Re: Why read philosophy?
Tue, 5 Oct 1999 07:28:49 EDT
I may try to draft a more complete note on this thread if I have more time
before it becomes stale, but for now a few disjointed thoughts:
- Much of the canon of "serious" western philosophy is written in a style
making it almost inaccessible to modern people not used to the literature.
Kant, for all his importance is almost impenetrable to even serious students
of philosophy, for example and, despite their deep importance to our own
time, even John Locke and David Hume are hard going for people not willing to
slow down and adapt to the style and mannerisms of 17th and 18th century
- Much of the subject matter philosophers traditionally addressed HAS become
the proper province of science. Thus, for instance, I think that essentially
ALL of "ontology" has been swallowed by scientific cosmology and the
traditional subject matter of epistemology is quickly becoming the subject of
cognitive science. However the philosophy of morals and ethics continues to
be of vital importance. Doing the work of ethical philosophy with due regard
to insights gained from such disciplines as biology, evolutionary psychology
and the like is literally a life or death matter.
- Studying the history of philosophy is vital to understanding the TRAJECTORY
of our culture. Thus I would make recommendations to the new student of
philosophy based on a modern historical overview. In this regard, I would
make three recommendations:
Richard Tarnas, "Passion of the Western Mind". Max recommended this book to
me last year and it is EXCELLENT. Very well written and provides a good
overview of the history of the philosophical antecedents to modern science.
Will and Ariel Durant, "The Story of Philosophy". A very accessible classic.
Bertrand Russell, "History of Western Philosophy". The most technical (and
largest) of the three books recommended here; gives a flavor for the
turn-of-the-century positivist view of things.
BTW, I'm currently reading "The Postmodern Turn" by Best and Kellner, which
is shaping up to be a very good history and analysis of the various flavors
Greg Burch <GBurch1@aol.com>----<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide
http://users.aol.com/gburch1 -or- http://members.aol.com/gburch1
"Civilization is protest against nature;
progress requires us to take control of evolution."