Monday, June 14, 2010

Schopenhauer's Notebooks

Schopenhauer took notes in notebooks and on loose pages throughout his life. Ten volumes have survived:
  1. Reisebuch 1818-1820 [Travel Book]
  2. Foliant 1821-1822, 1826-1828 [Folio Book]
  3. Brieftasche 1822-1824 [Letter Box]
  4. Quartant 1824-1826 [Quarto Book]
  5. Adversaria 1828-1830
  6. Cogitata 1830-1833
  7. Cholerabuch 1831-1832 [Cholera Book]
  8. Pandecta 1832-1837
  9. Spicilegia 1837-1852
  10. Senilia 1852-1860
Together, they amount to 2820 pages in quarto or folio. Some of these are just for notes, some of them are better described as manuscript books.

Throughout his life he took notes and kept quotes on pieces of paper he first kept in a map and then transcribed them into his note books. Sometime he wrote down ideas just as they came to him. Quotes and thoughts by others he usually worked into his own thoughts and did not just list them as he had discovered them. He noted also plans and expenses, observations, additions to his works.

Hübscher notes a marked difference between the entries before the publication of the World as Will and Representation, which were characterized by a search for a tenable position, by doubts and tentative explanations and solutions of problems, and the later entries, which are more judgmental. Having read many of them recently, I cannot agree. As a student he took notes in Fichte's lecture notes. The first lecture has in the margin, written in English: "Though this be madness yet there's method in it." Hardly non-judgmental.[1] In fact a "non-judgmental Schopenhauer" appears to be an oxymoron.

In 1830 Schopenhauer made an alphabetical register of subjects in the different volumes: (Repertorium zu meinen M.S.-Büchern. He continuously updated it from that time until his death. It consists of 132 pages.

Schopenhauer had the habit of crossing out entries that found their way into his published works.

The Notebooks are contained in Arthur Schopenhauer, Der handschriftliche Nachlaß in fünf Bänden. 5 vols. Ed. Arthur Hübscher. Frankfurt/Main: Verlag Waldemar Kramer, 1966-75. There was a reprint in 1985 by the Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, which by now is prohibitively expensive even as used book.


1. Handschriftlicher Nachlaß II, 82

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