chapter  2
22 Pages

The Fourfold Root

The Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason was Schopenhauer’s doctoral thesis and was first published in 1813. He published a second edition, revising and enlarging the original text, in 1847, the year in which he was 59. In the preface to that second edition he refers in biting terms to the difference in style that may be apparent between the mild and unassuming tone of the young man and the firm but occasionally harsh voice of the ‘old man’. He also makes in passing one of his characteristic attacks on Hegel, the ‘clumsy charlatan’, and speaks sadly and bitterly about the state of German philosophy. In the interval between the two editions he had published most of his other works, including two editions of his main work; and in the preface to the first edition of The World as Will and Representation he had urged readers to read The Fourfold Root first as an essential introduction to the main work. Indeed, he had said that he would have printed it along with and as an introduction to the text of the main work, if it had not been written ‘several years’ before. It had in fact been published five years previously, and it is legitimate to wonder whether five years is enough to warrant departing from a policy which otherwise seemed desirable. The truth is no doubt that to have printed The Fourfold Root at the beginning of the main work would have upset the scale and structure of that work, since The Fourfold Root is quite a substantial book in its own right. The only other thing to be said on that score is that the publication of the second edition of the main work with its large scale selection of supplementary essays upset its balance in any case. However that may be, The Fourfold Root remained a separate work, and it is the 1847 edition that is available in translation and is the version generally referred to.