On the Will in Nature/Preface to the Second Edition

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On the Will in Nature by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by Madame Karl Hillebrand
Preface to the Second Edition
Über den Willen in der Natur, translated in 1903.

To my great joy I have lived to revise even this little work, after a lapse of nineteen years, and that joy is enhanced by the special importance of this treatise for my philosophy. For, starting from the purely empirical, from the observations of unbiassed physical investigators—themselves following the clue of their own special sciences—I here immediately arrive at the very kernel of my Metaphysics; I establish its points of contact with the physical sciences and thus corroborate my fundamental dogma, in a sense, as the arithmetician proves a sum: for by this I not only confirm it more closely and specially, but even make it more clearly, easily, and rightly understood than anywhere else.

The improvements in this new edition are confined almost entirely to the Additions; for scarcely anything that is worth mentioning in the First Edition has been left out, while I have inserted many and, in some cases, important new passages.

But, even in a general sense, it may be looked upon as a good sign, that a new edition of the present treatise should have been found necessary; since it shows that there is an interest in serious philosophy and confirms the fact that the necessity for real progress in this direction is now more strongly felt than ever. This is based upon two circumstances. The first is the unparalleled zeal and activity displayed in every branch of Natural Science which, as this pursuit is mostly in the hands of people who have learned nothing else, threatens to lead to a gross, stupid Materialism, the more immediately offensive side of which is less the moral bestiality of its ultimate results, than the incredible absurdity of its first principles; for by it even vital force is denied, and organic Nature is degraded to a mere chance play of chemical forces.[1] These knights of the crucible and retort should be made to understand, that the mere study of Chemistry qualifies a man to become an apothecary, but not a philosopher. Certain other like-minded investigators of Nature, too, must be taught, that a man may be an accomplished zoologist and have the sixty species of monkeys at his fingers' ends, yet on the whole be an ignoramus to be classed with the vulgar, if he has learnt nothing else, save perhaps his school-catechism. But in our time this frequently happens. Men set them selves up for enlighteners of mankind, who have studied Chemistry, or Physics, or Mineralogy and nothing else under the sun; to this they add their only knowledge of any other kind, that is to say, the little they may remember of the doctrines of the school-catechism, and when they find that these two elements will not harmonize, they straightway turn scoffers at religion and soon become shallow and absurd materialists.[2] They may perhaps have heard at college of the existence of a Plato and an Aristotle, of a Locke, and especially of a Kant; but as these folk never handled crucibles and retorts or even stuffed a monkey, they do not esteem them worthy of further acquaintance. They prefer calmly to toss out of the window the intellectual labour of two thousand years and treat the public to a philosophy concocted out of their own rich mental resources, on the basis of the catechism on the one hand, and on that of crucibles and retorts or the catalogue of monkeys on the other. They ought to be told in plain language that they are ignoramuses, who have much to learn before they can be allowed to have any voice in the matter. Everyone, in fact, who dogmatizes at random, with the naïve realism of a child on such arguments as God, the soul, the world's origin, atoms, &c. &c. &c., as if the Critique of Pure Reason had been written on the moon and no copy had found its way to our planet—is simply one of the vulgar. Send him into the servants' hall, where his wisdom will best find a market.[3]

The other circumstance which calls for a real progress in philosophy, is the steady growth of unbelief in the face of all the hypocritical dissembling and the outward conformity to the Church. This unbelief necessarily and unavoidably goes hand in hand with the growing expansion of empirical and historical knowledge. It threatens to destroy not only the form, but even the spirit of Christianity (a spirit which has a much wider reach than Christianity itself), and to deliver up mankind to moral materialism—a thing even more dangerous than the chemical materialism already mentioned. And nothing plays more into the hands of this unbelief, than the Tartuffianism[4] de rigueur impudently flaunting itself everywhere just now, whose clumsy disciples, fee in hand, hold forth with such unction and emphasis, that their voices penetrate even into learned, critical reviews issued by Academies and Universities, and into physiological as well as philosophical books, where however, being quite in their wrong place, they only damage their own cause by rousing indignation.[5] Under such circumstances as these, it is gratifying to see the public betray an interest in philosophy.

I have nevertheless one sad piece of news to communicate to our professors of philosophy. Their Casper Hauser (according to Dorguth) whom they had so carefully secreted, so securely walled up for nearly forty years, that no sound could betray his existence to the world—their Caspar Hauser—I say, has escaped! He has escaped and is running about in the world;—some even say he is a prince. In plain language, the misfortune they feared more than anything has come to pass after all. In spite of their having done their best to prevent it for more than a generation by acting with united force, with rare constancy, secreting and ignoring to a degree that is without example, my books are beginning and henceforth will continue to be read. Legor et legar:[6] there is no help for it. This is really dreadful and most inopportune; nay, it is a positive fatality, not to say calamity. Is this the recompense for all their faithful, snug secrecy; for having held so firmly and unitedly together? Poor time-servers! What becomes of Horace's assurance:—

         "Est et fideli tuta silentio
         Merces,——?"[7]

For verily they have not been deficient in faithful reticence; rather do they excel in this quality wherever they scent merit. And, after all, it is no doubt the cleverest artifice; for what no one knows, is as though it did not exist. Whether the merces[8] will remain quite so tuta,[9] seems rather doubtful—unless we are to take merces in a bad sense; and for this the support of many a classical authority might certainly be found. These gentlemen had seen quite rightly that the only means to be used against my writings, was to secrete them from the public by maintaining profound silence concerning them, while they kept up a loud noise at the birth of every misshapen offspring of professorial philosophy; as the voice of the new-born Zeus was drowned in days of yore by the clashing of the cymbals of the Corybantes. But this expedient is now used up; the secret is out—the public has discovered me. The rage of our professors of philosophy at this is great, but powerless; for their only effective resource, so long successfully employed, being exhausted, no snarling can avail any longer against my influence, and in vain do they now take this, or that, or the other attitude. They have certainly succeeded, so far as the generation which was properly speaking contemporaneous with my philosophy, went to the grave in ignorance of it. But this was a mere postponement, and Time has kept its word, as it always does.

Now there are two reasons why these gentlemen "in the philosophical trade"—as they call themselves with incredible naïveté—hate my philosophy. The first of them is, that my writings spoil the taste of the public for tissues of empty phrases, for accumulations of unmeaning words piled one upon another, for hollow, superficial, brain-racking twaddle, for Christian dogmatics under the disguise of the most wearisome Metaphysics, for systematized Philistinism of the flattest kind made to represent Ethics and even accompanied by instructions for card-playing and dancing—in short, they unfit my readers for the whole method of petticoat philosophising à la vielle femme, which has scared so many for ever from the pursuit of philosophy.

The second reason is, that our gentlemen "in the trade" are absolutely bound in conscience not to let my philosophy pass and are therefore debarred from using it for the benefit of "the trade;"—and this they even heartily regret; for my abundance might have been admirably turned to account for the benefit of their own needy poverty. But even if it contained the greatest hoards of human wisdom ever unearthed, my doctrine could never find favour with them either now or in the future ; for it is absolutely wanting in all Speculative Theology and Rational Psychology, and these, just these, are the very breath of life to these gentlemen, the sine qua non [indispensable condition] of their existence. For they are anxious before all things in heaven and on earth, to hold their official appointments, and these appointments demand before all things in heaven and on earth a Speculative Theology and a Rational Psychology: extra haec non datur solus.[10] Theology there must and shall be, no matter whence it come; Moses and the Prophets must be made out to be in the right: this is the highest principle in philosophy; and there must be Rational Psychology to boot, as is proper. Now there is nothing of the sort to be found either in Kant's philosophy or in mine. For, as we all know, the most cogent theological argumentation shivers to atoms like a glass thrown at a wall, when it is brought into contact with Kant's Critique of all Speculative Theology, and under his hands not a shred remains entire of the whole tissue of Rational Psychology! As to myself, being the bold continuer of Kant's philosophy, I have entirely done away with all Speculative Theology and all Rational Psychology, as is only consistent and honest.[11] On the other hand, the task incumbent upon University Philosophy is at bottom this: to set forth the chief fundamental truths belonging to the Catechism under the veil of some very abstract, abstruse and difficult, therefore painfully wearisome formulas and sentences; wherefore, however confused, intricate, strange and eccentric the matter may seem at first sight, these truths invariably reveal themselves as its kernel. This proceeding may be useful, though to me it is unknown. All I know is, that philosophy, i.e. the search after truth—I mean the truth κατ εξοχην,[12] by which the most sublime and important disclosures, more precious than anything else to the human race, are understood—will never advance a step, nay, an inch, by means of such manoeuvring, by which its course is on the contrary impeded; therefore I found out long ago that University philosophy is the enemy of all genuine philosophy. Now, this being the state of the case, when a really honest philosophy arises, which seriously has truth for its sole aim, must not these gentlemen "of the philosophical trade" feel as might stage-knights in paste-board armour, were a knight suddenly to appear in the midst of them clad in real armour, who made the stage-floor creak under his ponderous tread? Such philosophy as this must therefore be bad and false and consequently places these gentlemen "of the trade" under the painful obligation of playing the part of him who, in order to appear what he is not, cannot allow others to pass for what they really are. Out of all this however there unrolls itself the amusing spectacle we enjoy, when these gentlemen, now that ignoring has unfortunately come to an end, after forty years, at last begin to measure me by their own puny standard and pass judgment upon me from the heights of their wisdom, as though they were amply qualified to do so by their office; but they are most amusing of all when they assume airs of superiority towards me.

Their abhorrence of Kant, though less openly expressed, is scarcely less great than their hatred of me; precisely because all speculative Theology and all Rational Psychology—the bread-winners of these gentlemen—have been undermined, not to say irrevocably ruined, by him in the eyes of all serious thinkers. What! Not hate him? him, who has made their "trade in philosophy" so difficult to them, that they hardly see how to pull through honourably! So Kant and I are accordingly both bad, and these gentle men quite overlook us. For nearly forty years they have not deigned to cast a glance upon me, and now they look down condescendingly upon Kant from the heights of their wisdom, smiling in pity at his errors. This policy is both very wise and very profitable ; since they are thus able to hold forth at their ease volume after volume upon God and the soul, as if these were personalities with whom they were intimately acquainted, and to discourse upon the relation in which the former stands to the world and the latter to the body, just as if there had never been such a thing as a Critique of Pure Reason. When once the Critique of Pure Reason is done away with, all will go on splendidly! Now it is for this end that they have been endeavouring for many years quietly and gradually to set Kant aside, to make him obsolete, nay, to turn up their noses at him, and one being encouraged by the other in this, they are becoming bolder every day.[13] They have no opposition to fear from their own colleagues, since they all have the same aims and the same mission and all together form a numerous coterie, the brilliant members of which, coram populo,[14] bow and scrape to each other on all sides. Thus by degrees things have come to such a point, that the wretchedest compilers of manuals have the presumption to treat Kant's grand, immortal discoveries as antiquated errors, nay, calmly to set them aside with the most ludicrous arrogance and most impudent dicta of their own, which they nevertheless lay down under the disguise of argumentation, because they know they may count upon a credulous public, to whom Kant's writings are not known.[15] And this is what happens to Kant on the part of writers, whose total incapacity strikes us in every page, not to say every line, we read of their unmeaning, stupefying verbiage! Were this to go on much longer, Kant would present the spectacle of the dead lion being kicked by the donkey. Even in France there is no lack of fellow-workers inspired by a similar orthodoxy, who are labouring towards the same end. A certain M. Barthélemy de St. Hilaire, for instance, in a lecture delivered in the Académie des Sciences Morales in April, 1850, has presumed to criticize Kant with an air of condescension and to use most improper language in speaking of him; luckily however in such a way, that no one could fail to see the underlying purpose.[16]

Now others among our German "philosophical trade" again try to get rid of the obnoxious Kant in a different way: instead of attacking his philosophy point-blank, they rather seek to undermine the foundations on which it is built. These people however are so utterly forsaken by all the gods and by all power of judgment, that they attack à priori truths: that is to say, truths as old as the human understanding, nay, which constitute that understanding itself, and which it is therefore impossible to contradict without declaring war against that understanding also. So great however is the courage of these gentlemen. I am sorry to say I know of three,[17] and I am afraid there are a good many more at work at this undermining process, who have the incredible presumption to maintain the à posteriori origin of Space as a consequence, a mere relation, of the objects within it; for they assert that Space and Time are of empirical origin and attached to those bodies, so that [according to them] Space first arises through our perception of the juxtaposition of bodies and Time likewise through our perception of the succession of changes (sancta simplicitas![18] as if the words "collateral" and "successive" would have any sense for us without the antecedent intuitions of Space and of Time to give them a meaning); consequently, that if there were no bodies, there would be no Space, therefore if they disappeared Space also must lapse, and that if all changes were to stop, Time also would stop.[19]

And such stuff as this is gravely taught fifty years after Kant's death! The aim of it is, as we know, to undermine Kantian philosophy, and certainly if these propositions were true, one stroke would suffice to overthrow it. For- tunately however these assertions are of a kind which is met by derision rather than by serious refutation. For, in them, the question is one of heresy, not so much against Kantian philosophy, as against common sense; and they are not so much an attack upon any particular philosophical dogma, as upon an à priori truth which, as such, constitutes human understanding itself, and therefore must be instantaneously evident to every one who is in his senses, just as much as that 2 x 2 = 4. Fetch me a peasant from the plough, make the question intelligible to him; and he will tell you, that even if all things in Heaven and on Earth were to vanish, Space would nevertheless remain, and that if all changes in Heaven and on Earth were to cease, Time would nevertheless flow on. Compared with German pseudo-philosophers like these, how estimable does a man like the French physicist Pouillet appear, who, though he never troubles his head about Metaphysics, is careful to incorporate two long paragraphs, one on l'Espace, the other on le temps, in the first chapter of his well-known Manual, on which public instruction in France is based, where he shows that if all Matter were annihilated, Space would still remain, and that Space is infinite; and that if all changes ceased, Time would still pursue its course without end. Now here he does not appeal, as in all other cases, to experience, because in this case experience is not possible; yet he speaks with apodeictic certainty. For, as a physicist, professing a science which is absolutely immanent—i.e. limited to the reality that is empirically given—it never comes into his head to inquire whence he knows all this. It did come into Kant's head, and it was this very problem, clothed by him in the severe form of an inquiry as to the possibility of synthetical à priori judgments, that became the starting-point and the corner-stone of his immortal discoveries, or in other words, of Transcendental Philosophy which, precisely by answering this question and others related to it, shows what is the nature of that empirical reality itself.[20]

And seventy years after the Critique of Pure Reason had appeared and filled the world with its fame, these gentlemen dare to serve up such gross absurdities, which were done away with long ago, and to return to former barbarism. If Kant were to come back and see all this mischief, he would feel like Moses on returning from Mount Sinai, when he found his people worshipping the golden calf, and dashed the Tables to pieces in his anger. But if Kant were to take things as tragically as Moses, I should console him with the words of Jesus ben Sirach:[21] "He that telleth a tale to a fool speaketh to one in a slumber; when the tale hath been told, he will say, 'What is the matter?'" For that diamond in Kant's crown, Transcendental Aesthetic, never has existed for these gentlemen—it is tacitly set aside as non-avenue.[22] I wonder what they think Nature means by producing the rarest of all her works, a great mind, one among so many hundreds of millions, if the worshipful company of numskulls are to be able at their pleasure and by their mere counter-assertion to annul the weightiest doctrines emanating from that mind, let alone to treat them with disregard and do as if they did not exist.

But this degenerate, barbarous state of philosophy which, in the present day, emboldens every tyro to hold forth at random upon subjects that have puzzled the greatest minds, is precisely a consequence still remaining of the impunity with which—thanks to the connivance of our professors of philosophy—that audacious scribbler, Hegel, has been allowed to flood the market with his monstrous vagaries and so to pass for the greatest of all philosophers for the last thirty years in Germany. Every one, of course, now thinks himself entitled to serve up confidently any thing that may happen to come into his sparrow's brain.

Therefore, as I have said, the gentlemen of the 'philosophical trade' are anxious above all to obliterate Kant's philosophy in order to be able to return to the muddy canal of the old dogmatism and to talk at random to their heart's content upon the favourite subjects which are specially recommended to them, just as if nothing had happened and neither a Kant nor a Critical Philosophy had ever come into the world.[23] The affected veneration for, and laudation of, Leibniz too, which has been showing itself everywhere for some years, proceed from the same source. They like to place him in a line with, nay above, Kant, having at times the assurance to call him the greatest of all German philosophers. Now, compared with Kant, Leibniz is a poor rushlight. Kant is a master mind, to whom mankind is indebted for the discovery of never-to-be-forgotten truths. One of his chief merits is precisely, to have delivered us from Leibniz and his humbug, from pre-established harmonies, monads and identitas indiscernibilium.[24] Kant has made philosophy serious and I am keeping it so. That these gentlemen should think differently is easily explained. Indeed, has not Leibniz a Central Monad and a Théodiceé, also, with which to deck it out? Now this is quite to the taste of my gentlemen of the philosophical trade. It does not stand in the way of earning a honest livelihood; it allows one to subsist; whereas such a thing as Kant's "Critique of all Speculative Theology" makes one's hair stand on end. Kant is consequently a wrong-headed man and one to be set aside. Vivat Leibniz! Vivat the 'philosophical trade!' Vivat old women's philosophy ! These gentlemen really imagine that, according to the standard of their own petty aims, they can obscure what is good, disparage what is great, and accredit what is false. They may perhaps succeed in doing so for a time, but certainly not in the long run, nor with impunity. Notwithstanding all their machinations and spiteful ignoring of me for forty years, have not even I at last made my way? During those forty years however I have learnt to appreciate Chamfort's words: "En examinant la ligue des sots contre les gens d'esprit, on croirait voir une conspiration de valets pour écarter les maîtres."[25]

We do not care to have much to do with those whom we dislike. One of the consequences of this antipathy for Kant, therefore, has been an incredible ignorance of his doctrines. I can scarcely believe my eyes at times, when I see certain proofs of this ignorance, and must here support my assertion by a few examples. First let me present a very singular specimen, though it is now some years old. In Professor Michelet's "Anthropology and Psychology" (p. 444), he states Kant's Categorical Imperative in the following words: "thou must, for thou canst" (du sollst, denn du kannst). This cannot be a lapsus calami, for he again states it in the same words in his "History of the Development of Modern German Philosophy" (p. 38),[26] published three years later. Letting alone the fact that he appears to have studied Kantian philosophy in Schiller's epigrams, he has thus turned the thing upside down, and expressed exactly the opposite of Kant's argument; evidently without having the slightest inkling of what Kant meant by that postulate of Freedom on the basis of his Categorical Imperative. None of Professor Michelet's colleagues, to my knowledge, have pointed out this mistake, but "hanc veniam damus, petimusque vicissim."[27] Another more recent instance. The above mentioned reviewer of Oersted's book (see note 1 (c), p. 202), to whose title the present treatise unfortunately had to stand godfather, comes in that work on the sentence that "bodies are spaces filled with force" (krafterfüllte Räume). This is new to him; so without the faintest suspicion that he has to do with a far-famed Kantian dogma, and taking this for a paradoxical opinion of Oersted's, he attacks it and argues against it bravely, persistently and repeatedly in both his reviews, which appeared at an interval of three years from one another, using arguments like these: "Force cannot fill Space without something substantial, Matter;" then again three years later: "Force in Space does not yet constitute any thing. For Force to fill Space, there must be Substance, Matter. A mere force can never fill. Matter must be there for it to fill."—Bravo! My cobbler would use just such arguments as these.[28]—When I see specimina eruditionis[29] of this sort, I begin to have my misgivings whether I did not do the man injustice by naming him among those who endeavour to undermine Kant; but in this, to be sure, I had in view his assertions that "Space is but the relation, the juxtaposition of things,"[30] and that "Space is a relation in which things stand, a juxtaposition of things. This juxtaposition ceases to be a conception as soon as the conception of Matter ceases."[31] For he might possibly have penned these sentences in sheer innocence, since he may have known no more of the "Transcendental Aesthetic" than of the "Metaphysical First Principles of Natural Science;" though to be sure, this would be rather extraordinary for a professor of philosophy. Now-a-days however we must not be surprised at anything. For all knowledge of Critical Philosophy has died out, in spite of its being the latest true philosophy that has appeared, and a doctrine withal, that has made a revolution and epoch in human knowledge and thought. Now therefore, since it has overthrown all previous systems, and since the knowledge of it has died out, philosophising no longer proceeds on the basis of any of the doctrines propounded by the great minds of the past, but becomes a mere random untutored process, having an ordinary education and the catechism for its foundation. Now that I have startled them however, our professors may perhaps take to studying Kant's works again. Still Lichtenberg says: "Past a certain age, I think it as impossible to learn Kantian Philosophy as to learn rope-dancing."[32]

I should certainly not have condescended to record the sins of these sinners had not the interests of truth required that I should do so, in order to show the state of degradation at which German Philosophy has arrived fifty years after Kant's death in consequence of the machinations of the gentlemen 'of the trade,' and also to show what would result if these puny minds, who know nothing but their own ends, were to be suffered without hindrance to check the influence of the great geniuses who have illumined the world. I cannot look on at this in silence ; it is rather a case to which Goethe's exhortation applies:

    "Du Kräftiger, sei nicht so still,
         Wenn auch sich andere scheuen.
    Wer den Teufel erschrecken will,
         Der muss laut schreien."[33]

Dr. Martin Luther thought so also.

Hatred against Kant, hatred against me, hatred against truth, all however in majorem Dei gloriam,[34] is what inspires these worthies who live on philosophy. Who can be so blind as not to see that university philosophy is the enemy of all true, serious philosophy whose progress it feels bound to withstand ? For a philosophy which deserves the name is pure service of truth, therefore the most sublime of all human endeavours; but, as such, it is not adapted for a trade. Least of all can it have its seat in universities, where a theological faculty predominates and things are irrevocably decided beforehand ere philosophy comes to them. With Scholasticism, from which university philosophy descends, it was quite a different thing. Scholasticism was avowedly the ancilla theologiae,[35] so that here the name corresponded to the thing. Our University philosophy of to-day, on the contrary, disclaims the connection, and professes independent research; yet in reality it is only the ancilla disguised, and it is intended no less than its predecessor to be the servant of theology. Thus genuine, sincerely meant philosophy has an adversary under the guise of an ally in University philosophy. There fore I said long ago, that nothing would be of greater benefit to philosophy than for it to cease altogether to be taught at universities; and if at that time I still admitted the propriety of a brief, quite succinct course of history of philosophy accompanying logic—which undoubtedly ought to be taught at Universities—I have since withdrawn that hasty concession in consequence of the following disclosure made to us in the Göttingischen Gelehrten Anzeigen of the 1st January, 1853, p. 8, by the Ordinarius loci[36] (one who writes History of Philosophy in thick volumes): "It could not be mistaken that Kant's doctrine is ordinary Theism, and that it has contributed little or nothing towards trans forming the current views on God and his relation to the world."—If this is the state of the case, universities are in my opinion no longer the right place even for teaching history of philosophy. There designs and intentions reign paramount. I had indeed long ago begun to suspect that history of philosophy was taught at our universities in the same spirit and with the same granum salis[37] as philosophy itself, and it needed but very little to make my suspicions certainty. Accordingly it is my wish to see both philosophy and its history disappear from the lecture list, because I desire to rescue them from the tender mercies of our court-councillors.[38] But far be it from me to wish to see our professors of philosophy removed from their thriving business at our Universities. On the contrary, what I should like would be to see them promoted three degrees higher in dignity and raised to the highest faculty as pro- fessors of Theology. For at the bottom they have really been this for some time already, and have served quite long enough as volunteers.

Meanwhile my honest and kindly advice to the young generation is not to waste any time with university philosophy but to study Kant's works and my own instead. I promise them that there they will learn something substantial that will bring light and order into their brains, so far at least as they may be capable of receiving them. It is not good to crowd round a wretched farthing rushlight when brilliant torches are close by; still less to run after will o' the wisps. Above all, my truth-seeking young friends, beware of letting our professors tell you what is contained in the Critique of Pure Reason. Read it yourselves and you will find in it something very different from what they deem it advisable for you to know.—In our time a great deal too much study is generally devoted to the History of Philosophy; for this study, being adapted by its very nature to substitute knowledge for reflection, is just now cultivated downright with a view to making philosophy consist in its own history. It is not only of doubtful necessity, but even of questionable profit, to acquire a superficial half-knowledge of the opinions and systems of all the philosophers who have taught for 2,500 years; yet what more does the most honest history of philosophy give? A real knowledge of philosophers can only be acquired from their own works, and not from the distorted image of their doctrines as it is found in the commonplace head.[39] But it is really urgent that order should be brought into our heads by some sort of philosophy, and that we should at the same time learn to look at the world with a really unbiassed eye. Now no philosophy is so near to us, both as regards time and language, as that of Kant, and it is at the same time a philosophy, compared with which all those which went before are superficial. On this account it is unhesitatingly to be preferred to all others.

But I perceive that the news of Caspar Hauser's escape has already spread among our professors of philosophy; for I see that some of them have already given vent to their feelings in bitter and venomous abuse of me in various periodicals, making up by falsehoods for their deficiency of wit.[40] Nevertheless I do not complain of all this, because I am rejoiced at the cause and amused by the effect of it, as illustrative of Goethe's verse:

       "Es will der Spitz aus unserm Stall
          Uns immerfort begleiten:
       Doch seines Bellens lauter Schall
          Beweist nur, dass wir reiten."[41]

Arthur Schopenhauer.

Frankfurt Am Main,

August, 1854.



  1. And this infatuation has reached such a point, that people seriously imagine themselves to have found the key to the mystery of the essence and existence of this wonderful and mysterious world in wretched chemical affinities! Compared with this illusion of our physiological chemists, that of the alchemists who sought after the philosopher's stone, and only hoped to find out the secret of making gold, was indeed a mere trifle. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  2. "Aut catechismus, aut materialismus," [Wikisource translation: Either catechism or materialism] is their watchword. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  3. There too he will meet with people who fling about words of foreign origin, which they have caught up without understanding them, just as readily as he does himself, when he talks about "Idealism" without knowing what it means, mostly therefore using the word instead of Spiritualism (which being Realism, is the opposite to Idealism). Hundreds of examples of this kind besides other quid pro quos are to be found in books and critical periodicals. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  4. Wikisource translation: a hypocrite who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue.
  5. They ought everywhere to be shown that their belief is not believed in. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  6. Wikisource translation: I am read and will be read
  7. Wikisource translation: There is a sure reward, too, for trusty silence. Horace, Odes III.2.25-6.
  8. Wikisource translation: reward
  9. Wikisource translation: certain
  10. Wikisource translation: apart from these no salvation can be found
  11. For revelation goes for nothing in philosophy; therefore a philosopher must before all things be an unbeliever. [Add. to 3rd. ed.].
  12. Wikisource translation: above all others
  13. One always says the other is right, so that the public in its simplicity at last imagines them really to be right. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  14. Wikisource translation: in public
  15. Here it is especially Ernst Reinhold's System of Metaphysics (3rd edition, 1854) that I have in my eye. In my Parerga I have explained how it is that brain-perverting books like this go through several editions. See Parerga, vol. i. p. 171 (2nd edition, vol. i. p. 194).
  16. Nevertheless, by Zeus, all such gentlemen, in France as well as Germany, should be taught that Philosophy has a different mission from that of playing into the hands of the clergy. We must let them clearly see before all things that we have no faith in their faith and from this follows what we think of them, [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  17. (a) Rosenkranz, "Meine Reform der Hegelschen Philosophie", 1852, especially p. 41, in a pompous, dictatorial tone: "I have explicitly said, that Space and Time would not exist if Matter did not exist. Æther spread out within itself first constitutes real Space, and the movement of this ether and consequent real genesis of everything individual and separate, constitutes real Time." (b) Ludwig Noack, "Die Theologie als Religionsphilosophie", 1853, pp. 8, 9. (c) Von Reichlin-Meldegg, Two reviews of Oersted's "Geist in der Natur" in the Heidelberg Annals, Nov.-Dec., 1850, and May-June, 1854.
  18. Wikisource translation: blessed simplicity!
  19. Time is the condition of the possibility of succession, which could neither take place, nor be understood by us and expressed in words, without Time. And Space is likewise the condition of the possibility of juxtaposition, and Transcendental Æsthetic is the proof that these con ditions have their seat in the constitution of our head. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  20. In the Scholium to the eighth of the definitions he has placed at the top of his "Principia," Newton quite rightly distinguishes absolute, that is, empty, from relative, or filled Time, and likewise absolute from relative Space. He says, p. 11: Tempus, spatium, locum, motum, ut omnibus notissima, non definio. Notandum tamen quod VULGUS (that is, professors like those I have been mentioning) quantitates hasce non aliter quam ex relatione ad sensibilia concipiat. Et inde oriuntur praejudicia quaedam, quibus tollendis convenit easdem in absolutas et relativas, veras et apparentes, mathematicas et vulgares distingui. [Wikisource translation: I don't define time, space, place, and motion because they ae very familiar to everyone. Yet it is to be noted that common people conceive these quantities only with reference to objects of sense perception. And this is the source of certain preconceptions. To eliminate these prejudices it is useful to divide these quantities into absolute and relative, true and apparent, mathematical and commonplace.] And again (12):
    I. Tempus absolutum, verum et mathematicum, in se et natura sua sine relatione ad externum quodvis, aequabiliter fluit, alioque nomine dicitur Duratio: relativum, apparens et vulgare est sensibilis et externa quaevis Durationis per motum mensura (seu accurata seu inaequabilis) quâ vulgus vice veri temporis utitur; ut Hora, Dies, Mensis, Annus. [Wikisource translation: Absolute, true, and mathematical time, in and of itself, of its own nature, without reference to anything external, flows uniformly, and is otherwise called duration. Relative, apparent, and commonplace time is any sensible and external measure, whether accurate or approximate, of duration by means of motion. This kind of measure, for example, hour, day, month, year, is used by common people instead of true time.]
    II. Spatium absolutum, natura sua sine relatione ad externum quodvis, emper manet similare et immobile: relativum est spatii hujus mensura seu dimensio quaelibet mobilis, quae a sensibus nostris per situm suum ad corpora definitur, et a vulgo pro spatio immobili usurpatur: uti dimensio spatii subterranei, aerei vel coelestis definita per situm suum ad terram. [Wikisource translation: Absolute space, of its own nature without reference to anything external, always remains uniform and immovable. Relative space is any movable measure or dimension of absolute space. It is a variable distance that is determined by our senses according to its position with respect to bodies. Common people use relative space instead of immovable space, as when we measure space underground, in the air, or in the heavens with respect to its position relative to the earth.]
    But even Newton never dreamt of asking how we know these two infinite entities, Space and Time; since, as he here impresses on us, they do not fall within the range of the senses; and how we know them more over so intimately, that we are able to indicate their whole nature and rule down to the minutest detail. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  21. Ecclesiasticus xxii. 8.
  22. Wikisource translation: not having occurred
  23. For Kant has disclosed the dreadful truth, that philosophy must be quite a different thing from Jewish mythology. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  24. Wikisource translation: identity of indescernibles
  25. Wikisource translation: When we see the league of blockheads against intelligent men, we think we are witnessing a conspiracy of servants to overthrow their masters.
  26. Another instance of Michelet's ignorance is to be found in Schopenhauer's posthumous writings, see Aus Arthur Schopenhauers handschriftlichen Nachlass [Wikisource annotation: From Arthur Schopenhauer's Manuscript Remains], Leipzig, A. Brockhaus, 1864, p. 327. [Editor's note.]
  27. Wikisource translation: We beg this freedom for ourselves and likewise grant it to others.
  28. The same reviewer (Von Reichlin-Meldegg) when he expounds the doctrines of the philosophers concerning God in the August number of the Heidelberg Annals (1855), p. 579, says: "In Kant, God is a thing in itself which cannot be known." In his review of Frauenstädt's "Letters" in the Heidelberg Annals of May and June (1855) he says that there is no knowledge à priori. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  29. Wikisource translation: learned specimens
  30. loc. cit. p. 899.
  31. loc. cit. p. 908.
  32. Wikisource annotation: Miscellaneous Writings, vol. I, p. 107
  33. Wikisource translation: Be not so silent, you who are strong,
    Even if others are shy.
    Whoever wants to scare the devil
    Must cry out aloud. Zahme Xenien, I, v. 153 seqq.
  34. Wikisource translation: for the greater glory of God
  35. Wikisource translation: handmaid to theology
  36. Wikisource translation: ecclesiastic of the place
  37. Wikisource translation: grain of salt
  38. Hofräthe. A title of honour often given for literary and scientific merit in Germany, and common among university professors. [Tr.'s note.]
  39. "Potius de rebus ipsis judicare debemus, quam pro magno habere, de hominibus quid quisque senserit scire," [Wikisource translation: On the contrary, we should judge of things themselves rather than attach importance to knowing what kind of an opinion everyone had of men.] says St. Augustine, (De civitate Dei, Lib. 19, c. 3)—Under the present mode of proceeding, however, the philosophical lecture-room becomes a sort of rag-fair for old worn-out, cast-off opinions, which are brought there every six months to be aired and beaten. [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  40. I take this opportunity urgently to request that the public will not believe unconditionally any accounts of what I am supposed to have said, even when they are given as quotations; but will first verify the existence of these quotations in my works. In this way many a falsehood will be detected, which can however only be stamped as a direct forgery when it is accompanied by quotation marks (" "). [Add. to 3rd ed.]
  41. Wikisource translation:
    The little dog from our stall
    Will always come with us:
    Yet the loudness of his barking
    Just shows that we are riding.
    ("Kläffer" (barker) in Parabolic).