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Comprehensive knowledge of philosophy

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by SuperFob, Oct 11, 2009.

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  1. SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    I don't know anything about philosophy, but I want to have a complete, comprehensive knowledge of it. I want to know about ALL topics covered in philosophy. I know I'll have to do shitloads of reading, but I don't know what to read. Can someone give me a list?
     
  2. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    The major areas of contemporary analytical philosophy are:

    Epistemology
    major sub-categories include: Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of Mathematics

    Ethics
    major sub-categories include: applied ethics in various categories (applied environmental ethics, medical ethics, business ethics, etc)

    Political Philosophy

    Metaphysics (which is arguably a sub-category of epistemology)

    Aesthetics



    Most work in contemporary philosophy is done in epistemology. There is some work being done in ethics and political philosophy. Metaphysics doesn't garner a bunch of work anymore, as its major questions often can't go answered until epistemological ones are answered first.


    As far as planning your reading, you want to start with introductions to philosophy, with special care to read about the Socratic dialogs. Socrates embodies, in his intuitive way of going about, what philosophers strive to be. From this, you can start down one of two routes first, metaphysics/epistemology, or ethics (you can do both at the same time too, but they each have slightly different paths).

    Metaphysics/Epistemology: After this understanding the metaphysics of Plato and then Aristotle is a good idea. I would then mostly skip the medieval time period and head into modern philosophy: understand Descartes and his epistemology/metaphysics very fully (modern philosophy is based around Descartes), leading into Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibniz. This group of philosophers were called the "rationalists." A small stop into the epistemology of Hobbes (he is mostly a political philosopher, but he has major contribution to epistemology as well) is then called for. After completing Hobbes, a dive into the "empiricists" is where you want to go: Locke, Berkeley, and then Hume in that order. Pay special attention to Hume, as he sets the entire stage for modern philosophy of science. Immanuel Kant comes next, and should also be given very special attention: knowing what a priori, a posteriori, analytic vs synthetic and a lot of Kant's ideas is vital to what is built on top of it. Kant is also widely regarded as the greatest philosopher to ever live. Study up on Hegel after Kant.

    After Kant and Hegel you get into the more contemporary scene: understand the division between analytic and continental philosophy, and then laugh at the pitiful attempts of the continentals to do anything but pseudo-psychological babbling on about....

    Sorry, I lost track there. Anyways, read Kierkegaard and Nietzche, but don't spend too much time on them. They have their ideas and they're important to understand, but they don't have all that much to say about epistemology. Your next real stop will be Frege and Russell, followed by understanding the Vienna Circle/Logical Positivism. Then you will hit the 20th century's biggest philosophy: Ludwig Wittgenstein. All of this should take you months, so I'll leave it off there.


    Ethics: Luckily ethics isn't as broad, and to get a decent understanding of it, there are only a few key philosophers and ideas to really consider. First is Aristotle. Understanding Virtue Ethics is essential, as even today it is still alive and kicking. Next, study up on "divine command theory." There are really no exact philosophers associated with it, but it is a common theory. Psychological egoism and ethical egoism are important to understand. Utilitarianism: both rule utilitarianism and the classic utilitarianism are vital to understand Kant, and then Kant's categorical imperative is perhaps the greatest ethical thought in mankind's history. Really understand Kant and Aristotle...they're the two big names in ethics. Lastly, it's worthy to consider the ethical theories of Kierkegaard.
     
    #2 Duty, Oct 11, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  3. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    Questions answered? Are any questions ever given true, definitive 'answers' in philosophy? Math, science, linguistics and the like are logical and answerable, but so much of philosophy seems to hinge on opinions as well. And opinions are just that: opinions. They can't be answered, except with more opinions. They're debated, not solved.

    I don't know anything about philosophy yet, but those're my impressions based on the tiny snippets I've heard about it.
     
    #3 SuperFob, Oct 11, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  4. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    I was thinking about starting with people like Plato, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Beavouir and Schopenhauer. I thought I would relate to those guys best seeing as they seem to be some of the most well-known INFJ philosophers (though, Wittgenstein seemed to use his tertiary Ti more than his Fe in his work), but I suppose I'll just have to get around to them later.
     
  5. AUM

    AUM The Romantic Scientist

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    You sure know your philosophy Duty :D

    Those were great beginnings though. Specially starting off with Plato and Aristotle.
     
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  6. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    You have the right idea, and so the best answer I can give you is what most philosophers think: that metaphysics (and metaphysics in philosophy deals with questions of "what exists" and "what is the true nature of things," it is of no specific reference to the supernatural) just isn't interesting because questions of epistemology overshadow it. "Can we even know the true nature of things?" is a good example of an epistemological question that shadows the subsequent metaphysical one.


    As far as philosophy hinging on opinions: arguably this is true. However, many would argue that there are fundamental synthetic a priori facts about the world: "I exist," "anything is itself," and "the negation of a whole conjunction is logically equivalent to the negation of both variables of a disjunction" are examples (in various complexity) that are seemingly so intuitively true that they stand on their own/are undeniable...and we can build a lot of knowledge off these.

    So while philosophy has had lots of diverging input from various people, most of them would argue it's not a subjective enterprise...that there is objective truth to be found in it.
     
  7. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    To really understand a lot of philosophers, you have to understand the philosophies they were responding to...Wittgenstein builds a lot off the logical positivists and Frege/Russell, who build a lot off Hegel and Kant.


    Plus, Sartre and Schopenhauer are continental philosophers. Continentals take their origins in Nietzsche and Kierkegaard...who reject Descarte's original program, whereas analytics continue Descarte's foundations. What continentals do is radically different from what analytics do, and many analytical philosophers would even say that continentals (at least the existentialists) are just pseudo-psychologists. They're interesting like Freud was interesting, but the ideas aren't grounded in the fundamentals of what philosophy truly is, as Freud wasn't grounded in what psychology, as a science, truly is about. However, again like Freud, there are some useful things we can take from them.

    Honestly, an INFJ will probably identify a lot with the continentals...but reading them is more like reading literature then actual philosophy: you can take a lot of useful life lessons from it, but they feel (to me anyways) to be just outside what philosophy, as a study, is.

    I guess it is what your goals are: do you want to understand philosophy as an academic study or do you just want to take some valuable "life lessons" from it? If the life lessons aspect is your deal, then you can skip epistemology altogether and focus on ethics, the continental philosophers, and political philosophy.
     
  8. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    Really? I remember seeing a poll voting Marx as the greatest philosopher ever. He was an INTP, though, so I think I would have to further develop my Ti before being able to understand his work.

    I think I might start with Confucius, actually. He was an INFJ, so I think his work will be easy enough for me to relate to as I start a foray into philosophical thought.
     
  9. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    I would like to have a comprehensive basic knowledge of all philosophy, but I would then like to focus on the more (in your wording) continental aspects of it. I think, as an INFJ, that's what I would be able to delve into deeply. NF's seem to excel with subjective ideas as opposed to NT's who seem to excel with objective ideas, so continental philosophy might be the way for me to go after all.

    Whatever the case may be, I think I'll have to develop my Ti in order to handle the logical side of philosophy.
     
    #9 SuperFob, Oct 11, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2009
  10. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Kant is a genius. I can't express just how insanely good he is.

    Marx and Confucius are political philosophers, and I'm not nearly as familiar with political philosophy as I am epistemology and ethics. Marx happens to be the most well-known name to the public, because of the communist movements, and that's why a poll would probably vote him as the "greatest philosopher ever." However, amongst philosophers, I would wager they would vote either Socrates or Kant in...Descartes would probably be up there too (he does have the most famous saying in philosophy!).

    But that whole argument is really superfluous. Kant is an outright philosophical genius (as per his type I'd say INTJ), and after understanding what he was responding to, and then giving true thought to his philosophies, especially his ethics...it even brings my stoic INTPness to awe. That's all I can really say...who is "the greatest philosopher" is really a moot point in the end.
     
  11. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    I think Sartre is INTJ and Plato is INTP and I'm not sure about Wittgenstein. I do think that Schopenhauer is INFJ though. I could be wrong.

    Read some Krishnamurti too. He is good. :)
     
  12. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Well, if you're just going for basic knowledge and criteria above, then I could subscribe a personalized study plan:

    Foundations: Socratic dialogs, Plato's main points (find an outline of the Republic, it's hard to read), Aristotle's metaphysics

    Epistemology (you don't have to read the philosophers totally, just understand the main point listed): Descarte's evil demon and the significance of "I think, therefore I am," Locke (find brief outlines, Locke is looooong) and empiricism, Berkeley's idealism, Hume's argument against induction, Kant, understand the rise of formal logic (you may even want to learn a little of formal logic, but that's another subject, even though it is extremely integral to modern philosophy), Russell, the logical positivists, and then Wittgenstein's philosophy of language

    Ethics: Aristotle and virtue ethics, divine command theory (and Socrates' objection to it in Euthyphro), psychological and ethical egoism, utilitarianism, then Kant's categorical imperative, and Kierkegaard's ethics.

    Continentals: I can't advise well here, all I can say is understand Kierkegaard and Nietzsche as they're the foundation layers for existentialism.

    Political Philosophy: Again I'm not the best adviser, but I can give some names: Confucius (for first putting ethics and politics together), Plato's Republic, Aristotle and democracy/monarchy/aristocracy (the different forms of government), Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Bentham and Mill Hegel before Marx, Rawls, Nozick, and Foucault.


    This plan would have an emphasis on ethics and political philosophy, but give you the essentials of epistemology.
     
  13. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    Dragon, do you have an opinion as to Hitler's type?
     
  14. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    don't bother with ethics, waste of time.
     
  15. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    INFJ
     
  16. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Just remember that whatever Hitler's type is, he is an atypical example. I had an obsession with him in high school though (not to say I liked him).

    I think Hitler was INFP. He was definitely I and F, and his Fi seemed to be dominant or at the very least very strong. INFJs tend to have poor Fi because our Fe is tertiary, but Hitler had very well developed internal tastes. He knew what he liked. I also tend to think of INFPs at the artist type, and Hitler was an artist. If you think about the effectiveness of his political career (despite all its disastrous results), it displays a very high amount of Ne (2ndary for INFP) as well. He knew how to organize social action and was very particular to outward appearances. Of course, the latter may just be a 3 or w3 thing. INFJs also tend to have poor Ne because our Ni is dominant.

    There are other reasons as well, but at this point its all confirmation bias.
     
  17. lostintranslation

    lostintranslation Community Member

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    thought I'd add that Lacan and Žižekian political philosophy is worth looking at
     
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  18. OP
    SuperFob

    SuperFob Regular Poster

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    How long are philosophy books, on average? I've seen ones that were 400 pages, and others clocking in it about 100. I realize that the lengths of the work depend and vary, but is there an average?
     
  19. Top cat

    Top cat Permanent Fixture

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    any suggestions for aesthetics online? :)
     
  20. midnightmelody

    midnightmelody nagging for truth

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    Dear duty, I don't think I've ever read a post of that length in its entirity my whole stay here at the forum. Congratulations.

    I'm going to keep on reading up in this thread.
     
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