On Arthur Schopenhauer’s essays, “On Authorship and Style,” “On Thinking for Oneself,” and “On Genius” (all published 1851).
Is the best way to do philosophy (or any art) to self-consciously build on the work of others to advance the genre? Schopenhauer says no! Geniuses are solitary, original, authentic, naive thinkers. They write because they have something to say, not because they’re being paid. They don’t read too much for fear of being overwhelmed by their influences, and certainly don’t try to remember what they read too well like a scholar would. They think before writing, and get at perennial truths from their own, uniquely grown perspective. So don’t burden them with responsibilities like jobs and families, okay?
Mark, Wes, and Dylan try to figure out whether these harsh commandments hold water or whether S. is just giving excuses for his own unpopularity. Read more about it and get the essays.