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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/Reluctant_Platonist · 12 pointsr/askphilosophy

I would say yes, but with a few caveats. I myself am a bit of an autodidact, and I study philosophy as a hobby in my free time. I am currently a university student who works part time, so I sympathize with your concerns about limited time and energy. Some things I think you should be aware of:

• Studying on your own will be slower and generally less efficient than getting a degree. You won’t have the same obligations or motivators that university students have.

• You will lack access to resources that university students have. This includes both academic material (journals, essays, books) but also an environment with instructors and fellow students to consult when you’re confused.

• You will not have the benefit of writing essays and having them graded by an instructor.

Despite this, I still think there is a lot to be gained from self study. You have the freedom to pursue whatever you want, and you can go at a pace that’s comfortable to you. Plus there’s something to be said about challenging yourself and doing constructive things in your free time.

It may be best to start with introductory texts like Copleston’s history to get a general idea for each philosopher and to find what interests you. If you are still interested in the thinkers you mentioned, you should move on to primary sources. I’d recommend the following reading plan which should cover some of the “essentials” and has a sort of progression from one thinker to the next:

  1. Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle
  2. Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings by Descartes
  3. Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals by Hume
  4. Critique of Pure Reason by Kant

    These four books will give you a solid foundation in western philosophy. You have the fundamental ideas and questions from the Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle, rationalism from Descartes, empiricism from Hume, and the synthesis of the two in Kant. Moving on:

  5. Logical Investigations by Husserl

  6. Being and Time by Heidegger

  7. Being and Nothingness by Sartre

    These three cover your interests in phenomenology, from its foundations in Husserl, to Heidegger’s magnum opus, to Sartre’s interpretation and his development of existentialism. Finally we have:

  8. Dialectic of Enlightenment by Horkheimer & Adorno

  9. Speech and Phenomenon by Derrida

    These two cover Horkheimer & Adorno’s critical take on enlightenment rationality and Derrida’s deconstruction of Husserlian phenomenology.

    None of these books are particularly easy (especially Husserl and Heidegger), but I encourage you to try! Take it one book at a time, read slow and take notes, and consult the IEP and SEP if you’re confused, watch YouTube lectures, or ask on this subreddit.

    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/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/Snietzschean · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

There's probably a few ways you could go about expanding your knowledge base. The two that seem most fruitful are

  1. Reading for a deeper understanding of the topics that you're already familiar with.

  2. Ranging more broadly into other areas that may interest you.

    If (1), then I'd probably suggest one of two courses. Either, (a) read the stuff that influenced the existential thinkers that you've listed, or (b) read some literature dealing with issues related to the thinkers you've listed.

    For (a) I'd suggest the following:

  • Anything by Kant
  • (In the case of Kierkegaard) Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit or his Aesthetics
  • (For Nietzsche) Emerson's essays, Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation, or Spinoza's Ethics
  • Maybe some Freud for the later thinkers? Civilization and its Discontents is really good.

    For (b) it's really a mixed bag. I'd suggest going through the SEP articles on the thinkers you've listed and looking into some good secondary literature on them. If you're super interested in Nietzsche, I'd definitely suggest reading Leiter's Nietzsche on Morality. I really couldn't tell you more unless you told me something more specific about your interests.

    If (2), then I suppose I'd suggest one of the following:

  • Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy for a good, broad introduction to Chinese Thought
  • The Analects of Confucius. This translation is excellent
  • A Short History of Chinese Philosophy
  • Heidegger's Being and Time
  • Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception
  • Some of Rilke's work
  • Unamuno's Tragic Sense of Life

    Again, it's hard to give you better directions without more information on what you're actually interested in. I've just thrown a bunch of stuff at you, and you couldn't possibly be expected to read, say, Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation over break and be expected to really understand it.
u/RealityApologist · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

That's nonsense. Both Everett and Bohmian interpretations are perfectly respectable, and purely deterministic. They both have their own issues that stand in need of explanation, but so do all interpretations of QM.

The blog post you linked to about Everett's interpretation at least gets all the linear algebra right, but the interpretation is all wrong. It's true that there's an issue with trying to make the Born Rule foundationally sensible under Everett's interpretation, but this isn't a novel insight, and there's a huge literature on the issue. Even if you don't buy the Wallace/Deutsch decision theoretic line here, it's hardly the case that a few lines about the Born Rule and projection operators definitively proves that Everett's interpretation is insensible.

Even setting that point aside, this post doesn't seem to understand what Everett is actually predicting. Near the end of the post, the author writes:

>For example, it's often vaguely suggested by the MWI champions and other "Copenhagen deniers" that the experimenter could feel "both outcomes at the same moment". However, by the correct quantum procedure whose essence is absolutely identical to my discussion of the two positions of the electron at the beginning, we may actually find the answer to the question "whether the experimenter feels both outcomes at the same moment". We will convert the proposition to a projection operator, it has the form P=PaPb again, and because its expectation value is zero for totally analogous reasons as those at the top, it follows that according to quantum mechanics, the experimenter doesn't perceive both outcomes at the same moment. This is a completely physical question, not a metaphysical one, and quantum mechanics allows one to calculate the answer. It's just not the answer that the anti-Copenhagen bigots would like to see.

>Quantum mechanics doesn't predict "unambiguously" which of the outcomes will be perceived by the experimenter (spin is "up" or "down"?) but this uncertainty is something totally different than saying that he will perceive two outcomes. The number of outcomes he will perceive may be calculated unambiguously by the standard rules of quantum mechanics and the number is one. There is no room for "two worlds" or "two perceptions at the same moment". Which outcome will be felt has probabilities strictly between 0 and 100 percent so the answer isn't unequivocal.

Emphasis mine. All of this is true, but it suggests to me that either the author doesn't really understand the Everett interpretation or (more likely, given his apparent familiarity with the mathematics) that he is deliberately being uncharitable. The Everett interpretation doesn't predict that a single experimenter should observe "both outcomes at once" in something like a Stern-Gerlach experiment, nor that the experimenter should at some point "feel like he is in both states at once," as the author suggests at another point. This is, in fact, precisely the problem that the Everett interpretation is constructed to solve: a strict interpretation of the formalism of QM as complete implies that when we measure a system that's in some superposition of the observable associated with our measurement device, we should end up with a measurement device in a superposition of both possible outcomes and an experimenter in a superposition of having observed both possible outcomes. This is implied by the linearity of the Schrodinger equation and the fact that observables correspond to linear Hermitian operators: these two facts together make superpositions highly "infectious:" they should easily spread from one system to another interacting system.

We take it as a intuitively obvious starting point that this does not happen--we seem to observe one outcome or another from every experiment, and we never seem to find ourselves in superpositions of having observed different outcomes. The tension between these two features of the world is what gives rise to the measurement problem in the first place. It's nicely summarized by David Albert in Quantum Mechanics and Experience:

>The dynamics and the postulate of collapse are flatly in contradiction with one another ... the postulate of collapse seems to be right about what happens when we make measurements, and the dynamics seems to be bizarrely wrong about what happens when we make measurements, and yet the dynamics seems to be right about what happens whenever we aren't making measurements.

The Everett interpretation doesn't deny any of this. Instead, it starts by pointing out that, strictly speaking, what we know for sure is that experiments seem to have singular outcomes, one way or another. Insisting that this fact is explained by the fact that they actually do have singular outcomes is natural, reasonable, and intuitive, but it's still an act of interpretation: nothing in the formalism suggests that this is the only legitimate explanation.

The Everett picture claims that in cases like the blog post's author's Stern-Gerlach experiment, rather than the wave function undergoing some kind of non-linear collapse onto one or another eigenvalue of the observable, the parts of the wave function associated with each eigenstate instead decohere from one another, so that the wave function corresponding to the result "spin up" can no longer interfere with the wave function corresponding to the result "spin down," though neither is destroyed. Since the evolution of the wave functions associated with the Stern-Gerlach device and experimenter are correlated with the evolution of the particle's wave function, they also decohere into two mutually non-interfering components: one associated with the 'spin up' result, and the other associated with the 'spin down' result.

At no point does the theory suggest that both values should be observed at once by the same experimenter, assuming that by "the same experimenter" you mean something like "the system with this coherent wave function." Rather, one value is observed by one version of the experimenter, and the other value by the other version. This is certainly intuitively strange, but (as the author repeatedly emphasizes himself), intuitive strangeness is not a criterion for deciding physical truth.

Intuitive strangeness aside, the formalism emphatically does not rule out this interpretation. As he himself says, the Born Rule gives us expectation values for experimental results, nothing more. What physical interpretation we give has to be consistent with those expectation values (which Everett's is), but that's it. The claim that an application of the Born Rule shows that only one outcome or another actually happens in an experiment is a matter of interpretation, and is question-begging in the context of this argument. It's precisely that bit of interpretation that Everett denies, and you can't refute his interpretation by simply reasserting your own interpretation more loudly and truculently.

u/uufo · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I think it's not the best for this particular goal. The section "general introductions" contains a lot of books that are mostly appetizers. If you have already decided to study systematically to build a solid foundation you can downright skip these.

All the books of the other sections are either classics in their own right (therefore, you will study the meat of them in your study of the history of philosophy, and you will do so in the context of what they were replying to, what kind of assumptions they made etc.) or famous but not essential books that have been chosen according to the tastes of the author of the list (therefore you don't need them for foundations; you can always choose to include them in your list if you decide they are valuable in their own right).

So I say skip all the list for now. A much better and much faster way would be to read Anthony Kenny's history of philosophy. If you work through it making sure you understand all the arguments, your focus, thinking, and comprehension skills will already be at another level.

After that, you can start grappling with the Critique of pure reason. Be warned that most of the "introductions", "guides", "explanations" and "companions" to the CPR are actually investigations of obscure points that manage to be harder to read than the actual CPR. The best two books that I found that are actually introductory guides to CPR are this and this.

Despite the titles, they are not "Kant for dummies". They are actually dense expositions which require concentration, familiarity with terms used in philosophy, and knowledge of what came before Kant (both offer a quick overview, but if you don't already know what it's talking about it will just leave you dizzy). Of course, if you have already done step 1, this will be a breeze for you.

I suggest you read both before opening the real CPR, but if you only have patience/time for one: Rosenberg is more one-sided, more focused on certain aspects, and somewhat less clear on some points, but he will really get you excited on what the CPR can mean - it will become a great adventure that could possibly transform your whole understanding of yourself and the universe. Gardner is less exciting, but he is so clear, so exhaustive in predicting what kind of doubt can arise for the reader and in presenting the different interpretations, that it is scary.

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/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/Arturos · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

It depends on what you mean. In one sense, you don't really need a book to be able to have discussions about philosophical issues - just someone willing to engage in good faith discussion. But there are some resources that could help you express yourself more effectively.

Philosophers argue using the rules of logic, so one way to learn how to argue effectively is to learn about logic. There are a lot of great internet resources out there that help you learn to discern good reasoning from bad reasoning. But if you do want a book, I like this Critical Thinking textbook. Very readable and very funny.

For something that applies to philosophy more directly, there's the Philosopher's Toolkit. It explains a bunch of concepts and argument forms you're likely to see when doing philosophy.

Beyond that, there are all kinds of primers on the main branches of philosophy and on specific philosophical questions. You can get a feel for the territory by reading introductory texts or Stanford Encyclopedia articles.

Hope this was helpful.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

If you're getting started in epistemology, I recommend Roderick Chisholm's Theory of Knowledge. This one is a little older, but in my opinion it's still one of the best. Another decent introduction is Robert Audi's Epistemology. Another good introduction is by Goldman and McGrath, but in my opinion it tries to do too much for an introduction.

As far as ethics is concerned, depending on your level, a good place to start is Gensler's Ethics. This is a decent survey of a number of ethical 'schools', although the downside is that it is too clear that Gensler is heavily biased towards the Golden Rule, and the tone of the book is a little on the sophomoric side. Another decent introduction is this book, which selects some writings from major philosophers and gets your feet wet at least. Of course there are many more books, but I am assuming you're at an introductory level, so there you go.

u/CutieBK · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

First off I think a good place to start is to try to isolate atleast some questions that strike you as particularly interesting. Simply starting at random in the midst of the endless mounds of philosophy done in the analytic style is a horrible and frustrating endeavour(speaking from experience).

That being said, two really good introductury anthologies that helped me alot are: Chalmer's The Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. It contains key essays by key thinkers in the field as well as some really helpful considerations by Chalmers who attempts to tie the different schools together and show similarities and differences.
And Martinich's The Philosophy of Language which contains a big chunk of classical and semi-contemporary essays in the subject. Both are a great place to start if you want to go directly to the source and read the actual essays as opposed to secondary litterature.

Seeing as you are already familiar with Husserl and the earlier phenomenology I think going through philosophy of language can be a good idea. As Frege was a central character in Husserls earlier writings, it sets an interesting background to some of the differences in interpretation we find in the early analytic philosophers who were, like Husserl, inspired by Frege but came to radically different conclusions and interpretations.
Morris has written a really neat introductory book called An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language that goes well with Martinich's anthology.

Hope this helps!

edit: spelling, links

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/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/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/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/shiftless_drunkard · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

It sounds like you are getting some good advice in here. I'd also suggest the Prolegomena - It's essentially the Cliff's Notes.

I'll suggest The Routledge Companion: Kant and The Critique of Pure Reason

This book is great. It walks you through the CPR in a nice step-by-step way. It also has a great primer on the history of philosophy that motivated Kant's project in the CPR.

Unsolicited Advice: Just take your time. Be patient. You can do it.

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/Slims · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

I'm going to recommend something perhaps lighter and easier than the other posters so far (who have recommended great stuff): Sophie's World. It's a fiction novel that will also give you a crash course in the history of Western philosophy. I always recommend it to people who are just getting into philosophy but don't want to read the dense stuff. It's a wonderful book and it's fast and easy to read.

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/1066443507 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

This is an excellent suggestion. If you want an easier read you might consider Nagel's What Does it All Mean? This book is excellent, very short, and very easy to get through. Probably the closest you can get to an absolute beginner's guide to philosophy.

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/Rope_Dragon · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Don't think that logic is the be all and end all of ideas! After all, what is the foundation of logic except assumed axioms? I'd see logic more as a tool than as a justification in itself! Depending on how far you want to go, there are two types to choose from as a beginner. Either you can start at informal logic, which goes more into reasoning / debate skills in an informal way; or you can go into formal logic which is the more difficult (but more rewarding) study of argument structure and the more mathematical way of evaluating arguments. My favorite books for these two types, in order, are:

The Philosopher's Toolkit - Got this one recommended to me relatively recently and it's now my go to recommendation for people starting out in philosophy and informal logic. The book not only covers informal logic, but also debate method and terms/jargon! Very handy.

For formal:

Patrick J Hurley's concise introduction to logic - I read an earlier edition of this and Hurley's book is great. It takes you through various formal systems in order (categorical logic, propositional logic and first order logic). Each section also has plenty of questions and exercises, so you aren't at a loss for practice! The only gripe I have with this book is that I don't like the symbols he uses (dots for conjunction, eurgh!).

If you just want to learn reasoning skills and debate strategy, I'd say read the toolkit! If, however, you want to go deeper into the rabbit hole after (or straight away) then read into formal logic. I personally did the latter :)

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/ADefiniteDescription · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

You should just read this book. It's extremely easy and still very useful, and written by the best philosopher of maths currently alive.

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/stoic9 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I really enjoyed Dennett's Consciousness Explained. Chalmers' The Conscious Mind presents another popular view which, if I recall correctly, opposes Dennett's views. I'm slowly getting into work's by Steven Pinker.

Probably a general Philosophy of Mind reader would also benefit you just to get a good idea of the different views and topics out there within the discipline. I cannot remember which one I read years ago, although if I read one today I'd pick Chalmers' Philosophy of Mind or Kim's Philosophy of Mind.

u/scrackin · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

It depends on if you want to learn about "philosophy" as in the ideas that philosophers have put down and discussed, or if you want "philosophy" as a method of working with those (or any) ideas. Personally, I've always been more interested in philosophy as a method, so if you'd like to eventually be able to have meaningful discourse on philosophical subjects, something like The Philosopher's Toolkit would be a worthwhile read.

u/Prothyne · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I already have Penguin classics' version of The Republic and Wordsworth Edition's version of The Symposium and the Death of Socrates. However, I haven't read them yet. Also I know it's quite a hefty investment, but do you reckon it would be good a idea to just get Plato's complete works? ( I've also heard that John Cooper's translations and notes are good for a beginner (according to A LOT of Amazon reviews). Thanks a lot.

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/mrfurious · 6 pointsr/askphilosophy

You're welcome! I think one of the best resources out there for these distinctions and other important preliminaries to philosophy is The Philosopher's Toolkit. Chapter 4 does a good job on many of the distinctions.

u/peritrope_ · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Popper's ideas are of the practical kind, regarding scientific inquiry. It is not epistemology in the traditional sense. For example, would you say that your empirically based idea X is knowledge? If you say yes, how do you know that tomorrow you won't discard it for an idea that fits the criteria even better, even if today you don't think anything could possibly fit the criteria better than your current idea? Many ideas that fit the criteria are eventually discarded not because a detail or a few in them can be improved, but because they turn out to be completely false (look at the history of physics, for example). Such epistemology is practically useful, however, it says nothing about epistemic justification.

There are a lot of theories in epistemology. Read the 'epistemology' entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Find a book about epistemology, such as this

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/WillieConway · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Have you read Confucius and confucianism? That's really where this stuff gets treated philosophically.

If you want a philosophical idea of childhood and consent rooted in Western philosophy, then you've got to read diverse thinkers of the past three centuries. John Locke has a lot to say about children, so maybe start there.

Also, I might be presumptuous, in which case I apologize--but are you a teenager? If so, you might benefit from reading a good introduction to philosophy. You can find several if you use the search bar, but I always recommend the novel Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. It is a story designed to introduce philosophy to teenagers.

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/hungryascetic · 0 pointsr/askphilosophy

You're right, I'm not a physicist, but I'm well educated in physics. On the other hand, it seems that you didn't read my post, and that you are not well acquainted with either the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics, nor with the rich literature in philosophy of science with respect to the MWI and it's implications. I suggest you take a look at David Albert's Quantum Mechanics and Experience, David Wallace's The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory according to the Everett Interpretation and the anthology Many Worlds?: Everett, Quantum Theory, & Reality.

u/2ysCoBra · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

After flirting with nihilism and existentialism for a long time I, personally, came to the conclusion that the notion that all of this is here without any sort of explanation or without any direction or purpose runs directly against common human intuition. It seems to me to be a belief on par with properly basic beliefs such as the reality of the past, reality of the external world, etc. Perhaps it's a step up, and not quite that basic, but I digress.

Now, some (see Thomas Nagal's "Mind & Cosmos") argue for natural teleology, in which purpose is inherently embedded in the universe and does not need a transcendent mind such as God to give it purpose. Personally, I agree with a very hefty amount of Nagal's positions, but find his critique of the theistic explanation lacking.

For a theistic perspective on the issue, I highly recommend William Lane Craig's following article and podcast episode that addresses this.

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/Emperor_Palpadick · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

FYI, I was specifically told not to use the Stambaugh English translation of Being and Time, the one you linked to.

Anyways, in my edition the chapter is "How the worldly character of the environment announces itself in entities within-the-world."

The sentence you pick out is in bold, here's the surrounding paragraph for context, as I think it will help you see what Heidegger is saying: "To the everydayness of Being-in-the-world there belong certain modes of concern. These permit the entities with which we concern ourselves to be encountered in such a way that the worldly character of what is within-the-world comes to the the fore. When we concern ourselves with something, the entities which are most closely ready-to-hand may be met as something unusuable, not properly adapted for the use we have decided upon."

This comes from the the Macquarrie and Robinson edition which was recently reprinted.

u/notphilosophy · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Here's a link for an authoritative translation:

We used this during my undergrad studies. Hackett is a solid publisher for anything philosophical, FYI. As far as commentary goes, this text has intros to each work and annotations throughout. SEP will be a good second hand resource outside of that.

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/crank12345 · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

You are probably beyond this stage, but I would generally suggest Shapiro,, to a student interested in that topic as a good starting point.

u/Curates · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

>If 99% of all possible observers are in worlds without property X, then being in a world with property X is fairly strong evidence that modal realism is false.

Yes, assuming omniscience, but this presumption cannot ever be justified. Setting aside the objection that 1% is not altogether unlikely on the scale of cosmological fine tunings, the modal realist can always say:

"Though you may think that property X should only appear in the universe to 10^-10^10 % of conscious observers, much more likely is that you are simply mistaken as to what demands must be met in order for physical laws to be compatible with conscious observers in any particular universe."

>So either there's something special about consciousness that only allows it to arise in universes which have lots of structure everywhere, we need some less naive way to quantify over possible worlds that massively increases the density of worlds with sensible physical laws, or modal realism is almost certainly false.

It seems like you've slipped in a commitment to non-haeccitism about personal identity. If you are capable of experiencing multiple worlds at once, the existence of Boltzmann brains should pose no problem for you. While the majority of "worlds" containing mathematical substructures isomorphic to particular brain states corresponding to the course of your own life will not be stable, what you experience must be (says the modal realist) an emergent quasi-classical universe, for whatever reason to do with how the large scale structure of the mathematical universe tracks personal identity over isomorphic substructures.

This is a greatly underserved area of philosophy, but there is some work broaching the edge. Here are some good resources.

u/LeeHyori · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

This is a really good book that I had to use in my philosophy of mathematics course. It's very accessible, and gives you a great introduction to philosophy of mathematics. It keeps things in perspective and reminds you what's at stake, the main questions, all in historical context:

Here's a professional review of the book attesting to its awesomeness:

u/ajantis · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

It seems to me that your comments encompass wide range of topics but i think the problem of truth and meaning is at the center. Of course there is a huge literature about these topics but for a start Nietzsche's On Truth and Lie in An Extra Moral Sense can work as a thought provoking piece.

If you are into more scientific type of literature Maturana and Varela's Tree of Knowledge offers a theory of cognition which basically argues that all experience and knowledge are self-referential and constructed relative to the organisation and history of living systems.

In English speaking philosophy William James and Whitehead's different versions of empiricism are good places to look. In continental philosophy Foucault's writings on truth/knowledge can be helpful to put the concept in context of a more sociological perspective.

Edit note: The philosophical field which focus on these issues is called epistemology, some secondary and introductory type of books can work. For example Robert Audi's [Epistemology] (

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/simism66 · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I think the best general introduction to philosophy is Simon Blackburn's Think. It's fairly short and very readable, and it goes from topic to topic talking about both historical and contemporary approaches. This book also might helpful for OP.

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/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/atfyfe · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Not a paper but a short-ish book: For my graduate philosophy of quantum mechanics course we used David Z. Albert's 'Quantum Mechanics and Experience' book. It was great.

(Amazon link: )

u/Youre_A_Kant · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

A tour guide may not be a bad idea depending on familiarity with the subject of the House of Kant.

I found Gardner and [Pinkard](German Philosophy 1760-1860: The Legacy of Idealism particularly useful.

u/Shleppinstein · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

The standard around these parts is the John M. Cooper. The Complete Works is a handsome volume.


edit: "These parts" refers to where I went to school... several good sized Canadian departments.

u/Mauss22 · 4 pointsr/askphilosophy

For "where to start" with books, see this FAQ post, from r/askphilosophyFAQ. There are Introductory anthologies, like these. Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy is something I read at about that age, and it was great (with some caveats).

There are also anthologies for Chinese & Indian Philosophy, or introductions to Chinese & Indian Philosophy; or an intro anthology to World Philosophy.

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/Pantagruelist · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Agree with Plato’s Republic as a good book to start with real philosophers. For an even more beginner kind of approach though, you can try Sophie’s World.

u/NYCWallCrawlr · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

I would suggest: Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False by Thomas Nagel.

Here is the first few paragraphs of the summary/synopsis excerpt from Amazon if you are interested:

>The modern materialist approach to life has conspicuously failed to explain such central mind-related features of our world as consciousness, intentionality, meaning, and value. This failure to account for something so integral to nature as mind, argues philosopher Thomas Nagel, is a major problem, threatening to unravel the entire naturalistic world picture, extending to biology, evolutionary theory, and cosmology.

>Since minds are features of biological systems that have developed through evolution, the standard materialist version of evolutionary biology is fundamentally incomplete. And the cosmological history that led to the origin of life and the coming into existence of the conditions for evolution cannot be a merely materialist history, either. An adequate conception of nature would have to explain the appearance in the universe of materially irreducible conscious minds, as such.

>Nagel's skepticism is not based on religious belief or on a belief in any definite alternative. In Mind and Cosmos, he does suggest that if the materialist account is wrong, then principles of a different kind may also be at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic.

>In spite of the great achievements of the physical sciences, reductive materialism is a world view ripe for displacement. Nagel shows that to recognize its limits is the first step in looking for alternatives, or at least in being open to their possibility.

And on Thomas Nagel, per Wikipedia:

>Thomas Nagel is an American philosopher. He is University Professor of Philosophy and Law, Emeritus, at New York University,[1] where he taught from 1980 to 2016.[2] His main areas of philosophical interest are legal philosophy, political philosophy, and ethics.[3]
>Nagel is well known for his critique of material reductionist accounts of the mind, particularly in his essay "What Is it Like to Be a Bat?" (1974), and for his contributions to deontological and liberal moral and political theory in The Possibility of Altruism (1970) and subsequent writings. He continued the critique of reductionism in Mind and Cosmos (2012), in which he argues against the neo-Darwinian view of the emergence of consciousness.

A highly interesting and influential work on consciousness, which seems to be exactly what you're looking for. Let me know what you think!

u/drasil · 21 pointsr/askphilosophy

Nagel's book is what does it all mean? a very short introduction to philosophy.

he's not kidding, either--it's only 112 pages of extremely easy reading. I've used it in teaching secondary-level intro philosophy survey classes as the first text. it's incredibly useful for total novices and the high school crowd.

if you have no idea what epistemology even is, this an excellent place to start.

u/terrifyingdiscovery · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Anthony Kenny's A New History of Western Philosophy is very good. Kenny has compared it to both Russel and Copleston, saying he wanted to be as readable as the former and as accurate as the latter. Each volume is divided into historical survey and analysis. It looks like the one-volume edition is what's currently available.

It does stop in the 1970s, and some have complained that Derrida gets the short shrift. But I found the writing accessible and the work thorough. Augustine and Wittgenstein, in particular, get some very good attention.

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/Cullf · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Chalmers has also published a pretty accessible anthology of classic readings in the Philosophy of Mind.

u/oneguy2008 · 12 pointsr/askphilosophy

Hmm .. try Shapiro's Thinking about Mathematics. It's very good and accessible, and Shapiro is quite eminent.

u/juffowup000 · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

That one is also contained in the Hackett edition of Plato's complete works edited by John Cooper, which is really good and only $50

u/gettingintostuff · 5 pointsr/askphilosophy

Hey man I read this amazing book called Sophie’s world.

Completely written for kids in a story format. Goes from atomists to Marx and beyond. I seriously recommend it.

Seriously if you just get them to start it, and you’re done. lol.

u/hell_books · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Really? Nolt's Logics? Besides the numerous errors, it's telling that the book has not come out in a second edition.

I think Quine's Methods of Logic remains a fantastic text, if it is a bit dated and filled with Quinean quirks. A more recent text, Ted Siders' Logic for Philosophy is also very good, although the exercises are sometimes quite difficult. I would combine Sider's text with a book on metalogic, since he skips over some of that. Kleene's Mathematical Logic is a classic text by a real giant in the history of 20th century logic. Those should keep someone busy for a good year of study. If you want to branch out, Graham Priest's Introduction to Non-classical Logics will get you started in modal, tense, epistemic, paraconsistent and dialethic logics, also by a contemporary giant in the field.

After that, I would go on to set theory, and stop when I had a grasp of forcing.

u/Snugglerific · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Russell's history is great, but Anthony Kenny's updates it for the 21st century:

u/I_see_stupidpeople · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

I personally enjoyed David Edmond's "Would You Kill the Fat Man" and Thomas Nagel's "What does it All Mean" both provided a good foundation to tackle more challenging writings.

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/McHanzie · 9 pointsr/askphilosophy

Nah, Russell was somewhat biased and did interpret a lot of philosophers just wrong. Also, he smears his positivist opinion all over the place. Anthony Kenny's [A New History of Western Philosophy] ( fits you way better.

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/Beholder_of_Eyes · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

This what you're after. I can link a PDF if you need.

u/Kevin_Scharp · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

Check out Kenny's A New History of Western Philosophy, especially book IV, which covers way more of the 20th century than Russell's book.

u/hail_pan · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

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

u/CallMeMaestro · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

That's a terrible video. There's a huge amount of misinformation about quantum physics on the internet.

You could try starting with this SEP article

Or check out David Albert or Tim Maudlin. This book is good.

u/TranscendentalObject · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Hopping into Deleuze as your first philosopher must have been absolutely brutal. I can't think of a harder introduction. Read Sophie's World for a nice introduction to a whole slew of thinkers responsible for philosophy's foundation.

u/pgsr · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

This is a difficult topic because the subject matter of logic is contestable. For instance, is logic about the laws of thought or is it about language or is it about reality? If it is about language, then classical logic is highly dubious. In ordinary language, A does not characteristically imply A or B. Nor does A and not A characteristically imply B in ordinary language.

In answer to your question, it depends on what the subject matter of logic is, and what logic is under consideration. If you want to know more, I recommend studying classical logic (propositional and predicate logic) and then reading Graham Priest's An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic.

u/Sich_befinden · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

I'm not great for current consensus, though 'evo psych' doesn't have the best rep.

Here are a few places to start looking...

u/topoi · 3 pointsr/askphilosophy

It depends what you're trying to get out of it.

There are literally hundreds of introductory texts for first-order logic. Other posters can cover them. There's so much variety here that I would feel a bit silly recommending one.

For formal tools for philosophy, I would say David Papineau's Philosophical Devices. There's also Ted Sider's Logic for Philosophy but something about his style when it comes to formalism rubs me the wrong way, personally.

For a more mathematical approach to first-order logic, Peter Hinman's Fundamentals of Mathematical Logic springs to mind.

For a semi-mathematical text that is intermediate rather than introductory, Boolos, Burgess, and Jeffrey's Computability and Logic is the gold standard.

Finally, if you want to see some different ways of doing things, check out Graham Priest's An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic.

u/Wegmarken · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

Referring to Heidegger's view, there are a couple basic ideas. One is that we are faced by uncertainty throughout our lives, and one source of uncertainty is the unknown-ness of the future, which we're always moving towards. Our response is often to keep ourselves busy with everyday superficial existence, or take root in nostalgia for an idealized past, but Heidegger sees these responses as being inauthentic responses to the problem. Another partly related source of anxiety is in the future, and that's death; we can't be certain of anything in the future except for the fact that we will die.

Heidegger's 'solution' to this problem is to encourage us to face our death head-on, although it's less gloomy than it seems at first. What facing our sources of anxiety does is break us out of our more superficial ways of existence and gets us to really own who we are and what we'll do with our lives.

There's a lot more to this, and due to it being Heidegger, it's admittedly not easy, but most of this comes up in division II of Being and Time, although due to the difficulty of the text, the SEP or some more accessible secondary text might be a better place to start, unless you want a challenge, in which case go for it and good luck!