Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#81  Postby SometimesJustJoking » Nov 06, 2012 2:01 pm

Do you really want to learn about Philosophy, or are you looking for books that help you in your own life?

I highly recommend Robert Pirsig's two books. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals"
These are often cited by people as the books that got them interested in philosophy in the first place.

These are not academically respectable books, indeed they completely challenge the establishment. Though that may be changing.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#82  Postby Arjan Dirkse » Dec 24, 2012 9:54 pm

edit: argh wrong topic, sorry
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#83  Postby Spearthrower » Jan 05, 2013 7:23 pm

SometimesJustJoking wrote:Do you really want to learn about Philosophy, or are you looking for books that help you in your own life?

I highly recommend Robert Pirsig's two books. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "Lila: An Inquiry into Morals"
These are often cited by people as the books that got them interested in philosophy in the first place.

These are not academically respectable books, indeed they completely challenge the establishment. Though that may be changing.



Having read them both, and enjoyed them immensely, I really can't see what kind of challenge they're supposed to present to anything, let alone academia.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#84  Postby UndercoverElephant » Jan 14, 2013 7:32 pm

endersgame wrote:
Greatctulu wrote:All of Nietzsche's works, "The Critique of Pure Reason" by Kant, "L'Etre et le Neant (Being and Nothingness)" by Jean-Paul Sartre, "Godel, Escher, and Bach" is an interesting read by Douglas Hofstadter, though I'm not sure it counts as philosophy.


Don't bother with Nietzche. At first it's interesting enough, before you realise he isn't actually saying very much.


I don't agree. I believe what he said becomes more relevant all the time.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#85  Postby MrMister » Jan 14, 2014 12:19 am

For an interested layperson with no background, I'd recommend "What Does it All Mean?" by Tom Nagel as an introduction to philosophy, philosophical problems, and philosophical thinking quite generally. It covers the big stuff in an accessible way.

For someone who wants a deeper introduction, perhaps to a particular sub-area, the best thing is to take a college class. But that's not always available for obvious reasons. A second-best can be to find a syllabus from a college class and do the readings on one's own (this is much easier if one has journal access). A good alternative can be to find an anthology which is described in the press materials and reviews as being suitable for an undergraduate course and reading through that; there, the editor's introductions and such will do something to help orient the reader.

Finally, there is always the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Want to learn about the philosophy of probability? Look it up there. The downside is that the articles are generally aimed at a professional audience: people who may not know about the topic, but are probably fairly conversant in academic philosophy. So they can be a bit hard.

In general, for beginners I would not recommend historically famous texts (like The Republic, the Critique, the Treatise, etc.) Most of those works are difficult to parse for experts, let alone beginners, and my own view is that they are of limited interest to non-historians. Much of their content has been rendered parochial and archaic over the intervening centuries. I think a person who was interested in ethics would get more out of reading modern Kantians like Onora O'Niel or Christine Korsgaard then they'd get out of reading the man himself.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#86  Postby Matthew Shute » Jan 14, 2014 12:33 am

UndercoverElephant wrote:
endersgame wrote:
Greatctulu wrote:All of Nietzsche's works, "The Critique of Pure Reason" by Kant, "L'Etre et le Neant (Being and Nothingness)" by Jean-Paul Sartre, "Godel, Escher, and Bach" is an interesting read by Douglas Hofstadter, though I'm not sure it counts as philosophy.


Don't bother with Nietzche. At first it's interesting enough, before you realise he isn't actually saying very much.


I don't agree. I believe what he said becomes more relevant all the time.


Speaking of Nietzsche, I've just stumbled across this film on YouTube. This BBC documentary touches on Nietzsche's personal circumstances and battle to deal with ill health and suffering, the questions he wrestled with, and the Nazis miappropriating his ideas in a distorted form. The film is more biographical than anything (there's insufficient time, given the format, to explore his ideas in much depth). I post it here just in case anyone finds it an interesting introduction.

If Jerôme Serpenti ever pops in again, he can doubtless point out in detail everything they managed to get wrong here.



For Nietzsche in depth, many of his major publications are available at Gutenberg.org. :cheers:
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#87  Postby dancinmad » Jan 14, 2014 3:39 am

Just to cash in a bit on the discussion of Nietzsche: I do think he's something of a genius and very much worth reading, though difficult to really understand without some background in the history of religion and philosophy. His best work (namely Zarathustra) tends also to be his most literary, so more analytically minded people might have a hard time appreciating it (not that Nietzsche is necessarily illogical). He does tend to be dismissed by analytic philosophers (like Russell), but as Nietzsche was a critic of the vienna circle positivists who were the precursors to modern analytic philosophy this isn't particularly surprising. Nietzsche is interested in values rather than facts (hence the infamous "there are no facts, only interpretations" line), so objectivistic thinkers can be a bit put off by him, though the subject-object distinction is itself something he calls into question.

Anyways, what to read really depends on the sort of subjects you're interested in. I don't think it's possible to give a good general list of essential philosophy reads without it being way too long to be useful, and I agree that most of the canonical texts are too difficult to appeal to the beginner. Plato's Republic or Descartes' Meditations are pretty standard intro level texts.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#88  Postby jamest » Jan 16, 2014 11:22 am

dancinmad wrote:Nietzsche is interested in values rather than facts (hence the infamous "there are no facts, only interpretations" line)


*Foot shot*.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#89  Postby Matthew Shute » Jan 20, 2014 1:03 am

jamest wrote:
dancinmad wrote:Nietzsche is interested in values rather than facts (hence the infamous "there are no facts, only interpretations" line)


*Foot shot*.


Hmm, not really; I don't think this line appears in any works he intended for publication - it appears in his personal notebooks. Now, I have notebooks in which you could find doodles, undeveloped fragments of thoughts, weird phrases, nonsense and conjecture that I wouldn't ever publish - you could doubtless find very silly stuff in there that I would have to agree is silly - it wouldn't necessarily reflect any position I hold seriously. Personally, I wouldn't take the notebooks as reflecting anything more than part of a creative process, of experimenting, even playing, and working out. Not of a principle he was necessarily wedded to.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#90  Postby Little Idiot » Dec 10, 2014 2:56 pm

Did anyone offer a definition of what physical means in physics?
I note a few posters referring to this definition...
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#91  Postby Jango » Dec 18, 2014 9:01 am

Leviathan -- Thomas Hobbes
Brainstorm take me away from the norm.
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Re: Philosophy: Good primers and essential reading?

#92  Postby Boyle » May 26, 2016 9:56 pm

Here's the only video you ever need to see about empiricism/rationalism:
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