Question 32

Question: Do you read much philosophy? If so, who are your favorite philosophers? –sidfaiwu

Answer: I’ve never been in to philosophy. For some reason any philosopher I talked to in college seemed to be full of shit. Now I know there are several great philosophers so I’m only half-kidding. To those people reading this right now who study philosophy, I’m not talking about you of course ;)

But seriously, philosophy is definitely one of my weaknesses that I would like to improve upon. So I’ll throw a question out to you guys: What are a few books that would be geared towards the novice philosopher like myself?


10 Responses to “Question 32”

  1. sidfaiwu says:

    Studying philosophy is best done in groups. I’ve gotten far more out of discussions over philosophic books than from reading those same books. For that very reason, I will likely try to create a forum that will focus on philosophy. You would, of course, be welcome to join.

    That being said, here is a list of my favorite philosophical writings:

    Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Decartes. He clearly defined the mind-body problem.

    Any philosophy that Leibniz writes. He only wrote 2 formal philosophy books, one of which is Theodicee, but his metaphysics is collected in The Monadology, if you are interested.

    Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (there is no matter!) is a very easy read, but deep conceptually.

    A Treatise of Human Nature by David Hume. He really triumphed skepticality.

    For modern ethics, I’d go with Peter Singer, especially Rethinking Life and Death. This book put the final nail in the coffin for my Christianity. It showed me just how ethically wrong Christian belief can be.

    If you do decide to read any of this, let me know. I’d love to discuss it.

  2. Bones says:

    I’d reccomend Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead. Both are decent novels if you can get by Rand’s preachiness. Oh, and feel free to skip Galt’s ~56 (I think) page monologue in Atlas Shrugged, it’s retardedly redundant if you’ve been paying attention. Anyway, I’m not suggesting people should just become literal Objectivists, but if you come from a very Christian or otherwise altruistic background they’re good material for making you question some of your basic assumptions.

    But the best thing, I think, is that they’re decent novels (despite the 1-d characters) and they’re life affirming. As in, you’re in control of your own destiny life affirming.

  3. sidfaiwu says:

    That was a good book (Atlas Shrugged) and I read that entire damn Galt speech. I thought of it as a right of passage. Rand’s book is very thought provoking, but they represent a defense of Objectivism that contain some logical flaws. And watch out for Randroids! They are more zealous than fundies.

  4. Bones says:

    Well if you thought of it as a right of passage (which I take to mean something that must be endured to prove your worth) I think you missed the point :).

    I kid, mostly.

    And let me stress again that I’m not an objectivist. I’m more of an asshole.

  5. Shaze says:


    Bones: I’m stealing that line.

  6. Chris says:

    Well, there is always the children’s book Sofie’s Verden (Norwegian) or Sofie’s world by Jostein Gaarder.

    It’s a “western philosophy for absolute dummies” in the form of a fiction novel. I read it in Swedish, and found it to be highly entertaining. Since I do a lot of associative reading, it helped me move on to several philosopher’s work.

    Then you have Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. It’s a very good read, and seems accessible for a very diverse group of people.

    However, many Science-Fiction novels are also drenched in Philosophickal or Socio-Political questions. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, Asimov’s “End of Eternity” and “Foundation” come to mind as well as Iain M Banks “Culture” novels. From that perspective, Neal Stephenson’s Historical trilogy is definately worth the read.

    To get in touch with the right questions it’s not always necessary to wrestle through “The Republic” or other such works.

  7. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello Criss,

    I enjoyed Sofie’s World by Jostein Gaarder, but preferred his book, The Solitaire Mystery. Both are well worth the read. I just recently finished Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle and loved it. But I did find a lot more philosophical content (especially epistemology) in Snow Crash.

    I’ve read most of the other books you mentioned other than Iain M Banks. If his stuff is on par with most of the other stuff you’ve mentioned, I’ll have to check them out.

    Anyway, you are right, to do philosophy, one is not required to read “The Republic” or the like. Doing so, however, is well worth the effort.

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