Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

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ubar
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Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by ubar » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:43 am

Hi everyone

Newbie here. In September I start a philosophy course. I'll be studying Introduction to Ancient and Greek Philosophy in the winter term, then Intro to Modern Phil in the spring term. I thought it would be a good idea to do a little preparatory reading first. After reading through a few of the posts about introductory reading I've formulated a plan of attack!

In the past I've read a couple of very basic books (Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy, Mel Thompson's Teach Yourself Philosophy) and now I'm trying to switch up a gear. I'm currently reading the first volume of Kenny's New History of Western Philosophy (started a couple of days ago, enjoying it) and the other three are on my desk, ready and waiting. I thought I'd pick out a couple of key texts for each volume, and for volume 1 I thought I'd try Plato's Republic and/or some of the dialogues, and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics..

How does that sound to you? Any advice please?

Ginkgo
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Ginkgo » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:11 pm

ubar wrote:Hi everyone

Newbie here. In September I start a philosophy course. I'll be studying Introduction to Ancient and Greek Philosophy in the winter term, then Intro to Modern Phil in the spring term. I thought it would be a good idea to do a little preparatory reading first. After reading through a few of the posts about introductory reading I've formulated a plan of attack!

In the past I've read a couple of very basic books (Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy, Mel Thompson's Teach Yourself Philosophy) and now I'm trying to switch up a gear. I'm currently reading the first volume of Kenny's New History of Western Philosophy (started a couple of days ago, enjoying it) and the other three are on my desk, ready and waiting. I thought I'd pick out a couple of key texts for each volume, and for volume 1 I thought I'd try Plato's Republic and/or some of the dialogues, and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics..

How does that sound to you? Any advice please?

Most courses in philosophy do start with Ancient Greece. Obviously I don't know where you are at in terms of your understanding. However, my suggestion is that it is always helpful to have a very good understanding of metaphysics before tackling the Greeks.


Gingko

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Bernard
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Bernard » Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:35 am

Read Nietzsche before he comes to you with a prof attached. This 'mad philosopher' is the only really sane one among the lot.

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The Voice of Time
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by The Voice of Time » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:28 am

Karl Marx, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Heidegger are the kind of philosophers you should wait some with, while I've only read texts from the two first the later one is infamous for its difficult reading, and I suggest that before you lay out on the path to understand any of these philosophers you try out lighter reading such as Aristotle, Plato (Aristotle, talking to himself, is trying to be a teacher and therefore his method is very object-based, dealing with mini-subject by mini-subject instead of lengthy tiresome texts, Plato, on the other hand, has his conversations, which makes him rather down-to-Earth in his approach to the reader), Hegel (often helps to read Hegel before you try yourself out on any of the "Hegelians", which include Karl Marx), and then some writers who deal with socio-political philosophy and comes out rather down-to-Earth dealing with stuff of the day-to-day, like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and maybe John Stuart Mill (though I have no clue as to the difficulity of that person, though what I've read about him he doesn't sound too difficult).

Generally, stick to philosophers who doesn't try to open their jaws to high, because they often end making things very complicated. Try to read philosophers that deal with non-logical more familiar styles of reading. Nietzsche reads almost like the bible, you can try him (though he wasn't really religious, he just had very high thoughts about himself). Generally philosophers who focuses a lot on logic tends to treat their own works like pieces of mathematics not understanding the possibility of other styles of writing.

ubar
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by ubar » Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:04 pm

Thank you everyone. It's helpful to know which philosophers to avoid for the time being! Because I've dabbled with a couple of introductory secondary texts I am keen to get started on some primary texts, but it is reassuring to hear that the ones I've chosen are considered so accessible.

Gingko, thank you for your tip, I'll make sure I brush up on metaphysics!

tillingborn
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by tillingborn » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:08 pm

Wotcher ubar
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a brilliant online resource. You can also download a lot of Greek philosophy books from the internet classics archive (I think it's called that but if you google Plato's Republic you should find it).
Basically Greek philosophy started with Thales of Miletus deciding to explain the world without recourse to gods. He is sometimes called the first scientist because his claims could be decided by experiment. But it was clear that there is only so much you can discover by observation alone and two rival schools sprung up in Milesian colonies in southern Italy. Both in their way argued that the way to discover truths about the world is to think about it, specifically the Pythagoreans believed that maths was the key, the Eleatics chose logic. The challenges they posed, especially Parmenides influenced another more diverse group of pluralists. At the same time another group, the sophists, were getting rich teaching people arguing skills.
Then along comes Socrates, he thought this talk about the world was all very well, but it wasn't any use, philosophy should teach us to lead a good life. All these influences were drawn together by the prolific Plato and his student Aristotle, after whom thinkers like Archimedes and Aristarchus became thought of as scientists, philosophical schools, Stoicism, skepticism, cynicism, Epicureanism beng the most noted were known more for their lifestyle choices than their physics.
Some key figures:
Milesians: Thales Anaximander Anaximenes
Eleatics: Parmenides Zeno
Pythagoras Philolaus
Pluralists: Anaxagoras. Empedocles. Democritus
For an overview of the subsequent two and a half thousand years Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy is still worth reading.

rantal
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by rantal » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:41 pm

It would be helpful to know who your tutors are? Try and find a good cuide to Aristotles metaphsyics, Exploring Philosophy by Cahn, read something on the history of philosophy it will help you remain orientated

all the best, rantal

Impenitent
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Impenitent » Sun Feb 03, 2013 3:53 am

Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter by Donald Palmer

excellent book...

-Imp

ubar
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by ubar » Sun Feb 03, 2013 9:18 pm

tillingborn wrote:Wotcher ubar
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a brilliant online resource. You can also download a lot of Greek philosophy books from the internet classics archive (I think it's called that but if you google Plato's Republic you should find it).
Thank you for this and the rest of your reply. I have SEP bookmarked. :wink:

rantal, I don't know yet who my tutors will be, the enrolment information *still* hasn't been published. The Kenny seems to be serving me well as both an historical record of philosophy and a walk through some of the key themes.

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Arising_uk
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Arising_uk » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:33 am

Any standard book on metaphysics.

Betrand Russells - The Problems of Philosophy.

John Hospers - An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis. Second edition if possible.

Any introductory book on Symbolic Logic.

duszek
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by duszek » Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:11 pm

Meta - physics =

all that goes beyond the physical world

1. Is there anything at all that goes beyond the physical world ?
Materialists would say: NO ! So no metaphysics for them, please.

2. The main metaphysical questions:

a. What is the essence of being ?
b. Is there a soul apart from the body ?

And some more.

:::::::::::::::::

Have I omitted anything important ?

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Arising_uk
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Arising_uk » Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:33 pm

I think so duszeck, as Metaphysics is supposed to be the study of Being and the World. The old saw in Philosophy is that the "Meta" means Aristotle's philosophy after his Physics not some 'meta' upon physicality.

duszek
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by duszek » Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:51 pm

But since Aristotle treated the physical world in his "Physics" he treated the non-physical issues, like Being (On), in his Metaphysics.

On = a Being
Onta = Beings (in the plural)

Ontology = the knowledge (or science) of the Being or of the beings

Do you prefer to see the world complicated, Arising ?
I was trying to introduce some light into the jungle.

:::::::::::::::::::::::

You can call me Josie, if it sounds better to you. Or some other name that sounds good to you.

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Bill Wiltrack
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by Bill Wiltrack » Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:51 pm

.



Follow your heart


God will guide you






.

ala1993
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Re: Newbie planning some introductory reading. Any advice?

Post by ala1993 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:37 am

Bernard wrote:Read Nietzsche before he comes to you with a prof attached. This 'mad philosopher' is the only really sane one among the lot.
Actually, I'd advise against this. To read Nietzsche properly you'll need to be familiar with Greek thought and literature, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Mill. This is because these are his main influences but also because they are his targets (his is not an aimless approach, although many undergraduates make the mistake of assuming this and missing out on a lot of his ideas).

Plato is a very good thinker to start with. The Republic and Gorgias are both very readable texts (and there are a lot of good commentaries available, especially the Routledge ones). Alongside this, read Descartes' Meditations and Discourse on Method.

All the best!

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