their life's mission to denouce Bertrand Russel's opinion on Schopenhauer, but the inclusion of this and, frankly, *all* of the other "criticisms" at the end of the article is absurd. I have read Bertrand Russel's writing on Schopenhauer, and I agree with the judgement expressed; however, that judgement has no place in this Encyclopedia entry! Put it in Bertrand Russel's entry if you insist!

If Encyclopedia articles contained bullet-point critiques at the end of each entry, how long would Hegel's entry be? How long would Hitler's be? etc. etc.

I do not, e.g., find the assertion that Schopenhauer's view of asceticism is "contradictory" to be tenable. Schopenhauer's view is no more contradictory than the views common to about 80% of Hindus and Jains (and of this comparison Schopenhauer was well aware); obviously, most Westerners find it "contradictory" that starving yourself to death will "set you free", but this is indeed consistent with the peculiar doctrine of _Moksha_ that Schopenhauer preached --and his arguments in favour of it were not self-contradictory (although, for the record, I do not agree with them).

The fact that some Wiki contributor disagrees with Schopenhauer is not grounds to note that disagreement at the end of an Encyclopedia article. Will one of the editors kindly clip off the trail of "criticisms" from this article?

The rest of it is not much good --being, above all, poorly organized, but "it will serve", I suppose.

See the "On Objectivity" section for a response to this.

If he was having affairs and eating at fancy restaurants, how would he have been able to conserve his money "strigently"? If indeed he was parsimonious, that would be an example of asceticism, not the reverse.

He doesn't contradict himself over asceticism. "At times, he says that it involves the most terrible pain, yet he also says that it leads to a cheerfulness that contrasts with the restless suffering of those that still will." That's a paradox, not a contradiction.

POV vs. Objectivity?[edit]

In a recent edit, I'm sorry to say I had to remove the following statement:

"The tone of the second volume is much more pompous than in the first and..."

Pardon me? Is this an encyclopedia?

The statement is untrue --but this is immaterial. Even if it were true it is inappropriate. It is clear to me that the "Wiki" format is not compatible with philosophy.

On Objectivity[edit]

I understand that Wikipedia is an institution that does not accept situated viewpoints, but I think that some of the things criticised on this page are objective fact. For the above point, whilst the term "pompous" may not seem to be objective on its own, "more pompous than X" can be more objective. I fail to see how anyone can judge the second volume of "The World as Will and Representation" as anything other than more pompously written than the first. Also, I think that the word "contradiction" is an objective term, seeing as it comes from logic. The criticism shows that the contradiction is over what an ascetic suicide is: in some parts, S claims that the only possible ascetic suicide is through starvation; at another point, he gives instances of people feeding themselves to crocodiles, being buried alive and throwing themselves in front of carts as ascetic suicides. I think that it is perfectly objective to call that a contradiction.

As for the person who objects to there being criticisms listed, there also are on the pages for utilitarianism, Categorical Imperative, Ayn Rand, Sartre, Peter Singer and many other philosophers. If you want to do one for Hegel, why not? Wikipedia is supposed to be educational and I can't see how you can educate yourself about a philosopher without learning opposing views as well.

I can tell this article needs a lot of work on NPOV, and I barely glanced at it. There is such a thing as neutral presentation of controversial viewpoints, and this lacks that quality in its representation both of Hume and Russell. KSchutte 02:47, 28 July 2005 (UTC)
I removed the "irrational" from Hume's "irrational sentimentalism". What I meant was that Hume didn't see morality as the product of reason, but it was a blunder to thus call his theory "irrational"; perhaps "arational", but I think it best just to delete the word. The only other time he is mentioned is as being an "agnostic"; he never confessed to being an atheist and, if he did, he would have been imprisoned or even executed. With Russell, the article is NPOV. Russell's article on Schopenhauer was inaccurate and saying anything less is violated the NPOV; it's like saying that Mein Kampf isn't anti-Semitic.


To say that Schopenhauer's point is "neverending" is to say that, for one reader, Schopenhauer continually makes the same point. This may be true, since Schopenhauer believed that he had a valuable point to make. However, to characterize it as such seems to be an attempt at humor and only reflects the viewpoint of one person. 12:09, 6 October 2005 (UTC)Lestrade

To speak of Schopenhauer's "neverending point" is to blatantly express a point of view. Coupled with the subjective, uncited criticisms, this article is crying out to be seriously altered. Lestrade 13:13, 22 October 2005 (UTC)Lestrade

Spinoza's & Hinduism[edit]

In the "Criticism" section, why does it mention Spinoza's understanding of Hinduism?

I notice that this was corrected to "Schopenhauer's understanding of Hinduism."Lestrade 13:10, 22 October 2005 (UTC)Lestrade

Criticism listed[edit]

  • If one understands that Life is eternal, as he says, life need not be evil (even if life is all suffering, we still continue to live, as he himself said individual die but species do not.
  • The principle of Buddha that "desire is the root cause of all sorrow" means controlling the five senses and by desire Buddha did not mean "Will" and Will to Live is not want but instinct.

I move these criticism to the discussion opage because they are neither clearly stated nor fully addressing what Schopenhauer said on these points. Please elaborate. '- 16:21, 5 May 2006 (UTC)'

Further criticism[edit]

  • His notion that we can know things about the will but never actually directly know the will is thought to be clumsy and vague.

This employs weasel words. By who is it thought? And how do they address that Schopenhauer defines as Will something that can only be found by trancendental argument? It is a criticism from within - i.e. Schopenhauer overlooking something --, a criticism of the choice of word Will, or a criticism of the trancendental argument from without? '- 16:31, 5 May 2006 (UTC)'

on Hinduism[edit]

"Schopenhauer's understanding of Hinduism is a popular misconception." Does this mean Schopenhauer shared a popular misconception in his views on Hinduism, or that most people have Schopenhauer's understanding of Hinduism all wrong? Boris B 10:46, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Supplanted concepts?[edit]

The "Criticism" section has the following entry: The concepts of time and space in the work have since been supplanted by the concept of spacetime. This is incorrect. Do we hear anyone ask, "What spacetime is it?" or "How much spacetime did it take for the ambulance to respond to the emergency call?" Do we say that the first rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral into spacetime on July 24, 1950?Lestrade 14:00, 16 April 2007 (UTC)Lestrade

Affirmation/Denial of the will comparable to Master/Slave Morality?[edit]

I didn't like this sentence. I admit I'm not, perhaps, best equipped to make the decision, but I did anyway (i.e. I removed that sentence from the article).

In what manner is Schopenhauer's Will comparable to Nietzsche's account of Master-Slave morality? The comparison reminds me of one that I once made between Heidegger's Authentic Dasein and Nietzsche's Uebermensch - it arises due to an understanding of the philosophy being... shall we say... too superficial.

But maybe I am just incorrect. Maybe I am the one who understands Nietzsche and Schopenhauer on these points too superficially. If this is the case, then I support putting the sentence back in - but even then, it'd be nice to at least have some words of clarification. The connection implied by the sentence in question is not immediately obvious to the Wikipedia reader, in my view.

But, as always, I may be "incorrect". 02:04, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

There is no relationship between Schopenhauer's thoughts regarding the affirmation and denial of the will and Nietzsche's thoughts about master and slave moralities.Lestrade 11:38, 16 July 2007 (UTC)Lestrade

Removed Criticism Section[edit]

Below is the Criticism section from the article. I felt compelled to remove it here because there is not a single "criticism" that is supported by reference or citation. Most of it is in the nature of "many believe" and "most people" statements. I've added some indication of my reasoning for each case. It's not that I don't think there are valid criticism of Schopenhaur but that these need to be explained carefully and supported by published critical sources. If I have acted too boldly I'd like to talk it over.

  • The concepts of time and space in the work have since been supplanted by the concept of spacetime. (This is a specious statement at best.)
  • The will is seen as blind and chaotic, yet it manifests itself in teleological nature, in the phenomenal realm. To explain this, Schopenhauer employs Plato's Ideas as an intermediary, but many believe that his explanation of their place in his overall ontology is ad hoc and poorly motivated. ([original research?][citation needed])
  • Schopenhauer's view on suicide is widely misunderstood and ridiculed. It seems to have been taken from Buddhist teachings on the subject, yet Schopenhauer did not believe in thorough-going reincarnation. To many, it seems to be of little importance to the man that has committed suicide and left the horrors of the world behind that the Will lives on afterwards. (Seems?? To many it Seems??)
  • He contradicts himself over asceticism. At times, he says that it involves the most terrible pain, yet he also says that it leads to a cheerfulness that contrasts with the restless suffering of those that still will. Also, he mentions accounts of ascetics feeding themselves to crocodiles and being buried alive as examples of the denial of the will, but then says that the only form of suicide that involves a denial of the will comes from starvation. ([original research?])
  • Perhaps the strongest criticism for most people is that Schopenhauer preached asceticism as the answer to the problems of the world, yet made no attempt to practice what he preached. He conserved his money stringently, ate at fancy restaurants and had more than one affair. He wrote, "In general, it is a strange demand on a moralist that he should commend no other virtue than that which he himself possesses." (The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, § 68) However, some accounts of his life in philosophy dictionaries tend to pay a great deal of attention to his private life and exaggerate parts. Bertrand Russell produced a very derogatory article on Schopenhauer in this tone. The infamous story of him throwing a woman down a stairs is often told without mentioning the provocation he received beforehand or the possibility of deception on her part. Another point on this subject, is Schopenhauer's own claim that his ethical theories are purely descriptive rather than prescriptive. If this is to be taken seriously, then he does not "preach" any "practice," but merely describes the manner in which human beings behave. ([dubious ] This might have some merit if supported by reference & citation.)
  • Schopenhauer's understanding of Hinduism is a popular misconception. The concept "Thou art That" suggests not negation, but assimilation (of the individual with the whole). ([original research?])

My apologies if I've offended anyone. I don't mean to undervalue anyone's work. Let's discuss. Alcmaeonid 16:11, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Article name[edit]

In the beginning of the article it says "commonly mistranslated as The World as Will and Representation, correctly The World as Will and Idea". Why then the article name is wrong? Isn't better make the title "The World as Will and Idea", and in "The World as Will and Representation" redirect for it? What you think? Khullah 20:21, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, the mistranslation is much more common than the correct one. --rtc 08:15, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

The reason I reverted your restoration entry is as follows:

  • A lead paragraph should not introduce confusion to the reader. He comes here looking for some information about the work and should not, first thing, be confronted with translation questions and some obscure reference to Locke. If you feel compelled to include this stuff it should go below.
  • "Representation" is the translation of "Vorstellung" currently used in all contemporary biographies and encyclopedia, and is the term accepted and used in philosophical academia. It replaced "idea" for a very good reason: it is more specific and less open to misinterpretation. Indeed Magee asserts that the initial use of this latter word (idea) was a grave mistake and was the single leading cause of the misunderstanding of Schopenhauer's great idea in the English speaking world. (I am speaking from long-term memory having read Magee some 10 years ago.)

So I offer up this proposal, Popper's aside not withstanding, let's not even bring up a confusion that was happily settled many years ago. - Alcmaeonid 15:31, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

"The belated fame which came to him after 1851"[edit]

What did he get famous for? And how famous? How many books were sold? Maybe something on the main Schopenhauer page should mention this? (I only searched for "1851" so it might already be in there) {Phoenixdolphin (talk) 11:27, 13 March 2008 (UTC)}

As a philosopher, he became famous for his philosophy which was similar to Buddhism, but was created independently. His fame was relative to the amount of people who recognized his name and were familiar with his ideas. This number suddenly increased after the popularity of Parerga and Paralipomena. The exact total number of books that were sold is not known at present. Lestrade (talk) 11:49, 13 March 2008 (UTC)Lestrade


In the Magee book that's already in the article's references, the author references the three distinct(!) definitions of "will" that Schopenhauer used. The three different definitions are:

  1. Will is body actions as perceived in the inner sense (i.e. our experience of action)
  2. Will is everything known in self consciousness except for passionless conceptual thoughts (i.e. all experience)
  3. Will is noumena. Noumena is here being named by Schopenhauer after its phenomenon which is known also through the inner sense and which is also undifferentiated.

Magee emphasizes that the definitions are independent of one another. For example, "the world is a will" refers to the third definition.

Magee also describes the confusion raised by Schopenhauer, who while considered other terms, e.g. "force" in his book, ultimately chose "will" to denote the noumenon.

Some of these points might be well placed in the paragraph "Will".-- (talk) 16:58, 28 April 2008 (UTC)


I have deleted the contribution by User:Rgeldard regarding Will. Ralph Waldo Emerson never read Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer did not use the term "Will" to articulate a universal mind or intelligence. Schopenhauer defined a strict dichotomy between will and knowledge. Will, in itself, has no knowledge. It is blind impulse. Knowledge, in itself, has no will. It is mere representation or mental image. Will equips itself with knowledge in the same way that it gives itself muscles and claws: in order to preserve the individual and its species. Intelligence is a mere tool for the will–to–live. To speak of Absolutes, universal minds, and universal intelligences is very un–Schopenhauerian. It smacks more of Hegel and the German Idealists. It is almost a full–time job to keep Wikipedia from confusing Schopenhauer with the German Idealists, who were unwilling to abandon the concept of God after Kant had demolished the proofs of God's existence. The reason for this is that many contributors to Wikipedia have never actually read Schopenhauer's works.Lestrade (talk) 18:22, 24 September 2008 (UTC)Lestrade

Christian theology[edit]

It would be interesting if we could cite the possible influence of Schopenhauer on Christian theologians, even though Schopenahuer was an atheist, something which does not stop valuable dialogue between philosophy and theology. For instance, what Schopenhauer calls "the World" corresponds to what many Christian theologians call "the Christ". It thus follows that many theologians have already written scholarly essays about "Christ as Will" and "Christ as Representation". ADM (talk) 09:25, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Commas for Brits and Yanks[edit]

On May 14, 2009, User changed "desire", "striving", "wanting", "effort" and "urging" to "desire," "striving," "wanting," "effort," and "urging" in the "Will" section. This was a change from British punctuation to "American" [United States] punctuation. British punctuation has commas outside of the closing quotation mark and also does not have a comma after the penultimate item in the series.Lestrade (talk) 20:16, 14 May 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

I would add that it is the standard for Wikipedia to put the commas outside, see Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Punctuation. Count Truthstein (talk) 14:23, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Therefore, Wikipedia's standard is the British standard, in opposition to the "American" (United States) standard. If so, then Wikipedia should be consistent and follow the British standard in all of it punctuation and spelling.Lestrade (talk) 14:32, 16 May 2009 (UTC)Lestrade
I think it is a hybrid, as the most formal British style, as used in printed books, is to use single quotes, although this is not a hard and fast rule and different newspapers and so on will all do things differently. However, this discussion doesn't belong here but on the talk pages for the manual of style as linked above and other Wikipedia policy pages. Count Truthstein (talk) 14:42, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

"Schopenhauer even believed in the theory of evolution, before Darwin began to publish his work"[edit]

Considering that Nietzsche, on §99 of The Gay Science, quoted words of Schopenhauer that clearly suggested a rebuff of the theory of evolution - labeling Lamarck's brand of evolution a brilliant but absurd mistake -, it would be interesting to reference the above statement -; if such can be effectively done with proper sources, since Schopenhauer's use of the Platonic theory of immutable Ideas that shape and determine the individuals of the sensible world and their properties, in my opinion, offers no space to any theory of evolution. (talk) 18:39, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

I have corrected the passage. Schopenhauer preemted Darwin in seeing all life as striving to maintain itself and to produce new life, and saw even our mental faculties as means to that end. He also said we were 'related' to animals, but not in the obvious way - since he thought that species were fixed and eternal. (talk) 00:37, 27 August 2009 (UTC) MPhil


User deleted Jung's name as being one of the people that Schopenhauer influenced. However, the following quotations seem to oppose that user's action. "The lasting effect of Schopenhauer is visible in the following statement in 1921: 'Psychologically, "my world" means how I see the world, my attitude to the world; thus the world can be regarded as "my will" and "my representation." ' (Jung's Collected Works 6 § 322) Hence the psychological world was distinctly Schopenhauerian." (Sonu Shamdasani, Jung and the making of modern psychology: The Dream of a Science, Ch. 3. p. 197, Cambridge University Press.) Also, in Jung's Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p. 88, Jung wrote about Schopenhauer: "He was the first to speak of the suffering of the world, which visibly and glaringly surrounds us, and of confusion, passion, evil — all those things which the others hardly seemed to notice…Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for the best in the fundaments of the universe." On the same page, he also wrote: "Schopenhauer's somber picture of the world had my undivided approval." Therefore, I am undoing's deletion.Lestrade (talk) 03:39, 2 July 2009 (UTC)Lestrade

Misleading sentence[edit]

In the "Ethics (Vol. 1, Book 4)" section, I read in disbelief the following words: "The ultimate conclusion is that one can have a tolerable life not by complete elimination of desire, since this would lead to boredom, but by becoming a detached observer of one's own will and being constantly aware that most of one's desires will remain unfulfilled." Schopenhauer’s deep, striking seriousness is trivialized by the claim that he is discussing two ways of having a tolerable life. Schopenhauer’s position should be evident by his ending reference to Buddhism’s Prajnaparamita. If I don’t see any opposition in the next few days, I will make an attempt at replacing the present wording.Lestrade (talk) 23:19, 11 May 2013 (UTC)Lestrade

Actually the whole article from the section Will on down is completely original research and should be either rewritten with citation support or eliminated. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 01:47, 12 May 2013 (UTC)