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#1 Cyfer

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:25 PM

Could anyone recommend any philosophical texts to read? So far I haven't read anything (unless you could count 1984 or Ayn Rand's work as philosophical).

I was thinking of Nietzsche or Dostoevsky but my friend said they were too hard to start with.

Any help would be appreciated, thank you

#2 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:45 PM

Could anyone recommend any philosophical texts to read? So far I haven't read anything (unless you could count 1984 or Ayn Rand's work as philosophical).

I was thinking of Nietzsche or Dostoevsky but my friend said they were too hard to start with.

Any help would be appreciated, thank you


Hmmm, best of luck...

Well, you could start near the beginning with the work of Plato ('The Republic'), the rest of the Greeks, not to mention the Romans. There are numerous editions avalaible; however, I would suggest starting with one with useful notes and an introduction. It's a very long time since I looked at any of this, so I will ask around and get back to you.

#3 Cyfer

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:35 PM

Hmmm, best of luck...

Well, you could start near the beginning with the work of Plato ('The Republic'), the rest of the Greeks, not to mention the Romans. There are numerous editions avalaible; however, I would suggest starting with one with useful notes and an introduction. It's a very long time since I looked at any of this, so I will ask around and get back to you.


That's interesting, is Plato's work still useful in the modern world?

Even though I've studied some enlightening perspectives on death in the Iliad, I never considered that philosophy would advance non-linearly through the ages.

At this point I'm slightly confused and I don't exactly know what I'm talking about. Do philosophical ideas advance/progress/develop in time in the same way that science does or are we just given different perspectives/ideas by different philosophers which phase in and out of popularity (and therefore a belief in their sophistication?) throughout the ages?

I'm sorry if you don't understand the last part, it was incredibly confusing even to write, please don't feel obligated to address that part of this post.

Thank you for the help though, I will certainly research that book (prior to deciding whether to buy it).

#4 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:03 PM

That's interesting, is Plato's work still useful in the modern world?

Even though I've studied some enlightening perspectives on death in the Iliad, I never considered that philosophy would advance non-linearly through the ages.

At this point I'm slightly confused and I don't exactly know what I'm talking about. Do philosophical ideas advance/progress/develop in time in the same way that science does or are we just given different perspectives/ideas by different philosophers which phase in and out of popularity (and therefore a belief in their sophistication?) throughout the ages?

I'm sorry if you don't understand the last part, it was incredibly confusing even to write, please don't feel obligated to address that part of this post.

Thank you for the help though, I will certainly research that book (prior to deciding whether to buy it).


I'm not sure how much philosophy can be 'useful', but some Western philosophy courses tend to begin with Plato, even if it's actually him quoting Socrates. Your question does make sense, but I don't know if I feel qualified to answer. Firstly, I would slightly disagree with the concept that science necessarily advances or makes progress (have a look at the history of medicine up until circa 1860, for example). For what it's worth, I think that your second 'model' is probably closer to attitudes to different philosophers. However, just as historians generally build upon the work of their predecessors, I think the same is true of philospohers. This building can also include attempted demolition of previous ideas, of course.

An alternative starting point, from a more overtly political point of view and starting rather later, would be 'The Prince' by Machiavelli. This has the added advantage of being short, as well as by-passing the Christianity-based ideas of medieval philosophy. Among his advice to 'Il Principe' is the following:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.



However, I now realise that I need to think about this in more detail. Watch this space.

#5 Cyfer

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:45 PM

I'm not sure how much philosophy can be 'useful', but some Western philosophy courses tend to begin with Plato, even if it's actually him quoting Socrates. Your question does make sense, but I don't know if I feel qualified to answer. Firstly, I would slightly disagree with the concept that science necessarily advances or makes progress (have a look at the history of medicine up until circa 1860, for example). For what it's worth, I think that your second 'model' is probably closer to attitudes to different philosophers. However, just as historians generally build upon the work of their predecessors, I think the same is true of philospohers. This building can also include attempted demolition of previous ideas, of course.

An alternative starting point, from a more overtly political point of view and starting rather later, would be 'The Prince' by Machiavelli. This has the added advantage of being short, as well as by-passing the Christianity-based ideas of medieval philosophy. Among his advice to 'Il Principe' is the following:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.



However, I now realise that I need to think about this in more detail. Watch this space.


Sorry, I wasn't really counting the Dark Ages as a period in history, I've taken to the habit of ignoring it after finding out that civilization collapsed during that period to the point where what infrequent written records we have are in such an incomprehensible language or style of language that even the world's greatest translator died before he could solve them, even though he made it his life's mission to translate them.

When you are say that you need to think about this more in detail, do you mean Machiavelli's quote or what is a good work to start reading in terms of philosophy?

On another note, do philosophers tend to stick to a certain part of thinking or do they just cover a broad range?

#6 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:02 PM

Sorry, I wasn't really counting the Dark Ages as a period in history, I've taken to the habit of ignoring it after finding out that civilization collapsed during that period to the point where what infrequent written records we have are in such an incomprehensible language or style of language that even the world's greatest translator died before he could solve them, even though he made it his life's mission to translate them.


I don't feel that the Dark Ages were always quite as black as they have been painted, as it were. Even when Western Europe was mostly uncivilised, remember that the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empirekept things going. However, I suspect you know more about this era of European History than I do.

When you are say that you need to think about this more in detail, do you mean Machiavelli's quote or what is a good work to start reading in terms of philosophy?



My apologies, I wasn't clear enough. I will go away and read up on where might be a good place to start.

On another note, do philosophers tend to stick to a certain part of thinking or do they just cover a broad range?


Again, you are stretching the frontiers of my knowledge. The short answer is, I don't know. Machiavelli wrote political philosophy, however many other philosophers concerned themselves with the human condition e.g Locke. Others look at things from a more metaphysical point of view. Further than that I cannot really go at the moment.

#7 littlemissy

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 03:55 PM

Hi,

My tuppence worth!

Since there are (arguably) no absolutes in Philosophy its progression has taken a taken path from Science which builds on physical knowledge. We can take photos of particles, but not of ways of looking at the world. There are, I believe, theoretical fields in Maths and Science which are akin to Philosophy since we don't really know the answer (yet).

Yes, there are different 'branches' of Philosophy each with its own approach to looking at the world.

How basic a start do you want? 'Sophie's World' by Jostein Gaarder is aimed at young people and is a very good introduction and very easy to read. After that I personally would advise you to read some kind of academic introductory book (I can ask the Philosophy teacher to recommend one if you wish) giving an overview of the history and the different perspectives before you dive down a particular path.

#8 Cyfer

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 05:53 PM

Hi,

My tuppence worth!

Since there are (arguably) no absolutes in Philosophy its progression has taken a taken path from Science which builds on physical knowledge. We can take photos of particles, but not of ways of looking at the world. There are, I believe, theoretical fields in Maths and Science which are akin to Philosophy since we don't really know the answer (yet).

Yes, there are different 'branches' of Philosophy each with its own approach to looking at the world.

How basic a start do you want? 'Sophie's World' by Jostein Gaarder is aimed at young people and is a very good introduction and very easy to read. After that I personally would advise you to read some kind of academic introductory book (I can ask the Philosophy teacher to recommend one if you wish) giving an overview of the history and the different perspectives before you dive down a particular path.


Thank you very much for your advice. As to Sophie's world, I have a lot of other things that I currently need to do, is the film worth anything? Or should I just wait and read the book when I have time?

And please don't trouble yourself on asking the philosophy teacher, I wouldn't want you to go to any length for an anonymous stranger :)

#9 littlemissy

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:40 AM

I haven't seen the film so coudn't comment. The book is easy to read (it's written as a novel as a kind of mystery story) and I really would recommend this kind of basic text introducing you to the principles of philosophical enquiry. Get back to us if you'd like more ideas or don't like the book.

#10 Cyfer

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 10:25 PM

I haven't seen the film so coudn't comment. The book is easy to read (it's written as a novel as a kind of mystery story) and I really would recommend this kind of basic text introducing you to the principles of philosophical enquiry. Get back to us if you'd like more ideas or don't like the book.


I just finished 1984 yesterday and bought Sophie's World Today. Will update with thoughts. Thanks again :)

#11 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 10:49 PM

[I just finished 1984 yesterday


It's a long time since I studied '1984'. I will be interested to hear what you think about it.

#12 Cyfer

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 01:03 AM


[I just finished 1984 yesterday


It's a long time since I studied '1984'. I will be interested to hear what you think about it.


I thought the first half of the book was boring, for those that haven't read on Russian history it may have set the scene yet for me it was just a recap of the past 2 months of history classes.

I doubt I would be able to summarise my views on the book within a single post, more like a structured essay due for English however I'll try.

To state the obvious, Orwell clearly seems to be worried about Bolshevism and the rise of Communism within the Near East yet I believe that the basis of the novel is ultimately flawed. It seems to me that Orwell highlights his motives for writing the novel when he describes why it is necessary for the Party to spend its resources on continuous war yet I do not believe that such a situation is possible. Ultimately due to chance and base intelligence, there will always be higher earners than others and however small this gap may be there will never be universal literary understanding. On the same lines I do not believe he analysed the situation in Russia to a great enough extent as he didn't realise that the intelligentsia who was literate and aware of their inane position in society in comparison to the ridiculous monarchical structure were unable to do anything and the revolts were ultimately left to the Proletarians under the organisation of the military.

Otherwise I enjoyed other aspects of the book for example seeing how far the society had become disillusioned with the reality and the possibility of there being no 'brotherhood', simply being another fiction of the party. Perhaps what I find most interesting is Orwell's portrayal of reality within the novel and the seeming contradiction between 'Sanity is not statistical', the collective failure to grasp reality and the individual trying to break the chains. In one sense he seemed to show that individuality was essential within a society yet on the other hand he showed through the breakdown of Winston that it was necessary to have a collective overview and an individual was worthless within a society. I am still confused by this, no doubt writing it at midnight not helping. I apologise if any of this is glaringly simple or obtuse, I will go through it tomorrow with more time at hand and edit it systematically, as well as adding a few other points I am too tired to mention at the moment.

What do you think of Orwell's novel?

#13 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 12:05 PM

I preferred Animal Farm!

#14 littlemissy

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 09:20 PM

So, so long since I read these books I couldn't possibly hope to comment in such detail! Methinks you'll find Sophie's World very, very easy compared to the texts you are reading, but then it is an introduction to the very idea of philosophical thought. I should have advised you to check your school library first for it is an extremely well known book. Hope you get at least a wee bit out of it.

#15 littlemissy

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 09:29 PM

btw there is huge controversy / debate surrounding the idea of 'base intelligence' (or the "g-factor as it is known in psychology). One may argue that the intelligence factor in respect to earnings that you refer to is toppled by economic supply and demand as demonstrated by the high wages earned by top footballers, models, artists etc that is due to neither chance nor 'base' intelligence (whatever intelligence may be). But that's for another day!




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