On Beginning to Read Philosophy Sources

This is a fly-over view of approaching philosophy.  It is overly simplistic.  On the other hand, it is a useful handout in seeing different philosophical movements.  The first part are basic texts that every educated Westerner must read.  The second are snapshots from the Russian sociologist Aleksandr Dugin.  I do not endorse Dugin’s larger projects, but he does a good job reading postmodern philosophy.

Key Texts

Plato.  I recommend the Great Dialogues translated by Rouse.  It gives you the Republic plus a few others.  Being is now an Idea. It is that which is placed before man.  Ideas are always across from man.  There is a “gap.” Man is always “before” (across) the ideas.  Thus Heidegger’s conclusion: man (being) is no longer in the world, but across from it.  Man is pre-sented before the world, which means Ideas have to be re-presented to him. Truth is now correspondence between Idea and Object.

Aristotle, Categories/Organon.  It’s a good intro to his metaphysics without getting bogged down.  And I would study Aristotle’s table of being in metaphysics.  It gives you the gist of it.

Augustine, Confessions.  Pay attention to chapters 8, 10-12.

Thomas Aquinas.  I don’t really know where you should start.  It’s too much of a cliche to just begin with the 5 Proofs, but that’s also probably the easiest place to start.

Descartes.  Meditations is a fairly straightforward read. Everything is is re-presented before the Subject.  Descartes calls these beings objects (115). A subject must have an object to stand before it

Locke.  At least read Book IV of his Human Understanding.  It’s actually funny in parts.

Berkeley.  Despite his apparently bizarre philosophy, he is a good writer.

Hume. Dialogues on Natural Religion.

Hegel.  This is a tough one.  I actually don’t think Philosophy of History is all that hard.  Spend some time with a good intro to Hegel and you will be alright.

Marx. Early Philosophical Writings.  Marx stays true to the metaphysical topography. He has a subject (society, class) and an object (matter, product, thing).  Marx correctly noted that Machenschaft created alienation. His solution is to use techne (objects) to overcome the alienation.

Nietzsche.  Most people like Zarathustra.  I was underwhelmed.  I liked Genealogy of Morals, though.

Heidegger.  Probably don’t start with Being and Time.  My personal favorite is the Harper Perennial edition of his Major Works, which gives you snippets from Being and Time, along with his better essays.

Postmodernism and Beyond (From Dugin, see above link)

Starting with Plato’s forms, philosophical man has had a leitmotif, often dual in structure, to explain reality.




2 thoughts on “On Beginning to Read Philosophy Sources

  1. What about some Eastern philosophers, or critics of philosophy, such as Radhakrishan? Also, Bertrand Russell critiqued philosophy and was an insightful social critic.


    • I knew more about Western than Eastern philosophy and I didn’t want my list to get too large. Russell’s stuff is okay, but I wanted primary sources that were considered classics. I enjoyed his Problems of Philosophy but I wanted my list to stay manageable.

      Liked by 1 person

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