Schopenhauer was just 30 when his magnum opus, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, a work of considerable learning and innovation of thought, first appeared in 1818.
Much to his chagrin and puzzlement (so convinced was he of its merits), it didn't have an immediate effect on European philosophy, views and culture. It was only decades later that it was recognised as one of the major intellectual landmarks of the 19th century. It proved to be a work that was not only to make an indelible impression on leading figures that followed him closely - Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud - but also others well into the 20th century, including Carl Jung, Herman Hesse, Jorge Luis Borges, Karl Popper and Samuel Beckett.
What was the Schopenhauerian proposition that made The World as Will and Idea so important? Absorbing views from Kant and Buddhist ideas filtering almost for the first time through Europe, Schopenhauer, putting the concept of God aside, proposed that man is driven by 'a will to life'; desire, craving, wanting - these are the elements that propel him fiercely along life's path, even though it causes him suffering. It is on that basis that Schopenhauer opens the work with the statement 'the world is my idea'. Man perceives the sun and the earth but can relate to them only through his own consciousness. He makes his own world.
Though stamped as a pessimist, and certainly combative as a personality and a writer, Schopenhauer’s work - and The World as Will and Idea - doesn't read darkly. Instead it is rich and challenging, as he surveys broadly philosophy, history, art, literature, music and culture generally. His opinions are strong and testing, his breadth of knowledge invigorating.
The translation recorded here is the classic rendering by R. B. Haldane. However, the numerous literary and philosophical references - Greek, Latin, German, French, Persian, etc - in both the main text and the relevant footnotes are given here in English. Thus Schopenhauer's major work can be absorbed and enjoyed directly - and especially in this intelligent, clear and committed narration by the actor and German scholar Leighton Pugh. Schopenhauer has had a long and continuing influence extending well into the 21st century, and The World as Will and Idea is one of the great stepping-stones of European thought which needs to be listened to. He added a subsequent volume later in his life, but volume 1 is the major work.
Public Domain (P)2017 Ukemi Productions Ltd
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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By Hawfinch on 25-02-17

Excellent reading

This is the first volume of Haldane & Kemp's 19th century 3-volume translation of Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. (Schopenhauer published his work in German in 2 volumes. For their English translation, Haldane & Kemp split vol.2 into 2 further volumes.)

Although there are better modern English editions of the work, notably Christopher Janaway's for Cambridge University Press, this translation is clear and enjoyable. The reading by Leighton Pugh is one of the best I've heard for any philosophy audiobook. For once, the reader seems to comprehend the text, and you get the impression of the author speaking to you directly.

I hope that Ukemi & Leighton Pugh proceed with readings of the additional volumes.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By DUDE=BY-FAR on 04-02-18

Exceptional insight.

The author, a genius In his own right. I feel really privileged to have allowed myself to enjoy such a brilliant work. I can't wait to start the book 2. I will be burying myself in more of his works for a long time. Freedom!.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By eric carter on 18-03-17

There is no philosophy without Schopenhauer!!!!!

Where does The World as Will And Idea, Volume 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

As a member for more than 10 years , I was always on the look out for it..#1....

What other book might you compare The World as Will And Idea, Volume 1 to and why?

The writings of Kant are in the same vein , but Kant is not as accesssible...

Have you listened to any of Leighton Pugh’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.... but he is D-A-R-N about matching a writer and a performer!!!!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

How Numina Becomes Phenomena

Any additional comments?

If you do not present ".....principle of sufficient reason" to go with this performance , the listener may encounter difficulty...AND especially !!!! YOU MUST MUST MUST PRESENT THE OTHER VOLUME(S)....quickly?

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Gary on 04-04-17

Easy to follow, better than today's fluff

Schopenhauer is wrong when he says this is a difficult book, that it needs to be read twice, or it's necessary to have had read Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" in order to follow his arguments. The author writes such that if you don't understand what he's saying just wait awhile and he'll explain it to you later on in another section of the Volume. When I read books like this, I long for today's writers to be as entertaining, informative, and as challenging to my current beliefs as this book is.

It's rare to find a primary philosophy book that gives a whole world view that's as accessible as this book. It takes a while to understand what the author is attempting to explain within this book, but when you do you start to realize the pure genius that is being explained by the author. The author is really writing four books and ties them together under his one big thought. He'll independently consider 1) knowledge, 2) being, 3) art and 4) ethics. Essentially all of philosophy. There's a sense that I got when he wrote these four 'books' that make up this Volume that he wrote them independently and ties them together in such a way that if you don't understand a concept in one section it will be restated in the next book in the terms of that book so that you will understand the original section upon reflection.

To really appreciate a great philosopher and their over all philosophy, I find it best to accept their premises and see where that leads. In book one Schopenhauer starts to tell the reader how he sees the world (universe). He'll say that Bishop George Berkeley is one of his primary models. Schopenhauer replaces Berkeley's 'all reality is in the mind of God' with the universe as will (to live). (If you don't remember who Berkeley is, I'll jog your memory. He's the guy who said that "if a tree falls in a forest does it make a sound" and he would respond, 'of course it does because God hears everything". Also, 'to perceive is to be". As a follow-up to this book, I've started listening to his "Three Dialogs" available at audible).

Schopenhauer really didn't seem to like the Enlightenment thinkers except for Kant. He doesn't like the materialist (or positivist) and ultimately makes 'will' the ground of all being and by 'will' explains it in the terms of the Eleatics (his word, think Parmenides) and the Stoics as contrasted with the Epicureans. A stoic will accept the things he can not change and only be concerned with the things within his control. This is how he ends his first book and sets up the other books from what he means by 'will to live'. All things that exist have this will he speaks of.

He does appeal to Kant and the Kant's thing-in-itself, the thing that exist in itself and for itself that which remains after the categories of intuitions of space, time and cause are removed. That which remains is the will (Kant would call it noumena as opposed to the thing as it appears to us, the phenomenon). Within his second book he will tie Plato's Ideal with Kant's noumena as being basically the same thing and both point to the 'will to live'. He'll say that all forces in the world (e.g. Gravity and EM) are the "immediate objectivization of the will". Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure you can take Schopenhauer to be monist in the vain of Parmenides. Parmenides says there is no becoming as such there is only being and that there is no 'not being'. Schopenhauer seems to follow that kind of thought concerning 'Being' and if anything makes the dichotomy between 'being' with 'ought' because his unfolding of the universe as will is that the universe is meant to be one way due to 'fate' that is inherent within the world because of the world's will, and like Karma he tends take the cause and effect out of the world and for Schopenhauer he's going to replace them with will. At the very end of the Volume, he has one add-on to the story where he explicitly speaks of Grace (God's unearned mercy) in Augustinian terms and contrasts that with what he calls the obviously incorrect Pelagius belief in a person's ability to control their own destiny and he'll even give a special shout out to Martin Luther and the role that Grace must play (he even mentions at the end about the distinction between salvation by works verse by faith). I can say this was add-on because they really don't flow with how he dealt with Christianity anywhere else within the Volume.

He will describe life mostly in terms of our will (wishes, desires, wants) never being satisfied, and even when we get what we want that only leads to more wanting and more struggling. The one who cause suffering causes himself to suffer (he'll say). There is a repressed guilt that is within our unconscious that causes us just as much suffering as we created in others (even if Freud says he wasn't influenced by Schopenhauer a modern reader can see Freud within this text).

I just recently listened to Kierkegaard's "Anxiety" and Nietzsche's "Genealogy of Morals". There's no doubt that they take some of this book and makes it their own. Kierkegaard takes similar thoughts expressed in this book such as the nature of the "now", the particular to the general of a thing to the whole ("Adam is a man and all men make the race"). Kierkegaard uses the same kind of formation of which Schopenhauer used in book 2 and 4, and the nature of guilt and other items but makes them his own by having a passion for the now (Schopenhauer is definitely not passionate for the now, he puts us into the future in terms of will or even when we consider the past we extrapolate a will from today to our projection of the past, he says). Nietzsche will uses his passion for the now and inverts Schopenhauer's aesthetics and makes it about the artist not the art, and also takes the 'will to live' and changes it to 'will to power' a return to the primal instincts that are within all of us.

A couple of things, he really does a good job at integrating Eastern thought into Western thought. He explains the world in terms of Maya, Shiva and Brahman (creation, destruction and generation). He likes the mystics and saints and thinks they provide the role models for today (he's very positive towards aestheticism). There is definitely a strand of pessimism within his philosophy. Death is a good thing. Life is struggle. Better to have not been born at all. Everything is an illusion and our knowledge can only takes us so far and at the heart of all things is the will that acts as the ground for all being.

This book stands on its own and is definitely one of the easier original philosophy books to follow. I only wish that modern writers would write as well as this writer did and assume that their readers are as interested in learning about the world as Schopenhauer did for his potential readers.

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