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u/scdozer435 · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

I wouldn't worry too much right now about knowing everything perfectly; you're still finding your foundations and areas of interests. Sophie's World is sorta where I started too, and I'd recommend maybe going back and seeing if there are any philosophers that you found particularly interesting. That would be one way to start.

If you want to go deeper into general philosophy, Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy is like a much (much much much) denser and more intense version of Sophie's World. If you're not sure where to go next, this will give you a much more in-depth view of even more philosophers (although he skips Kierkegaard, which is my main gripe with the book, but oh well, still would recommend it). One thing I personally loves about this book though was how he connected philosophy to history, art, science, poetry, and so many other fields. It's really made me want to switch my major to...Everything! Philosophy's still at my core, but this book really got me interested in other fields as well.

To go further in recommendation, Plato's dialogues are generally considered to be pretty important to a foundation of philosophical understanding. The Apology is a pretty easy one; it's less of a philosophical text in the traditional sense and more a sort of kick-off for the field, where Socrates explains why philosophy is important, and why he pursues it. The Republic is also pretty important for understanding Plato's political ideas. All his dialogues, though, are generally pretty good reading, and I'd recommend reading some.

To go past that, Aristotle's often a good read, primarily his Nichomachean Ethics is a pretty good introduction to his philosophy, much of which is a response to Plato.

To move onto modern philosophy, it tends to get a bit more technical and tricky, but a great and very easy-to-read modern philosopher is Descartes. I'd recommend Meditations on First Philosophy and Discourse on Method in Discerning Truth in the Sciences as good introductions to modern philosophy, which tends to focus on slightly more technical forms of logic, rather than conclusions drawn from more vague observations.

(NOTE: found a book that combines both the Descartes writing mentions into one here).

Another important thinker who might not be hard to understand but who will definitely shake you is Nietzsche. This documentary is a pretty good introduction to him, but if you want more, I'd recommend this collection as a good overview of his philosophy. His works are quick reads, but they will stick with you, and I consider him to be one of the most important thinkers to understand the modern age.

Eventually though, you'll need to start taking on more challenging texts. Hopefully though, you'll be well informed enough by that time to have found a niche that you personally are interested in, which will make it much more interesting and fun! Never hesitate to come here with questions. Good luck!

u/Themoopanator123 · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

This is generally the answer I give to anyone who's unsure about specifically what they're interested in. You probably wanna spend a little while doing "general reading" so that you can find out what subjects interest you the most. Here are a few introductory books which are commonly recommended in no particular order:

  • Think by Simon Blackburn
  • A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
  • An Introduction to Philosophy by Jon Nuttall

    These books all cast a very large net. The Warburton book (from what I remember) gives a more chronological account since it's concerned with the history of the ideas as well as the ideas themselves. Though, this was my first introduction to philosophy and worked just as well as any other.

    Given the authors you've mentioned, you might be particularly interested in the religious philosophy, ethics and political philosophy sections but you sound open to anything new. A tip: if you get your hands on one or two or these books, as you go through them, make notes on authors or particular ideas that you find interesting so that you can branch your reading out independently based on your preferences. These books will very much be discussing the classics of western philosophy like Hume, Descartes, Aquinas, Kant (maybe) etc at least a bit so I would also recommend searching out contemporary writers or 2nd hand sources if you're interested in the ideas of these historical figures. I say this because diving into their original works early on will be intimidating, exhausting and probably uninteresting. You may well find them difficult to interpret without knowing before hand what they're getting at. Having some idea of their historical context also helps. Contemporary writers are usually more approachable and sometimes more relevant.


    If you're also looking for good introductions to other topics like physics, I could help you out. In the spirit of this sub, I'll recommend you a couple writers that are philosophy literate. Philosophy has gotten a bad rap from popular science icons like Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, recently. Lawrence Krauss probably dominates in terms of ignorance but hey that's just my opinion. Nye, on the other hand, has recently changed his tune. Don't let this put you off because there are popular science writers like Sean Carroll and Carlo Rovelli who know their philosophy and understand the historical and conceptual importance of philosophy to their science. Here are my recommendations:

  • The Big Picture by Sean Carroll
  • From Eternity to Here by Sean Carroll
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
  • Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli

    The Big Picture is Sean Carroll's "treatise" on his philosophy, essentially. It covers is views about knowledge, values and science all in one. (Scare quotes because the book is intended for a large audience and the word 'treatise' makes it sound a lot more dense than it really is). In it, he introduces Bayesian epistemology which is quite a popular idea in contemporary philosophy of science.

    From Eternity to Here essentially aims to answer quite metaphysical questions about our experience of time like where it "comes from" and in some parts he aims to resolve paradoxes relating to time travel all from the point of view of our best theories of physics. He also discusses big bang cosmology and, throughout, pays great respect to other philosophical views on the questions he's discussing.

    Seven Brief Lessons is basically what it says on the tin. It's a very short introduction and is probably the best place to start off reading popular physics (at least on this list).

    Reality Is Not What It Seems is a discussion of the history of physics essentially from the ancient greeks up until modern speculation on quantum gravity. Rovelli also pays great respects to the 'physicists of antiquity' by discussing ancient greek ideas about physics and metaphysics within the light of modern physics. He gives credit where credit is due and then some.

    Hope this was helpful.

    Oh, P.S. A few people have recommended the SEP but I'd be careful with it since plenty of the articles on there get pretty damn technical pretty quick and even sometimes they assume knowledge that you may not have. It's usually best used to accompany other reading and when you know what you're looking for (in terms of author, period, topic etc). Going on there and just blindly searching by topic probably isn't a good idea. A similar resource which presents topics in slightly less detail is the IEP.

    Here's a good youtube channel to check out too.
u/bunker_man · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Well, for mahayana the book I have is this one. However, I don't remember how good it is. What I did for buddhism was simply go through various online resources. The reason being that western misconceptions about the connotations of buddhism are so deep that the only way to balance them out is by reading a lot of different sources, and trying to ignore the obviously interpretive parts. The main misconceptions revolve around ignoring or hand-waving that the Buddha post enlightenment was seen as divine, and that this and the system in general were meant to be very literal.

> I also wanted to ask, do you know of any theistic views that are different to classical and personalist theism that you consider intelligible and consistent?

Well, if you want a book on tillich, this one is good.

You already know about process theism, but I can give you some good reads. The iep page for whitehead is a good place to get the basics down. The important ting to note about process theists is that some of them hold to some of the general points, but not others. And so its a good general basis to explore a general idea that can be taken in different ways. For instance, whitehead's specific ontology of events is obviously a little more specific than someone today would be likely to profess. But the general format of the system is still top of the line. I would also say to read this book written by the first big process theist after whithead who turned it into a distinctly theological project instead of just a philosophical system.

Note that (well, obviously after you'll read them you can note that) the idea of a social conception of god is compatible also with tillich. Both tillich and some of the process theists explore the idea that the living aspects of god should be seen as a collective / social organism by nature of the summation of all the values of individual entities relating together through the absolute. Another way they tie them together is that john b cobb who you mention points out that the process theological concept of "creativity" parallels closely tillich's concept of the power of being. Process theism has a bit more metaphysics than tillich's minimalistic form, but they are very compatible ideas.

Another important person to look into is Carl Jung (yes, the psychologist carl jung). Because interestingly for his profession he actually provides a pretty substantial idea of a pantheist system. Which in short has to do with the idea that gods have a kind of quasi existence since they exist as abstract archetypes in the world at large, and are given form by human consciousness. But that once you properly frame into context what human consciousness even is you begin to see why that despite them being psychological images that they are also real. (its not easy to describe how, but basically it has to do with the fact that people aren't discrete, and the images are images of things external to the mind to begin with, so the mediated form exists as a submind encoded across multiple beings, and the world at large). Its a bit hard to get how it work until you intuitively grasp it, and it helps to know some relevant philosophy of mind that would make it seem more real. But a good book for seeing jung in a religious light is this one. It starts off a little slow, but in the middle it has a metaphorical religious text written by jung itself, and then it picks up in analysis of his real beliefs from it. As a psychologist he talked about the collective uconscious as a human psychological phenomenon, but it seems he really thought it was a kind of world soul relation between entities and the world itself.

Now, I must admit that tillich, the process theists, and jung are the three best modern things to look into. But there's a few more notable things to look at.

this book by the physicist schrodinger is about an idea called open individualism, which is basically a modern secularization of the hindu idea of brahman. He points out at the beginning that he is not a philosopher himself, but merely expressing the idea in an easy to read way. (Which is fortunate, since the actual philosophy textbook I want on the idea is $110). The gist of the idea is that there are no actual metaphysical borders between people, and so all people are abstractions of a super-identity that you can identify with god.

this book by fechner is a quasi religious book that argues for a secular reason to think life exists in a sense after death. The book is 150 years old, so it might have parts that seem overly idealistic, but the general idea and its arguments are something that's relevant even today. There's pantheistic elements in it too, but they are sidelined.

The kyoto school in japan blends modern metaphysics, zen metaphysics, and pantheism into a modern system. I haven't read anything from it, but hear that this anthology is good.

Here is a well-rated anthology of panentheistic writings from many authors in general. Including many I haven't read. You can look into it to see if any of them look like interesting areas of interest to branch off into.

Also, of course there's any number of old traditions one could look into even if one doesn't consider them totally literal to frame into context ways of looking at things that could carry over to a more transtheistic system. Kabbalah and stoicism are good places to look. here Is a book written by a psychologist and stoicism scholar that details their beliefs and how to engage in the practice in modern day. (Though obviously one can disagree with the virtue ethic framework). And here is one of the best kabbalah books. Obviously kabbalah is way too specific for me to consider literal, but it does have beautiful work and ways of looking at things to frame religious experience into context.


For a few closing remarks, I'd point out to remember that these ideas are not necessarily all competing. Many of them (perhaps all at once depending on how strict you are) are compatible. You'll probably also notice that they all have similar tones of panentheism. That's because that's my general area of interest. The reason for this being that ultimately I think tillich is correct. There may be sentient godlike distinct beings out there, but we need to make religious experience revolve around things we have more of a definite concrete justification for. And the values of the religious experience pervade our world anyways, and so we don't need to rely on the literal existence of these independently sentient beings. Via jungian ideals we can even abstract the idea of gods to positive useful archetypes, and if they exist as concrete instantiations as well, all the better. If you ask me, the universe is likely tremendous in size. Bigger than we can even dream. There's probably more complex segments of it somewhere that very much have tangible sentient entities we would consider godlike. But there doesn't seem to be evidence of them interacting directly with us. So like epicurus says, belief in gods isn't an excuse for belief in superstition. They exist "elsewhere." Its better to focus on the transtheistic absolute.

u/RealityApologist · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

>What are some conceptual mistakes that scientists make according to philosophers? Can you recommend me philosophical sources that kind of zoom out at what scientists are doing and what is wrong about it?

I think the most serious wide-spread conceptual problem in science right now is the fixation on "tractability" in scientific problems, and the resulting apprehension about holistic study and robust multi-scale modeling of complex systems. This is a particularly big problem with respect to climate science, and is at the root of much of the suspicion with which climate science is seen, both by some other scientists and the public at large. Fundamental physics (quantum mechanics, particle physics, general relativity, &c.) is seen--sometimes implicitly but frequently explicitly--as the paragon of good science, an ideal of success toward which other sciences strive, and a yardstick by which all other sciences are judged. A particular model, a general theory, or even an entire field of scientific inquiry is evaluated in part by how closely it mirrors the form and function of fundamental physics, and areas of science that differ significantly in appearance and practice from the physical ideal are viewed with suspicion--if not outright derision--by not only members of the general public, but sometimes by scientists themselves. This phenomenon of “physics envy” has been widely recognized inside philosophy (and some of the other humanities as well), but hasn't really been taken seriously inside most of science itself.

Fundamental physics has been extraordinarily successful in predicting and explaining the world around us, and continues to expand our understanding the universe in which we live and our place in it. Physics is, however, not the only science, nor are the formal and methodological virtues associated with successes in the history of physics appropriate models on which to judge the quality of other branches of the scientific project. Physics’ place as the universal ideal for scientific work becomes a problem when it causes us to disdain or reject the results of sciences that study very different kinds of natural systems, and which produce models and theories whose form and function reflect that difference.

Conceptually, I think this mistake can be traced to the work of early modern “natural philosophers” like Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon, who first pioneered the approach that would eventually become standard for contemporary scientific inquiry. Their work, like the work of fundamental physicists today, was designed and constructed with a set of assumptions about the nature and appearance of good science. I usually call the set of methodological assumptions underwriting the physics aesthetic “the reductive-analytic program.” The assumptions of the reductive-analytic program go something like this: the best (and indeed the only) way to understand a system is to decompose it into constituent parts, examine the behavior of those parts in isolation from one another, and draw from this examination general principles about their behavior in situ, and thus understand the system in its entirety. The right way to study anything, according to this way of thinking, is to study its parts: understand the parts, and you’ll understand the whole, synthesizing observations of isolated pieces into a single, unified, elegantly simple theory of a complicated system from a long series of small analyses.

The reductive-analytic program has worked remarkably well. Quantum field theory and particle physics represent perhaps its ultimate apotheosis, though its principles underwrite theories in biology, medicine, psychology, and many other fields. As a result, most educated adults in the Western world--scientists and non-scientists alike--have it in their heads that the reductive-analytic program just is science, and that a science is successful to the extent that it is compatible with this sort of inquiry. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have pointed to the widespread fixation on “tractability” as guiding ideal to which scientific problems are worth tackling, and which need to be reformulated, writing that “problems that [are] too large or complex to be solved in their totality [are] divided into smaller, more manageable elements.” The reductive-analytic program is markedly less helpful for understanding the behavior of systems with large numbers of diverse and strongly interacting components, systems with intricate structure at many spatiotemporal scales, or systems that exhibit extreme changes in dynamical form in response to small, seemingly inconsequential changes to either their environment or internal states. It is markedly less helpful, in other words, when attempting to understand complex systems.

Climate science is a paradigmatic “complex systems science,” and an illustrative case of how fixation on the analytic-reductive program may be hobbling progress, both in science itself and in sociopolitical applications of scientific knowledge. Complex systems like the global climate resist the methods of the analytic-reductive program; understanding the parts doesn’t always lead to understanding everything about the whole. Instead, understanding the climate system involves looking both at the behavior of small-scale components and at the behavior of the system as a whole, embedded in the sort of active, dynamic context in which we find it. The advent of the anthropocene means that the global climate can no longer be appropriately considered as a system existing separately and independently from human society and civilization. The kind of scientific methods and values necessary for this investigation are, if not outright discouraged, at least rarely taught explicitly in the course of any ordinary science education, unless one pursues a graduate degree in something like non-linear dynamics and complexity theory, something which most people (understandably) do not. This leaves ordinary citizens, political decision-makers, and even most scientists poorly equipped to think rigorously about the nature and scope of the problem we're facing.

If we're going to help people understand the reality of climate change, we'll have to begin by helping people (including scientists) understand some basic features of complexity science, and how the aesthetics of the science of complex systems differs from the aesthetics of fundamental physics and other products of the reductive-analytic program. Among other things, this means that we must help people become comfortable uncertainty, interdisciplinary collaboration, and the possibility that even the most precise scientific investigation might not yield the sort of neat answers and t-shirt ready systems of equations we’ve come to expect from reductive-analytic sciences. In some cases, our best science may not produce a single undisputed model under which all competitors are subsumed, but rather might yield a proliferation of diverse and distinctive models, some of which may appear to contradict one another, and that this model pluralism is something to be welcomed rather than eliminated. In many cases, computational models can be as reliable as real-world experiments when it comes to predicting the future of complex systems, and “science by simulation” should not be treated as a second-class citizen in the world of scientific methodology The results of climate science--like those of any complex systems science--might fall short of providing a single uncontroversial answer to the question of what we ought to do, just as they may fall short of providing a neat set of beautiful and elegant equations that explain our world. This does not mean that these sciences can be discounted, however; rather, it means that scientific investigation must be guided and supplemented by well-reasoned, mutually agreed-upon values.

u/2ysCoBra · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

You might be familiar with some of this already, but I'm going to explain it as though you have no familiarity with this subject.

Philosophy of religion explores topics such as the existence of God, concepts of God, religious language, religious belief, miracles, and so on. presents a good primer for the subject.

It seems like your primary interest is in the existence of God. Natural theology, although the approach of doing theology without the assistance of special, divine revelation, in philosophical circles is basically synonymous with arguments for the existence of God. Natural atheological arguments, as some have put it (i.e. Plantinga), are arguments for atheism.

Popular arguments for the existence of God would be the various cosmological, teleological, ontological, and axiological arguments. There's almost too many of them to keep track. Popular arguments against the existence of God would be the various kinds of the problem of evil, divine hiddenness, and attacks on the coherence of theism.

"The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology" is perhaps the best single resource on arguments for and against the existence of God, although it is highly advanced. "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" is also a very solid resource. "The Existence of God" by Swinburne is classic, as is his "Coherence of Theism." Again, all of those are fairly advanced. Swinburne has a shorter, more popular level version of "The Existence of God" titled "Is There a God?" Stephen Davis also has a similar book titled "God, Reason and Theistic Proofs." If you're going to be reading Oppy and Sobel, I recommend reading their counterparts in any of these books above (barring the "Cambridge Companion to Atheism," of course), that way you have a good balance of perspectives.

With regards to the philosophy of religion a bit more broadly, William Rowe, C. Stephen Evans, and Brian Davies each have solid, brief introduction books. Michael Murray and Eleonore Stump have a more thorough introduction; Louis Pojman and Michael Rea have a great anthology; and William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, and Michael Rea have perhaps the greatest single resource on this subject.

Moreover, William Lane Craig has dozens of debates on topics concerning the existence of God (and other topics) available on YouTube. Here is a fantastic list of his debates with links available in the table. You'll see some popular figures in the list that aren't good philosophers (i.e. Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, etc.), but there are quite a few very high caliber philosophers on that list too (i.e. Michael Tooley, Quentin Smith, Peter Millican, Stephen Law, etc.).

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Good luck!

u/Sherbert42 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

As /u/FreeHumanity has pointed out below, it makes it easier for us to help you if we know what you're interested in.

However, these are a couple of books on my bookshelf that I find interesting and are mentioned on here quite often:

The Pig that Wants to be Eaten, by Julian Baggin. It's 100 ethics-related thought experiments, laid out in a very easy-to-read way. Amazon link here.

If you're interested in something a little more academic and a little more comprehensive, The History of Western Philosophy, by Bertrand Russell, is one of the best one-volume histories of philosophy around. You have to be a little bit careful with him, though--he tends to put his own ideas about the philosophers into his text :) Again, Amazon link here.

If you would like more specialised help, please do clarify what your interests are so that we can recommend books, youtube clips, or other things that are tailored to your interests :)

Hope that helps :)

u/angstycollegekid · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Much like you, I've also recently developed a strong interest in Levinas. I've yet to read him, though, so please take that into account when considering my recommendations.

I recently asked some of my professors and a friend of mine who wrote his master's thesis on Levinas to help me out with getting started. This is what they recommended:

  • This introductory book by Colin Davis has been the most recommended to me. Davis succeeds in the difficult task of executing a clear exposition of Levinas' difficult prose without sacrificing too much of its nuance.
  • Regarding Levinas' own writing, begin with On Escape. This work develops Levinas' fundamental ideas on Being and alterity, demonstrates how he does phenomenology, and reveals his engagement with Heidegger and Husserl
  • The two next best works to read are Existence and Existents and Time and the Other.

    I'm not too knowledgeable of Husserl, so all I can really recommend from him is the Cartesian Meditations, which sort of serves as an introduction to Husserl's own method of phenomenology.

    For Heidegger, the most important work in this regard is certainly Being and Time. If you have the time, I recommend picking up the Basic Writings and reading through most of it.

    On a final note, Levinas was steeped within the Jewish intellectual tradition. Jewish philosophers often emphasize the role of community and social contextuality in general. It might serve you well to read works such as Martin Buber's I and Thou and Gabriel Marcel's Being and Having.

    EDIT: Another good compliment to Levinas is Maurice Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception.
u/ConclusivePostscript · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

If you’re interested in starting with Kierkegaard, I would actually argue that you don’t need to pursue a bunch of other background knowledge beforehand. It wouldn’t hurt, but it also isn’t strictly necessary. This is, in part, because many of his most central ideas are of the fundamentally human sort. In fact, in his unfinished work Johannes Climacus (pp. 129ff.), Kierkegaard pokes fun at the infinite regress of scholarship often thought necessary before “making a beginning.”

Also, one of the great things about the Princeton editions is that they include generous portions of helpful background material from such thinkers in the endnotes (not to mention relevant supplementary material from Kierkegaard’s journals and papers). If, later on, you want to dive into the works by Plato, Kant, Hegel, etc. referenced therein, more power to you, but it isn’t an absolute prereq for developing a basic understanding of Kierkegaard’s thought.

That said, arguably Plato’s Socratic dialogues are more important background to Kierkegaard than Hegel. For as Kierkegaard himself puts it, “The only analogy I have before me is Socrates; my task is a Socratic task…” (The Moment and Late Writings, p. 341).

There are many ways to approach reading Kierkegaard for the first time, none of them right or wrong. It depends on what you want to get out of reading him. I usually suggest the following:

Topical/thematic: Since Kierkegaard’s multi-genre authorship covers a diversity of themes and topics—including irony, aesthetics, ethics, religion, time, history, modernity, society, politics, groupthink, self-deception, love, death, anxiety, despair, the phenomenology of selfhood, and much else besides—you might browse relevant secondary literature, which will guide you to the primary source works which appeal most to your own thematic interests.

Slow and cautious: If you want to ease your way into Kierkegaard, try starting with one or more of his shorter works: Fear and Trembling, Repetition, The Concept of Anxiety, Prefaces, Two Ages, Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions, and The Sickness Unto Death.

Broad sweep: If you would prefer a taste of (nearly) the full gamut of his writings, I highly recommend The Essential Kierkegaard, which has a sampling of excerpts from nearly every one of his works (even some of the more obscure ones). I suggest supplementing this with Papers and Journals: A Selection, ed. Hannay.

Chronological-developmental: Kierkegaard considers Either/Or to be the official beginning of his “authorship” proper. Either/Or is a longer book—two volumes in the Princeton editions—but well worth the read. Here is a list of the Princeton editions of his writings; they tend to follow chronological order. And this list divides his writings into signed and pseudonymous, if you are curious which are which.

Christian classics: If you’re a person of faith, Works of Love and Practice in Christianity deserve to be at the top of the list, hands down. (I would compare these two works, albeit loosely, to C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves and Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ.)

Existentialist classics: Kierkegaard’s most “existentially significant” works are Either/Or, The Concept of Anxiety, Fear and Trembling, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, The Present Age, and The Sickness Unto Death. I would also include ‘At a Graveside’, the first of Kierkegaard’s Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions. And Stages on Life’s Way (the sequel to Either/Or) and Repetition (companion volume to Fear and Trembling) are also especially worth reading from this vantage.

Additionally, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Kierkegaard is helpful; C. Stephen Evans’ Kierkegaard: An Introduction and M. Jamie Ferreira’s Kierkegaard are both fine introductions to his thought.

u/Mauss22 · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

On my way out, but briefly.

One option is to just power through, mindful of the limits. It'll help to familiarize yourself with the notation, even if the details are difficult to follow. You'll be required to take some formal logic for your program. But if you're looking to get ahead of the game, there are some online resources that may be useful. I compile some of those resources here. Quoting that:

>Free, general logic resources: Stanford's Intro to logic and Mathematical Thinking- w/ Free online tools for completing exercises; Paul Teller's Modern formal logic primer - w/ free tools for completing exercises; Peter Smith’s Teach Yourself Logic and other materials, like his reading guide; Katarzyna Paprzycka Logic Self-Taught - w/ free workbook; J. Ehrlich's "Carnap Book" - w/ free exercises & tools; Open Logic Project - and List of other open/free sources.
>Not Free: Gensler's Introduction to Logic, Howard Pospesel's Introductions to Formal Logic (prop and pred). [Karen Howe's has her logic stuff online using Pospesel's books.]
>Common Symbols: here
>Lists of Rules of Inference: here, here, here, here

Routledge has a guide to the Tractatus that could be helpful. Anscombe's guide has a glossary with some of the common symbols. I haven't watched, but there's this lecture video on YouTube re logic in the T.. hope that helps

u/MegistaGene · 6 pointsr/askphilosophy

I haven't read it, but I can tell you that the consensus about it in the History of Philosophy community is that it's pretty bad. I've only seen it cited in history of philosophy journals as a foil. For a broad introduction, I've heard Kenny's new work is pretty good. And I rather like Copleston's History, though it's nine ~500 page volumes. I think your best bet, though, is just to read some philosophical classics. Perhaps Plato's Five Dialogues (, Descartes' Meditations (, Russel's Problems of Philosophy (, and maybe Searle's Brief Introduction to Mind (

There are better, more important, and more recent works than these, but I think these are good intros to philosophy as a whole for two reasons: 1) these are very representative of Ancient, Modern, Early Analytic, and contemporary philosophy of mind. And 2) these are all pretty easy. Philosophy's batshit complicated, at times; but none of these are more difficult than they have to be (and yet, they're not Idiot's Guides … )

u/OhDannyBoy00 · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Will Durant's "The Story of Philosophy". I'm reading it now and I wish it was the first book I read. At 400 pages it definitely skips some major parts of history but it's written in a way that's very entertaining. It reads like a novel and makes the material accessible instead of getting bogged down with technicals like Anthony Kenny's history.

A really great way to get "the flavour" of philosophy as they like to say.

u/sidebysondheim · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

>I'm not sure about reading secondary texts, I know that would help, but for some reason, I would like to try and read this text itself, after all one has to start reading philosophy somewhere...I want to read it slowly, I have all the time(years and years, barring mortality of course), and carefully, but I want to read the text itself...

I'm confused by this. Secondary texts would definitely help. Della Rocca has an overview book by Routledge, there's a very short introduction by Scruton, and Jarrett has a guide for the perplexed on Spinoza.

Wanting to read the text itself is not mutually exclusive from reading secondary literature, especially literature that'll help you read the text itself. Reading historical figures is particularly difficult because just like all other philosophers, they're situated in a place and time where certain ideas were in vogue and they're responding to certain thinkers of that time. Unlike contemporary philosophers (and this is what makes them difficult), they don't really tell you who they're responding to or give a full bibliography of what they've read. Secondary literature, especially the kind I tried to recommend you, makes these connections for you so that when you read the text yourself, you can actually understand, as best as possible, the philosopher's intent and position. Considering this is basically the way all graduate students and professional philosophers approach reading historical figures, it seems odd that you, a non-philosophers with no training, want to try and do it all yourself.

You, of course, can just slog through reading an incredibly complex historical philosophical text by yourself, take an extremely long time to do so, and probably get a horrible off the mark understanding of the view, OR you can avail yourself of the experts who have spent significant portions of their career on Spinoza and let them teach you how to read his work, so you actually get something like a good understanding out of it.

Considering that you don't find time to be an issue, this seems like an obvious route to take.

u/thepastIdwell · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

>Yes, they can simply verify the information by going to the source. Don't trust unqualified experts. It's not difficult, I'd say it's pretty much elementary/grade school level thinking.

I think you're not listening to me. That shit takes time! And it requires that you know some things about science and whatnot. You think everyone has your attitude to climate change; (1) that they care, (2) that they have the time to investigate it and (3) that they have the relevant education and IQ to learn about it.

>The ICCC is run by the heartland institute, a notoriously conservative and anti-science institution


>Can you name any exceptions who might actually be qualified experts who have contributed to the field of climate science?

No. I've already told you that I'm not interested in this stuff. I'm a fence-sitter. That's it. I don't even care. Don't make it personal with me, make it personal with yourself. Get to know what your skeptics are saying. More on this at the end of this reply.

>This conference wasn't given to an audience of qualified experts. This is important. They are experts in something, but climate science is not it.


>Not everyone has time to learn the whole of these fields, yes. But everyone should have basic science education.

While I agree, that's an ideal dream of the world you're having. It is not grounded in the reality we live in today, and that's part of my point.

>but it is not fine to act on this willful ignorance - that's irrational.

And who is doing that, in what manner?

>That aside, I actually find wikipedia to be a great source for most things - it has bibliographic references at the bottom and is generally accurate for most serious subjects. So..

While true (I have no grudge against Wikipedia, as some prudes do), it only touches the surface of a subject usually. And combined with the common knowledge that the founders of Wikipedia are adamant proponents of climate change (or so I've heard...?), I find it nearly irrelevant.

I'm going to give you a parable here - the research into whether there's empirical evidence suggesting that our consciousness survives the death of our biological body. You've probably never heard a lot about it, more than some lines of evidence that could be argued to suggest it (like near-death experiences (NDEs), reincarnation cases, death-bed visions, etc), and you've probably heard of some of the skeptical arguments against it (it's incompatible with science, they're caused by lack of oxygen, they're frauds, etc). What is the objective-minded, layman person to believe when he casually hears about this?

From personal experience of investigating such issues for years, I can tell you that what Wikipedia has to say on those issues is neither (1) balanced, nor (2) does it scratch the surface of the subject. But let's take NDEs in particular. Suppose someone asks me, "Can the evidence from NDEs be explained by materialism, or does it constitute evidence in favor of survival?"

Instead of just shoving my take on the issue down his throat, I want this person to make up their own mind by looking at the data and the arguments. Therefore, I will send him here for the best skeptical take on this question, and here for the best proponent take on this question.

In other words, even though I myself assert that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of survival, I'm completely aware of what the skeptics have to say on the matter!

This is what you need to provide for me in regards to climate change, in order to gain any credibility. You just saying that the science is there etc means very little, when you don't give me a chance to evaluate the best contrary opinions available for myself.

u/Quidfacis_ · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

The absolute best secondary literature is Philosophy of Spinoza: Unfolding the Latent Process of His Reasoning by Harry Austryn Wolfson. It's kinda hard to simply summarize why Wolfson is so good. He covers everything. He has footnotes in Latin, Hebrew, and Arabic for Christ's sake. Just a solid, thorough explanation of both Spinoza's work, and the philosophical underpinnings of the work. Wolfson tries to account for the other works that influenced Spinoza, which is a hella daunting task.

If you want to understand how Spinoza fits into the history of philosophy, and the other philosophers to whom his system is related, get the Wolfson book.

Behind the Geometrical Method by Edwin Curley is a good introductory summary of Spinoza's project. It's kinda amusingly organized into three chapters:

  • On God

  • On Man

  • On Man's Well-Being

    Since that is what the Ethics is all about. Curley translates Spinoza's geometry into a digestible form. If you find the writing style of the Ethics cumbersome, this book is a good way to break through to the main argument.

    The Collected Works of Spinoza volume 1 and Volume 2 translated by Edwin Curley is another good resource. It's the primary texts, but Curley's work is full of footnotes and annotations to explain why he deviates from other translations, most notably the Elwes translation, which was the standard until Curley came along.

    There's also Spinoza by Michael Della Rocca and a more recently published Essays on Spinoza's Ethical Theory. They are fine. But those have sort of a more lowercase-m-modern take on Spinoza. The Cambridge companions are similar, and good. Pick them up if you find them at a local used book store.

    For my money, Wolfson is the best secondary reading. You can find volume 1 online if you want to preview it before purchase. At least read those first few pages to which I linked. Wolfson is the old-school rigorous academic that we do not find in academia anymore.
u/Wegmarken · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

I haven't read his diaries, but from what I've read of both some of his pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous works, I would guess that either you're misunderstanding some things (not trying to be insulting here) or perhaps his diaries contain some of his more esoteric tricks. He's well-known for using irony and variety of other tricks, such as writing in a variety of different styles from different perspectives, largely with the intent of pushing against the problem's of the Denmark of his day, which might be most succinctly described as a Hegelian-Christendom. To take on a couple of points in particular:

  • He thought reason and science were useless

    While a historian of philosophy could do better than I could at understanding what 'reason and science' were for him, it's worth noting that Kierkegaard's context was dominated by Hegelian philosophy, which had placed philosophy (which likely still included what we might think of as 'science') above everything, to the detriment of individuals thinking for themselves and about themselves. He felt that the dominance of Hegel's philosophy, which put a huge emphasis on the importance of the state/community (and in Christendom, the Church), was cutting individuals off from thinking about questions that reason may not be able to answer. Hegel's thought tries to collect everything into the Absolute/Universal, but in doing so, Kierkegaard felt that it neglected the depth and complexity of people's inner lives.

  • He states that nothing finite can ever matter

    This reminds me of a passage from one of his later non-pseudonymous works, Works of Love, which I'll quote part of.

    >The actor's art is the art of deceiving; the art is the deception. To be able to deceive is the great thing, and to allow oneself to be deceived is just as great. Therefore one must not be able and must not want to see the actor through the costume; therefore it is the pinnacle of art when the actor becomes one with what he represents, because this is the pinnacle of deception. But the actuality of life, even if it is not, like eternity, the truth, still ought to be of the truth, and therefore the other something that everyone essentially is should continually glimmer through the disguise. Page 299, my emphasis.

    The point, for Kierkegaard, is not nihilistically giving up on our finite existences, but not holding onto ourselves as the truth, but instead allowing ourselves to live in such a way that God's love shines through us and our lives. Our lives are finite, but lived well, our lives can be of the infinite. This point gets developed much more rigorously in Jean-Luc Marion's God Without Being, as well as Ben Morgan's On Becoming God: Late Medieval Mysticism and the Modern Western Self, and you could probably also draw connection between Kierkegaard's idea here and Derrida's application of deconstruction and differance in his ethical writings.

    If you're looking for guidance, I highly recommend Jon Stewart's book on Kierkegaard, which delves into the various ways Kierkegaard used irony and other styles to get at different points from different perspectives. It's one of the best books I've read on him, and discusses most of his major writings, as well as looking at Kierkegaard's life and Hegelian context.
u/adrianscholl · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy is an excellent overview of philosophy. While it is limited to a small selection of the most notable philosophers, each chapter is dedicated to providing a very readable summary of the ideas of one philosopher. I sincerely believe the best way to get into philosophy is to get a very general "historical map" of the big ideas. Once you have that, it becomes much more rewarding to pick a philosopher of interest and study them in greater detail.

u/iunoionnis · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

A great place to start would be the dialogues of Plato. That's where most philosophy students start. Plato is a good teacher.

You could start with the dialogues in this Hackett edition:

After reading these, you might try the Republic. While the Republic might be daunting at first, it outlines many of the basic questions philosophy still deals with today: What is justice? What is knowledge? What is truth? What is the ideal city?

From here, Descartes' Meditations is one of the most important books in the history of philosophy, as well as the most accessible. It's short, and Descartes outlines many of the problems that still haunt philosophy today.

In addition to reading, you might want to try to get the experience of a philosophy classroom or lecture. For this, you might be interested in Michael Sandel, who takes the (more or less) standard method of teaching ethics and conveys it to a general audience. You might try some of his Ted talks:

There are many other interesting podcasts and audiolectures to be found, if learning by ear is your kind of thing!

u/Coltorl- · 7 pointsr/askphilosophy

This book, The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten, is a very easy read. Others can vouch for its readability (I know /u/TychoCelchuuu has mentioned this book in the past) alongside me, but in regards to me recommending something like this to you: I've been a native speaker for all my life so I may not be the best in determining how well a non-native reader can understand a foreign text. Hope someone can come along to recommend you some reading from a place of similar experience, good luck!

u/ben_profane · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy
  • Kisner and Youpa have edited an anthology on Spinoza's ethical theory. Several of the essays deal with his metaethics. If you can find this and follow up on the pertinent essays, it would be your best bet. Youpa has spent a lot of his career on the ethical theories of the 17th century continentals, so pursuing his work might be worth it.

  • Della Rocca's Spinoza has an entire section focused on his ethics (and metaethics). You could likely find some additional secondary sources in the bibliography.

    I hope these help!
u/flanders4ever · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

My advice is to dabble in the tradition for a little bit before you consider majoring in it. You have probably taken Physics, History, Math, Economics, etc, in High School and understand what sort of thing you'd be studying if you take any of these subjects as a major. This is not the case for philosophy. To decide whether you want to major in Philosophy, I think you need to do two things. First, you might want to dabble in the philosophical tradition as broadly as possible. You can do this by going through a book that deals with the history of the movement. I wish Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy was my introduction to the history of philosophy. Durant gives his own arguments for why philosophy is a worthwhile thing to study, but also gives a really nice, readable, and informative history of some of the greatest philosophers of all time. The second way to dabble in the field is by taking one philosopher central to the cannon and really get into him. (Hopefully, it wont always be a "him" :). Its not easy to decide which philosopher to read first. In any case, it will be massively difficult to get through whatever book you decide to read, since philosophy books are unlike any other book you were taught in high school. Personally, if i were you, I'd read Durant's work first, and choose whatever philosopher you enjoyed reading about most in that book, and then find the most important book that author has written. If you have trouble deciding that, of course feel free to ask us!

u/CapBateman · 15 pointsr/askphilosophy

In general, academic philosophy of religion is dominated by theistic philosophers, so there aren't many works defending atheism and atheistic arguments in the professional literature.

But there are still a few notable books:

  • J.L Mackie's The Miracle of Theism is considered a classic, but it's a bit outdated by now. Although Mackie focuses more on critiquing the arguments for God's existence rather than outright defending atheism, he is no doubt coming from an atheistic point of view.
  • Michael Martin's Atheism: A Philosophical Justification is a lengthy book with the ambitious goal of showing atheism is the justified and rational philosophical position, while theism is not.
  • Nicholas Everitt's The Non-existence of God is maybe one of the most accessible books in the "case for atheism" genre written by a professional philosopher. He even presents a new argument against god's existence.
  • If you're more into debates, God?: A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist is a written debate between atheist philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and famous Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig. It's far better than any debate WLC had with any of the New Atheists in my humble opinion.
  • On the more Continental side of things, there a few works that could be mentioned. There's Michel Onfray's Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (although I must admit I didn't read it myself, so I can't attest to how good it is) and of course any work by the atheist existentialists, a good place to start will by Jean-paul Sartre's Existentialism Is a Humanism.

    I didn't add him because others have already mentioned him, but everything written by Graham Oppy is fantastic IMO. He is maybe the leading atheist philosopher in the field of philosophy of religion. A good place to start with his writings is his 2013 paper on arguments for atheism.
u/Ibrey · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I think the best place to begin is Volume I of A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston, covering ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Not that I don't recommend the other eight volumes as well—it does enjoy, the back cover tells me, "universal acclaim as the best history of philosophy in English"—but it's particularly important to understand the issues and ideas of philosophy in classical antiquity because of the degree to which it sets the agenda for all subsequent Western philosophy.

I agree with /u/thud_mancake about the importance of reading primary texts, and there I'll limit myself to two recommendations. First, the four dialogues of Plato often published together under the title The Trial and Death of Socrates: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. Second, Utopia by Thomas More.

u/Shitgenstein · 9 pointsr/askphilosophy

I suggest picking up a copy of Plato: Five Dialogues. It's pretty much the standard introduction to Plato in universities everywhere. They're perhaps the easiest to read in comparison with the other dialogues, will give you a good idea of Plato's methodology and core philosophical views, and collectively represent a good introduction to thinking philosophically. And a paperback copy is cheap and easy to find.

u/Lynxx · 7 pointsr/askphilosophy

The first two books that come to mind are The Story of Philosophy by William Durant, and A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. I've never read the Russell book personally, but I've heard great things about it (plus, its got a great cover).

u/Floorclothes00981302 · 0 pointsr/askphilosophy

>is it possible for the concept of mysticism to be relevant to philosophy in some way?  Is there any contemporary work on mysticism that is worth investigating? 

Not only is it possible, but some would argue that it is inevitable and necessary. And yes, there is a lot of it, but these days it is regarded as going under the umbrella of survival research. Here is an article that elaborates on that point and on the current state of affairs regarding survival research, although it has begun to improve a bit since the writing of that article. Additionally, here are the best books written by a philosopher on these topics (1, 2, 3).

u/soowonlee · 6 pointsr/askphilosophy

Some stuff that's important in contemporary analytic phil religion:

The Miracle of Theism by J.L. Mackie

God, Freedom, and Evil by Alvin Plantinga

God and Other Minds by Alvin Plantinga

The Coherence of Theism by Richard Swinburne

The Existence of God by Richard Swinburne

Can God Be Free? by William Rowe

Perceiving God by William Alston

u/FA1R_ENOUGH · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

I'd recommend reading a book on the history of philosophy. That way, you'll have a working understanding of all the major philosophers, and you will probably find someone's philosophy interesting enough to pursue them further. A classic is Samuel Enoch Stumpf's Socrates to Sarte. A friend of mine also recommended a more contemporary book that he said is becoming more standard today. A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny.

Other standards works many students start with include Rene Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy. Also, Plato is a good starting point. The Five Dialogues are some of his earlier works. These include the Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, and Phaedo. I personally started with Plato's Republic, which a former professor informed me that you must read in order to consider yourself educated in today's world (Interestingly enough, he's only ever said that about books he's read).

u/RelativityCoffee · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Logic will help a lot, but as a math major it will probably come quite easily for you.

What are your texts for intro?

I think one of the best ways to start is to read the Hackett edition of Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy. Go slowly. Write out questions and comments. Re-read. Come back here and post your questions.

u/MyShitsFuckedDown2 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Do you have a specific interest? Otherwise a general introduction like Think, Problems of Philosophy, or Justice are all well regarded. Though, all have their strengths and weaknesses. There are tons of accessible introductions though and depending on your interests it might be better to use one rather than another. All of those are fairly general

u/politicaltheoryisfun · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

J.L. Mackie has a fantastic work called The Miracle of Theism. Its a popular work to use in philosophy of religion classes.

u/ChristianGentlemann · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

This is the perfect book for you.

Russell explains everything you would want to know as a beginner to philosophy, and he explains it assuming you know nothing about philosophy. He even explains how each thinker leads into the next. One of my favorite books period, and exactly what you are looking for. Enjoy the read.

u/gnegne · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Try to read some of his lectures like "Was ist Metaphysik?" or "Vom Wesen der Wahrheit". I am sure there are english translations of these as well.

EDIT: "Was ist Metaphysik?" can be found in English in the bundle of texts called "Basic Writings" (for example: which serves as an excellent introduction to Being and Time.

u/TychoCelchuuu · 6 pointsr/askphilosophy

I'm usually partial to the "explore fields to find out what you enjoy" sort of thing. One of the best books for this is The Pig That Wants to be Eaten. It's excellent because each of the puzzles it discusses contains an explanation of what problem in philosophy it is related to and what books to read if you want to explore that problem. Once you get a sense for the sorts of things you like thinking about, you know what fields (like epistemology, ethics, philosophy of law, etc.) to explore in more depth, at which point I would usually recommend either an introductory textbook in the field or reading the article + bibliography about the field on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

edit: actually I just read a review on the page, maybe that Pig book doesn't have much of a bibliography for each topic. Oh well. You can Google that shit because it at least tells you the key words.

u/notphilosophy · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

Might I suggest Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy. It's like Russell's History of Phi, but not as popular. I ate that book up as a new undergrad student and I enjoy keeping it by my bedside. I never read it anymore, but I feel good knowing it's at an arm's length.

u/drunkentune · 13 pointsr/askphilosophy

Christianity is, as far as I'm aware, as coherent and rigorously defended as other competing systems, due to its pedigree of at least a thousand years of dedication to its defense. That said, there are books such as Mackie's The Miracle of Theism that methodologically dismantle these defenses.

We are then left with a problem: some philosophers find all or most of these criticisms to fall short while others think they sufficiently undermine theism generally, a fortiori undermining Christianity as well.

This leaves us with something like Kołakowski's Law:

>The law of the infinite cornucopia…applies not only to philosophy but to all general theories in the human and social sciences: it states that there is never a shortage of arguments to support any doctrine you want to believe in for whatever reasons. These arguments, however, are not entirely barren. They have helped in elucidating the stats questiones and in explaining why these questions matter.

Or the shorter quip from Dretske, 'one man's modus ponens in another man's modus tollens.'

There's plenty of books that directly deal with this problem. One of my favourites is W.W. Bartley's The Retreat to Commitment (1st Edition, not the 2nd Edition) which focuses in the first half on Protestant theologians and philosophers presenting the tu quoque defense against secular philosophy and the second half proposing a solution to the tu quoque.

u/CloudDogBrew · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

You may want to check out J.L Mackie's The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God for further reading on the subject. It's approachable to the non philosopher, and covers both sides of the arguments even if Mackie does ultimately come down on the side of atheism. Mackie was a respected philosopher, and as you would expect handles these philosophical questions much better than Dawkins and the other horde of non philosophers who are popular among the typical reddit atheist.

u/SolipsisticBuddhist · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Miracle of Theism by J. L. Mackie is a great resource for this topic. Mackie is an atheist and gives a very thorough explanation and analysis of nearly every form the arguments about God take.

u/zukros · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Baggini's The Pig That Wants to be eaten is an excellent and fun start for thinking about general philosophical problems, which is, naturally, an excellent introduction to philosophy.

If you're looking for something more rigorous, Russell's The Problems of Philosophy is a tiny and very well-written guide to philosophy almost up to the modern day by arguably the greatest thinker in analytical philosophy of the last century.

u/ThierryEnnui14 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Will Durant's book is so much better than Russell's. Durant is not as biased regarding philosophers he agrees or disagrees with. And he's simply a much better writer, IMO.

Durant combined with Kenny is probably the best route.

u/shmack90 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Life as Literature by Alexander Nehemas and Nietzsche as Philosopher by Arthur Danto are my some of my favorite secondary Nietzsche works.

When you move on to Heidegger... Heidegger's writing style is super difficult to parse and I prefer him in smaller bits. I would recommend his essays in the Perennial Basic Writings compilation if you haven't checked it out yet.(

u/higher_order · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

why not? because he discusses miracles?

makie's the miracle of theism is a response to that book.

blackwell's companion to natural theology might be something.

u/icelizarrd · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

That's a very interesting looking link, but I think BennyG02 was talking about an audiobook of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy.

Speaking of that book, I listened to a fair amount of that (and read the other parts), and I do think it's quite good. The thing is that it contains a lot of Russell's own opinions and criticisms of the views he describes, probably more than one might expect a general "history of" book to have. But, IIRC, Russell didn't have any pretense of it being otherwise: he wasn't really trying to make "just another history of philosophy book".

u/simism66 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I really really like Gensler's book. The proof system he uses is extremely intuitive and easy.

u/wreckognize · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

I recommend Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction. It's an easy-to-read overview and history of existentialism and its major figures. It would be perfect for someone in high school, instead of immediately tackling a work by any one particular author.

u/Youre_A_Kant · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

As a follow up, Simon Blackburn's [Think](Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy does a great job at providing a wide landscape of philosophical inquiries and possible solutions.

As well as Bertrand Russell's [Problems Of Philosophy](The Problems of Philosophy , which does the same.

u/modenpwning · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I'll let some of the other people on here direct you where to dig in and answer your questions more directly, but this was by far the most compelling introductory book for me:

I can't recommend it enough to begin, and from there you can branch out with what you find enjoyable

u/buu2 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I heard SMBC Comics Zach Weiner last month, and he recommended Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy. I've been going through it since, and it's a great overview to begin with.

u/reversedolphins · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

I've heard this one is good. Haven't read it though.

Currently reading Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy which I've been told is a good introduction. So far it seems to do a good job of explaining in plain language the more confusing aspects of philosophy, which itself can become confusing. I can only take it in like 10 pages at a time.

Also maybe Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?

u/drofdarb72 · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

Hey man. I am in the same shoes as you. I am going into junior year, and I just started reading Philosophy this summer. I would recommend Simon Blackburn's Think. I am two thirds into it, and its great. He touches on variety of questions and different answers to those questions and arguments for and against those answers, and what effect they have on the world. Here is the link.

u/punkerdante182 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

do you have any light reading philosphy books? So far all I've read is "The pig who loves to be eaten"

u/twin_me · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

First, as another poster stated, it is helpful to know the work of Descartes pretty well before tackling Spinoza - Spinoza very much saw himself as taking the philosophy of Descartes (or at least, what he saw as the better parts of the philosophy of Descartes) to its own logical conclusions.

But, most importantly, I want to say that you really should be reading a secondary text BEFORE you read a historical text. Some of the people on this subreddit will disagree, but they are the people who generally understand 4% of a text and misunderstand the other 96% of it.

The fact of the matter is that there is just a ton of background information that you simply don't have access to when reading the primary source - who was the author responding to in each particular passage? which words were technical terms? which things did he think were obvious and didn't need explanation? You simply can't glean this type of information from the vast majority of primary historical texts.

As for Spinoza, I think that Michael Della Rocca's introductory book is phenomenal, and most university libraries will have a copy.

u/PM_MOI_TA_PHILO · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

One of the most famous Spinoza scholars is Micheal Della Rocca. This book is extremely useful:

How to deal with controversies? Controversies exist in academic philosophy because there is no final settlement on a certain topic. So the manner in which you want to approach them depends on how you want to learn. Either you want to take a side and believe hard on that one view is better than the other, or you just acknowledge that there is a controversy and your goal is not to take a side but to understand the many ways in which the philosopher can be understood.

u/LocalAmazonBot · 0 pointsr/askphilosophy

Here are some links for the product in the above comment for different countries:

Amazon Smile Link: A Very Short Introduction


This bot is currently in testing so let me know what you think by voting (or commenting). The thread for feature requests can be found here.

u/Jaeil · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

My early modern phil class read Della Rocca 2002 as secondary lit on Spinoza. It's a fairly accessible paper. The prof recommended his Routledge Philosophers entry for further reading.

u/gangstacompgod · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

In addition to the historical perspective provided by /u/Luolang, there are antimetaphysical trends in more recent literature as well. (I've heard tell that the authors of the former misinterpret the latter, but it's anti-(analytic) metaphysics either way so I include it here).

e: Additionally, of course, there are also the sceptical philosophers of history, people like Pyrrho, Arcesilaus, Carneades, Sextus Empiricus, who to varying degrees made arguments against the possibility of any knowledge whatsoever (sometimes even the knowledge that one cannot have any genuine knowledge), not just metaphysics.

Thinkers like Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger are also anti-metaphysics, at least ostensibly, but not really in the way you mean, so I won't go into detail here without prompting.

u/Meadow_Foxx64 · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

I'd suggest beginning with Brian Davies' "An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion or Keith Yandell's Philosophy of Religion: A Contemporary Introduction.

I'd also suggest looking into a philosophy of religion anthology. Louis P. Pojman and Michael Rea edited a very nice anthology. It includes selective writings on the ontological argument, the cosmological proof, the teleological argument, the problem of evil, divine attributes, and much more. Pieces of both historic and contemporary importance are included, ranging from St. Aquinas and St. Anselm to Samuel Clarke and David Hume — all the way up to Richard Swinburne and J.L Mackie. It's a very good anthology.

u/sguntun · 7 pointsr/askphilosophy

>It is difficult to imagine why professional philosophers, as much as they are trained in reason and logic, can be engaging in something as incomprehensible and unreasonable as institutionally refusing to criticize religious claims.

I don't know what's given you the impression that philosophers refuse to criticize religious claims, but it's not accurate. Philosophers overwhelmingly identify as atheists, and are usually not hesitant to say so. Unless your school is religiously affiliated, I'd bet that if you do head over to the philosophy department and ask whether they think God exists or not, they'll be happy to tell you that they think he doesn't.

Some resources you may wish to investigate are the atheism and agnosticism SEP article and the Cambridge Companion to Atheism.

edit: Additionally, you could check out a monograph like Mackie's Miracle of Theism or Parsons' God and the Burden of Proof.

u/NoIntroductionNeeded · 6 pointsr/askphilosophy

From the /r/philosophy sidebar: Think, by Simon Blackburn. I've read it, and it's exactly what you're looking for.

u/hail_pan · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

I can't reccomend Della Rocca's Spinoza enough. It makes it so much easier.