Essay on the Freedom of the Will (Philosophical Classics)
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Essay on the Freedom of the Will (Philosophical Classics)

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  202 ratings  ·  16 reviews
The winning entry in a competition held by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences, Schopenhauer's 1839 essay brought its author international recognition. Its brilliant and elegant treatments of free will and determinism elevated it to a classic of Western philosophy, and its penetrating reflections still remain relevant.
Schopenhauer makes a distinction between freedom of...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 6th 2005 by Dover Publications (first published 1839)
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Matthew
Schopenhauer is kind of a boss. He took the idea of the "free will", read pretty much everything that anyone ever wrote about it, and then came to the conclusion that essentially everyone was an idiot except for him. Not really -- he has serious respect for some philosophers, but mostly for their ideas, not for them. In less than 90 pages, Schopenhauer sort of takes the cake for proving why "free will" is a silly concept. His argument hinges on a few assertions that may seem dated, but most are...more
Damian
Schopenhauer wrote this dissertation in the occasion of the Norwegian Royal Academy`s competition of establishing the freedom of will, in which he won the first prize. He proves that the man`s freedom to move his limbs in not enough to point out the freedom of will, which is a more complex notion. His distinguished conclusion is that neither humans nor animals posses such a freedom, for their actions will always be the same in a given situation in which they find themselves repeatedly.
John
This gave me a pretty clear understanding of the necessity of cause and effect in the will. It left me searching for some meaning in my experience of free choice for which he reccomends one reads Kant. I'd say my separation between experience and reality is widening and that I'm begining to find peace with it.
Garren
This book convinced me that free will is impossible in principle.
Krzysztof
It never ceases to amaze me when philosophers come so near Vulcan status, dispassionately examining a particular notion, only to suddenly burst through the walls like the Kool Aid man and say something like, "Bitches, amirite?"

But, though Schopenhauer does show periodic sexism, that's not his particular undoing here. His undoing comes long after that; it comes in his conclusion where, just as he's carefully pouring out the last of the Kool Aid to his adoring sycophants, he loses control, slaps...more
Allan Yeo
Schopenhauer reintroduces the lack of the freedom of will in a reasonable length. Not skipping examples and definitions, he presents a clear portrayal of how his will is within the chain of causality, ironically departing from the laborious style of writing from his self-professed influence, Kant. The prose is clear and insertions of latin phrases apt and appreciated, elucidating meaning from its paragraphs appears to be as tiresome as casual conversation with an old friend at a cafe.

Schopenhau...more
David F.
Heavy prose but practically a model of clarity compared to philosophers like Kant or Wittgenstein. Schopenhauer argues that free will is no better than an illusion. His arguments are a bit dense in their prose but reasonably coherent in their logic. He is careful to define his terms and most of his definitions seem solid. Unfortunately, I found his reliance on assertions that various points are self-evident and the occasional circularity of some of his arguments to be serious weaknesses.
wigwam
These guys sure love Schelling! I didn't get much from this but understood (I think) the distinctions. It's sort of boring when there's a thesis to prove I guess, and when it's contextualized against other writers/thinkers/traditions. I feel like I remember Will and Rep having these new insights that it comes to as it goes along, which isn't the manner of this or Fourfold Root and so I was imagining Tha Schope as of a different mindset maybe. I guess he gets into it along the way here with his i...more
Jason Kirk
Arguments for the meaning, import, and moral imperative of free will have come a long way since 1839. Nevertheless, Schopenhauer's Essay -- for all its heavy leaning on feeling, appeals to self-evidence, and circular argument -- still pays off, primarily for its vertiginous vigor on the subject. (Quoted from #SmallBooksMonth )
Ikiryo
This essay has been an interesting insight into the human mind and its process of decision making. The beginning has somewhat of a learning curve (at least for me) but nothing too discouraging, as everything is well explained, and Schopenhauer can keep it interesting throughout the entire read. Mind you, this is an essay and so, he comes fairly quickly to making his point, backing it up with solid logical reasoning and ending in the last few chapters with an illustration of the context of the fr...more
Ian Miley
Schopenhauer states clearly his "scientific" view that if one accepts some basic laws of the universe, one cannot believe in a "free" will. While life is a more complicated physical structure than most in our universe, it still follows the laws of gravity, inertia, inter molecular forces and other forces. Thus a human can be predicted.

However, some have criticized that at a quantum level, we are at a loss to find any basic laws that govern the behavior of quantum particles.
John Ellis
This may be the best book that I’ve read on the subject of the problem of free will. My glowing declamation does, however, come with a caveat – Schopenhauer wanders too far into materialistic determinism for my taste (I write that with the understanding that he believed materialism and idealism to be correlative. This is, after all, simply a Goodreads “review”). My confusing statement aside, this book should be read by anyone interested in the debate about free will.
Blair
I love Schopenhauer's exasperated tone. He struggles with what he perceives to be the idiocy of people who can't understand how obvious it is (to him) that the universe is deterministic in nature. His gratuitous swipe at Hegel in his survey of previous philosophical thinking on the subject is hilarious.
Miguel Teles
4 and 1/2 stars.

Everything perfect despite his assumption of the unchangeability of an inborn character and the last 10 pages with his final Conclusion.
Yann
Je ne suis pas du tout convaincu par la thèse de l'auteur.
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Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher best known for his work The World as Will and Representation. Schopenhauer attempted to make his career as an academic by correcting and expanding Immanuel Kant's philosophy concerning the way in which we experience the world.

More about Arthur Schopenhauer...
The World as Will and Representation, Vol 1 Essays and Aphorisms The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2 The Art of Always Being Right The Wisdom of Life

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“In order to elucidate especially and most clearly the origination of this error (...) let us imagine a man who, while standing on the street, would say to himself:

"It is six o'clock in the evening, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can also climb up the tower to see the sunset; I can go to the theater; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return. All of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now , but with just as free a will I shall go home to my wife".

This is exactly as if water spoke to itself: "I can make high waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can rush down hill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming and gushing (yes! in the waterfall), I can rise freely as a stream of water into the air (yes! in the fountain), I can, finally boil away and disappear (yes! at a certain temperature); but I am doing none of these things now, and am voluntaringly remaining quiet and clear water in the reflecting pond.”
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