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Resources for a beginner?

LibertarianWithAVoice
Posts: 76
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1/5/2014 7:20:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
As of recently I have really started getting into philosophy and have read a few small books, but I rally don't know of very many. People have told me the Analects, The Capital, and A History of Western Philosophy. If you have read any of these and could give a little review, that would be much appreciated. Also if you have any recommendations that would also be great. I personally prefer Political and Ethical but I am open to any branch of philosophy.
Thank you in advance, Jeffery.
whatledge
Posts: 210
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1/5/2014 7:34:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/5/2014 7:20:11 PM, LibertarianWithAVoice wrote:
As of recently I have really started getting into philosophy and have read a few small books, but I rally don't know of very many. People have told me the Analects, The Capital, and A History of Western Philosophy. If you have read any of these and could give a little review, that would be much appreciated. Also if you have any recommendations that would also be great. I personally prefer Political and Ethical but I am open to any branch of philosophy.
Thank you in advance, Jeffery.

I would recommend starting with Plato and Aristotle. Plato pretty much is the writer of all of Socrates' dialogues, and his own works such as the "allegory of the cave" is an interesting read. Aristotle was a bit more heavier to me, but I think out of the three, Aristotle was the greater genius, the first modern scientist, if you will, while Socrates was wiser in an abstract sense. These are of course just my opinions. But I think starting with Socrates is a great choice, and I think there is a universal lesson to be learned in why he was considered the wisest man in the world by the oracle.

I hope you enjoy reading them, if you ever choose to. Just my 2 cents.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/6/2014 6:52:33 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
If you want to Skype me, I'm trying to practice teaching this subject, so I'll be happy to help you out.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
Objectivity
Posts: 1,073
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1/6/2014 1:51:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/5/2014 7:20:11 PM, LibertarianWithAVoice wrote:
As of recently I have really started getting into philosophy and have read a few small books, but I rally don't know of very many. People have told me the Analects, The Capital, and A History of Western Philosophy. If you have read any of these and could give a little review, that would be much appreciated. Also if you have any recommendations that would also be great. I personally prefer Political and Ethical but I am open to any branch of philosophy.
Thank you in advance, Jeffery.

The Republic: Plato
Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes
The Prince: Machiavelli

Those are the three books I would say you should start with, after you are done with those message me and I'll hook you up with more advanced stuff.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/7/2014 4:07:16 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Just to say, the areas I'm comfortable teaching are:

Plato and The Republic & Laws
Aristotle Politics and Nicomachaean ethics
Hobbes and leviathan
Locke and The second treatise
Other areas of ethics (would go through major theories)
The political method
Democracy and alternatives
History of liberalism
History of socialism
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
whatledge
Posts: 210
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1/7/2014 2:21:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/7/2014 4:07:16 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
Just to say, the areas I'm comfortable teaching are:

Plato and The Republic & Laws
Aristotle Politics and Nicomachaean ethics
Hobbes and leviathan
Locke and The second treatise
Other areas of ethics (would go through major theories)
The political method
Democracy and alternatives
History of liberalism
History of socialism

I'm curious to know what you can teach beyond what the text can teach. Depending on your answer, I might be interested.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/8/2014 11:18:35 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
With the texts, the majority is what it says, the context, and modern debates on the subject (Popped,Plato and Politics for example). I'd focus with Plato on a system similar to my university course's version with regards to politics. This means:

1 week on The historical context of Plato
3-5 weeks (I'd only have an hour to an hour and a half free a week to do this) on The Republic
2-3 weeks on The Laws
2 weeks on Plato and Popper
2 on feminism and Popper
1 week on my favourite Plato text, "Plato Today" by R.H.S Crossman.

Aristotle would similarly be context, then the book, then a couple issues around the text such as his analysis of different types of state and its influence on later thinkers.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/8/2014 12:43:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Interesting how several people told you to read Plato's Republic, yet Plato states in his Republic that people, before the age of 30 years old, should not study philosophy and should instead focus on gymnastics and music (his definition of "music" is much more broad than ours). Of course that idea would be absolute heresy on this site, made up of a bunch of kids that want to be philosophers lol.

I agree with Plato. The reason why philosophy is rather useless for young people is that theideas expounded by these great thinkers need experience to resonate in. Simply deciding you are a libertarian at 20 years old and then parroting and criticizing literature created by men and women who spent many decades learning and crafting them through blood, sweat, and tears is about as useful as asking my three year-old daughter which political ideology she adheres to. Indeed, one of the greatest mechanisms for partisan politics is children being conditioned to a certain side before they even understand why!

You need life experience. The philosophy of great thinkers, once you have it, will resonate within you like a great chorus. Go out and fall in love and get your heart broken. Take a job and live on your own. Experience what it is like to live within society, and keep your eyes open. Think about what you did that worked and what you did that didn't. Experience being a good person and being a bad person. What was the difference, and why? Keep your body strong through athletics. Keep your mind strong by learning about the sciences (natural and social).

These are the real basics, not books on philosophy which are designed for people who have lived long lives of trials and tribulations and are reflecting back on their experiences. Save the philosophy for later and don't put the cart before the horse. There is plenty to learn for you right now, and plenty of philosophy to dive into later on in life.

Now I will be berated by impatient youngsters -_-
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
whatledge
Posts: 210
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1/8/2014 4:48:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/8/2014 12:43:14 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Interesting how several people told you to read Plato's Republic, yet Plato states in his Republic that people, before the age of 30 years old, should not study philosophy and should instead focus on gymnastics and music (his definition of "music" is much more broad than ours). Of course that idea would be absolute heresy on this site, made up of a bunch of kids that want to be philosophers lol.

I agree with Plato. The reason why philosophy is rather useless for young people is that theideas expounded by these great thinkers need experience to resonate in. Simply deciding you are a libertarian at 20 years old and then parroting and criticizing literature created by men and women who spent many decades learning and crafting them through blood, sweat, and tears is about as useful as asking my three year-old daughter which political ideology she adheres to. Indeed, one of the greatest mechanisms for partisan politics is children being conditioned to a certain side before they even understand why!

You need life experience. The philosophy of great thinkers, once you have it, will resonate within you like a great chorus. Go out and fall in love and get your heart broken. Take a job and live on your own. Experience what it is like to live within society, and keep your eyes open. Think about what you did that worked and what you did that didn't. Experience being a good person and being a bad person. What was the difference, and why? Keep your body strong through athletics. Keep your mind strong by learning about the sciences (natural and social).

These are the real basics, not books on philosophy which are designed for people who have lived long lives of trials and tribulations and are reflecting back on their experiences. Save the philosophy for later and don't put the cart before the horse. There is plenty to learn for you right now, and plenty of philosophy to dive into later on in life.

Now I will be berated by impatient youngsters -_-

No, I think you do have a valid point. I just think that you do not necessarily understand what experience us "youngsters" have gone through, at least not individually. And age 30 is rather arbitrary too. Also given our current society, I think children/teenagers "youngsters" develop/mature differently than they did in ancient Greece. But I think it is never too early or late to start thinking for yourself and be open to new ideas.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/10/2014 8:16:27 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/8/2014 12:43:14 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Interesting how several people told you to read Plato's Republic, yet Plato states in his Republic that people, before the age of 30 years old, should not study philosophy and should instead focus on gymnastics and music (his definition of "music" is much more broad than ours). Of course that idea would be absolute heresy on this site, made up of a bunch of kids that want to be philosophers lol.

Plato also advocated that the young only read his work, and no work of those who are likely to corrupt minds (which meant no work other than his), that music be abolished from society short of hymns praising the gods and honouring men, and that private property for the ruling class ought to be abolished (but the proles may still have it, akin to 1984's distribution of resources). The reason why people are suggesting Plato's Republic is because:

a) It is probably the most influential text on political philosophy, due to how strongly people loved it among the Christian groups (both neo-platonist intellectuals and especially Renaissance men) as well as how much importance it has had in scholarly debate.
b) It is so clearly different to our own assumptions that it forces a reader to either "put up or shut up", in the crudest terms, to defend their ideology. Shouting "but freedom!" to Plato is about as meaningful as the greeks shouting "but polis!" to us today. In fact, many who read it today still just shout freedom as an argument - studying it last term politically and doing so philosophically this is extremely common
c) It is a very well written book, with few major problems and it is easily accessible yet contains great ideas. Everyone starts with it, in fact, so having not read The Republic is a severe setback to your philosophy.

It is NOT the case, as I think you are implying, that we all support it. Indeed, while I do not hate it as virulently and ridiculously as Karl Popper does, I support Richard Crossman's assessment in that it is not practical and has large problems with the inferences the book tends to make - it is both utopian and pessimistic at the same time.

I agree with Plato. The reason why philosophy is rather useless for young people is that theideas expounded by these great thinkers need experience to resonate in. Simply deciding you are a libertarian at 20 years old and then parroting and criticizing literature created by men and women who spent many decades learning and crafting them through blood, sweat, and tears is about as useful as asking my three year-old daughter which political ideology she adheres to. Indeed, one of the greatest mechanisms for partisan politics is children being conditioned to a certain side before they even understand why!

I'd have to disagree with your interpretation of Plato here. Plato argues people do not get too heavy on one side, but instead get confused and land everywhere. This is more accurate, I'd say, as when you see a philosophically educated person argue with someone who is not - especially when the philosopher is a competent orator - the one who lacks a philosophical basis will get caught in circles and run circles around themselves. This interepretation is substantiated by the entire idea he has of Socrates in Republic and then the Mysterious Stranger in Laws. The philosopher when debating others who claim to know what is right, the philosopher simply points out their inconsistencies as the antagonist cannot justify his original position.

You need life experience. The philosophy of great thinkers, once you have it, will resonate within you like a great chorus. Go out and fall in love and get your heart broken. Take a job and live on your own. Experience what it is like to live within society, and keep your eyes open. Think about what you did that worked and what you did that didn't. Experience being a good person and being a bad person. What was the difference, and why? Keep your body strong through athletics. Keep your mind strong by learning about the sciences (natural and social).

If this were true, then you would agree that the greatest philosophers are the ones who didn't spend their lives doing philosophy? Going through the great names, like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Zeno, Chrisyppus, Polinus, Posidonius, Cato the Younger, Carneades, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, etc. to name some Ancient thinkers, not many of them only started late in life. Socrates did, arguably (though I don't think so personally - again, I side with Crossman), and Marcus Aurelius was an emporer adn Epictetus a slave. That's the large portion, though.

These are the real basics, not books on philosophy which are designed for people who have lived long lives of trials and tribulations and are reflecting back on their experiences. Save the philosophy for later and don't put the cart before the horse. There is plenty to learn for you right now, and plenty of philosophy to dive into later on in life.

What do you think the role of philosophy is in life? To simply sit back and watch as the great events go by? No, the purpose of philosophy is to understand these complex events. Doing philosophy does not stop your ethical decisions from arising. Learning the extreme difficulties of ascribing personhood and the right to life to objects vastly increases the value of your decisions, while not knowing diminishes it. I'd even go further and say that your vote and say in a democratic pluralist society is hazardous if you do not know your philosophy. If you do not understand the value of freedom or equality, then you cannot truly be exercising intelligently your votes for a freer or more equal society.

You even seem to suggest philosophy can be escaped from. We both understand this is not the case. Political decisions in life, dealing with others, contemplating your place in society and where you want your life to lead... these are all philosophical questions. Plato solves this issue by sacrificing autonomy for a benevolent leader who can answer these questions for us. I side with the modern thinkers who sacrifice any sure and confident answer for the preference of autonomy and free thinking diversity. To try to exorcise philosophy, though, is never going to lead to a solution.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,733
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1/10/2014 1:20:51 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 1/10/2014 8:16:27 AM, Stephen_Hawkins wrote:
At 1/8/2014 12:43:14 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Interesting how several people told you to read Plato's Republic, yet Plato states in his Republic that people, before the age of 30 years old, should not study philosophy and should instead focus on gymnastics and music...

Plato also advocated that the young only read his work, and no work of those who are likely to corrupt minds (which meant no work other than his), that music be abolished from society short of hymns praising the gods and honouring men, and that private property for the ruling class ought to be abolished (but the proles may still have it, akin to 1984's distribution of resources). The reason why people are suggesting Plato's Republic is because:

That's somewhat correct, but you've taken the life out of his meaning in each instance. What Plato really said was that works of fiction that would skew young people's minds should not be put upon them. Their minds are developing and do not yet know reality, so by giving them fictitious stories that mis-represent reality, we are warping their minds. Music was fine in certain scales (i.e., Ionian, Phrygian) and he looked down on minor scales that caused negative emotion. Take a band like Korn, for instance: is there not some sense in keeping this type of music away from our kids until they develop to a certain point? Keep in mind that his definition of music was not the same as ours, his definition included a lot of cultural elements that we don't normally associate with simply song and dance. As far as abolishing property for rulers, I think that's the best idea I've ever heard.

a) It is probably the most influential text on political philosophy, due to how strongly people loved it among the Christian groups (both neo-platonist intellectuals and especially Renaissance men) as well as how much importance it has had in scholarly debate.
b) It is so clearly different to our own assumptions that it forces a reader to either "put up or shut up", in the crudest terms, to defend their ideology. Shouting "but freedom!" to Plato is about as meaningful as the greeks shouting "but polis!" to us today. In fact, many who read it today still just shout freedom as an argument - studying it last term politically and doing so philosophically this is extremely common
c) It is a very well written book, with few major problems and it is easily accessible yet contains great ideas. Everyone starts with it, in fact, so having not read The Republic is a severe setback to your philosophy.

It is NOT the case, as I think you are implying, that we all support it. Indeed, while I do not hate it as virulently and ridiculously as Karl Popper does, I support Richard Crossman's assessment in that it is not practical and has large problems with the inferences the book tends to make - it is both utopian and pessimistic at the same time.

So good as to need to read, so bad as to need not listen to what he has to say. That's really sad, and is a good reason why some of his ideas are still, 2500 years later, more advanced then ours. Would we have needed the environmental movement if we listened to his ideas of controlling our indulgences? Would we have needed the feminist movement if we listened to his ideas of letting women rule in the highest offices? It's hard to find a problem we have now that wouldn't be solved if more people didn't understand his points.

I agree with Plato. The reason why philosophy is rather useless for young people is that theideas expounded by these great thinkers need experience to resonate in. Simply deciding you are a libertarian at 20 years old and then parroting and criticizing literature created by men and women who spent many decades learning and crafting them through blood, sweat, and tears is about as useful as asking my three year-old daughter which political ideology she adheres to. Indeed, one of the greatest mechanisms for partisan politics is children being conditioned to a certain side before they even understand why!

I'd have to disagree with your interpretation of Plato here. Plato argues people do not get too heavy on one side, but instead get confused and land everywhere. This is more accurate, I'd say, as when you see a philosophically educated person argue with someone who is not - especially when the philosopher is a competent orator - the one who lacks a philosophical basis will get caught in circles and run circles around themselves. This interepretation is substantiated by the entire idea he has of Socrates in Republic and then the Mysterious Stranger in Laws. The philosopher when debating others who claim to know what is right, the philosopher simply points out their inconsistencies as the antagonist cannot justify his original position.

You need life experience. The philosophy of great thinkers, once you have it, will resonate within you like a great chorus. Go out and fall in love and get your heart broken. Take a job and live on your own. Experience what it is like to live within society, and keep your eyes open. Think about what you did that worked and what you did that didn't. Experience being a good person and being a bad person. What was the difference, and why? Keep your body strong through athletics. Keep your mind strong by learning about the sciences (natural and social).

If this were true, then you would agree that the greatest philosophers are the ones who didn't spend their lives doing philosophy? Going through the great names, like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Zeno, Chrisyppus, Polinus, Posidonius, Cato the Younger, Carneades, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca, etc. to name some Ancient thinkers, not many of them only started late in life. Socrates did, arguably (though I don't think so personally - again, I side with Crossman), and Marcus Aurelius was an emporer adn Epictetus a slave. That's the large portion, though.

All I'm saying is that a good philosopher isn't somebody who reads philosophy, it is somebody who learns all disciplines and then forms philosophy afterwards.

These are the real basics, not books on philosophy which are designed for people who have lived long lives of trials and tribulations and are reflecting back on their experiences. Save the philosophy for later and don't put the cart before the horse. There is plenty to learn for you right now, and plenty of philosophy to dive into later on in life.

What do you think the role of philosophy is in life? To simply sit back and watch as the great events go by? No, the purpose of philosophy is to understand these complex events. Doing philosophy does not stop your ethical decisions from arising. Learning the extreme difficulties of ascribing personhood and the right to life to objects vastly increases the value of your decisions, while not knowing diminishes it. I'd even go further and say that your vote and say in a democratic pluralist society is hazardous if you do not know your philosophy. If you do not understand the value of freedom or equality, then you cannot truly be exercising intelligently your votes for a freer or more equal society.

You even seem to suggest philosophy can be escaped from. We both understand this is not the case. Political decisions in life, dealing with others, contemplating your place in society and where you want your life to lead... these are all philosophical questions. Plato solves this issue by sacrificing autonomy for a benevolent leader who can answer these questions for us. I side with the modern thinkers who sacrifice any sure and confident answer for the preference of autonomy and free thinking diversity. To try to exorcise philosophy, though, is never going to lead to a solution.

You forget that these benevolent leaders also don't own property, where in our society our leaders own all of the property. Let's look at "autonomy" through that lens,
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Stephen_Hawkins
Posts: 5,316
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1/10/2014 3:36:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
To comment quickly, R0b.

Firstly you state that Plato said music with a Phyrgian chord was acceptable. You are confusing necessary with sufficient conditions, however. Phyrgian chords, for example, are better because they are more mathematically pure (a ridiculous idea but the Pythagoreans had a large influence on Plato, unfortunately). They still corrupt the youth, however. Indeed, Plato clearly says in book XI that all music is banned except those that praise the Gods or promote men:

"the only poetry that should be allowed in a state is the hymns to the gods and paeans in praise of good men; once you go beyond that and admit the sweet lyric or epic muse, pleasure and pain become your rulers instead of law..." p351, Penguin Classic edition of The Republic.

Indeed, I would argue that we can reasonably say Plato goes further (and extends his ban to all poetry) if we read what he says in this section:

"when you enjoy on the stage... you are giving rein to your comic instinct, which your reason has restrained for fear you my seem to be playing the fool." p350

"Poetry... waters [emotions like anger] when they ought to be left to wither, and makes them control us when we ought, in the interests of our own greater welfare and happiness, to control them." p350

"It is only fair, then, that poetry may return, if she [can] make her defence in lyric or other metre." p351

"But if they fail to make their case, then we shall have to follow the example of the lover who renounces a passion that is doing him no good..." p351

"Our theme shall be that such poetry has no serious value or claim to truth, and we shall warn its hearers to fear its effects on the constitution of their inner selves, and tell them to adopt the view of poetry we have described." p352

The third quotation (beginning 'poetry...waters') especially makes this point clear: all forms of poetry give rise to emotions. To quote Tolstoy:

"To evoke in oneself a feeling one has once experienced, and having evoked it in oneself, then, by means of movements, lines, colors, sounds, or forms expressed in words, so to transmit that feeling that others may experience the same feeling " this is the activity of art." (What is Art, by Leo Tolstoy)

Art is that which forms emotions powerfully and with conviction. Plato hates emotion, and as such wishes to ban these from society. Taking the example of "Korn" is going to cause a debate on whether freedom of speech (or isegoria for Plato) is valuable, and more dangerously is anachronistic. Take the examples he uses of Homer and Hesiod. Their poetry would be banned from society. Would you agree with Plato they are wholly corrupting forces anathema to goodness?

With whether Plato's political philosophy is defensible, I will be happy to debate you on this issue. There are severe flaws in his philosophy that mean that, unless we adopt a radically revisionist political philosophy of Plato, his philosophy is completely unsound.
Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to be Gay, he'll positively influence the GDP.

Social Contract Theory debate: http://www.debate.org...