From: David Lubkin <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Date: Monday, October 04, 1999 5:46 PM
Subject: Why read philosophy?
>While I have a personal philosophy, I have lumped philosophy as a
>with the few other subjects I have no interest in, like mah-jongg and
>When the list turns to Nietzsche, my eyes glaze over.
>What I've read or heard in the past has dealt with important questions, but
>seemed like a waste of time -- people arguing back and forth, with very few
>verifiable facts in their arguments. And the books seemed too dry and
dense to read.
You have to read philosophy slowly. Read each paragraph as many times as it
takes to understand. The first reading may seem like a jumble of words, but
they actually do have semantic content (unless it's postmodernism).
You mention Nietzsche - he's not really too dry at all, as far as philosophy
goes. Even more wet them him, is Ayn Rand (you should start with "The
Fountainhead" and move top "Atlas Shrugged" - these are novels with
philosophical undertones). I don't consider either of these philosophers to
be "hard philosophy" though. A lot of their main points are what you say,
non-verifiable facts. But everything they say is sure to provoke thought in
you, or at least elicit strong disagreement - which is good - it prompts you
to formulate your ideas more.
Check out this quote from Nietzsche, it sums up much of his philosophy of life, I think (at least the part I agree with), and it's not too dense. If you like this, read "Thus Spoke Zarathustra": "The Heaviest Burden. What if a demon crept after you one day or night in your loneliest solitude and said to you: 'This life, as you live it now and have lived it, you will have to live again and again, times without number; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and all the unspeakably small and great in your life must return to you, and everything in the same series and sequence - and in the same way this spider and this moonlight among the trees, and in the same way this moment and I myself. The eternal hour-glass of existence will be turned again and again - and you with it, you dust of dust!' - Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who thus spoke? Or have you experienced a tremendous moment in which you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never did I hear anything more divine!' If this thought gained power over you it would, as you are now, transform and perhaps crush you; the question in all and everything: 'do you want this again and again, times without number?' would lie as the heaviest burden upon all your actions. Or how well disposed towardsyourself and towards life would you have to become to have no greater desire than for this ultimate eternal sanction and seal?"
>But many of you don't feel this way. So I'd like to understand why you
>discuss philosophy, and what you'd recommend I read as a seductive
>-- David Lubkin.
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