Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#21  Postby katja z » Jul 12, 2010 6:40 am

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:
Most other philosophers put in a book what can be written in a sentence. The rest is just introduction and discussion :P

And often tediously long too ... but you still have to trawl through the whole of it in order to find the relevant sentence, don't you? :scratch:

Re Nietzsche, which of his texts would you recommend for a start? I've only read bits and pieces, and nothing from start to finish. (Unlike The Black Jester I've never felt particularly drawn to him; it might be useful to have some first-hand idea about his writings, but I don't have the time and energy to read everything.)
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#22  Postby shh » Jul 12, 2010 1:28 pm

Comte de St.-Germain wrote:
Sophie's World is an excellent intro to philosophy.


Doesn't have Nietzsche. That said, it's better to not have him then to discuss him like Bertrand Wooster.
A great test of a philosophy intro is to see what they say about Nietzsche: 50 Philosophical Ideas You Need to Know has two Nietzsche entries, both about Nazism. Shit book.

katja z wrote:
And often tediously long too ... but you still have to trawl through the whole of it in order to find the relevant sentence, don't you? :scratch:

An intro will probably tell you enough to at least let you know what they were talking about, and probably a bastardized version of what they said, but enough to let you know if you're interested enough to bother.
Re Nietzsche, which of his texts would you recommend for a start? I've only read bits and pieces, and nothing from start to finish. (Unlike The Black Jester I've never felt particularly drawn to him; it might be useful to have some first-hand idea about his writings, but I don't have the time and energy to read everything.)
Birth of Tragedy is a good intro I think, it's quite focussed, it's his first book, and it deals with stuff that you probably won't need to do a tonne of research on, especially since he later criticised it as a kind of naive attempt at philosophy.
Still a great book though.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#23  Postby katja z » Jul 12, 2010 1:55 pm

shh wrote:
An intro will probably tell you enough to at least let you know what they were talking about, and probably a bastardized version of what they said, but enough to let you know if you're interested enough to bother.

I've come to mistrust this method because it has happened more than once that what I "knew" about an author from introductory material didn't quite fit with what I found when I started to actually read him ... but this may be more an issue with the quality of said introductions. They mostly came from lecturers in literature anyway, and my philosopher colleagues at the Uni were known to go into fits over this ;) As a result, I'm very unsure about anything I've learned this way. I'll give Sophie's world a try and see how it goes.

Birth of Tragedy is a good intro I think, it's quite focussed, it's his first book, and it deals with stuff that you probably won't need to do a tonne of research on, especially since he later criticised it as a kind of naive attempt at philosophy.
Still a great book though.

Thanks for the tip! :cheers: This rings a bell. The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, is that it? The Apollonian and the Dionysian? I've read about it, may have even started reading it, but I don't remember much. I think I even still have it on my bookshelves somewhere. And what about the next step, if I wish to read something a bit less "naive"? ;)
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#24  Postby shh » Jul 12, 2010 8:21 pm

katja z wrote:
shh wrote:
An intro will probably tell you enough to at least let you know what they were talking about, and probably a bastardized version of what they said, but enough to let you know if you're interested enough to bother.

I've come to mistrust this method because it has happened more than once that what I "knew" about an author from introductory material didn't quite fit with what I found when I started to actually read him ... but this may be more an issue with the quality of said introductions. They mostly came from lecturers in literature anyway, and my philosopher colleagues at the Uni were known to go into fits over this ;) As a result, I'm very unsure about anything I've learned this way. I'll give Sophie's world a try and see how it goes.

Yeah I've not got around to reading that yet, it's always touted as excellent.
I expect what you've found about intro's is just a restriction of the genre, people are always going to have some bias, and since they have to exclude stuff in an intro, bias is what you're going to get. I think "zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" is a pretty good intro too(mainly to Kant rather than philosophy as a whole), but I disagree with most of it. :dunno:
Thanks for the tip! :cheers: This rings a bell. The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, is that it? The Apollonian and the Dionysian? I've read about it, may have even started reading it, but I don't remember much. I think I even still have it on my bookshelves somewhere. And what about the next step, if I wish to read something a bit less "naive"? ;)
Yeah that's the one. I'm not sure about next step, tbh, but Beyond Good and Evil is probably my favourite.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#25  Postby Krull » Jul 12, 2010 8:30 pm

Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist by Walter Kaufmann is a pretty good introduction (to Nietzsche, obviously). R.J. Hollingdale's biography is pretty good too. Both of these suffer from trying to "rescue" the big N, whose reputation wasn't very flattering at that point. However I belive his thought needs to be put into some kind of context wrt his life and times, and Kaufmann/Hollingdale happen to write very well.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#26  Postby katja z » Jul 12, 2010 9:06 pm

Thanks shh and Krull. I think I'll go for Beyond Good and Evil ... er ... sometime in the future. So many books to read, so much to learn and to live, so little time, how on earth does anybody manage to get bored? Now this is a mystery bigger than the immaculate conception and resurrection combined! :P [/derail]
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#27  Postby Jef » Jul 15, 2010 8:17 pm

For an introduction to topics within ethics and jurisprudence, Harvard University has a free online course of lectures and follow up exercises on their website:

http://www.justiceharvard.org/

Personally, I am not a big fan of the degree of audience participation, and often found myself irritated by many of the less than compelling contributions from the student body. Notwithstanding this, it is still a good, if (without additonal reading) somewhat superficial, introduction to the subject matter.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#28  Postby shh » Jul 15, 2010 8:49 pm

Actually, does anyone know of anything good on aesthetics?
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#29  Postby Jef » Jul 16, 2010 1:59 am

shh wrote:Actually, does anyone know of anything good on aesthetics?


Not exactly, but you might find some interesting stuff in the old BBC documentary, 'The Shock of the New'.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentar ... -eps.shtml
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#30  Postby orpheus » Jul 16, 2010 3:56 am

shh wrote:Actually, does anyone know of anything good on aesthetics?


A bit dated, but still compelling and serious work in the area are Suzanne K. Langer's books, especially "Philosophy in a New Key".

As an aside, I've noticed a distinct lack of threads on aesthetics in the Philosophy subforum here. It was a similar situation at the RDF; if I recall correctly, in a few cases people protested that threads should be moved to Arts, Entertainment, or some such subforum. It was as if many didn't know (or preferred not to acknowledge) that aesthetics is a real area of philosophy.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#31  Postby ChildInAZoo » Jul 16, 2010 4:02 am

Good grief! This thread is entirely too Nietzsche centred. I did three philosophy degrees without having to read any Nietzsche. He is far from the end-all and be-all of philosophy. Far, far from it.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#32  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jul 16, 2010 4:23 am

shh wrote:Actually, does anyone know of anything good on aesthetics?


I don't know if you're looking for an introduction-type resource, or just anything on aesthetics, but Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is a very interesting discussion about what makes art art and whether this is affected by the arrival of mass production etc. I don't agree with him on a lot of points, but I still think it's a worthwhile read.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#33  Postby Jef » Jul 16, 2010 9:55 am

ChildInAZoo wrote:Good grief! This thread is entirely too Nietzsche centred. I did three philosophy degrees without having to read any Nietzsche. He is far from the end-all and be-all of philosophy. Far, far from it.


I wouldn't be too concerned about that. It is quite a young thread and, now that introductions to Nietzsche have been covered, it will probably expand to cover other authors.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#34  Postby katja z » Jul 16, 2010 10:28 am

What about an intro to analytic philosophy? The Blackwell Companion and Anthology seem promising, has anybody read them?
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#35  Postby shh » Jul 16, 2010 1:04 pm

Jef wrote:
shh wrote:Actually, does anyone know of anything good on aesthetics?


Not exactly, but you might find some interesting stuff in the old BBC documentary, 'The Shock of the New'.


Orpheus wrote:A bit dated, but still compelling and serious work in the area are Suzanne K. Langer's books, especially "Philosophy in a New Key".


Mr.Samsa wrote:I don't know if you're looking for an introduction-type resource, or just anything on aesthetics, but Walter Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is a very interesting discussion about what makes art art and whether this is affected by the arrival of mass production etc. I don't agree with him on a lot of points, but I still think it's a worthwhile read.

Ty all, I guess I am looking for something introductory, it's quite hard to find anything that's recognised as good, so I've a bit of a reading list now. :)

Orpheus wrote:As an aside, I've noticed a distinct lack of threads on aesthetics in the Philosophy subforum here. It was a similar situation at the RDF; if I recall correctly, in a few cases people protested that threads should be moved to Arts, Entertainment, or some such subforum. It was as if many didn't know (or preferred not to acknowledge) that aesthetics is a real area of philosophy.

It's hard to find anything on aesthetics anywhere tbh, or anyone who'll admit it's philosophy, or relevant for artists. I've just finished a diploma in graphic design, and the current trend is to tell students not to read aesthetics, it's weird, because all the greats talk about how Graphic design has become stale and boring because people don't read aesthetics, then you go to college and your tutors tell you it's a waste of time.
But from the little I have read it's knowing aesthetics that makes the difference between being a designer and just someone who makes nice pictures.

ChildInAZoo wrote:Good grief! This thread is entirely too Nietzsche centred. I did three philosophy degrees without having to read any Nietzsche. He is far from the end-all and be-all of philosophy. Far, far from it.
Just happens to be my favourite, plus he's not bad to read if you're starting out, since he comments on such a wide range of philosophers, and what philosophy itself is.
I'd also recommend the Critique, but it's hardly an introductory text. :)

Katya z wrote:What about an intro to analytic philosophy? The Blackwell Companion and Anthology seem promising, has anybody read them?
Nope, I got most of my introduction to analytic philosophy around here and rdf, and a few other boards. Teuton would be a good person to ask about intro's I'd guess. (although I'm sure plenty of other people here would be good too)
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#36  Postby Teuton » Jul 16, 2010 1:14 pm

Krull wrote:Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist by Walter Kaufmann is a pretty good introduction (to Nietzsche, obviously).


I recommend:

* Tanner, Michael. Nietzsche: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Links:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietz ... -political

http://www.iep.utm.edu/nietzsch
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#37  Postby Teuton » Jul 16, 2010 1:30 pm

shh wrote:Nope, I got most of my introduction to analytic philosophy around here and rdf, and a few other boards. Teuton would be a good person to ask about intro's I'd guess. (although I'm sure plenty of other people here would be good too)


The following book is more than an introduction but still accessible to beginners:

* Glock, Hans-Johann. What is Analytic Philosophy? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Look inside at GoogleBooks!

Link: http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#38  Postby katja z » Jul 16, 2010 1:37 pm

Thanks Teuton! "More than an introduction" sounds good. :grin: :cheers:
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#39  Postby maik » Jul 16, 2010 1:51 pm

For a general view, Sophie's World is not bad at all.
For something more specific, Aristotle is pretty good for a start; i recomment to read Plato only where he reffers to Socrates; try also Camus- in his Rebel reviews many philosophical positions; Kant is also important IMO and could be included, if nothing else, to fill the gap between the ancients and Camus.
At some point you will have to read Nietszche if you like philosophy.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#40  Postby shh » Jul 16, 2010 3:33 pm

maik wrote:For a general view, Sophie's World is not bad at all.
For something more specific, Aristotle is pretty good for a start; i recomment to read Plato only where he reffers to Socrates; try also Camus- in his Rebel reviews many philosophical positions; Kant is also important IMO and could be included, if nothing else, to fill the gap between the ancients and Camus.
At some point you will have to read Nietszche if you like philosophy.

Kant is probably the most important imo, but I think any beginner going straight to Kant will probably just quit.
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