Sunday, September 5, 2010

Schopenhauer being, well, Schopenhauer, Part III

Final installment. The only thing more enjoyable than a passage in which Schopenhauer goes on the attack, is one in which his attack is coupled with disarmingly frank praise for the virtues of his own work. Once again, from On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (E.J.F. Payne tr., LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1974):

Exhibit A:
I have shown all this so irrefutably and clearly that no one with a spark of judgement can any longer believe in that fiction after he has read it. “Well, they probably have done this!” Oh no! They will take good care not to venture on slippery ground! Maintaining silence and keeping the mouth shut; these constitute their whole talent and sole means against intellect, mental powers, seriousness, and truth. In none of the products of their useless scribblings that have appeared since 1841 has a single word been said about my ethics, although it is unquestionably the most important ethical work that has appeared in the last sixty years. Indeed, so great is their fear of me and my truth, that the book has not even been announced in any of the literary journals that are issued by universities or academies. Zitto, zitto, lest the public should notice anything; this is and remains their whole policy. Of course, the instinct of self-preservation may be at the bottom of this crafty conduct. For is not a philosophy that is directed to truth and has no other consideration bound to play the role of the iron pot among the earthen ones, when it makes its appearance among the the petty systems that are framed under the influence of a thousand regards and motives by men thus qualified on account of their way of thinking? (73-74)
Exhibit B:
On the other hand, the professors of philosophy have taken no more notice of this truth than they have of the other great and important truths whose exposition has been the task and toil of my whole life in order that they may become the permanent possession of mankind. This is not to their taste; it does not serve their purpose at all or lead to theology. It is certainly not suited to the proper training of students for the highest State posts. In short, professors do not want to learn anything from me; they do not see how much they would have to learn, namely all that their children and their children’s children will learn from me. Instead of this, each sits down to enrich the public with his original ideas in a long spun-out system of metaphysics. If for this fingers are a qualification, then he is qualified. (75- 76)

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