chapter  4
19 Pages

The World as Representation

When Schopenhauer came to publish the essays that constitute supplements to the main work in the second volume he divided those corresponding to the first book of The World as Will and Representation into two halves. The first half he entitled ‘The doctrine of perceptual [or intuitive] representation’ and the second half ‘The doctrine of abstract representation, or of thinking’. These titles give a reasonably accurate idea of the content of the first book of the main work. Roughly a third of it is given up to expounding ‘the world as representation’—Schopenhauer’s idealism-and it leans heavily on The Fourfold Root. The remaining two thirds are given up to an exposition of the scope of reason as he sees that faculty, and to the relations between reason and the other faculties of the mind. It gives his view of logic and mathematics (an amplification of what was presented in The Fourfold Root); and it also offers some remarks on the nature of philosophy in general and metaphysics in particular. It says very little about science, although one of the supplementary essays gives a classification of the sciences. There is, oddly as one might think, a little about laughter and the ludicrous. It is in many ways a strange mixture, and many who come to Schopenhauer for the first time through it must think it a disappointing opening to what is after all the main work. On its basis alone the accusation that Schopenhauer was an unsystematic thinker might strike home. Does not the real meat lie in that first third, and is that not a disproportionately small amount of space to devote to it?