In Brazil, a collection of five Schopenhuaer essays was published under the name "The Art of Writing", consisting of the essays Über Gelehrsamkeit und Gelehrte; Selbstdenken; Über Schriftstellerei und Stil; Über Lesen und Bücher; Über Sprache und Worte.

In the third part (Über Schriftstellerei und Stil) we can read:

"There are, first of all, two kinds of authors: those who write for the subject’s sake, and those who write for writing’s sake. The first kind have had thoughts or experiences which seem to them worth communicating, while the second kind need money and consequently write for money. They think in order to write, and they may be recognised by their spinning out their thoughts to the greatest possible length, and also by the way they work out their thoughts, which are half-true, perverse, forced, and vacillating; then also by their love of evasion, so that they may seem what they are not; and this is why their writing is lacking in definiteness and clearness."

Along all the text, Schopenhauer gives some names, like Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. However, does he (or someone else) give a full list of the authors he believe "write for writing sake", thus "lacking in definiteness and clearness"? It would be great if it included examples of sentences that illustrate what he says.

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    He makes also the example of Lessing and Jean Paul. Nov 24 '17 at 10:57
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    He is not speaking of philosophers; he is complayning about "mass literature": "The reason why Literature is in such a bad plight nowadays is simply and solely that people write books to make money. A man who is in want sits down and writes a book, and the public is stupid enough to buy it. The secondary effect of this is the ruin of language. A great many bad writers make their whole living by that foolish mania of the public for reading nothing but what has just been printed,—journalists, I mean." Nov 24 '17 at 14:25
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA It seems he is also speaking of philosophers, since he cites Hegel.
    – Rodrigo
    Nov 24 '17 at 19:51
  • My guess would be that he's referring to Hegel, who is known for his poor writing quality. Nov 27 '17 at 9:55

Schopenhauer was at war with Hegel and, after his death (1831), with anybody who did not consider him to be the most important living philosopher. The 'bad writers' are the Hegelians which were sufficiently numerous as to be seen as forming at least two factions: Young Hegelians and older ones, but also situated on the 'Left' or the 'Right'. Rather directly he targets them by mentioning their journal Halleschen Jahrbücher für deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst (Halle’schen), later Deutsche Jahrbücher which appeared from 1838-43. Most of the contributors' names are forgotten (one would have to look up if Marx or Engels are among them). As Schopenhauer did not suffer from modesty he mention as deplorable writers also Fichte, who was from an earlier generation, and Schelling, who was his contemporary.

It is seen that Schopenhauer's rhetoric launches at least three accusations: (1)nothing to say, (2) obscurity, (3) despicable motivation (money and/or fame). Morphing them one into another leaves no escape for any target.

  • I think you should have references to back up what you're saying, specially "with anybody who did not consider him to be the most important living philosopher" and "he targets them by mentioning their journal". If someone had something to say and can say it clearly, and for a good reason, then he/she is justifiably out of reach of such criticism. I can only think of Voltaire, Bertrand Russell, Mark Twain, Thoreau, Dostoyevsky and a few others in the whole West. Many (most?) philosophers are there only to pretend profundity, and of course to defend the "holy church" who paid their wages.
    – Rodrigo
    Nov 29 '17 at 15:15

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