So, thought I'd dangle this thread out there and see if I get any nibbles. (Think I may know at least one person who will participate ).
Does anyone read philosophy for school or fun? I do for both, but always find that the more people I can talk to it about it, the deeper my understanding of any treatise becomes.
So, my five favorite philosophy books of all time (in no particular order):
1. Lectures on the History of Philosophy - GWF Hegel.
Examines Geist's, or Spirit's influence on world history. Begins with prehistoric man, through Greece, Rome, Medieval Europe...all the way to Hegel's own time (mid-19th Century Germany). The purpose of Geist's journey? To reveal history and give men more and more freedom. The catalyst of history? World Historical Individuals (those who see historical epoch change coming and run to meet it) and philosophers (who describe a historical epoch and bring understanding). Hegel, IMHO, is wonderful entirely, but this is my favorite Hegelian book.
2. Contingency, Irony and Solidarity - Richard Rorty
When I first read this book I was committed to an absoute world view and a human's ability to conform to it. Yet, I read this book (it is both a philosophical text and a literature analysis) and my world started to change. Rorty, being the neo-Prgamatist he is, has both alarming and awakening things to say about morality and the nature of the world. He asks us to give up our childish notions of "truth" in order to have a dialogue about the way the world 'ought' to be. Interesting read even if you don't agree with him.
3. The Theory of Moral Sentiments - Adam Smith
Twenty years before Smith's much more well-known book, The Wealth of Nation's came out, Smith was a professor of ethics in Scotland. Perhaps one of the most vilified men in our time (the first espouser of capitalism as we know it, gasp!), Smith's moral treatise tries to prove that sympathy is the fundamental and correct moral attitude. Was he carrying this line of thinking farther in Wealth of Nations? I don't know, still writing my honors thesis on it.
4. Philosophical Investigations - Ludwig Wittgenstein
Wittgenstein got caught up in the Analytic tradition prevalent in English universities at the beginning of the 20th Century. He wrote his Tractatus while a soldier in WWI and determined that he had found the answer to life, the universe and everything through logical investigation (and no, the answer was not 42 ). But, then he began to rexamine some of his positions and found out that life is not always good at conforming to logical principles. His Investigations bring out a varied life experience, procedures for investigating our world that might not bring answers but will bring hope and, at the very least, is a fascinating glimpse into a truly brilliant mind.
5. Beyond Good & Evil - Frederich Nietzsche
Okay, so I know it's "cool" to like Nietzsche. Will to Power baby, yeah! God is Dead! But in reality, Nietzsche has so much to say beyond his catch taglines. He takes on the Christian church not because he's trying to be controversial, but because he sees them as a worthy opponent who got the human life wrong and are causing suffering. He loves the Greeks, but he hates some of their idealism. He sees why morality is good for some, but asks us, if we can, to rise above it and create the true human life. His writings are both literary and shocking. They are also soulful and contemplative. Nietzsche is hard too, he demands that we take responsibility for ourselves and who we have become. Perhaps this is philosophy's greatest assignment.
Agree disagree with my choices or reasons for liking one of the above? Have some of your own you would like to share? Want to hash out proposisition #13 in the Tractatus? I'm game!
I'm currently reading Spinoza's Ethics in a summer reading group and if anyone, anyone, has anything they would like to share with me about it, please do so. I am having some trouble getting my mind wrapped around it.
Mostly the whole substance/attributes as essence of substance issue.