The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics

ISBN : 9780199297221

Arthur Schopenhauer; David Cartwright; Edward E. Erdmann
352 Pages
129 x 196 mm
Pub date
May 2010
Oxford World's Classics
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my philosophy is like Thebes with a hundred gates: one can enter from all sides and through each gate arrive at the direct path to the centre'

Schopenhauer's two essays On the Freedom of the Will and On the Basis of Morals form his complete system of ethics. Their doctrines, continuous with those in his major work The World as Will and Representation, are presented here in more accessible, self-contained form. Schopenhauer argues, in uniquely powerful prose, that self-consciousness gives the illusion of freedom and that human actions are determined, but that we rightly feel guilt because our actions issue from our essential individual character. He locates moral value in the virtues of loving kindness and voluntary justice that spring from the fundamental incentive of compassion. Morality's basis is ultimately metaphysical, resting on an intuitive identification of the self with all other striving and suffering beings. These essays, newly translated here with an introduction and notes, contain a critique of Kant's ethics, and advance a position that was in turn the target of criticism by Nietzsche.

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About the author: 

David Cartwright has published widely on Schopenhauer. He has edited Payne's translations of On the Will in Nature (1992) and On Vision and Colors (1994) for which he also wrote introductions. He is the author of numerous articles and has also published the Historical Dictionary of Schopenhauer's Philosophy (2005).; Christopher Janaway is the author of the Very Short Introduction to Schopenhauer (2002) and Self and World in Schopenhauer's Philosophy (OUP, 1989), and two edited collections: The Cambridge Companion to Schopenhauer (1999) and Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche's Educator (OUP, 1998). He has also translated the Two Fundamental Problems as part of the six-volume Cambridge Edition of the Works of Arthur Schopenhauer (2009).

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