Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

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Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby pinkladydragon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:30 pm

I am very much a beginner with respect to philosophy. To fill this big gap in my education, I have a few philosophy books lined up for reading. The one I am currently reading is Nigel Warburton's Philosophy: the basics. I like this book because it presents the history of the subject through the development of philosophical thinking on issues such as: God and religion generally, right and wrong (ethics), politics, mind, science etc, etc. It discusses some of the main arguments, both for and against, issues relating to these topics and in very easy to read i.e. non-technical, language.

I must buy these books on-line since there is no place locally that sells much in the way of philosophy books. The disadvantage of buying on-line is, of course, that one cannot see what one is buying (e.g. Amazon's Look Inside function very often doesn't show much of the book).

To help me better select philosophy books for reading, I wonder if forum members have any personal recommendations to make? Do you have a favourite book on philosophy - on any branch of philosophy or on any particular philosopher - that you would recommend to a beginner such as myself?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby promethean75 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:53 pm

Russell's 'history of western philosophy' is supposed to be really good. I've only read some of it, and many years ago. But there's a better way. Remember how we used to read those 'chose your own adventure' books when we were kids? The ones where if you wanted to trust the man and let him fly your ship - turn to page 26 - or refuse his offer and stay on Mars for two more days - turn to page 53. You can do this with your study of philosophy, too. How? Two words; wiki pedia. It sounds lame but it really isn't. What you do is begin your quest at the Wikipedia page on 'philosophy'. As you read, various hyperlinks will spark your curiosity, and off to another page you'll go. But you have to map your movement; remember where you went and don't forget where you came from. You might want to go back and chose a different quest, see. Keep mental notes of the places you've gone or it's very easy to become lost and overwhelmed.

Wikipedia is much more interactive than a book, free, and you don't have fiddle with turning pages.

Good luck, you fledgling philosopher. And remember; the unexamined life is totally worth living.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby Meno_ » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:20 pm

Pinklady, hello and welcome!

I would suggest Will Durant's History of Philosophy as a starting point . It is really comprehensive and easy to reference.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby Exuberant Teleportation » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:30 pm

I found some beginner level philosophy books from my public library. And I found some complex ones too. The easy ones at my library had a brief description of all of the philosophies, from plato to kant, and the hard ones were individual, like spinoza's ethics, or stephen hawking's the universe in a nutshell.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby pinkladydragon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:41 pm

promethean75 wrote:Russell's 'history of western philosophy' is supposed to be really good. I've only read some of it, and many years ago.


Ah, now I recognise that title. A relative used to have that book on their bookshelf. I remember thumbing through it but at the time, philosophy was not an interest so I didn't even attempt to read it (as it happens. I recognise Russell's name - Russell's paradox - from maths. Same man, I think?

But there's a better way. Remember how we used to read those 'chose your own adventure' books when we were kids? The ones where if you wanted to trust the man and let him fly your ship - turn to page 26 - or refuse his offer and stay on Mars for two more days - turn to page 53. You can do this with your study of philosophy, too. How? Two words; wiki pedia. It sounds lame but it really isn't. What you do is begin your quest at the Wikipedia page on 'philosophy'. As you read, various hyperlinks will spark your curiosity, and off to another page you'll go. But you have to map your movement; remember where you went and don't forget where you came from. You might want to go back and chose a different quest, see. Keep mental notes of the places you've gone or it's very easy to become lost and overwhelmed
.


Excellent idea! I do like reading books but I know that there's a lot of stuff out there on the internet that I would also like to dip into too. Looks like I'm going to be doing a multi-media course on philosophy.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby pinkladydragon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:45 pm

Meno_ wrote:Pinklady, hello and welcome!

I would suggest Will Durant's History of Philosophy as a starting point . It is really comprehensive and easy to reference.



Hello, Meno_. Thanks for the recommendation. Noted name and title and I'll investigate. Histories always give a good overview before getting into detail.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby pinkladydragon » Sat Oct 19, 2019 3:48 pm

Exuberant Teleportation wrote:I found some beginner level philosophy books from my public library. And I found some complex ones too. The easy ones at my library had a brief description of all of the philosophies, from plato to kant, and the hard ones were individual, like spinoza's ethics, or stephen hawking's the universe in a nutshell.


Thank you. I use my local library regularly. There are no philosophy books on its shelves, but you have reminded me that I could ask the librarians to do a search in the other libraries. Sadly, since our local libraries have been refurbished, they have replaced the old shelving with sparse shelving which means they now carry far fewer books.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby promethean75 » Sat Oct 19, 2019 5:49 pm

now durant's 'story of philosophy' is one i did read completely, meno, and i gotta say i wouldn't have followed it well unless i had already read some other introduction book. durant's writing is choppy. in each chapter he covers only very briefly what a few concepts mean... and then jumps directly into the mode of 'quote philosopher > don't really elaborate what he means > quote philosopher again'. the book is more a showcasing of lengthy quotations than an actual instructional... or so that's how i remember it.
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Re: Beginner's Philosophy Books: any recommendations?

Postby Meno_ » Sat Oct 19, 2019 8:08 pm

promethean75 wrote:now durant's 'story of philosophy' is one i did read completely, meno, and i gotta say i wouldn't have followed it well unless i had already read some other introduction book. durant's writing is choppy. in each chapter he covers only very briefly what a few concepts mean... and then jumps directly into the mode of 'quote philosopher > don't really elaborate what he means > quote philosopher again'. the book is more a showcasing of lengthy quotations than an actual instructional... or so that's how i remember it.


I think that may be true, though using conceptualism as a starting point ,augmenting it with Wiki, one may get away with sufficient intro.
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