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The World as Idea - The Genius of Arthur Schopenhauer

 
 
joefromchicago
 
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Reply Sun 9 Jan, 2005 01:40 pm
Here, in part, is what E.F.J. Payne, the pre-eminent Schopenhauer translator, said in his preface to "The World as Will and Representation about "Vorstellung":"
    Its primary meaning is that of "placing before," and it is used by Schopenhauer to express what he himself describes as an "exceedingly complicated physiological process in the brain of an animal, the result of which is the consciousness of a [i]picture[/i] there." In the present translation "representation" has been selected as the best English word to convey the German meaning.... The word "idea" which is used by Haldane and Kemp in their English translation of this work clearly fails to bring out the meaning of [i]Vorstellung[/i] in the sense used by Schopenhauer.
This fits with his essentially Kantian division of the world into the noumenal "thing-in-itself" (the will) and the phenomenal (that which is perceivable by the senses as the representation of the will). As Schopenhauer stated: "no truth is more certain, more independent of all others, and less in need of proof than this, namely that everything that exists for knowledge, and hence the whole of this world, is only object in relation to the subject, perception of the perceiver, in a word, representation."
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Cyracuz
 
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Reply Mon 10 Jan, 2005 09:21 am
When Broadway has a play on the poster they call it a show. If this was in germany they would call it "eine vorstellung". Something placed before your senses. Placing before refers to the way the word is assembled. "Vor" means "pre" or "prior to" or "before" or "in front of". "Stellung" I think translates as "position" or "pose".

So, "das welt ist meine vorstellung" can be translated to something like "the world is my movie" in modern terms. If I understand this correctly he is saying that he will not take answers on goodwill, but confirm their validity in the world.
It would be the same as "cogito ergo sum" in that they both try to reach a solid ground for building their tower of reason.

I have to say also that this explanation stems from my knowledge of the german language. I am not familiar with the thoughts of Schopenhauer or E.F.J. Payne.
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val
 
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 06:51 am
Cyracuz

I would give a different meaning to the word "Vorstellung", according to Schopenhauer ideas. I think "representation" is the right word in English.Although "Vorstellung" can be used with the meaning of "show", I think Schopenhauer meant with "das Welt ist meine Vorstellung", "the world is my representation" or "the world has the configuration I give it". Do not forget the strong influence that Schopenhauer received from Kant's Critic of the Pure Reason.
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Cyracuz
 
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 07:07 am
Maybe val. The word vorstellung is a word with many meanings. We have the same word in norwegian, here spelled "forestilling". The most literal translation is "placing something before".

Representation is a word that is too strictly defined to fit vorstellung. Here you are re-presenting something, or presenting it again. So it is something familiar. Vorstellung is not. It is an idea in a way, but it is vague. A notion.

"Das welt ist meine vorstellung" does not say anything about who has the neccesary framework to see this world. When you see a movie, it is in reality only a series of pictures put together to form a coherency. But this coherency rests with the viewer more than in the movie itself. I often think many chinese films are incoherent because I'm a stranger to the culture that produced them.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 09:42 am
On the whole, I think val is closer to the mark. For Schopenhauer, the representation occurs inside the subject -- that fits with the kind of idealism that Schopenhauer inherited from Kant, and it explains what he meant when he stated that "the world is my representation." What we know of the world is only a representation of the world as it actually is (the noumenal), but which we can only perceive imperfectly (as phenomena). This "representation" (Vorstellung) only occurs in the mind of the observer.*

Granted, "representation" is an imperfect rendering of Vorstellung, but then Schopenhauer was using Vorstellung in a rather idiosyncratic way, so it's not enough to say that Vorstellung means something else in German. Rather than relying upon a German-English dictionary to determine what Vorstellung means, we need to look at how Schopenhauer used the word, since his usage diverged from the standard usage of the word (and the same is true of many terms used by Schopenhauer, including the term "idea"). Using this approach, I think "representation" comes closest to what Schopenhauer was trying to say.

*Cyracuz: The English term "representation" has completely lost the connotation of "re-presenting" something. Indeed, if I wanted to talk about presenting something again, I wouldn't use the word "represent."
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Cyracuz
 
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 02:29 pm
joefromchicago, are you so sure? "Good day, I represent..." What are you doing but presenting something that has been presented to you? The word implies that a presentation is being made, and that it is going through a messenger, hence representation. Or am I completely off the wall here?
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Tue 11 Jan, 2005 03:56 pm
Cyracuz wrote:
joefromchicago, are you so sure? "Good day, I represent..." What are you doing but presenting something that has been presented to you? The word implies that a presentation is being made, and that it is going through a messenger, hence representation. Or am I completely off the wall here?

Yes, you're completely off the wall. Suppose someone were to say the following:
    I want to present this play again. When do you think I should represent it?
The second sentence makes no sense, because "represent" doesn't mean the same thing as "re-present." Indeed, the need to insert a hyphen in "represent" in order to make it mean the same thing as "re-present" indicates that "represent" never means "to present again."

Your example does nothing to alter this fact. If I represent someone or something, it is not necessarily because something has been presented to me before, and I may not be presenting anything now. "Representations" and "presentations" are entirely different things.
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Cyracuz
 
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Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2005 10:07 am
Yea, that makes sense. Thanks Smile
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