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Philosophy books for the first time reader? watch

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    Hey,

    I've always been interested in philosophy, but i've never actually read a proper work. What would you guys recommend for a beginner? I've only read books like 'Zeno and the Tortoise' and 'Solitaire Mystery' and 'Sophie's World'.

    Thx!
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    What sort of philosophy? For what ends are you reading? When you were reading Sophie's World et al., what bits did you enjoy?
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    Well, I assume you're competent at reading then, so probably A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell. That'll give you a fair idea of quite a few things in Western Philosophy at least, and if there's an area which takes your fancy or an area you disagree with Russell on - you can read further into that area.
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    I'd read a few of Plato's dialogues, especially The Republic. Plato's very readable, I find.

    I'd agree that Russell is worth reading, though his History is bloody long.

    For shorter works, I'd recommend:
    Russell's The Problems of Philosophy, available for free at http://www.ditext.com/russell/russell.html

    G E Moore's Ethics http://fair-use.org/g-e-moore/ethics/

    I'd also recommend you post on some dedicated philosophy forums.
    http://www.ephilosopher.com/phpBB_14.html is better, but http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/phpbb/index.php is more friendly.
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    thx guys for the recommendations! i'll def. try them out.
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    (Original post by Inspiron)
    Well, I assume you're competent at reading then, so probably A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell. That'll give you a fair idea of quite a few things in Western Philosophy at least, and if there's an area which takes your fancy or an area you disagree with Russell on - you can read further into that area.
    I'd second this one. Very nice overview, and he tends to openly state his opinions rather than presenting them as consensus or fact.
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    Not Metaphysics.
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    (Original post by Alex_K)
    Not Metaphysics.
    Metaphysics as in Aristotle's Metaphysics, or the subject as a whole?

    Though I think that both would not be particularly interesting for a relative novice.
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    (Original post by phawkins1988)
    Metaphysics as in Aristotle's Metaphysics, or the subject as a whole?

    Though I think that both would not be particularly interesting for a relative novice.
    Both might well put a novice off.
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    Really? In my (limited to my tiny section of space and time) experience it's usually some metaphysical issue or another that draws people into philosophy. Ask your man on the street what philosophy is about, and you'll often get some set of metaphysical questions as a result. Metaphysics is the most culturally visible area of Western philosophy.
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    (Original post by Iago)
    Really? In my (limited to my tiny section of space and time) experience it's usually some metaphysical issue or another that draws people into philosophy. Ask your man on the street what philosophy is about, and you'll often get some set of metaphysical questions as a result. Metaphysics is the most culturally visible area of Western philosophy.
    I quite agree that if you ask your average man in the street, he'll come back with a metaphysical question. But from reading a book on metaphysics, your average man is unlikely to find out (convincingly) if God exists, or what the meaning of life is. And I doubt he's interested in monism vs dualism etc.

    Epistemology is a better intro - either that or ethics, in my view. Both are accessible and interesting.
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    So you think that we are more sorted with regard to answers in epistemology or ethics?
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    (Original post by Iago)
    So you think that we are more sorted with regard to answers in epistemology or ethics?
    No, not at all.

    But the kind of epistemological discussions you might get in Russell's Problems for instance are more accessible to a novice reader, whereas ethics is accessible in so far as it can easily be related to.
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    (Original post by Mercer)
    I'd second this one. Very nice overview, and he tends to openly state his opinions rather than presenting them as consensus or fact.
    this is one of the first books i read that got me interested in philly, as well as a very easy introductory book by thomas nagel, i think it's called 'what is it all about?' or something to that effect. Also European philosophy is very interesting, the likes of Camus' 'L'Etranger' and Sartre are very readable.
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    (Original post by voronwe)
    this is one of the first books i read that got me interested in philly, as well as a very easy introductory book by thomas nagel, i think it's called 'what is it all about?' or something to that effect. Also European philosophy is very interesting, the likes of Camus' 'L'Etranger' and Sartre are very readable.
    Yeh, Sartre is readable for a beginner and also David Hume 'tells it like it is' approach is accesible. Also the Artificial Intelligence debate can be interesting for a novice or philosophy of religion.
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    i think if he's a first time reader, it would be better to start with a general overview to put thinkgs in context a bit - 'Think' by Simon Blackburn is a very good overview of various different, inter connecting topics. Then you could more onto some other original books... maybe...
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    After two years of philosophy studying I've realised why so many people are turned off by it...loads of the books are amazingly impossible to read. Books like Descartes' Meditations and Russell's Problems of Philosophy are fairly short and are written as methodological investigations from their point of views. This means things are often explained simply and are therefore much easier to read.

    Also, there are lots of study guides and things which are really good. The ones that pretty much got me through A-level, as I did the very broad Philosophy of Mind, were a book called the "Introduction to the Philosophy of the Mind" by Keith Maslin and "Philosophy of the Mind" by Smith and Jones.

    Lots of people think philosophy is just people sitting around chinstroking and spouting pretentious *******s, and it's because they don't read the books that explain things clearly!
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    Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance is a good start. It's a work of philosophy rather than an overview, but is very accessible and really relates a lot of philosophical ideas to life.

    I thought sophie's world was dull and over-rated

    Agree with groovy moose -- Blackburn is an excellent writer.

    Not a fan of Russell's popular philosophy though. The way he approaches the subject is very dry and over-analytical, although he can be quite witty at times. I rate him as a philosopher, but not as a writer.
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    If you have the time, go for the history of western philosophy.

    Be warned however - the book is a clear product of it's time (post WW2). Russell atacks Plato, ancient sparta and Nitsche. His thoughts on modern physics are now outdated (obviously). He does not present an unbias take on the history of philosophy (although this is made clear,). I'm also told he misinterprets several philosophers.

    But these are all minor quibles. His style of writing is impecable and his own arguments and thoughts are interesting to read. I would highly recomend it - but maybe read a more consise book like 'a very short introduction to...' first, before embarking on such a mamoth read.
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    Schopenhaur is quite easy to read too, btw.
 
 
 
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