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i just started reading some philosophy writings and got so mach interested in philosophy.But my assess to books is very much limited and i would appropriate its if anyone can help me with free e-book sites from where i can download some philosophy books. Thanks

You are in luck: the internet is densely populated with philosophical texts. Good places to start are: www.earlymoderntexts.com www.gutenberg.org (also, they have a small set of recommendations in their 'philosophy bookshelf' but it represents only the tip of an iceberg!) https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/ and Google books has hundreds of pdf scans of old volumes. Now, there are three problems with these sites: for the most part, they present texts without commentary or explanation; often they use old editions or translations (because they are out of copyright); and finally, for the same reason, they tend to emphasize philosophy from times past. Recent philosophy is more difficult to come by, but not impossible. Certainly useful introductions can be found at the Internet or Stanford Encyclopedias; also, university teachers often put their lecture notes up on the web.

Why is such a high value placed in reading the "Classics"? It's one thing to honor the past and honor the fact that, but for those who came before, we wouldn't be where we are today, and another thing entirely to pretend that those "classic" thinkers and thoughts of the past are worthy of the scrutiny of self-respecting truth-seekers today. If I'm being honest, the Pre-Socratic writings are simply idiotic by today's standards, claiming matter is all "water", or "fire", or some other random element. Leibniz, Spinoza, and those guys aren't any better. None of them had even the most rudimentary concept of physics. JS Mill and Kant read like some High Schooler, discoursing at length about Happiness and motivation without even a whiff of suspicion about the basic facts of psychology, treating those terms as if they were transparently obvious, monolithic concepts. Even an idea like the more recently vaunted Veil of Ignorance seems ludicrously vulnerable to someone of even mediocre intelligence, like me. It...

If one thought that the only true goal of philosophy was to describe, as precisely and accurately as possible, using the very latest scientific findings, the nature of the universe or of the human mind, then indeed there would be no need to read the 'classics' of philosophy. In that case, however, I wonder whether one needs philosophy at all, since what was just described is not in essence different from physics or psychology themselves. So, there would also be little point in reading contemporary philosophy. Within the history of philosophy, of course, many have seen their work, or a substantial part of it, in just this way, in part because science and philosophy had not yet fully branched off from one another. Very often, these were first class scientific minds (Aristotle or Leibniz, for example). But their primary interest today is not as scientists. Here are the main ways that I try to 'sell' my students on reading the history of philosophy: 1. The philosopher is not there to tell us...

As a professional philosopher; which philosophical idea brings you the greatest joy whenever you think about it?

What a lovely question! Thank you! I'm going to punt for Kant's account of the beautiful as that which brings harmony among the cognitive faculties and 'enlivens' their mutual functioning. Now, why does this bring me joy? First of all, because I have found the idea enormously philosophically fertile (for example, it is important to my and Ole Martin Skilleas' work on the aesthetics of wine, and also to my way of interpreting the concept of affirmation in Nietzsche). Second, it still maps onto my experience of art and nature, despite my having subjected both the idea and my experiences to relentless self criticism. Third, as an idea, it is itself about beauty, pleasure and life. What more do you want?

More people are familiar with the ideas of Camus and Sartre, two examples of continental philosophers who wrote of the need of philosophy to be applied to the human condition, than are aware who Quine and Wittgenstein were. Does it bother analytic philosophers that most people consider analytic philosophy to have zero relevance in their lives yet regard many continental philosophers as public intellectuals?

I suppose I count as a'continental' philosopher. It is worth pointing out that thisanalytic/ continental distinction, however you want to draw it, andfor whatever it is worth, is mainly internal to philosophy. 'Mostpeople' would not be aware of the distinction. Heck, there are signsin businesses that say 'Our philosophy is to provide an excellentcustomer experience'. So, I fully support the need for publiceducation and some kind of large-scale PR exercise. However, thereare hopeful signs. The book market is virtually flooded withintroductions to this or that philosophy, theme or topic, most aimedat a general audience. Experts at judging their markets, publishers clearly see a wide interest in philosophy. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, ofcourse, but its scale is unprecedented. Also there are a very fineset of materials for doing philosophy with children (indeed, even mydaughter's school uses them), and this could be encouraged much more.

What's the difference between post-modernism and critiques of modernity?

Not an easy question to answer since(i) both terms are used in a variety of different ways, and not veryoften by the various philosophers who are categorised in these ways;and (ii) these terms cross boundaries (and peryhaps even originate there) well beyond philosophy(literary studies, music, visual arts, cultural theory, etc.). Anyway, try this out as a startingpoint: let us define a 'critique' as an analysis of X (presumably inthis case a negative evaluation, but it needn't be) but in terms thatX would recognise. A critique of a argument in economics, forexample, would employ economic concepts that are also the horizon ofthe original argument. 'Critique', then, is an operation that one canperform WITHIN a certain type of intellectual milieu, an ordinaryform of debate. In this sense, a critique of modernism (whatever thatis) is still modernism. 'Post-modernism' (whatever that is) would bean attempt (perhaps successful) to move beyond the horizon ofconcepts, forms of analysis or what-have-you that...

I have read that authors such as Jacques Derrida, Slavoj Žižek and Judith Butler write in such a way as to intimidate or subdue the reader into accepting what they have to say, using rhetorical techniques as well as obfuscation. The accusation that Derrida practiced "obscurantisme terroriste" is a good example of the kind of accusation I'm talking about; Martha Nussbaum made a somewhat similar critique of Judith Butler, and there are several other such instances besides. The core idea seems to be that these writers write using disjointed, heavy-handed rhetoric and difficult-to-decipher prose in order to discourage the reader from challenging their ideas. What do you think? As someone who is not a professional philosopher, I sometimes find myself hard pressed to distinguish between things I am not equipped to understand and things that are actively trying to make me stop trying to understand and simply submit. Do the authors named above engage in such practices, and if so, to what extent? Are there...

I really do not believe that any of the philosophers you mentionseek to 'bully' others in their writing, or to achieve the submissionof their readers. We are all human, so no doubt there areoccasionally misjudged attacks to be found in everyone, but I don'tbelieve these philosophers make it a habit. Although that does notrule out that there may be other philosophers who do this. And itcertainly does not rule out that I often find Derrida in particularexasperating for other reasons. There is a ratio of effort needed toinsight gained that, in many of Derrida's books of the mid or late70s in particular, gets way too high for me. I have had a go atgiving one reason for this difficulty here: http://www.askphilosophers.org/question/1593 There are other reasons, too, not least that a philosopher willnaturally tend to write for his or her colleagues, especially whenthey see themselves working on a particular problem together. Alanguage game can become severely 'denaturalised' in such a case.

My uncle tells me that I will never be able to find what I am looking for by pursuing philosophy because of something called the "paradox of philosophy". I asked him what that was and he told me I would find out soon enough if I became a philosophy major. Its been a long time and I havent figured out what the basic paradox of philosophy is. My guess however is that the paradox of philosophy is the idea that in order to obtain absolute truth you must already possess it. Because if you dont know what the truth is how will you recognize it when you find it? Maybe that is why the theory of recollection is so importent to Plato's philosophy? Am I correct about the paradox of philosophy or is it something different than that?

I'm not sure exactly what your Unclemay have had in mind (although it's possible that I'm being a bitthick, and one of the other panelists will see it straight away). Ican think of several possible 'paradoxes', though (not all of whichare, technically, paradoxes). One is that philosophy is its ownundoing; in other words, if philosophy ever achieved the knowledgethat it pursues, then it would cease to exist. Oddly, this has neverhappened... However, such an undoing need not be a big problem, andindeed philosophers such as Schelling or Hegel explicitly embracedsomething like this end of philosophy. Another is that everydescription of something (e.g. a metaphysical account of the real) isonly a description, and thus requires an investigation of itsadequacy as description; and the result of that investigation is,itself, only a description; and so forth. A third (which can be foundin Hume's scepticism and Kant's critical philosophy) is thatphilosophy investigates the conditions of its own possibility...

It seems that the psychological and emotional difficulties experienced in life by individuals such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Artur Schopenhauer and Max Weber lead many people to be more skeptical of the theories and works of these individuals than they otherwise would, regardless of the content of these works and theories. What is the meaning relationship between a philosopher's work and his psychological issues? Surely all philosophers are influenced in their thought by the things that have happened to them in their lives, so why should some have their work dismissed or explained away, in part, via their personal issues, while others don't? Where is the line?

It is certainly true that all philosophers are influenced by the place and time in which they live, by their personalities, and by the interests they have as individuals. Philosophers are human beings, after all! But what happens as a result of this ‘influence’? Does it mean the adoption of certain styles of writing, the use of particular forms of argumentation, tendency to use this type of example rather than that, more or less frequent reference to certain other philosophers or traditions, choice of topic (since some topics will appear more urgent to me than to others by virtue of who I am and where and when I live), even choice of methods (I may have a predisposition to skepticism, empiricism, idealism, etc.)? All of these effects, however, do not have any necessary (or even likely) effect upon the value of the philosophical work, either to contemporary philosophy or to a previous era, provided they remain either at the level of ornamentation, or are employed undogmatically. The assumption...

How relevant is knowledge of moral theory to acting morally? Are philosophers "better" people than non-philosophers? Thanks for your time.

It would be great if the answer to your second question was 'yes'! But, despite the authority of Plato, I doubt that it is. Let us distinguish between knowing why, knowing that, andcharacter. 'Knowing why' is the moral theorist: he or she understandsthe relationship among principles, the various avenues ofjustification, the standard arguments and objections, and so forth.'Knowing that' is someone who has an accurate grasp of what is good,although he or she might not be able to explain 'why', or evenrecognise the need to do so. (I won't dwell on what 'accurate' mightmean here, for the same reason presumably as you put 'better' intoscare-quotes!) 'Character' is the capacity (the will, the strength,whatever) to turn moral knowledge into action. Clearly, neither ofthe first two is any good without the last. Moreover, I can see nogood reason why the 'knowing why' individual is any more likely tohave a virtuous character than a 'knowing that' – indeed, it mightbe the reverse. However...

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