What is the most important book you've ever read? Try to pick just one, and then explain why. Not necessarily the best or the most perfect, but the one that has spoken to your awareness with greatest profundity.
I have read many great books, but picking the one that had the greatest influence on me really isn't that hard. It's Arthur Schopenhauers The world as Will and Representation.
I got it for my 18th birthday. It was the first book of real philosophy I ever read, and it was a hard-, sometimes frustrating read. Took me a long time to finish. I had to read many passages twice or thrice, and there was still a lot of things I didn't quite get the first time around.
But I was determined to get through it. I had to understand it. It seemed to me incredibly important for me to understand it. Such was its power.
In a way, this book made me feel very stupid - but at the same time, it encouraged me not to be. It encouraged me to learn.
Dicovering Schopenhauer-, the beauty, subtlety and incredible thoroughness of his thought was an eyeopener. Here, I heard a voice of real wisdom. Something entirely different from the mindless chatter of an everyday understanding. Here was someone who understood. Someone who didn't just pretend to know, but actually knew.
Knew what? That there is a profound difference between the world as it appears, and as it truly is. That the appearances can be known and understood through reason, but that reality isn't reasonable in itself (or unreasonable, for that matter). That wisdom is the proper understanding of the divide. That there is always something we know and something we don't know. That there must always be a reason for every concrete thing we know - but that there can never be a reason why we know as such.
We know things. But we don't know everything. For everything is nothing to be known. Life lies way way beyond the intellect - and true intelligence is to know this.
Also, Schopenhauer has a wicked sense of humor.
Yes, as far as influencing my own thinking of the world, The World as Will and Representation stands head and shoulder above the rest. There is only one true competitor: The collected Calvin and Hobbes. But that's a another story.
Now, tell me yours.