3-Volume Box-Set of THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE UNCONSCIOUS by Eduard von Hartmann
Thiis is the Masterpiece that bridges the gap between Schopenhauer's theory of the Will and Freud's theory of the Subconscious. This is a colossal, 3-volume, 1000-page work, but its delvings into the nature of the Universe as essentially 'Unconscious' is still massively in need of being read today. The author's original prefaces, an interview with the author, an introductory essay on von Hartmann, bibliography, annotations and portraits are all included. W.C. Coupland's original translation of the work has been meticulously re-edited and the book has been made more readable for a 21st century audience.
"Our measurements of the rich territory of the Me are far too small or narrow when we omit the immense realm of the Unconscious, this real interior Africa in every sense." Jean-Paul Richter
The Missing Link: A brand new edition of this masterpiece of philosophical thinking, which investigates the many aspects of the "Unconscious", a concept which had been touched on by thinkers before, yet which von Hartmann alone explored in such penetrating depth. - This work will be of interest both to a psychological and philosophical readership, though it will also be of interest for readers in other related fields (science, nature, biology, neorology), as well as for the general reader who wishes to appreciate one of the most important stages in the history of thought. For von Hartmann, along with Gustav Fechner, J.F. Herbart, C.G. Carus, and W. Wundt, stands as one of the founding fathers of Modern Psychology. In fact, he is the little understood link between the profound philosophical thinking of Arthur Schopenhauer and the theories of the Sub-Conscious of Sigmund Freud. In this vast work von Hartmann discusses 26 aspects of the Unconscious, though he ventures far beyond the realms of psychology by developing his theory into a complete philosophical system.
VOLUME I: In the present volume Hartmann's focus is upon the Unconscious in bodily life and in the mind, both in humans and in animals, providing a rich wealth of examples to support all of the points that are set forth. He even provides mathematical proof relating to the reason why we assume an end to the aims in nature. Many supplementary materials are included in this volume, and they include:
- Introductory Essay 'The Philosopher of the Unconscious' (by Edouard d'Araille) describes the impact and relevance of Eduard von Hartmann's thought for today, considering each of the three volumes separately, explaining their position in regard to the prior history of thought and their influences on the following eras.
- Translator's Preface (William C. Coupland) helps us appreciate more about this work by giving us some pertinent facts about the writer's life, and mentioning some of the challenges of translation.
- An Essay called "The Great Quietus" by Edgar Everson Saltus (extracted from his book 'The Philosophy of Disenchantment') offers us a rare chance to see Eduard von Hartmann at home in the early 1880's, visited by an American writer who gives us a lively and succinct account of his 'Pessimism', while interviewing him about varied aspects of his thought.
- A Select Bibliography, of most use to the scholar who wishes to take his research into Hartmann's thought one stage further, furnishes not only a chronological listing of the author's major works, but also a list of English translations, plus books and articles describing his life and work. Titles in English/ German.
The Author's Prefaces to the 7th, 8th and 9th Editions of his work are also included, which provide many valuable remarks of the writer that help demystify his philosophy.
About Volume II: In the second volume Hartmann's focus is not essentially upon the Physics of the Unconscious, as it was in the first (where he explored many physical and mental aspects of numerous species) but rather upon the Metaphysics of the Unconscious in Plants, Animals and Human Beings. Here the author takes us on a journey to the origins of Consciousness, even of Life itself. - Topics of great interest in this volume are: The Unconscious Psychical Activity of Plants, Matter as Will and Idea, The Conception of Individuality, the Resuscitation of Life in seemingly "dead" animals (of particular interest to students of Cryogenics). However, amid the plethora of biological observations and early "biogenetic considerations", through his discussions of suspended animation and spontaneous generation, von Hartmann does not lose track of his philosophical polemic, which progresses slowly but surely toward his final conclusions in this volume concerning God, the Universe and the Unconscious. In fact, he goes so far as to identify "God" with his own conception of the "Unconscious", and this is crucial to his argument in the final section of the book, entitled "The Supreme Wisdom of the Unconscious and the Perfection of the World", where he relates his views to those of Leibniz, concluding, in his own way, that this is the best of all "possible worlds", though we will need to progress to Volume III so as to see where the argument leads.
About Volume III: In the final volume Hartmann's focus is, as in the second volume, upon the 'Metaphysics of the Unconscious' (as opposed to the physical and the mental aspects, which he explored at the greatest length in Vol.I). For those who wish to appreciate Hartmann's pessimistic vision of the cosmos, this is the volume to read, for it is here that he sets forth his argument in favour of the annihilation of all existence, an end to all things. He shows what other directions might take the dark vision of his direct predecessor Arthur Schopenhauer, who himself suggested 'Nirvana' as the only solution. It is the most renowned volume of the work, infamous, in some ways, precisely because of the several stage argument he sets out in support of the preferred mass suicide of the human race, as opposed to the continuation of life on earth. In the first stage of this polemic, he examines what pleasures life has to offer in this world, while in the second stage of this argument he looks at the case of those who seek a Paradise beyond as opposed to one here on earth. Finally, in the last stage of this discussion, he examines the belief in the greatness of the future. His conclusion is, as already mentioned, on the negative side, in that he opts for the mass self-effacement of all life on this planet. In addition to this, the present volume is also of great value in that he summarizes his conclusions from the rest of the preceding stages, sections and chapters, as well as taking a brief retrospective view of the systems of other relevant philosophers.
Extra Bonus to Volume III: This final volume includes Hartmann's Appendix to the work, entitled "The Physiology of the Nerve Centres", which he added later and considered to be essential to a full understanding of his viewpoint - though for those only interested in his general argument, it is in fact not obligatory reading. Today, the interest that lies in this additional essay is in the general view that it gives of the science of physiology as concerns the nerve centres in Hartmann's day.
An Extract: from Chapter 'XIII. THE IRRATIONALITY OF VOLITION AND THE MISERY OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. NATURE OF THE PROBLEM' - "The object of this chapter is to inquire whether the being or the non-being of this present world deserves the preference. And here, more than at any other stage of our inquiry, must we crave the reader's indulgence, since a tolerably exhaustive treatment of the subject would require a book to itself. In this place our exposition must be rather of the nature of an episode, both on external grounds and more particularly because the result of this inquiry, although important for the clearing up of the ultimate principles of Philosophy, has no direct bearing on the main theme of the work as proclaimed in its title, "The Unconscious". Nevertheless, in a short examination, presenting many new points of view, I hope to afford suggestions even to the opponents of the opinions here advanced, which may to a certain extent compensate them for the perusal of this digression. If we glance at the judgments of the greatest minds of all ages, we find those, who have at all found occasion to express their opinion on the subject, pronouncing the condemnation of life in very decided terms."