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Books and links for beginner philosophy



  • Closed Accounts Posts: 79 ✭✭✭ lost_lad

    lost_lad wrote:
    The Passsion of the Western Mind by Richard Tarnas. and a good dictionarry.

    I'm new to philosophy but this book gives a fantastic in chronological order history of philosophy in the west from greece to now. I have been reading it and now know what i would like to learn more of and what i would like to steer clear of, for now.

    Cant believe i typoed dictionary.. Muppet!!! :D

  • Registered Users Posts: 28 ✭✭✭ WHEELER4

    The first post in this thread is quite enlightening and all the other posts. It seems to me that no one has a clear idea of what philosophy is. Most think it is "to be skeptical". That philosophy is an excercise in "criticism".

    The word "philosophy" was coined by Pythagoras. It is different from the word "sophos" and it was coined in opposition to the word "sophos".

    Philosophy means a "love of truth". A love of wisdom. Not that anyone is wise at all. If you have no love or concept of "Truth" or "Wisdom", then you can not be a "philosopher". You can be a "sophos" but not a "philosopher". There is a big difference there.

    Why people get "criticism" confused with philosophy is because one of the first principles of philosophy is the "Principle of consistency". This principles is one the central features of logic. Socrates used this principle to great effect in his dialogues. Truth is consistent and coherent. Falsity is inconsistent. Socrates used this method to determine what someone said was true or false.

    The book to read is "Introduction to Philosophy" by Jacques Maritain. His is an excellent book.

  • Moderators, Arts Moderators, Regional Abroad Moderators Posts: 10,493 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Fysh

    For anyone looking for an entertaining and uncomplicated entry-point for philosophy (including pointers for further reading) in an original form, you could do worse than Action Philosophers!. While it's a light-hearted comic, it is a fairly faithful guide to the philosophies it describes and includes useful commentaries on the texts the writer based his scripts on. It's like a visual alternative to those "...for beginners" or "Sophie's World"-type books.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 Chris_dub

    Sophies World is generally taken to be a great introduction to philosophy. I've read it about 12 times now and it always manages to enlighten me a bit more every time, provided I can get round the way the plot is laid out.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,731 DadaKopf

    Yeah, that book nearly single-handedly got me into philosophy. Around that time, I realised there was nothing else I wanted to study (except politics). It's a really accessible book, but the story's crap! Thing about it is: it leaves so much important philosophy out, but once you get into philosophy, there's no going back!

    Anyone read Deleuze and Guattari?

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 132 ✭✭ Crubeens

    I have read, or tried to read, many books by the well known philosophers - the ones you'd be proud to be able to quote from! But much of time their thoughts and theories provide me with great intellectual fodder, but do nothing for me spiritually.

    What I like about Philosophy is that it makes me think about my life, how and why I am living it, and how I might make it better for me and those around me. With that in mind, I have often enjoyed books like The Alchemist and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari etc more than deep, technical 'philosophical' books. They make me look at life differently and so make it more enjoyable.

    Am I looking at the subject too simplistically? How do you feel about classifying these kinds of books as 'philosophy'?

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭ ven0m

    - Ethics In Practice by "Hugh laFolette", cos it covers Utilitarianism, Communitarianism, amongst others in the context of ethics & philosophy

    - Informal Logic by Walton, really good read & well reocmmended

    - The Art of War by tSun Zu (it is philospophy when u come down to it & really does take some utilitarian philosophical views rule-vs-act utilitarianism)

    ::: ven0mous :::

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 jinc

    Does anybody know any good Nietzche introductions/bio/readers? I started reading him on my own last year, and I think I'm getting through him alright but I could really do with a good overview on his ideas.

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 10,500 Mod ✭✭✭✭ ecksor

    Was that a recommendation for a book?

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,127 Jackie laughlin

    I would go with "Sophie's World" as a starter but my judgement might be off as I'm well down the philosophy path. I recall that Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" gave me a little nudge towards formal study.

    When it comes to popular mags., I don't find "Philosophy Now" at all useful or attractive but "Think" and "The Philosophers Magazine" are easy reads while remaing reputable. I've not seen them in the newsagents but they're quite cheap by way of subscription.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,856 ✭✭✭ Valmont

    Initially I found Paul Stratherns mini philosophers series to be a good introduction to some of the more popular philosophers which lead me into other things. They're small books and the in the series are Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Confucius, Marx, Hegel, Machiavelli, Locke and Descartes. Compact, informative and and a short overview of each philosophy.

    As said before Bertrand Russells book on Western Philosophy is brilliant if a little dated. Sartre and Wittgenstein wouldn't be included for example.

    Just discovered Sartre myself recently, bloody tough going and I need a dictionary on hand but I'm enjoying it immensely!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,139 Sauron

    Don't think this has been posted, so:

    Glyn Hughes takes the work of many prominent philosophers and "squashes" them, taking out only essential sentences and making some of them a little more readable. It's been useful enough for me so far. It also gives a handy reading time estimate at the right.

    Also, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig was quite entertaining; it was good fiction and had some very good explanations of elements of Philosophy; some good stuff about empiricism and the Molyneux Problem. He relates a lot of it to motorcycles too : ) That's what really sparked my interest in the subject... The empiricism, not the motorcycles.

    It was one of the bestselling philosophy-type-books of the 20th century or so the blurb tells me...

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,298 ✭✭✭ DenMan

    This is one I really enjoyed.

    [FONT=Geneva,Arial,sans-serif]The Object of Morality by GJ Warnock

    Really explores issues of morality and our place in a very intolerable work. Well worth a read....and a debate!

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,298 ✭✭✭ DenMan

    Sorry about that, intolerable world.

  • Registered Users Posts: 184 ✭✭ síofra

    definitely Sophie's World by Joseph Gaarder. Its the history of philosophy within a fictional framework. It goes from ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato right up to modern times. Deceptively simple but also a good story

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 352 ✭✭ Leopardi

    Bryan Magee's The Great Philosophers and Confessions of a Philosopher are well worth reading as introductions to the subject. The Great Philosophers constitutes a series of interviews with experts on major thinkers (the videos of some of the dialogues involved can be viewed on you tube). Confessions of a Philosopher is an intellectual auobiography, but it contains excellent introductions to Kant and Schopenhauer along with fascinating personal insights into the proper ways of approaching Philosophy.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 37 ✭✭✭ iswallowglass

    There are night classes on practical philosophy around the country. I took the ones in Dublin and I found them to be very effective. My life has pretty much changed since I started taking them. I am a lot happier now and my way of thinking has changed. I would really recommend them and they're not that expensive. Something like 50 euro for a 7 week beginner course. Check it out.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1 Hikikomori SAK

    The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant in which he attempts to bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism among other ambitious efforts and in my opinion does quite well.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 631 Joycey

    The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant in which he attempts to bridge the gap between rationalism and empiricism among other ambitious efforts and in my opinion does quite well.

    It couldnt really be further away from "beginner" philosophy though could it? Id suggest reading something like Hume's Enquiry Into Human Understanding before going anywhere near Kant, very readable, not too long, and hugely influencial.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3 majikthise

    I found Nicolas Fearn's "Philosophy: the latest answers to the oldest questions" to be quite good as a starting point.

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 147 ✭✭ simplistic

    The most important philosopher of our time Stefan Molyenux.


  • Registered Users Posts: 57 ✭✭✭ someoneok

    Molyneux is a great find although some of his views are not for the faint hearted. Although on closer listening he makes some great arguments for a stateless society which I recommend you listen in to make an opinion about.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 141 ✭✭ extrinzic

    Here is a great introductory series from the BBC on the following philosophers.

    Human, All Too Human : Nietzsche (1999)

    Human all too human - Martin Heidegger

    Human all too human - Sartre

    A general collection of philosophical ideas into an introductory book can be hit and miss, but I liked A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, and Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction by Will Kymlicka.

    A good dictionary of philosophy is a must. I like the The Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy. I'm sure most will agree, primary text is where it's at in the end.

    The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy is a good website. Also check out The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 141 ✭✭ extrinzic

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,480 ✭✭✭✭ philologos

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,856 ✭✭✭ Valmont

    Philosophy, Who Needs it?- Ayn Rand.

    Philosophy does matter and this book, among other things, helps explain why. This book reignited my interest in philosophy which died a nihilistic death after I finished reading Nausea and The Stranger.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,297 ✭✭✭✭ Sardonicat

    A History of Philosophy by Frederick Copleston is a great stalwart. Extending to a quite a few volumes (can't recall how many of the top of my head) it's comprehensive and very readable. I would strongly recomend it to a novice. As the title implies, it's chronological; the first volume being on Greece and Rome. If you check it out on d'oul tinternet beforehand you can find the volumes that are or interest to you. This is a pleasure to read and has saved my bacon many a time prior to exams.Often picked up a volume in second hand book shops. It's my aim to own the lot.

    As for Sophie's World....Lord preserve us!

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 539 piby

    I'm reading Tarnas at the moment and I think it's pretty handy. Also enjoyed Samir Okasha's book on philosophy of science for anyone who'd be interested in that particular part of philosophy.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21 ✭✭✭ lady of the flowers

    sophies world very readable....also there are dvds availble in the lib (in the ilac anyway) that summarise different areas in one hr programmes which may be good place to start to find out who tweeks your interest...

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 352 ✭✭ Leopardi

    There's a recently-formed group on Facebook that advertises the activities of The Waterford Philosophical Society. This group was set up in order to promote the public understanding of philosophy and intellectual history in general. Please feel free to join (regardless of your geographical location).

    For some reason, my link to the group is not working, but by searching for it on Facebook, it will easily be found!