• T4YLOR
    8
    I just had a discussion with an atheist friend of mine and I'm beginning to feel very melancholic about the meaning of my life and I have come to "know" certain beliefs. I'm not going to pose myself as someone with a vast knowledge on Philosophy, rather I'm asking for help because I feel lost. Every time I pick up a book I find it extremely hard to understand or even converse with it due to my lack of philosophical grounding. I want to start from scratch and understand the first principles of philosophy so that I fight different theories while on solid ground.

    Are there any resources online that will show me a roadmap or book list? I just want to feel that my academic endeavors are productive and not just a vehicle to feed my intellectual ego.

  • LuckyR
    451

    In my experience, from a practical standpoint (since you are describing personal dissatisfaction) the key shift in thinking to promote personal satisfaction is to come to the realization that just about everything one deals with on a day-to-day basis is best viewed relatively, not absolutely.

    In addition, especially if you are young, focus on where you want to end up, then work backwards to where you are now (as opposed to dwelling on your current circumstances).

    Good luck and remember: living well is the best revenge.
  • BC
    13.4k
    Some people are sort of black holes, even if they don't intend to be. Your friend's atheism, by itself, isn't the problem; the problem is in the presentation.

    I spent several decades as a young person trying to sort things out. After 60 years of working on the puzzle, the pieces finally all fit.

    A book list... hmmm; there are lots of books out there. Too many to shake a stick at.

    I don't know anything about you--how old you are, what your background is, whether you are generally happy or not, what you like to read, what you like to do, what you think about. But to me, an old man, you sound like a young person trying to sort things out.

    What are you studying?
  • T4YLOR
    8
    I’m in my earlier twenties and I’m currently studying philosophy and religion. I have had my fair share of time studying some Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky and I would say that I’m currently seeking some readings on Ethics/metaethics. I would consider that to be of my primary interest.

    I would also say I tend to have a lot of neurotic thoughts but I don’t dwell on them too much up until now.
  • unenlightened
    8.9k
    I want to start from scratch and understand the first principles of philosophy so that I fight different theories while on solid ground.T4YLOR

    Alas, this is a recipe for disaster. Instead of starting from where you want to be, start from where you are, in the middle of a muddle. Instead of looking for solid ground, look for clear issues and questions, and and try to articulate what is personally at stake for you in answering one way or another. Read widely, and expect to change your mind a lot. Breathe...
  • Christoffer
    1.9k
    understand the first principles of philosophy so that I fight different theories while on solid ground.T4YLOR

    Are you interested in fighting someone's theories or are you interested in learning new perspectives? A core tenet of philosophy is the ability to be unbiased and engage in philosophical discourse, which would require of you to never use your beliefs as evidence or premises of an argument, rather, only be guided by your beliefs but engage honestly with the discourse. If doing so, you may need to go down paths of questioning yourself, your beliefs and values. Not in order to give up on them, but to honestly balance your perspectives with their opposites in pursuit of truths that can be universalized rather than holding on to ones existing only for yourself.
  • javi2541997
    5.4k
    I have had my fair share of time studying some Kierkegaard and DostoyevskyT4YLOR

    Important authors to keep up with. I would recommend you to add Kazantzakis to your list.
  • T4YLOR
    8
    I had just slowly began to realize that landing in the questions means I’m doing a good thing hahah
  • Banno
    23.8k
    Jean-Paul Sartre, a man of faithVaskane

    That's a bit cruel. Poor . Are you trying to induce more existential shock? Yes, a man of faith, but a devout atheist.

    Did you mean Kierkegaard?
  • T4YLOR
    8
    I was confused as well because I knew Sartre and De Beauvoir to both be hardcore atheists.
  • Banno
    23.8k
    Did you think doing philosophy would be easy?

    I was confused as well because I knew Sartre and De Beauvoir to both be hardcore atheists.T4YLOR
    Yeah, take care on the forums. There are a lot of confused folk here.
  • Manuel
    4k
    Are there any resources online that will show me a roadmap or book list? I just want to feel that my academic endeavors are productive and not just a vehicle to feed my intellectual ego.T4YLOR

    Depends on what aspect of philosophy is what interests you the most. If it's ethics you may want to start with an introduction to ethics book, such as the Very Short series, which are quite good.

    If your issues are more of a metaphysical/epistemological nature, then I think Bryan Magee's books are excellent as an introduction.

    If it's on faith - that I can't help you with.

    It's always going to be hard to start, I had no clue what I was doing until things started "clicking", I suspect the same or something similar will happen to you, should you follow this interest.

    As for difficulty understanding some authors, classical ones most of all, first time through just take in what you find interesting don't stress too much. It's in the subsequent reading that you can read more in depth, and then you'll get a better understanding.

    Good luck.
  • 180 Proof
    14.8k
    Don't look for answers in philosophy to satisfy – silence – your questions (which amounts to dogma) but rather seek questions from which you can proceed to patiently explore other, broader, more fundamental questions. This is what over four decades of philosophizing – study, critical discussion, argument, more study & reflection / contemplation applied to lived-experience – has culminated in for me to date. "Kierkegaard & Dostoyevsky" are as good as any places to start if the questions they raise and explore are those that keep you awake at night. Anyway, just my two bits – good luck.
  • Tom Storm
    8.7k
    Philosophy is not for everyone. I never privileged it in my life. The only meaning of life we can have is the one we build for ourselves - even theists rely on a subjective interpretation of what they think god wants. I’ve generally found that doing something for someone else is better at providing meaning than most other activities.
  • flannel jesus
    1.7k
    If questioning God has got you in a twist, consider this:

    If God doesn't exist, then every joy you've ever experienced, everything beautiful you've ever seen or imagined, every parent's love for their child, everything good in the world was there without God too. Every time a person died to stand up for another person, every time a person gave some of what they had to someone who needed it - all these things happened in a world without a god.

    The only thing you lose without a god is the childish hope for justice in the after life - everything else good is still here. YOU can still be good. Good isn't about obedience to your unseen maker, it's about your relationship to your brothers and sisters in humanity.
  • Wayfarer
    21.5k
    I just had a discussion with an atheist friend of mine and I'm beginning to feel very melancholic about the meaning of my lifeT4YLOR

    Don't give way to anxiety. Understand the 'wheel of thought and emotion', that is, how emotional reactivity and your conscious inner dialogue influence one another in a continuous chain. Freedom from that is a matter of becoming more 'choicelessly self-aware' - by that, I mean, become aware of your thoughts, without allowing them to capture you or own you, without justifying them or condemning them. Emotions and thoughts change constantly, so whatever mood or emotion arises, learn to observe it and understand that it will pass in due course. By becoming fearful or anxious, you're imbuing your thoughts with too much gravity. Mindfulness training is especially useful in that regard.

    With regards to getting a grounding in philosophy - there are some books around that introduce the subject of philosophy from a layman's perspective, rather than diving straight into The Great Works. One book which benefitted me was Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I also benefitted from books by Will and Ariel Durant, who are rather old-fashioned and not very well-known today, but had a very approachable style and encylopedic knowledge of philosophy (try The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant). Before I commenced undergraduate study I read the whole of The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. It has its critics and indeed its flaws, but on the whole it is very helpful for its historical flow, helping to understand how the subject developed over the centuries. Alain du Bouton is useful. Jules Evans another. I'm sure there others, but the point is, to try and get more of the lay of the land before trying to absorb major texts.
  • bert1
    1.9k
    Do not go to the elves for advice
  • bert1
    1.9k
    One option is to stay on this forum and engage with topics you find interesting. There's room here for a wide range of knowledge. And when you get stuck in a bit of jargon you can look it up. I've progressed a lot on here. And I've seen others grow hugely.
  • bert1
    1.9k
    Also academic papers are much better than books on the whole
  • bert1
    1.9k
    Bertrand Russell "Problems of philosophy" is a nice short intro. It's old but philosophy doesn't change much so it doesn't matter.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    525


    Bertrand Russell "Problems of philosophy" is a nice short intro. It's old but philosophy doesn't change much so it doesn't matter.bert1

    I was going to say Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". I've been meaning to start it again.
  • bert1
    1.9k
    Haven't read that one.
  • Down The Rabbit Hole
    525


    I enjoyed it. I'm a bit of a fanboy and have a copy of all the volumes of his autobiography too.

    He wrote History of Western Philosophy in the last two years of the war '44 and '45, so it's a lot newer than Problems of Philosophy which wasn't published until 1912. I'm sure his views changed quite a bit over that more than 30 year difference.
  • 0 thru 9
    1.5k


    It is usually good to start simply, one could safely say.

    So here’s a ‘philosophy’ set to music that’s quite simple.

    Here’s one that takes it a step further, while retaining an elegant simplicity. :flower:

    (Alternate version with text)
  • Alkis PiskasAccepted Answer
    2.1k
    I want to start from scratch and understand the first principles of philosophy so that I fight different theories while on solid ground.T4YLOR
    Instead of actually starting from scratch ... Every time you read a work or watch a video or listen to a talk or speech with philosophical content, think as if you are starting from scratch, in the sense of emptying your mind from any fixed ideas and beliefs, and ask yourself if that content makes sense to you, if you have experiences in your life that can be explained or agree with it, and if you can apply to your life the ideas that are conveyed by it. Because, if none of these is true, that content will be useless to you, however important, well-known and/or famous their source is (considered to be).

    If you understand well an idea and it works --it is real-- for you, you can adopt it as yours, independently of where it comes from. The source of that idea wanted to share it with you. You only have to acknowledge that. It will be added to your own world of reality together will the ideas that you yourself conceive.
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