Episode

In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, History

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Society & Culture 60
History 20

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas

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Schopenhauer

October 29th, 2009

Episode 63 of 522 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and guests AC Grayling, Beatrice Han-Pile and Christopher Janaway discuss the dark, pessimistic philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer.As a radical young thinker in Germany in the early 19th century, Schopenhauer railed against the dominant ideas of the day. He dismissed the pre-eminent German philosopher Georg Hegel as a pompous charlatan, and turned instead to the Enlightenment thinking of Immanuel Kant for inspiration. Schopenhauer's central idea was that everything in the world was driven by the Will - broadly, the ceaseless desire to live. But this, he argued, left us swinging pointlessly between suffering and boredom. The only escape from the tyranny of the Will was to be found in art, and particularly in music. Schopenhauer was influenced by Eastern philosophy, and in turn his own work had an impact well beyond the philosophical tradition in the West, helping to shape the work of artists and writers from Richard Wagner to Marcel Proust, and Albert Camus to Sigmund Freud.AC Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London; Beatrice Han-Pile is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex; Christopher Janaway is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

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