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Thursday, November 08, 2012


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It is almost tempting to comment here simply to comment. However, with that said....

I agree with the suggestion that it is almost better to come up with questions to ask first, then seek answers. With that said, I have found that good works of philosophy (or history of ideas, theology, cultural criticism, political science, etc.) create their own questions. So, if you are simply looking for good, stimulating, reads, I have enjoyed (and recommend):

1. Modern Philosophy: An Introduction and Survey - Roger Scruton
2. Ten Philosophical Mistakes: Basic Errors in Modern Thought - Mortimer Adler
3. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism - Alvin Plantinga
4. Human Life, Action and Ethics: Essays - G.E.M. Anscombe
5. After Virtue - Alasdair MacIntyre
6. The Last Superstition - A Refutation of the New Atheism - Edward Feser
7. Doors of the Sea - Where was God in the Tsunami - David Bentley Hart (A work of Christian theodicy, but bad theodicy underlies so much "real" philosophy these days that I include it in the hopes that it make people think.)

Why, because my ComBox is usually closed? In any case, thanks for the suggestions. I wouldn't recommend Anscombe to a beginner, however. She's first-rate but will bore the hell out of all but professionals.

And that reminds me of a story. Wittgenstein once said something like the following to Miss Anscombe. "Now that all the women have left we can get down to some serious philosophy." His name for her was 'old man.'

The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant isn't very long and eminently readable.

The Last Superstition by Ed Feser talks about a lot of topics of philosophy in a very accessible way. try to get that, reader.

Thank you all for your kind recommendations!


Precisely. Although I prefer one-on-one conversations when the party is full of dunderheads, the occasional group discussion among the reflective intelligent is appreciated.

I am in agreement on much in Anscombe, although I found her essays on intention, on modern moral philosophy, and on contract to be fascinating. But then, being a lawyer, some areas are of professional interest to me. With that said, it might be that her "Mr. Truman's Degree" would be of interest to many - http://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/truman.pdf. Although the label works not well for Anscombe, that essay is among the best in conservative thought, I think.

That Scruton book mentioned is good. Another book to try would be Bryan Magee's "Confessions of a Philosopher". Does a great job expounding Kant and Schopenhauer especially.

You could do worse than read the appendix to Roger Scruton's encomium to wine "I Dring Therefore I Am". A valuable survey of the canon, complete with tips on which drink is most suited to which philosopher.

For the teetotaller: Russell's "Problems of Philosophy".


I second your recommendation of Magee's Confessions. Very enjoyable and very readable.


"Mr Truman's Degree" is essential reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of war and peace. And since my reader M. T. is a military man, he should read it. That is not to say I endorse the content of it . . . .


The question of the use of the Bomb in WWII would certainly be an interesting topic if you ever decide to open Pandora's (com)box again.



Yes, an open ComBox invites, if not releases, all or at least some evils!

I'll think about posting on this topic. But there are a number of other entries in the queue that need to go up first.

What is Ancient Philosophy? and Philosophy as a Way of Life by Pierre Hadot.

Excellent suggestions, Steven, even if they don't give a overview of the whole field.

If philosophia means the love of wisdom (rather then the endless arguing about the love of wisdom), beyond mere refinement of questions and answers, then I think it would be appropriate to add this one to the mix. Good historical analysis as well and deals with the often thorny question of the origination of doing philosophy especially for the Pythagorean and Platonic tradition.

Philosophy as a Rite of Rebirth: From Ancient Egypt to Neoplatonism by Algis Uždavinys

Thomas Morris, Making Sense of It All.
Robert Nozick, The Examined Life.
Robert Nozick, Philosophical Explanations.

I guess I’m old-fashioned on this topic, but I’d say that M.T. is in good hands with Plato and James. I’d also second Bill’s recommendation. Among the first works of philosophy that I read were Plato’s Apology and Republic, and Nagel’s What Does It All Mean? The Apology is a classic defense of the examined life, and the Republic deals substantively with most of the main areas of philosophy. I think that reading Plato’s account of how Socrates does philosophy is a boon to anyone interested in the subject. The dialogue format helps to get the reader thinking about the issues on his own, and the character of Socrates reminds us that philosophy is more than just an academic discipline. Nagel’s book is good at demonstrating why philosophical questions are of perennial interest and how one should think about such questions. In this sense, his book is compatible with Plato’s dialogues.


You're right. M. T. is in good hands with Plato and James. But of course it would be folly to refer him to the Parmenides or the Sophist dialogues. He needs to cut his teeth on the following: Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, Phaedo. Then he can go to the Theaetetus.

It's all in Plato *in nuce.*

Emerson: "Philosophy is Plato, and Plato philosophy."

Keep yer shirts on, you Aristotelians. I'm just shootin' from the hip here.

An Introduction to Philosophy, Daniel Sullivan.
An Introduction to Philosophy, Joseph Bochenski.
The Road to Understanding, Joseph Bochenski.
The History of Philosophy, F. Copleston.

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