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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2015

Adrian Del Caro
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee
Christopher Janaway
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

In June 1850 Schopenhauer had completed his two-volume work Parerga and Paralipomena, and was looking for a publisher. He sent a letter to F. A. Brockhaus, who had previously published his The World as Will and Representation, and explained how he viewed the new offering:

Now, after six years’ work, I have completed my miscellaneous philosophical writings: the preliminary drafts of them stretch back 30 years. For in them I have set down all the thoughts that could find no place in my systematic works. Hence this one is, for the most part, also incomparably more popular than everything up till now, as you can see from the list of contents that I include. After this I do not propose to write anything more; because I want to prevent myself from bringing into the world weak children of old age who accuse their father and vilify his reputation.

Schopenhauer was 62 years old and would live for another decade. But in that final ten years he produced only revised versions of the works that were already behind him in 1850: The World as Will and Representation, On Will in Nature and The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics. The contents of the new, popular work were already settled, and Schopenhauer requested only a small honorarium, but Brockhaus turned the proposal down, and Schopenhauer asked his friend Julius Frauenstädt for assistance in finding another publisher. As a result of Frauenstädt's efforts Parerga and Paralipomena was finally published in 1851 by A. W. Hayn of Berlin. Schopenhauer specified that there was to be a print-run of only 750, and no honorarium at all.

In describing these writings as ‘miscellaneous’ Schopenhauer used the word vermischt, which might also be rendered as ‘mixed’. Indeed his Latin phrase for them in his letters is opera mixta. But his characteristic love of a learned phrase from an ancient language had led him to choose two Greek words for his title: parerga meaning ‘subordinate works’ or works ‘apart from the main business’, paralipomena things ‘left aside’ or ‘passed over’. So this suggests a variety of pieces that for one reason or another did not fit into the programme of The World as Will and Representation, the work that defined his philosophy, or pursued different tacks that interested him but were not essential to that programme.

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Chapter
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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. xiv - xxxiii
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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