chapter
Introduction
ByJONATHAN HEAD AND DENNIS VANDEN AUWEELE
Pages 8

When Schopenhauer began, in 1813, to write his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason ( Ueber die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde ), he was twenty-five years old. Though first a student of medicine at Göttingen, he changed his field of study to philosophy and moved to Berlin to attend the lectures of Schleiermacher and Fichte. Little time had passed before he became deeply disappointed with the lack of existential engagement these thinkers displayed with regard to their respective philosophical projects. Abandoning the idealism of the day, Schopenhauer chose to focus on what he came to consider the greatest event in the history of philosophy, namely Kant’s transcendental idealism. Desiring then to escape the threat of potential military service in the face of Napoleon’s advances-Hegel’s world-spirit made flesh-Schopenhauer had left Berlin to live with his mother and sister in Weimar. Once there, however, with ongoing familial tensions coming to the fore, he was unable to find the peace he desired and thereafter ensconced himself in a small inn in the town of Rudolstadt to write Fourfold Root .