Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1.
As to the translation, it must certainly be said that it is an excellent one and offers advantages over the translation of E. F. J. Payne that has dominated for decades. AS put by translator and editor (and general editor of the series) Janaway, in his fine introduction (which includes a nice balance of summary, commentary, and notes on translation): "Payne has a tendency towards circumlocution rather than directness and is often not as scrupulous as we might wish in translating philosophical vocabulary ... the translators have striven to keep a tighter rein on philosophical terminology, especially that which is familiar from the study of Kant." In the last respect, I would myself have urged The World as Will and Presentation, rather than Representation. And though the latter is indeed close to standard for translation of Vorstellung in Kant, there are worthy exceptions there too. (Other points of adherence to Kantian terminology: generally "appearance" rather than "phenomenon" for Erscheinung; and to what I assume will be the discomfort of "ordinary" rather than scholarly readers, "intuition" rather than "perception" for Anschauung.)
There is one other respect in which the translation might have been more considerate of the reader. (Apart from translation, readers might also have appreciated some remedy for Schopenhauer's failure to provide informative section headings.) This lies in the unfortunately standard phrase "the will," as used to stand for the inner being of the world according to Schopenhauer. The choice is presumably dictated by the fact that, though he often says just Wille, he more frequently employs the definite article. (Of course German grammar generally requires it in constructions with the genitive, and imposes at least considerable pressure for the same in most prepositional constructions). Where what is in question is a particular case of will--for example, my will, or yours--I have no problem; as also in certain other limited contexts. But to translate generally as "the will" seems to me tantamount to what we would be doing if, for example, when speaking of Thales, we were to say that the inner being of the world is "the water" according to him. (In German, though it is frequently said that for Thales the inner being of the world is Wasser, it is also frequently and quite naturally said that it is das Wasser).
The standard formula tends to promote the idea that what is in question is a something-or-other, but simply where the latter is unique: as opposed, for example, to something more like what a "mass term" would designate. But this is not to suggest that it is anything of that sort either. Although it may be close to obvious that what is in question is more like whatever we have in mind when speaking of force--as opposed to a, not to mention the, force--speaking simply of will seems appropriately neutral. As it happens, in any case, use of the definite article is multiplied even significantly beyond Schopenhauer himself: repeating the entire expression when he refers with only a pronoun (malting three occurrences out of a single one of "the will," for example, on page 137); translating Willenserscheinungen (appearances or phenomena of will) as "appearances of the will" on p. 142; and simply inserting the definite article in an occurrence (seinem innern Wesen nach Wille translated as "in its inner essence, the will") on the same page.
However one judges such matters, this is, again, an excellent translation, with a fine introduction and a thorough and useful apparatus of footnotes (including frequent notation of the German), endnotes (for differences between the editions), and index. It will undoubtedly, as part of the Canlbridge Edition of the Works of Schopenhauer (previously published: The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics, translated and edited by Janaway), become the standard for scholarly citations.--Richard E. Aquila, The University of Tennessee.
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|Author:||Aquila, Richard E.|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2011|
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