Arthur SCHOPENHAUER : Essay on the Freedom of the Will

Translated, with an Introduction, by KONSTANTIN KOLENDA, Associate Professor of Philosophy, The Rice Institute.

Publication Information : Book Title : Essay on the Freedom of the Will. Contributors : Konstantin Kolenda – transltr, Arthur Schopenhauer – author. Publisher : Liberal Arts Press. Place of Publication : New York. Publication Year : 1960.


Twenty years after the publication of the first edition of his main work, The World as Will and Idea, Schopenhauer submitted his prize essay On the Freedom of the Will to the Norwegian Scientific Society. While this essay won the offered prize in 1839, Schopenhauer’s second contribution to the subject of ethics, The Foundation of Morality, was denied the prize of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences in 1840. In the following year Schopenhauer published both essays together under the title The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics, not failing to indicate in the subtitles how the essays fared at the hands of the respective Societies. Ironically, the one which was refused the prize of the Danish Academy was translated into English (by A. B. Bullock, London, 1903), while the essay on the freedom of the will has so far not been available to English readers.

One may look at this essay in two ways. It can be used as an introduction to Schopenhauer’s philosophy in general. His treatment of the problem of free will, a problem regarded by him as one of the most important in modern philosophy, reveals many basic features of his thought. To show this, some references to his main work will be necessary. On the other hand, Schopenhauer’s essay admits of being studied independently of his metaphysical views. What he has to say on the subject is by no means obsolete. On the contrary, recent revival of interest in the notion of will makes it desirable to examine Schopenhauer’s penetrating reflections in this area.

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