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Best intro philosophy book out of these 3

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fegeldolfy Posted: Wed, Apr 17 2013 6:55 PM

So I'm interested in learning some philosophy-nothing too intense,just a general overview at first-and I've got three books. I plan on reading all of them eventually,but I'm wondering which would be the best to start with. I don't really feel like spending any more money,so if you recommended something else, I would prefer to be able to get it for free.

Story of Philosophy-Will Durant

History of Western Philosophy-Bertrand Russell

New History of Western Philosophy-Anthony Kenny

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Neodoxy replied on Wed, Apr 17 2013 7:09 PM

Calling it now, Aristophanes will pick number 2

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1) If you have the time and money invest in classes for both intro and philo and logic courses in whatever community college or university offers them to your liking...this will force you to engage the topics in a fairly intense and focusd fashion in what ultimatley be a productive  manner.  If nothing else, academia is built for philosophy

2) The only one of the three you recomended is I am familiar with is Bertrand Russll's book: which I can not in good conscience recomend, though it is not bad - and it is easy to do much much worse (Russel always has a certain integrity to everything he does)

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I'm taking a basic Philosophy 101 right now at community college. Unfortunately,it's only 10 weeks long,which means we can't go too in depth on stuff,so I think these books will help me learn a bit more. 

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Calling it now, Aristophanes will pick number 2

I've never read the other two.  So, I cannot speak for them.  but, you're right.

2) The only one of the three you recommended is I am familiar with is Bertrand Russll's book: which I can not in good conscience recomend, though it is not bad - and it is easy to do much much worse (Russel always has a certain integrity to everything he does)

I would recommend Russell, however.  Russell was a logical positivist and if you know what to look for (which an intro won't unfortunately) his bias becomes apparent on certain topics, but he treats their philosophy well in spite of his own occasional paragraphs of refutation and/or undermining of their positions.  He gives you tons of philosophers, but only like 4-15 pages on any given one.  Russell's writing is much clearer than most philosophers (like Wittgenstein or Nietzsche).  It might be because he spoke modern English as his first language.  Anyway, the faults for this are the same as the one below. 

I looked up Story of Philosophy-Will Durant and for 8 bucks it has a good list of philosophers, but it is so light that you will only get such a surface understanding of Kant or Schopenhauer, candide is given seven pages, for instance.  You get eight pages of Bacon's essays, that's like 4 of 100 essays (on all kinds of topics and myths).  i wonder how the author narrowed them down.  Unless hedoesn't give selections, but summaries, which now that i think about it is more likely.

New History of Western Philosophy-Anthony Kenny - this one looks good.  It is an historical overview not an exploration of each of the various popular philosophers.  So, it would suffer the same lack of breadth that the others will, but it doesn't seem aimed quite the same way that the other two are.  The chapter on Logic in modern times look pretty good.

The last one here is the one I'd go for.

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aspurling replied on Thu, Apr 18 2013 6:44 AM

My own academic background (both undergraduate and graduate) is in philosophy.  Of the three books you mention, I would recommend the third.  Durant was a great scholar, but he was an historian rather than a philosopher, and his treatment of the history of philosophy is rather superficial.  Russell was one of the truly great philosophers of modern history, and his book is an old standard.  However, it's generally regarded as containing errors and being unreliable.  Kenny's book is much more recent and is very good.  Another source not on your list is A History of Philosophy by Copleston.  It's a 9 volume series, but it's a magisterial work and is generally considered the standard text on the subject.  If you're a beginner, though, Copleston might be too dry and technical for you.  It might therefore be best for you to start with Kenny and then move on to Copleston when you feel you want to dive more deeply.

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Russell's main tool for demolition to smithereens of those philosophies he destroys is one simple idea. There is a real world, and in that real world some things are true and some things are false, and all the wishing in the world will not change true into false.

Corrolary: Beliefs do not become true because they are convenient for the powers that be, or because they make us feel warm and fuzzy, or mighty and powerful.

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Conza88 replied on Thu, Apr 18 2013 8:13 AM

Re: "History of Western Philosophy-Bertrand Russell"

LOL.

Reason and Analysis - Brand Blanshard as recommended by Hoppe personally, and cited in ESAM several times.

This review I'll quote word for word, the others are all worth reading too (numerous good points about why it'd be a solid intro book).

Suggestion: sell all the others and buy this one.

"This is one of the most painstakingly argued philosophies I have ever encountered. Blanshard is obsessive-compulsive in his maniacal destruction of the philosophies of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russel. Brand Blanshard is a man on the warpath; he will not be satisfied until every aspect of the aforementioned philosophies has been ground into dust. And indeed they are ground into dust. I do not see how anyone could be taken in by the concepts of Russel and Wittgenstein after reading this book.

All of this is not to say that Blanshard is a parasitic writer. There is more to this book than simply the destruction of other peoples' life's work. However, after reading _Reason and Analysis_, I realize that I have not seen this many instances of abuse of a corpse since the infamous "tri-state crematory scandal" in north Georgia. Blanshard simply will not leave these poor guys alone! Wittgenstein has rolled over in his grave so many times that he's gonna need to have his tires rotated.

Anyway, this does not really detract from the book as a whole. It is actually a very valuble resource in terms of getting up to date with recent philosophical movements. Blanshard does an excellent job at summarizing previous movements, to the extent that you could get by without reading any of the authors he mentions. Blanshard's detailed synopses of these philosophies is almost as good as reading the original works themselves. A book like this can save you the trouble of having to read many early to mid-twentieth century philosophers.

To summarize, the factual content of this book is nearly inarguable. Blanshard's arguments are very convincing and very meticulous. Overall, this work is utterly fascinating, well written, lucid, and clear. But I will leave the reader with this one last piece of advice: ONLY READ THE FIRST 200 PAGES. That's all you need to get the gist of Blanshard's philosophy. Once you get past the first 200 pages, Blanshard seems to do nothing other than give endless additional examples to uphold an argument that was already convincing enough. The argument had been completely outlined by page 200, and meticulously argued to the point of catharsis.

Those who read further must be devastated adherents of Wittgenstein who can only watch with shock and horror as their life's studies go up in smoke. I will not deduct a star for the run-on ending of this book simply because the first 200 pages are so spectacular and so potent that nothing could possibly detract from these initial arguments. This book is easily worth the price of admission ten times over simply for these first 200 pages - I'm only trying to save you time by warning you about the redundncy of the latter part of this book. So by all means go ahead and buy _Reason and Analysis_ - with my condolences to the adherents of Wittgenstein and Russell."

As for the oldschool philosophers - take your pick.

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Almost forgot positive suggestions

For Free: I think MIT offers free online resources / courses / that's something to look into

 

For Pay:

http://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Great-Philosophers-Historical-Introduction/dp/1880157543

This was my 101, and it was good enough for a 101.  It helps with names, the categories you have to get used to (so it helps you look at philo in a fairly systematic way), gets you used to the names and place in history.  Probably gets your feet wet in things you "expect" philosophy to be and shows how that plays out.  It's a good very general survey to get used to the field.

The only drawback is, you still get an author who is a philosopher who just can't help himself commenting with his own 2 cents on the other philosophers: but it is very ignorable

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Conza,

Have you a TL;DR version of his argument?

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I am currently reading Bertrand Russell's "The Problem of China" published in 1922. This book is free (along with a number of his other books) on Kindle.

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