It’s entirely understandable and forgivable, if this is just the would-be-student winding him or herself up. With rare exceptions, most of the later philosophy worth reading is written by people who were fairly conversant with at least some of the thinkers who preceded them. It’s useful to start by considering common anxieties or preoccupations that many seem to have. This belief system holds that the existence of God is verified through reason and rational explanation, as opposed to through scripture or religious experience. This novel Kundera pits four main characters with history (including Communism), the difficulty of making choices and enjoing their freedom. Friedrich Nietzsche, like everyone else on the list, can be somewhat difficult reading, if the goal is to fully understand his books. Best of all, they are (hopefully) designed for first-time students with no background in philosophy. I’ve used textbooks or histories of philosophy sometimes as supplements, but I always direct students first and foremost to primary texts. The site thus covers the main philosophical traditions, from the Presocratic to the contemporary philosophers, while trying to bring a philosophical reading to the cultural field in general, such as cinema, literature, politics or music. First you need to read Plato, and only after that study his student, Aristotle. The same caution goes, by the way, for any neat division of thought into historical periods or movements. To have a good foundation for understanding philosophical principles, it’s always good to start with or refer back to… Know first of all that there is no single answer to this question. just to name off some commonly encountered forms. Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics3. There are an entire host of objections one might make to this list (and feel free to do so in the comments section provided to you here). The-Philosophy.com - 2008-2019, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, https://www.the-philosophy.com/10-easy-philosophy-books-read. Before being a field of study, it is above all a way of seeing the world, of questioning it. If you are just interested about the Peloponnesian war, then the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides would be a more precise read… He also weaves together elements and arguments from Platonic, Aristotelian, and Stoic philosophy within a broader Christian context without ever mentioning Christianity. I don’t assume that will necessarily be the case with each of these ten texts for every single starting-off student, but these do tend to be among the more stimulating works. Sartre defends his major thesis (man is condemned to be free) and place the consequences on the notions of conscience, compared to others, responsibility, bad faith. If you’re just getting started studying philosophy, and you plan to do it for a while — perhaps even over a lifetime — it certainly can’t hurt to get a good basis in earlier philosophical thought. It is interpretative — reading isn’t just a passive transfer of information from the thinker into your head. Even with generally decent histories of philosophy — like for instance that of Friedrich Copleston — you really shouldn’t put too much faith in the story the author is telling. Powered by WordPress. Until you actually read Aristotle or Pascal for yourself — actually until you’ve become quite conversant with their thought, at least on some matters — you really don’t know for sure how much of the tale you’re being sold is fiction. In the early days of history, almost all human knowledge could fit into a single academic ... 2) Why philosophy can be hard to read. Since 2008, The-Philosophy.com acts for the diffusion of the philosophical thoughts. Letters From A Stoic by Seneca. Plato’s Republic is unparalleled in its coverage of all areas of life. There is no doubt on my part that practically everything I’m writing here could be contested or criticized by someone. God forbid you should crack open a late dialogue before adequate preparation! It’s desirable that the philosophical texts one reads pique, capture, and hold one’s interest. First you need to read Plato, and only after that study his student, Aristotle. So if you’re the sort that worries about “getting it right” by reading the right texts and thinkers in the right order, setting down the optimal foundation for all of your further study, there’s good news and bad news. The results have actually been really interesting! Augustine of Hippo, Confessions5. In fact, Voltaire revolutionizes the thought of happiness in this little tale: instead of looking for it in the Hereafter (that promise all religions), happiness is to be found “here and now”. Most people who have watched Zack Snyder’s famous 2007 fantasy historical film “300”, might think they know the ancient Greek story of Leonidas and the battle of Thermopylae, but the historic facts are quite different to what was portrayed in the fantasy film. But in my experience they prove to be unduly difficult starting points for the average person. Seneca’s Letters are also an attractive introductory text, but I think the Discourses just offer a more substantial engagement with Stoic thought. But of course, before Plato (one discovers, while reading Plato, to dismay and chagrin!) Reading it, you’ll not only be introduced to a number of important concepts and distinctions in ethics, but also to views on human nature, social and political organization, and even the range of relationships he calls friendships. At the depth of the characters (including Raskolnikov) adds a real philosophical complexity where the theme of guilt mingle, freedom, nihilism, human nature. What are the genres we discover philosophy taking on? . Aristotle defines his moral thought in this essay on the good life and answers the question “What should we do?”. Thomas Aquinas, Selected Writings — includes a wide selection of Thomas’ works8. Perhaps a good “Introduction to Philosophy” textbook would be a good place to start? If you really want to understand the time period, this is the book to read, just have a lot of free time ready, because its a long read. The next two books are more academic, i.e., books you might expect to find on a university course syllabus. “Why couldn’t Descartes have communicated his ideas as clearly as the person who summarized his works did?” You’ll find yourself asking such questions, and if you don’t see the absurdity in that, well, you’re in for a rough ride. To varying degrees, all philosophers are difficult to understand. Dostoevsky also distills number of psychoanalytic concepts that will inspire the Freudian theory. Cornel West (b. You can get that from other sources however, so you can avoid reading Kant directly. You’ll notice that my list has a pronounced skew towards ancient and medieval philosophy. Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (with the objections and replies)9. I decided to keep the list relatively short. But his thought does provide an excellent introduction to — and example of — a Scholastic way of proceeding in philosophy.