What Philosophy Books are you currently reading?

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What Philosophy Books are you currently reading?

Postby Deftil on May 21st, 2008, 7:58 pm 

So what philosophy related books have you recently read or are you currently reading? Don't feel obligated to give a full review, but the more you want to share about the book, the better, imo.

For me:
The Good, The Bad, & the Difference: How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations by Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen writes a weekly column called "The Ethicist" for the New York Times Magazine. He's won four Emmy's for writing for TV shows. By his own admission, he has no ethicist credentials. I didn't realize that last part when I checked this book out from the library. The book is essentially a collection of the author's answers to ethical queries that people have sent in to him, typically regarding common, everyday ethical dilemmas. Sometimes he provides opinions and arguments on the situations from other people such as his mother, professionals in fields relevant to the questions, his column's readers, and sometimes random people, for whom he gives no explanation of who they are. The book has 7 main sections which are Civic Life, Family Life, Social Life, Commercial Life, Medical Life, Work Life, and School Life. Each section has a bit of general commentary on its topic at the beginning. There's also a bit of general ethics commentary at the beginning of the book. The book has 277 pages.
Overall, I find the book to be very entertaining, if lacking a bit in depth. After reading the author's answers to some of the questions I can't say I'm too surprised he doesn't have any official credentials in ethics. While some of the questions get fairly in depth answers, many of them receive answers that barely scratch the surface, while yet others simply have a humorous one line reply. While the author generally tries to apply consistent values in his answers, he doesn't seemed too concerned about maintaining perfect consistency in his application of values and ethical reasoning throughout the book. Regarding his ethical values he states:
In considering an ethical question, whether concerning the right conduct of an individual or the society within which we function, I refer to a set of principles I cherish as profoundly moral. This constellation of values includes honesty, kindness, compassion, generosity, fairness. I embrace actions that will increase the supply of human happiness, that will not contribute to human suffering, that are concordant with an egalitarian society, that will augment personal freedom, particularly freedom of thought and expression.

While the book may be somewhat lacking in well thought out and consistently applied ethical positions, it is quite interesting, and I am reading through it very quickly. The author often employs humor in his responses and sometimes is genuinely funny, but sometimes I just wish he would save it. I think the best thing about the book might just be the presentation of all the different ethical scenarios, which are interesting to think of on your own.
I think I would give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The book's amazon page http://www.amazon.com/Good-Bad-Differen ... 952&sr=8-1
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Postby ..:nugget:.. on May 22nd, 2008, 4:08 am 

Am working on finding the time to dive into "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" by Fredrick Neitschze (sp?) and also Machiavelli's "The Prince"
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Postby LouSalome on June 12th, 2008, 4:50 am 

I'm currently reading a biography of Blaise Pascal, Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God by James A. Connor.

Connor writes humanely and engagingly, and the life of Pascal blazes by. Each chapter begins with a quotation or two which is relevant. If you've ever wanted to know about the time period, as well as the Jansenists (of whom Pascal was a devout follower), then this is certainly the book for you.

Also, I've finished Born Standing Up by Steve Martin, which, though not a philosophy text, was interesting nonetheless because he mentions that in college he was a philosophy major (though he changed his major to theater in the end) and tried to incorporate philosophy into his act.
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Postby Deftil on June 12th, 2008, 4:56 am 

LouSalome wrote:I'm currently reading a biography of Blaise Pascal, Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God by James A. Connor.

Connor writes humanely and engagingly, and the life of Pascal blazes by.


Pun intended? l o l

Each chapter begins with a quotation or two which is relevant. If you've ever wanted to know about the time period, as well as the Jansenists (of whom Pascal was a devout follower), then this is certainly the book for you.


I've found Pascal's Wager (well criticisms of it mostly, I suppose) to be interesting for a while now.

And thank you for posting in this thread. It concerns me a bit that either a) people here aren't reading much in the way of philosophy or b) that they aren't interested in sharing about what philosophy reading they've been doing.
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Postby Solomon on June 12th, 2008, 10:57 am 

I have been reading Irrational Man by William Barrett, which really is, in my opinion, "The finest definition of existentialism ever written," or at least, that I have ever read. I have also been reading a delightful little book entitled Beyond the Post-Modern Mind by Huston Smith. Mr Smith kills those nasty little post-modernists with class and kindness.
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Postby LouSalome on June 12th, 2008, 1:55 pm 

Deftil wrote:
LouSalome wrote:I'm currently reading a biography of Blaise Pascal, Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God by James A. Connor.

Connor writes humanely and engagingly, and the life of Pascal blazes by.


Pun intended? l o l

Each chapter begins with a quotation or two which is relevant. If you've ever wanted to know about the time period, as well as the Jansenists (of whom Pascal was a devout follower), then this is certainly the book for you.


I've found Pascal's Wager (well criticisms of it mostly, I suppose) to be interesting for a while now.

And thank you for posting in this thread. It concerns me a bit that either a) people here aren't reading much in the way of philosophy or b) that they aren't interested in sharing about what philosophy reading they've been doing.


Apparently I get funny when I'm tired.

Indeed, I would argue that Pascal's Wager is one of the most interesting arguments for the existence of God.

Oh, and I rather like posting such things. I expect you'll find more from me.
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Postby erythrophyte on June 21st, 2008, 1:20 am 

Solomon wrote:I have been reading Irrational Man by William Barrett, which really is, in my opinion, "The finest definition of existentialism ever written," or at least, that I have ever read.

Hey! I've read that. I agree it is a great introductory book on existentialism. I found the sections on how the trends in art reflect the philosophical climate and also the one on Heidegger to be really interesting. Another good book is Existentialism by Walter Kaufmann. Spotting your post reminds me to read it again.

Cheers.
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Postby diotimajsh on June 21st, 2008, 3:46 am 

Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. I kind of read it sporadically, unfortunately, and it's a rather difficult work, so I doubt I'm understanding it as well as I'd like to be.

Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. I read this sporadically too, but I don't think it matters as much, since the chapters are generally pretty self-contained, and its content is, of course, very summary and historical--less about presenting in-depth argumentation.
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Postby LUIX on June 21st, 2008, 5:41 am 

I'm reading, and have been reading for a while 'essere o avere' by Fromm I don't know what the title is in english but it should be something like 'to have or to be'.
It is a normal sized book and from the outside it is pretty much the same size as most novels.. But to my initial surprise the publishing house decided to make the text extra small. Usually, if I realy want to grasp most of all the things Fromm is saying I have to read things twice, slowly and twice. But, overall I am enjoying the book a lot. It varies a lot in the aspects of having and being and in my opinion (I dont know if this is true because I haven't done any research about it) it is Fromm's starting piece on a study about the subject. One, particular thing that hit me and that I will probably forget pretty slowly is a way Fromm portrays the difference between having and being with poetry. Very good.
I think it is defenitly a book worth reading.

Now, I am very intrested in finding a copy of 'La Città del Sole' by Campanella or 'City of the Sun' which is basically Campanella's utopic ideal. Has anyone read it yet?
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Postby Deftil on July 19th, 2008, 7:28 am 

Checked out a book called The Story of Philosophy: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Philosophy by Bryan Magee about a week ago. 240 pages, published 1998.

Bryan Magee has been one of the most successful English-language popularizers of philosophy in the 20th century; in this coffee-volume, he presents a brief but information-packed history of Western philosophy from pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Thales and Heraclitus to postmodern French thinkers like Derrida and Foucault. Illustrations fill every page, offering not only portraits of the major philosophical thinkers but illustrations of some of their key concepts, while ample marginalia provide supplementary information for historical context.


Amazon page on the book

Wikipedia page on Magee

So far I am 193 pages into the book and love it. It's a great survey of philosophy from pre-Socratic times over 2600 years ago, to modern philosophy in the 20th century. All of the most prominent philosophers in history are discussed, and most of them have a brief chapter devoted to them. Magee is able to succinctly explain the key points of the philosopher's views. Plenty of great illustrations in the book, and as the above passage from Amazon alludes to, the margins of the book contain additional useful information often providing historical context. I do have a bit of a complaint about this "marginalia" however. Sometimes it's a bit much. There's information crammed into the margins of every single page. And with the other illustrations, sometimes it looks a bit like a children's book, and is so busy it can give me a headache. I guess this is what happens when one tries to fit 2600 years of philosophy into a 240 page book. Highly recommended book for anyone who needs a good intro, brush up, or diversification of their philosophical knowledge.
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Postby rrushius on July 21st, 2008, 8:19 pm 

I am almost through Arrian's "The Campaigns of Alexander," and Xenophon's "Cyropaedia."
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books

Postby poparazzi on July 22nd, 2008, 1:34 am 

im currently reading a few books. the first is A Brief History of the Paradox by roy sorensen. ive gotten through about 2/3 of the book and it is one of the best books ive ever read. unfortunately i dont understand all of it, as the ideas and the language used to describe them are very complex (at least for me). it starts off light and then gets heavier. i plan on reading it a second time some time after i complete it hopefully to pick up the parts i didnt understand the first time. it basically runs through all of the great paradoxes that mankind has thought up.
the next book is Introducing Philosophy by dave robinson and judy groves. it is part of the introducing... series. i mainly picked up this one because i have little knowledge on philosophers except for the ancient greeks (plato, aristotle, socrates). this book is actually helping me to identify other famous philosophers and their ideas. it is illustrated and a very light read.
the last one is Great Dialogues of Plato translated by w.h. rouse. this is the signet classic. i have read penguin classics version of plato before and i definitely like this one better because it has the footnotes on the bottom of the page as opposed to the back of the book (i HATE flipping back and forth)
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Re: books

Postby Deftil on July 22nd, 2008, 12:42 pm 

poparazzi wrote:im currently reading a few books. the first is A Brief History of the Paradox by roy sorensen. ive gotten through about 2/3 of the book and it is one of the best books ive ever read. unfortunately i dont understand all of it, as the ideas and the language used to describe them are very complex (at least for me). it starts off light and then gets heavier. i plan on reading it a second time some time after i complete it hopefully to pick up the parts i didnt understand the first time. it basically runs through all of the great paradoxes that mankind has thought up.


That sounds interesting and I know what you mean about having to read it a second time. There's some books that I insist on reading multiple times because I find it difficult to absorb everything in them the first read through.

this is the signet classic. i have read penguin classics version of plato before and i definitely like this one better because it has the footnotes on the bottom of the page as opposed to the back of the book (i HATE flipping back and forth)


I tend to agree with you about this. I usually like to read footnotes but don't like having to flip to the back of the book all the time.
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Postby Deftil on July 26th, 2008, 6:44 pm 

working on An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
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Postby erythrophyte on July 26th, 2008, 7:30 pm 

Though I've flipped through but never read The Story of Philosophy by Bryan Magee, I have read his Confessions of a Philosopher and The Philosophy of Schopenhauer. I'd recommend both. The first one is quite a good read, as it is autobiographical but primarily serves as a good, readable introduction to philosophy, with some focus on academics. He's also quite good with exegeses on Schopenhauer; once again, quite readable.

Currently, I'm reading From Shakespeare to Existentialism by Walter Kaufmann. About 2/3 of the way done; it's a very good read.

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Postby Tj_ on July 27th, 2008, 9:01 am 

Currently I am reading the Upanishads. I am going through a translation by Swami Nikhilananda, and of course it includes the intro's by Swami Shankaracharya. I have read 2 or 3 Updanishads before. But this time I am going through them all. NOT for the light of heart though. A simplified version would do for a lot of people who want to dabble in it, but if you have no previous exposure to eastern philosophy I must warn you, it tends to get a little more complex and involved than western philosophy. Vedanta philosophy covers every aspect of life, and is as such kind of hard to get (or at least this is what i have been told), to put it lightly its like Kant but harder. But it would be nice if people tried though. I would reccomend the book along with a good version of 'Tao te ching' (probably the one by James Legge, he did a good job, probably cuz he left in all the footnotes so as to reduce ambiguity). I feel as philosophers we can learn a LOT from the eastern traditions.

-Tj
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Postby Spiral on July 27th, 2008, 10:03 am 

The book I'm reading now is Einstein's Universe by Nigel Calder.
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Postby Deftil on September 1st, 2008, 7:32 am 

The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World by Paul Davies
http://www.powells.com/biblio/9780671797188
So far it's both scientific and philosophical and I'm enjoying it.

Ethical Theories: A Book of Readings by A. I. Melden
http://www.amazon.com/Ethical-Theories- ... 555&sr=1-1
Has excerpts from (or in some cases the work in its entirety) Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Epicurus' Epicurus to Meneceus and Principal Doctrines, Epictetus' The Encheiridion, Saint Augustine's The City of God and The Enchiridion, Saint Thomas Acquinas' Summa Theologica, Thomas Hobbes' The Leviathan, Joseph Butler's Sermons and A Dissertation Upon the Nature of Virtue, David Hume's An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Immanuel Kant's Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Jeremy Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, Friedrich Nietzsche's Thoughts on the Philosophy of Morals, Francis Herbert Bradley's My Station and its Duties, Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics, G.E. Moore's Goodness as a Unique, Indefinable Quality, and H.A. Prichard's Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?.
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Postby Deftil on October 16th, 2008, 7:40 pm 

Just went to the library and checked out Philosophy of recent times Volume II: Readings in twentieth-century philosophy, edited by James B. Hartman. Contains selections from the writings of William James, Henri Bergson, V.I. Lenin, Edmund Husserl, W.P. Montague, George Santayana, John Dewey, Alfred North Whitehead, G.E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, Moritz Schlick, A.J. Ayer, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, P.F. Strawson, John Wisdom, Gilbert Ryle, and J.L. Austin.
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RELIGION / SPIRITUALITY / RELIGIOUS STUDIES

Postby DlsMatrix on November 1st, 2008, 8:36 pm 

Well me I'm read-ing a book called.

The Secret Teachings of Jesus: Four Gnostic Gospels: The Secret Book of James, The Gospel of Thomas, The Book of Thomas, The Secret Book of John

It's from Marvin W. Meyer, Translator & VINTAGE

It's about what Jesus told to his selected few of his disciples that he did not told to all of his disciples about knowledge of the heart.
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Postby Deftil on December 5th, 2008, 12:19 am 

God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why we suffer
by Bart D. Ehrman

Ehrman began studying the Bible and its original languages at the Moody Bible Institute and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his Ph.D and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. He currently serves as the chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, and worked closely as an editor on a number of the Society's publications.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_D._Ehrman#Career

I saw this was a new book in at my local library, and since I had been discussing the Problem of Evil recently, I decided to go ahead and pick it up.
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Postby Chaniir on December 5th, 2008, 7:13 pm 

For some reason I an reading Kafka's The castle even after already reading The process. It's just as bad and just as good and I don't understand half of it to be honest.
Also, The Divine Comedy by Dante (if I may call it philosophical..?) - which I am quite enjoying this far.
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Postby Deftil on December 11th, 2008, 11:49 am 

The Future of Unbelief
by Gerhard Szczesny
1961

It seem Szczesny was a German philosopher following in the tradition of Nietzsche in questioning the utility of the religious based ideologies.

From the cover
Are we living in a "post-Christian era" yet adhering to a theology that can no longer sustain us? Calling for a new and dynamic philsophy, this inquiry into the "remarkable incapacity of the Christian today to lead a Christian life" created a storm of controversy in Europe, where it was first published.
Last edited by Deftil on December 13th, 2008, 6:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tor_Hershman on December 11th, 2008, 5:26 pm 

Alan Watt’s “The Wisdom Of Insecurity,” and Edward D. Wood, Jr.’s “Hollywood Rat Race” and Wally Cox’s “My Life As A Small Boy” are excellent.

Stay on groovin' safari,
Tor Hershman
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Postby Deftil on January 1st, 2009, 7:24 pm 

The Mind
by Richard M. Restak, M.D.

It takes a pretty scientific approach to the mind, but there's still a certain amount of philosophy in just about any discussion of the mind.

Although written as a corollary to a new nine-part PBS series being aired this fall, The Mind stands independently as a good source of information for the layperson. Following the same pattern he used in The Brain ( LJ 10/15/84), also an earlier PBS series, Restaka scientist, physicist, neurologist, and author of several medical science booksexplores the development of the mind from conception through old age, emphasizing thinking processes and language development. He also explains mental processes and the new research on depression, pain, addiction, and violence. Much technical information is presented, but Restak's lucid explanations, interspersed with human interest stories, photographs, and diagrams, make the material appealing and easy to digest.

http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Richard-M-Re ... 1569562849
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Postby LUIX on January 2nd, 2009, 8:04 pm 

Has anyone read 'The City of the Sun' by Campanella (Città del Sole)

It looks interesting, but, I would like to know if someone here read it and if they would recommend it to someone that doesn't feel like reading 2 pages a day and then having to stop and think about it for another 2 other days..
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Postby asocialnorm on January 3rd, 2009, 12:20 pm 

I can't read books. I've tried reading, but it gets harder after about 10 pages :)

That said, I would love to get a recommendation for a introductory book on Philosophy that's a relatively easy read to start with. Deftil, I know you have recommended something in this post; however, would you say it is an easy read for a person who is as impatient as I.

Thank you all!
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Postby Deftil on January 4th, 2009, 5:14 am 

asocialnorm wrote:I can't read books. I've tried reading, but it gets harder after about 10 pages :)

That said, I would love to get a recommendation for a introductory book on Philosophy that's a relatively easy read to start with. Deftil, I know you have recommended something in this post; however, would you say it is an easy read for a person who is as impatient as I.

Thank you all!

Yes, I would recommend The Story of Philosophy: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Philosophy by Bryan Magee for you. It's fairly comprehensive as far as different Western philosophers from different time periods go, but still fairly concise and straightforward when it discusses each philosopher and his ideas. I'd say that if you could get into any intro philosophy book, this would probably be the one!
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Postby asocialnorm on January 4th, 2009, 12:28 pm 

Deftil wrote:
asocialnorm wrote:I can't read books. I've tried reading, but it gets harder after about 10 pages :)

That said, I would love to get a recommendation for a introductory book on Philosophy that's a relatively easy read to start with. Deftil, I know you have recommended something in this post; however, would you say it is an easy read for a person who is as impatient as I.

Thank you all!

Yes, I would recommend The Story of Philosophy: The Essential Guide to the History of Western Philosophy by Bryan Magee for you. It's fairly comprehensive as far as different Western philosophers from different time periods go, but still fairly concise and straightforward when it discusses each philosopher and his ideas. I'd say that if you could get into any intro philosophy book, this would probably be the one!


Awesomeness to the max, thank you. I shall go purchase it from a used bookstore immediately:)
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Postby Deftil on January 13th, 2009, 9:30 am 

The Mating Mind: How Sexual Choice Shaped the Evolution of Human Nature
Geoffrey Miller

http://www.amazon.com/Mating-Mind-Sexua ... 038549517X

It applies the principles of sexual selection in an attempt to explain the evolution of human intelligence and creativity. I'm 100 pages in and enjoying it so far.
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