Guest ASelameab

Higher Level Philosophical Studies

69 posts in this topic

If you didn't read it already (which it seems you have not), then I would read Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics. I just started it myself and I am very impressed thus far. I can't recomend anything else from Aristotle as I havn't read any of it, but I'm sure there is a lot of other good stuff (Aristotles Politics, etc...).

You can get it all free here...

http://www.non-contradiction.com/

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Amse's central purpose in life is to achieve his own happiness. He intends to so this (primarily) by engaging in excruciatingly difficult and exhausting work - but work which he loves to do with fervor, excitement; with pride. Amse intends to be a lawyer. A secondary value that Amse's wishes to attain is a romantic partner, a wife, who wants the same fundemental things out of life as I. Lastly, Amse wants friends he can value, hobbies he can enjoy, and another beagle.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not many people know what they want in life. You do. Congratulations!

I would suggest one correction in your thinking. Happiness is not the central purpose, but the ultimate purpose, that is, the purpose towards which all other purposes are directed. Work (as the central, core purpose), leisure, and friendships all contribute to happiness.

Keeping the terms/ideas of "ultimate" and "central" straight helps keep the hierarchy of values and purposes straight, and therefore makes life simpler.

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All in all, this took me a couple weeks. I had a lot of free time.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You did say you were reading for flavor. However, if I had read the works on your list at the abstract-integrative level, I would have needed closer to two years -- especially counting the complete dialogues of Plato, which are superficially easy, but, on close examination, contain many puzzles.

One requirement for a lawyer -- at least, one who has a courtroom practice -- is confidence. I don't think you lack anything there.

You have an exciting career ahead.

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Amse,

This whole discussion is in the context of you studying subjects, and you requesting further materials to study. You say something like, "I have studied subjects X, Y, and Z", and want to read more challenging writings on the subject; it is in this context that you have mentioned Ancient Greece, i.e.:

I just recently finished an study of Ancient Greece

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

However, when specifying the level of your involvement in that study, you said that you were reading for flavor, and that the entire study took you two weeks! Even if I might object that any such in-depth study requires a considerable study of the history of the period (a subject that gets only a passing attention in your list of books), there are other objections to be raised. Another very important one is what Burgess alluded to, namely that even if the more important books are omitted, the actual books that are on your list themselves require a lot more attention if what you aim for is a study of Ancient Greece, rather than a passing glance, or cursory knowledge.

When asked in this thread whether your entire study of Objectivism, Locke, et al., was just a cursory examination that deserved a more in-depth study, you explicitly clarified that no, no, your understanding of each subject was profound and fundamental. However, if your study of other subjects has been anything at all like your study of Ancient Greece, then some of the concerns raised by others in this thread might have been right after all. Plato himself deserves a lot more than a couple of weeks. Same for the dramatists and pretty much everything else on your list. If you have read Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, I would love to see your input in these two threads: one on religion and morality, and the other on Greek mythology. To study Ancient Greek science, more than just Hippocrates is required. To study Ancient Greek philosophy, more than just Plato is required. To study Ancient Greek literature, more than just Herodotus is required. Assuming that that author was also for your study of Ancient Greek history, there too more is required. So on every parameter you listed as your goal of study in Ancient Greece, namely philosophy, fine art, science, and history, a lot more reading is required than what you have had on your list.

This is not to say that I'm unhappy with you reading all of those things -- quite the contrary, if you know my history of posting, I love it when people say they've read works of Classical civilization. However, you have said you studied Ancient Greece, and used it as just one example of how you study (all) other subjects.

All this is the reason why I asked you to be more specific about the study of that one subject. Now I can say with some certainty that the concerns raised by members in this thread are at least in part justified. No one here (least of all me) wants to discourage you (at all!), but it should be clear that this reading is for flavor, and actually does not qualify as a study.

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Amse intends to be a lawyer.
How come? Clearly, I don't think it's a bad idea, but if you're up for high level philosophical stuff, this is a question you should ask yourself (and answer, to me). Can you point to specific aspects of the practice of law which excite you, and explain why they do?

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If you didn't read it already (which it seems you have not), then I would read Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics. I just started it myself and I am very impressed thus far. I can't recomend anything else from Aristotle as I havn't read any of it, but I'm sure there is a lot of other good stuff (Aristotles Politics, etc...).

You can get it all free here...

http://www.non-contradiction.com/

Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't read that book, but I hear that it is basically a list of virtures....or at least that is what constitutes Nichmachean ethics....

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Not many people know what they want in life. You do. Congratulations!

I would suggest one correction in your thinking. Happiness is not the central purpose, but the ultimate purpose, that is, the ......

Thanks, I will keep those terms seperate.

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You did say you were reading for flavor. However, if I had read the works on your list at the abstract-integrative level.....

I will explain in my response to FC.

You have an exciting career ahead.

Thank you.

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Thanks for the suggestion. I didn't read that book, but I hear that it is basically a list of virtures....or at least that is what constitutes Nichmachean ethics....

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, it is a list of virtues. I don't see how that is a problem.

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Amse,

This whole discussion is in the context of you studying subjects, and you requesting further materials to study. You say something like, "I have studied subjects X, Y, and Z", and want to read more challenging writings on the ......

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have a couple of things to say:

1. When I say "read", I realize now that that isn't entirely accurate. As BL pointed out, reading books ought to be integrated towards your CPL. If I pick up a book of "Selections from Plato", I will only read the selections that I find interesting or informative. I would normally read books cover to cover, but my time is limited, so I want to use it wisely. Remember, I did not say "an extensive study". I simply said "a study". (A study could involve reading one book. )

2. Keeping point 1 in mind, when I come across a selection that is interesting, I read it in depth. See my previous post for how I do that.

3. "Prometheus Bound" was a great play. I thought the line spoken by Prometheus was esp. stirring, "I am one whom he cannot kill".

4. (General response, not just to you) I have not received a satisfactory answer to my initial question. The answers I have been receiving have been along the lines of, "I don't think you read deeply enough into the material" or "Do you know how to read at the abstract-integrative level, or are you simply reading at the surface" etc. Please don't patronize me. I am not claiming to be a genius, nor to have every drop of knowledge from every piece of work written by the well known intellectuals down. The reason why I am looking for new material is because I don't have much time left this summer, and I want to read as much as possible. I feel that I am reading at a level that gets the fundamental points made by each of the authors across.

5. This is not to say that I don't value all of your posts, and the time it took you to respond. Thank you for doing what you are doing; I very much appreciate it.

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How come? Clearly, I don't think it's a bad idea, but if you're up for high level philosophical stuff, this is a question you should ask yourself (and answer, to me). Can you point to specific aspects of the practice of law which excite you, and explain why they do?

Fair question (although perhaps a bit off topic...). I was involved in high school Debate my first 2 years at Roseville Area. I loved doing that. I loved the entire process, to having to find arguments to counter and attack all the possible types your opponent could muster, to having to research to find evidence to substantiate your arguments, to the actual delivery of the arguments, and all the million steps in between. I spent so much time doing that that (unfortunately) my grades suffered. But law is something that I believe I could do for the rest of my life. As a kid, I wanted to be a detective for a while, but as my interests matured law bubbled to the surface. Plus, I plan on being extravagantly rich by doing so. Enough that I will be able to buy enough ARI lectures and books to fill an entire room, enough Cordair art to open my own mini-museum, and probably about 30 beagles (:D )

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Yes, it is a list of virtues. I don't see how that is a problem.

It could be a problem if the list isn't tied to man's nature; it runs the risk of being aribitary. I get suspicious when I hear things like that. Then again, I haven't read the book, so this isn't a definitive statement.

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I have not received a satisfactory answer to my initial question.

I don't think that is a fair assessment. You have received a number of good and reasonable responses, but I note that some of your follow-up posts set some different standards as to what in fact you are really after. And, don't forget that your very first statement in your beginning post was "I am bored." If we craft our ideas in order of importance and relevance to the point, then relieving the boredom is even more primary than satisfying any other particular intellectual pursuit. Frankly, I find it difficult to integrate your boredom with the impression you give of an eighteen year-old looking for intellectual challenges, when many brilliant people spend their lifetime seeking to understand a virtually endless array of ideas that were developed from antiquity to the present.

Incidentally, since you have stated that you are looking for "studies in metaphysics and epistemology," have you read Alex's essay on The Unbounded, Finite Universe? Alex is an Objectivist philosophy student who moderates our "Who said this ... in Philosophy" forum, and the referenced essay is considered by some, myself included, to bring brilliant closure to a topic that has befuddled many for quite a long time. Why don't you read the essay and present your thoughts about it here?

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It could be a problem if the list isn't tied to man's nature; it runs the risk of being aribitary. I get suspicious when I hear things like that. Then again, I haven't read the book, so this isn't a definitive statement.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It is not a list (why would anyone call it a list?). He is not consistent, but he has quite a few profound insights, and his general direction is far better than anyone besides AR that I have read.

Also, a study (whether in detail or broad strokes) of Greece could hardly be said to be underway without a treatment of Aristotle.

That is also my answer to your original question. Take on Aristotle if you're bored and want a challenge. It is not light reading. Try The Basic Works of Aristotle from Richard McKeon.

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Why don't you read the essay and present your thoughts about it here?

Just to clarify, by "here" I meant THE FORUM, not this thread. Any discussion of the referenced topic would belong in the "Metaphysics & Epistemology" forum.

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It could be a problem if the list isn't tied to man's nature; it runs the risk of being aribitary. I get suspicious when I hear things like that. Then again, I haven't read the book, so this isn't a definitive statement.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I can guarantee you now that every virtue of Aristotle's is based upon man's nature, and not a single one is arbitrary. It is truly fascinating to read his Ethics and see his process of reasoning; quite a life-changing event in fact.

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1. When I say "read", I realize now that that isn't entirely accurate. As BL pointed out, reading books ought to be integrated towards your CPL.

I hope that what I said was that one's readings should be integrated with one's central purpose in life or other important purpose. A person's central purpose in life is the core of one's life, but not all of it. One could read about Beagles, too, even if one wants to be a trial lawyer.

If I pick up a book of "Selections from Plato", I will only read the selections that I find interesting or informative. I would normally read books cover to cover, but my time is limited, so I want to use it wisely. Remember, I did not say "an extensive study". I simply said "a study". (A study could involve reading one book. )

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

In your original list, you said you had read Plato's dialogues. You didn't say some of his dialogues or a selection from his dialogues. I (rightfully, I think) concluded that you had managed to study the whole set, a mind-boggling amount of work.

But now I have a better understanding of what you are doing. So, in light of that I do have one book to recommend that should (1) keep you busy full-time for a whole month (at least), (2) benefit you for the rest of your life, and (3) teach you about Aristotle's most important contribution to Western Civilization -- all at the same time.

The book I recommend is H. W. B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, second edition, revised, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1916.

Joseph has been called "the last of the Aristotelians." His book is available in a new printing, put out by Paper Tiger. (You can see the catalogue and find this book online.) He introduces the reader to logic, overall, and bases almost all of it on Aristotle's own writings -- plus Joseph's own analysis of modern philosophers, in places. This is a book that should stay in your personal library for the rest of your life.

Do not be misled by the title. It is not for babies. It is very challenging. Joseph's writing is very clear and reality-oriented. This 600-page book, however, is a major intellectual challenge -- especially to cover in only a month.

I guarantee that you will not be bored with this book if you approach it seriously. If your notes are thorough, I hope you will post questions or summaries of key points in THE FORUM. I would love the chance to learn from such discussions.

One last point: It is a contradiction to say that one wants to read lightly (via selections, quick reading, or reading only for flavor) and that one wants a serious intellectual challenge. The two don't fit.

It is, however, appropriate to do what perhaps you have, in fact, been doing: First, read lightly (in survey mode, for "flavor") and then take on a serious intellectual challenge. But the latter approach requires a lot of time and effort -- as you will find if you decide to face the challenge that Joseph offers.

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The book I recommend is H. W. B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, second edition, revised, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1916....

I have wanted to read that book, but I don't have enough money to buy it right now. Thanks for the suggestion though.

I would also like to respond in general to the maelstrom I have created. I may look like I am coming across as some "snot-nosed" 18 year old who thinks that he's gained omniscience. I am not. I deeply respect the members of this forum, I think that you have accomplished a lot. You are moving Objectivism forward; you are part of its history.

However, I am very sensitive to patronizing, so if that was not any of your intentions, I mis-judged and I apologize. I do not want to create a rift between me and you unnecessarily. I want to push philosophy forward, I want to expand its reaches higher and higher. Of course, that means learning what has been already said and done - Aristotle and the like. But I don't want to live in the past. I want to be the future. That was my honest motive for posting initially. I do believe I read "into" material. I do believe that I reading at an "abstract-integrative" level. Can you take my word on it that I do? If I don't, and I am deceiving you, then I won't get anything out of books anyway. I appreciate the fact that you are analyzing my methods, but I assure you, I am already there. I just want some guidance as to where to go next.

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The book I recommend is H. W. B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic, second edition, revised, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1916....

I have wanted to read that book, but I don't have enough money to buy it right now.

My copy is more than forty years old, well-worn but still readable. I have been meaning to order a new copy from Fred Weiss' company, The Paper Tiger, Inc. I will offer to send you my used copy if you agree to Burgess' suggestion to present questions or summaries on THE FORUM based on your serious study of the work.

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My copy is more than forty years old, well-worn but still readable. I have been meaning to order a new copy from Fred Weiss' company, The Paper Tiger, Inc. I will offer to send you my used copy if you agree to Burgess' suggestion to present questions or summaries on THE FORUM based on your serious study of the work.

(I meant to do this)

I would accept your terms. However, if what he is saying is true, I won't have enough time to finish it before school starts.

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I would accept your terms. However, if what he is saying is true, I won't have enough time to finish it before school starts.

You would not be expected to finish a serious study of that book in such a short time. But, given the time that you have, if you will give the book serious study and present any questions or summaries here on THE FORUM, I will be happy to send the book to you. If you agree, then send me your mailing address privately by email or PM and I will forward the book right away.

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It is not a list (why would anyone call it a list?).

I meant that he would say the particular virtue and then explain why it is a virtue, as far as I have read, that is what it has been. Perhaps calling it a list was inappropriate.

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Amse, please don't mistake my comments for carping needlessly, but I do feel the need to point out something you said in your post.

I want to push philosophy forward, I want to expand its reaches higher and higher. Of course, that means learning what has been already said and done - Aristotle and the like.
The word that I have singled out in bold makes all the difference here. Please take what I say in the most positive way possible, but if your study of subjects is anything like your study of Ancient Greece, then what you've been doing is not "learning what has been already said and done".

There's a very big difference between studying a subject, and becoming a consummate expert in it, and I am in no way advocating that you do the latter for all of the subjects you've shown interest in. To follow that suggestion would be impossible and unnecessary on your part, and to suggest it would be ridiculous on mine. But what I am advocating, if what you want to really learn what has been said and done, is do a lot more than just read a few books in the subject for flavor, and then consider your task in that area complete.

Therefore, when you say that you "want more" books to read and to advance your knowledge of things, I respond with a counter suggestion -- read some new books to keep interest, and also study the old ones, rather than read them for flavor. In the area of Ancient Greece, if you really want to be able to say that you've "studied" Ancient Greece (but still don't want to devote the time required to be an actual expert on the subject), then what you will need to pay the dialogues of Plato a lot more attention; you will also need to read a lot of Aristotle, as in many ways he is a culmination of Greek natural science, Greek philosophy, and Greek philosophy of literature and aesthetics. But most important of all, you will need to read and know the history of Classical Greece, which means Herodotus, Thucydides, and Diodorus Siculus who all cover the Classical Period of Greece in neat succession from 500BC to the time of Alexander the Great (323BC). You can also read the history of Alexander by Quintus Curtius, for flavor (:)) about the period, and its a wonderful portrait more focused on moral rather than military matters. If you read these things, then by next Spring you can say that you have studied Ancient Greece. The same follows for all other subjects: if what you want is epistemology, then read the book on logic referenced above, together with Aristotle's Posterior Analytics (I think), and also most importantly, with a thorough (rather than flavor-oriented) reading of Ayn Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and the relevant chapters from Dr. Peikoff's OPAR.

The place to start then, is rather than asking what more you can read because you're bored, to say what areas interest you a lot, and to ask what the fundamental and crucial books are on the subject. These books may be some new ones for you to read, and some of the old ones for you to go over and study in greater detail. I hope you view my suggestion in as much of a positive way as how I intend it :)

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I want to push philosophy forward, I want to expand its reaches higher and higher.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

To push philosophy forward, means to be a philosopher -- whether as a primary philosopher (like Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Rand) or as a secondary philosopher (like Speusippus, Theophrastus, Kierkegaard, and Leonard Peikoff).

Of course, that means learning what has been already said and done - Aristotle and the like.

Your approach here is correct. It does pay to learn what some past philosophers have said about the particular philosophical problem that fascinates you. (If they all fascinate you, then you are a philosopher, as Ragnar was.)

However, in an important way, all philosophers are contemporary. They are "alive" through their surviving writings. Each looked at the world and thought about it in the widest terms. Their conclusions are available to us today. Yes, the philosophies of the ancient and medieval past require some knowledge of history in order to fully understand their meaning (as W. T. Jones's five-volume History of Western Philosophy series shows), but their main points are just as relevant today as they were a thousand or two thousand years ago. Of course, relevant doesn't mean right.

P. S. -- You have said your CPL is to be a lawyer. You have also shown a hunger for not only studying some philosophy but for adding to it. I would like to encourage you to consider combining the two. Consider the field of philosophy of law. That is the study of the foundations of theory of law. Objectivism is a philosophy. To affect the world, it must be applied. It will be applied, in part, through philosophies of X -- where X is some field such as music, physics, law, psychology, or history.

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