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Immryr
28-12-2007, 11:17 PM
ok, so, im interested in reading a lot more of this kind of thing. i dont have much of a grounding in any of it, ive read some kant, socrates and zizek and a bunch of things that have been linked to on this site or through random searching. but i really have no idea where to start. say, for instance, i was interested in the work of baudrillard, do i start with his earliest works and go forward, do i need to read marx, bataille or lyotard etc before i even start, or is it ok to just pick up any of his books and start from there?

any advice would be great.

gek-opel
29-12-2007, 12:52 AM
Its a vast intimidating intellectual arena and I am in total awe of those who develop any level of mastery within it. I'm currently taking an MA course in philosophy/critical theory, which has taken me through some of the basics so far. I guess it depends on who/what you are specifically interested in... though knowledge of Kant, Hegel and Marx (and possibly Freud/Lacan) is pretty useful in understanding how the more recent debates (ie- critical theory/anti-humanism etc) are situated. Along with those Heidegger and Nietszche are pretty central. Although another approach might be to dive into the work of someone who piques your interest and then move backwards through the works they are responding to/influenced by. So on this course I spent my first term studying Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (which is massively influential but a difficult read) and a more broad based module on Critical theory/Anti-humanism situated in terms of Kant and Marx and moving through some key texts in each tradition (which for Critical Theory covered Horkheimer, Adorno, bits of Lukacs for reification, and for French Anti-Humanism Althusser, Sartre, Foucault, Lacan and De Beauvoir). Though the feeling that there is always more to read is an abiding one.

Tate, Nomadologist, Gavin (or HMLT when he's de-banned) might be able to better point you in the right direction... Though don't listen to them when they inevitably pour scorn on Badiou!

mistersloane
29-12-2007, 01:29 AM
It took me years to read philosophy after reading fiction - I enjoy reading theory, I'm very bad at quoting it. My best suggestion would be to keep reading - and that means not finishing alot of books! - until you find someone with a voice that clicks with you, whom you like. Gek's suggestion of diving into the works of someone who piques your interest is a good one. Reading philosophy for fun is different from studying, I've found - I've been criticised in the past for not reading philosophy/theory 'right'. Never ask permission is what I'd say! There is no 'right' way of reading any of this stuff, and it's perfectly OK to do totally as you please within the field. Preferably destroying as much of it as you can in the process :)

gek-opel
29-12-2007, 01:50 PM
It took me years to read philosophy after reading fiction - I enjoy reading theory, I'm very bad at quoting it. My best suggestion would be to keep reading - and that means not finishing alot of books! - until you find someone with a voice that clicks with you, whom you like. Gek's suggestion of diving into the works of someone who piques your interest is a good one. Reading philosophy for fun is different from studying, I've found - I've been criticised in the past for not reading philosophy/theory 'right'. Never ask permission is what I'd say! There is no 'right' way of reading any of this stuff, and it's perfectly OK to do totally as you please within the field. Preferably destroying as much of it as you can in the process :)

I agree its best to find an author who really inspires you (rhetorically or in terms of their style or their politics or whatever...) as this is going to be hard work, there is no way around that really so the correct motivation needs to be in place. I found that even when reading "for fun" the only way I could actually get to grips with a text was to study it, take notes whilst reading it etc, give it my fullest attention. Although I did end up reading quite a lot of journal articles (and about 2/3rds of Hardt and Negri's "Empire") on the toilet at my last job to avoid doing work!

Another thing you could do is join a theory reading group (I dunno where you live but especially if you are based in London you should be able to find one...) or attend some conferences which are often open to the general public and feature short papers circulated in advance.

nomadologist
03-01-2008, 03:47 PM
Yeah, I'll echo Gek and Mistersloane and say: dive right into anyone's work that has attracted you at all for any reason. If it engrosses you, you'll find yourself looking to the references within that work and automatically buying more books by different thinkers/theorists.

Myself, I can say everything I have ever read can be traced back to reading Crime and Punishment with tremendous enthusiasm when I was no more than 10-years-old and feeling that it 'changed my life'. From there I voraciously consumed everything else Dostoevsky ever wrote, all of Russian literature, German literature, Hamsun, Greek philosophy and poetry, Roman/Latin literature, "existentialism", modernism in art, Freud, psychoanalysis, Nietzsche, Blanchot, Beckett, structuralism, Borges, Primo Levi, post-structuralism, Bataille, Mirbeau, Robbe-Grillet, Genet, Boell, etc. and eventually "post-modernism" in all of its glory. None of this was done at all chronologically, and I'm sure I've forgotten some names and genres, but the whole "context" that is Western literature fell into place quite well after plugging away at it for a while.

Dial
06-01-2008, 12:01 PM
I've been reading The Future of Theory by Jean-Michel Rabate. He says above all a good grounding in Hegel will get you moving with ease through contemporary theory. At base its largely Anglo-Saxon readings of French readings (Kojeve and then later Hippolyte) of Hegel. And his listing of what/how much Hegel to read wasn't that extensive. For one brief, crazed moment I almost went and bought Phenomenology of Spirit.

gek-opel
06-01-2008, 12:04 PM
Its a tough read, but undoubtedly worthwhile. The Hyppolite is good shit, Kojeve wants to read it all in terms of master/slave dialectic for some reason. I did find that a bit baffling- I mean the political reasons for doing so are plain but the text doesn't really support that the line of argumentation that well.

Dial
06-01-2008, 12:44 PM
According to Rabate, Kojeve never pretended to an 'accurate' reading/rendering of Hegel, rather he wanted to 'think with, and at times against him' Those last words Kojeve's himself. And to this end basically dramatised Hegel into scenes. I can't recall, exactly why, the over-emphasis - and it was an over-emphasis , on the master/slave dialectic. Rabate had some thoughts on that too. Sorry, don't have the book with me or I'd have a look.

Curious, too, that Kojeve had such contempt for 'pure intellectuals'

Gek, do I get you correctly that you are reading both some Hegel, and Kojeve and Hippolyte on Hegel?

I'm tempted to dabble which won't be particularly productive. An hour or so, a couple of days a week won't cut it. I've got 10 days off next month. My girlfriend will be away. The city shuts down. Two or three hours a day reading PoS? It'll feed my masochism at any rate.

Dial
06-01-2008, 12:50 PM
And Immryr, if you're reading this I see you mention Baudrillard. I'm also reading and re-reading Forget Foucault at the moment which is one of his very early books. Its got a good introduction by Sylvere Lotringer as well as a set of interviews with Baudrillard. Lotringer says he's long felt it was the perfect intro to Baudrillard's thought, but for political reasons (thats intellectual politics) didn't release it at the time. You could check that out and see what you thought. Reading something short with care is the way to go in my mind.

gek-opel
06-01-2008, 01:02 PM
Yer I've read 80% of Phenomenology Of Spirit, missing out some of the less than thrilling segments. The Kojeve I've read a few scraps of, but yes I can see what he's doing, his own reading of Hegel against the text- or rather he takes the one dialectic he likes and applies it to the the rest of the Phenomenology. It gets interesting if perverse results certainly! Hyppolite is much more straight down the line, though without sacrificing the difficulty of Hegel's text.
If you've done some background reading it may be easier, but PoS is a slog of a read until you get familiar with it. Once you know what's going on in terms of the content of the dialectics and his method, its brilliant stuff, but its a very very slow read. Some people seem to want to claim Kant as a trickier reading experience, but I suggest Kant whilst sometimes turgid is always quite clear.

Dial
06-01-2008, 02:03 PM
Ok, I'm working myself up to it. I'll go back to Rabate and check his suggested pass through Hegel. I quite like the idea of getting a peverse reading via Kojeve. I suspect my own reading will be unintentionally perverse, in any case.

As for Kant, I've a soft spot for him, not least, because at one point in my time spent studying Critique of Pure Reason, I was hit by a totally unbidden sense of real awe at the depth and architecture of his mind. A very cool feeling, indeed.

Pestario
06-01-2008, 02:36 PM
You could try reading a book by Roger Scruton called "A survey of modern philosophy" or something like that. It breezes through modern philosophy and touches on all the major ideas. Skim through the chapters and find one which interests you then follow the references from there. The books by no means thorough but a its good intro anyway.

Line of Flight
10-02-2008, 08:14 PM
Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction is a good introduction by Johnathan Culler I believe. It is... very short. But from that point, it is not a bad idea to find a writer you want to pursue and take up one of the Routledge Press books about different authors. They are constantly expanding the writers in this line - and so far are the best intros to authors that I have found. They generally outline their books by the writers key intellectual moments. These are especially helpful, because the writers themselves are thigh-deep in long intellectual traditions, which you don't really want to engage when first coming to it, so the Routledge Press series can help you navigate that.

frogger
11-02-2008, 02:55 AM
uh...

after having read a lot of stuff, i would focus lots of attention on a few related core concepts...and then branch out from there...lots of concepts keep cropping up in altered forms and new contexts...

some concepts that i think have strong similarities are:

Lacan's real (The Real)

Bergson's Duration

Deleuze's Virtual

if you can grasp these three, and see their relations, you can understand lots of other stuff IMO...

continuum
11-02-2008, 07:47 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie's_World

vimothy
11-02-2008, 11:55 AM
According to Rabate, Kojeve never pretended to an 'accurate' reading/rendering of Hegel, rather he wanted to 'think with, and at times against him' Those last words Kojeve's himself. And to this end basically dramatised Hegel into scenes. I can't recall, exactly why, the over-emphasis - and it was an over-emphasis , on the master/slave dialectic. Rabate had some thoughts on that too. Sorry, don't have the book with me or I'd have a look.

Curious, too, that Kojeve had such contempt for 'pure intellectuals'

This is possibly totally irrelevant, but wasn't Kojeve one of the architects of the first GATT treaty and the European Common Market? And a Soviet agent? Interesting guy ...

swears
11-02-2008, 01:10 PM
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Industrial_Society_and_Its_Future

tryptych
11-02-2008, 02:19 PM
Yer I've read 80% of Phenomenology Of Spirit, missing out some of the less than thrilling segments. The Kojeve I've read a few scraps of, but yes I can see what he's doing, his own reading of Hegel against the text- or rather he takes the one dialectic he likes and applies it to the the rest of the Phenomenology. It gets interesting if perverse results certainly! Hyppolite is much more straight down the line, though without sacrificing the difficulty of Hegel's text.
If you've done some background reading it may be easier, but PoS is a slog of a read until you get familiar with it. Once you know what's going on in terms of the content of the dialectics and his method, its brilliant stuff, but its a very very slow read. Some people seem to want to claim Kant as a trickier reading experience, but I suggest Kant whilst sometimes turgid is always quite clear.

PoS is hard going. It's a cliche but you really do have to read the end before you can grasp th beginning (or at least some of it - I can't claim to have read the whole thing!)

My favourite commentator/critic is Robert R. Williams - I found these two invaluable, although I was writing about intersubjectivity specifically, they join up a lot of bits in German Idealism:

Recognition: Fichte & Hegel On The Other (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Recognition-Fichte-Hegel-Hegelian-Studies/dp/0791408574/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1202739039&sr=8-1)

Hegel's Ethics Of Recognition (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hegels-Ethics-Recognition-Robert-Williams/dp/0520209486/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202739039&sr=8-5)

Solomon I remember reading at the time, but what I remember of it was ok overview, something about it irked me. I forget exactly what now..

Soloman - In the Spirit of Hegel (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Spirit-Hegel-Study-G-W-F-Hegels-Phenomenology/dp/0195036506/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1202739426&sr=1-1)

Gavin
11-02-2008, 02:19 PM
Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction is a good introduction by Johnathan Culler I believe. It is... very short. But from that point, it is not a bad idea to find a writer you want to pursue and take up one of the Routledge Press books about different authors. They are constantly expanding the writers in this line - and so far are the best intros to authors that I have found. They generally outline their books by the writers key intellectual moments. These are especially helpful, because the writers themselves are thigh-deep in long intellectual traditions, which you don't really want to engage when first coming to it, so the Routledge Press series can help you navigate that.

Are any of these intros that much better than Wikipedia?

Strucstar
20-02-2008, 03:32 PM
Ultimately the purpose of reading any philosopher is to understand their opinion and one of the best ways to do that is to understand the social situation they were in as writers/thinkers, the powers, influences acting upon them. Only then do you get a real idea of their innovation, what they actually contributed.

aMinadaB
04-03-2008, 09:01 PM
A surprisingly poor article in the area of "philosophy/cultural theory/etc" here:

http://www.frieze.com/comment/article/clearing_the_air1/

(edited for swears)

swears
04-03-2008, 10:07 PM
You trollin?

Agent Nucleus
01-04-2008, 09:44 AM
I cut my theory teeth on C-Theory (http://www.ctheory.net/home.aspx). This was around 1999, they are probably seen as less relevant now but honestly, they still seem cutting-edge to me. There are worse places to start.

And I don't want to contradict what everyone else is advising (I'm new here, not looking to cause trouble!), but I think it's easier to start with secondary sources, get a general survey of the landscape, a thumbnail concept of what Hegel's about, what Lacan's about, etc. before diving headfirst into the source material. I would even recommend Zizek, because I see him as a secondary source, and he covers practically everyone (especially Hegel, Lacan, and Kant). If you're interested in postmodern theory specifically, then Panic Encyclopedia might be the best introduction. Those essays give you a great 'feel' for the postmodern perspective: it's essentially an inventory of all the postmodern rhetorical/aesthetic/thematic motifs.

Hope this helps, and good luck.

EDIT: and yeah I'm the lone remaining Arthur Kroker fan/protege. I see nothing wrong with theorists advertising themselves as rock stars, I have no problem with that.

Leo
20-03-2013, 02:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvz0CjtwH2k&list=UUUgrUBKwSnXwQOBG4v3igMg&feature=player_embedded

Sick Boy
21-03-2013, 08:58 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie's_World

lol I assume this is a joke

Anyway, it's a little hard to make suggestions given how broad your criteria is. It's easier to answer your second question. Basically the worst thing you can do in beginning to read philosophy is treat it like you're going through the discography of a recording artist. For your early purposes, there is little value in systematically going through philosophers' works chronologically. I'm going to echo other people's advice on here and say if you're interested in Baudrillard, read Baudrillard, but never read exhaustively for the sake of exhaustion - follow ideas around.

Reference books save you a lot of time and give you direction. Encyclopedias of Philosophy (e.g. Cambridge or the Stanford one online) provide decent summaries of a lot of ideas and works so you'll know where to find what material.

Sick Boy
21-03-2013, 09:05 PM
Also, personally, I wouldn't recommend jumping straight into Hegel as a starting point. Hegel makes a lot more sense reading in depth when you've got a bit of a feel for the history of philosophy, and the evolution of ideas across it.

Since you're interested in cultural theory and psychoanalysis, I'm just gonna go right ahead and recommend the typical triumvirate of the undergrad contemporary continental course of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. There are a lot of clear directions you can go in from reading their works, and once you have, typically it'll be pretty clear to you which direction you'll want.

Local Authority
16-06-2013, 03:23 PM
can anyone recommend any philosophy books on morality within the past 20 years?

Sick Boy
17-06-2013, 04:16 PM
^ Simon Critchley's Infinitely Demanding is worth a look.