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2017 Reads & Personal Challenges > The Philosophy Project

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message 1: by Jenny (last edited May 13, 2015 06:42AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments From 2014 on I will slowly, veeeeery slowly continue to read my way through the history of philosophy, and it's philosophers. Starting point is the 17th century with Descartes. I thought I'd give it some structure for a change.

I will read:

- one original work by the philosopher

- one critical book about his philosophy or a biography regarding the philosopher

- one work of fiction that is related to either the person or the philosophy

I'll focus on a different philosopher every 6 months.

Heather and Gill and whoever else would like to join or occasionally read along: you are more than welcome to!


1.Descartes

original work: Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy

critical work/biography: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain

fiction/poetry: Vom Schnee

2.Pascal

original work: Pensées

critical work/biography: Blaise Pascal - Biographie eine Genies

fiction/poetry: Frost by Thomas Bernhard

3.Spinoza

original work: Ethics

critical work/biography: Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain
or if I can get my hands on it
Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza by Gilles Deleuze

fiction/poetry: The Spinoza Problem


message 2: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments May be I would join for a readalong for one of the books of/relating to Pascal......


message 3: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Let's talk again in half a year then! LOL.


message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert Spake (ManofYesterday) | 266 comments I read enough of these for my degree, but I'll check in, I'm interested to see which philosophers you like.


message 5: by Chatterjak (new)

Chatterjak | 89 comments I think this sounds really interesting & I'm tempted, but more than a little intimidated! I'll see what the local library has on it's shelves I think!


message 6: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Robert wrote: "I read enough of these for my degree, but I'll check in, I'm interested to see which philosophers you like."

What is the degree you have Robert?
Maybe I could pick your brain when stuck for what to chose for a certain philosopher?

Chatterjak wrote: "I think this sounds really interesting & I'm tempted, but more than a little intimidated!"

That's two of us then :) More than happy to have company for the ride though!


message 7: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments When are you starting with Descartes? I'll check out the three books you mention (well I think I mean five!) to see what I can get hold of. There's a read called The age of chaos, on Bookish in June/July which includes Sophocles and Boethius, so I think I'm going to do that one.


message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert Spake (ManofYesterday) | 266 comments My degree is in Philosophy, so yeah, feel free to ask for recommendations. Out of interest what made you start with Descartes and not the Greeks?


message 9: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13139 comments Mod
Too much for me!


message 10: by Leslie (last edited Nov 20, 2013 07:19AM) (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments LauraT wrote: "Too much for me!"

Yes, me too! Although back when I took a philosophy survey course in college, Descartes was one of my favorites (along with Hume) -- guess it is the result of the science part of me! :P

Robert - I think that this is an ongoing effort on Jenny's part so perhaps she has already done the Greeks...


message 11: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13139 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "LauraT wrote: "Too much for me!"

Yes, me too! Although back when I took a philosophy survey course in college, Descartes was one of my favorites (along with Hume) -- guess it is the result of the..."


Mine as well, and philosophy was a favourite subject. But I feel I'm too old now...


message 12: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Robert wrote: "My degree is in Philosophy, so yeah, feel free to ask for recommendations. Out of interest what made you start with Descartes and not the Greeks?"
I've started several years ago to read my way from Thales to and out of the middle ages. But the idea that it would be nice to 'meet' them in a less academic way and to include fiction only came to me recently. I might decide to go back though, but now I am happy to slowly be getting closer to the contemporary thinkers (mind you: at that pace it'll still be 5 years ;))


message 13: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Gill wrote: "When are you starting with Descartes? I'll check out the three books you mention (well I think I mean five!) to see what I can get hold of. There's a read called The age of chaos, on Bookish in Jun..."

I was thinking to start around late January/early February. Let me know if and what you would like to join in with maybe we can find a date (or dates)
that suit both of us. Vom Schnee is only available in German but the other on is English.

The bookish read sounds great, I might peek in!


message 14: by Robert (new)

Robert Spake (ManofYesterday) | 266 comments Ahhh okay I understand.


message 15: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I'll see what I can get hold of, Jenny. I've downloaded the original work. The Descartes Bones is on Kindle but quite expensive. It looks interesting though, so I'll keep looking for that one. I think it's best that you start when it suits you, and I'll join in as and when.


message 16: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Descartes Bones will also be my challenge. But maybe I can get it through interlibrary loan. I'll let you know when I start!


message 17: by Elisa (new)

Elisa | 206 comments Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain has been on my to-read list since I studied philosophy of science at uni. I'd love to join in if you decide to read it!


message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I am pretty sure that I will Elisa, there's no harm in reading more than the 3 books I challenged myself to read and this one really looks interesting.

I'll let you know around what time I will start it!


message 19: by Jenny (last edited Jun 22, 2014 10:14AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments After plenty of Russell and Plato I will finally start my philosophy project with Descartes in April.

The plan is as follows:

April: Meditations on First Philosophy+ Discourse on Method

May: Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain and
Vom Schnee by Durs Grünbein (poetry with Descartes as one of it's central figures)

and maybe as 'bonus tracks' in June:
Descartes' Loneliness (poetry) and
Descartes' Bones: A Skeletal History of the Conflict Between Faith and Reason


message 20: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13139 comments Mod
I'm ... "flabbergasted" as we'd say in our "words" thread!!!


message 21: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Or "gobsmacked"... me too, There's certainly a lot to get your teeth into there, Jenny! I always think Descartes is a bit of an oddity. Does he feel more "German" to you Jenny? Or "English"? He certainly doesn't seem to have any followers in the French tradition of Philosophy...


message 22: by Jenny (last edited Mar 10, 2014 10:15AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Jean I am no expert on this. I agree that there may not be many followers in a word by word sense, but he's one of the 'fathers' of rationalism in 17th century, who was largely influencial on what was to come, even if 'what came' may have moved away from his theories. He lived in The Netherlands most of his life and subsequently one of his biggest followers Baruch Spinoza was Dutch, the other - Leibniz - infact German. I think his influence on mathematics though was far more wide spread. One of the things I am starting to believe to be true in Philosophy (as well as in Science to be honest) is that how influentual you are doesn't necessarily have to do with the amount of followers you have but also with the amount of people who are arguing against your theories. I might be able to answer that question a bit better in June though ;)


message 23: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Thanks Jenny :) I'm sure you have read more philosophical texts than I have, although I had actually picked most of that up from the Bertrand Russell book we just read. So maybe it did me some good after all! LOL

It just always strikes me that he is not at all French! But that is silly really. We don't think of Chopin as Polish, but French. Picasso's works also seem much more French than Spanish. In both case the composer/artist lived most of his life in a country which was not native to him. So if we're used to this in artists of various sorts, perhaps the same is true of philosophers and scientists.

And yes, I for one will be very interested to hear your views on Descartes, come June!


message 24: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I'll start with the books by Descartes with you in April, Jenny, and I'll see how I get on with them.


message 25: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Brilliant Gill! I have yet to find a copy of Discours on Method, so I'll start with the Meditions, so there might be some improvisational elements to the plan based on availability ;) I think there's a combined edition available in English though!
I will put us down for a readalong of it.


message 26: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Actually Gill, scrap that. I've just realized that I can download Discours on Method from Project Gutenberg, and I'll just see if I can handle Descartes in English. It went fairly well with Russell and Plato, so I guess I'll give it a go. Both books combined are no longer than 120-140 pages, depending on the edition.


message 27: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Jean wrote: "Thanks Jenny :) I'm sure you have read more philosophical texts than I have, although I had actually picked most of that up from the Bertrand Russell book we just read. So maybe it did me some good..."

I see what you mean now Jean, sorry, might have missed your main point the first time around ;)

He always felt 'French' to me to be honest, but that has little to do with his philosophy and everything with his name ;) I think how much an artist adopts the nationality of where he lives to me really depends on the artist and his particular work. Coetzee for example will forever be South African for me simply because his work is so much influenced by his birth place still eventhough he's been living in Australia for a really long long time. Others have so much assimilated their identities and work to the place they live at, it would feel weird to hold them to their birth place. Where Descartes falls: I don't really know yet.

I am however determined to find out why as a character he seems to have inspired more than one collection of poetry! I find that quite odd (though I applaud it enthusiastically ;))


message 28: by Bionic Jean (last edited Mar 10, 2014 03:37PM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Has he really inspired poetry, Jenny? I did not know that!

And I do like the idea that "how influentual you are doesn't necessarily have to do with the amount of followers you have but also with the amount of people who are arguing against your theories." You probably can't have progress without dissent. And of what use is a silent majority?


message 29: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments he has Jean! two of the books of my descartes portion are poetry ( See may and the possible bonus in june)


message 30: by Bionic Jean (last edited Mar 10, 2014 04:19PM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Yes! How extraordinary! I'll look forward to your comments on those :)


message 31: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13139 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "Or "gobsmacked"... me too, There's certainly a lot to get your teeth into there, Jenny! I always think Descartes is a bit of an oddity. Does he feel more "German" to you Jenny? Or "English"? He cer..."

;)


sonny (no longer in use) (satyrica) | 33 comments I read a lot of existential philosophy, which can be pretty bad in social discussions with ignorants and trogs


message 33: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Jenny wrote: "Jean wrote: "Thanks Jenny :) I'm sure you have read more philosophical texts than I have, although I had actually picked most of that up from the Bertrand Russell book we just read. So maybe it did..."

Knowingly or unknowingly we get attached to a particular place and that attachment is not that easily forgotten even one lives thousand miles away from it. We are all normal creatures tied to our own 'posts'.


message 34: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) There's a saying in English, "You can take the girl out of the city but can't take the city out of the girl."


message 35: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I am on my last read of literature orbiting Descartes with Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain by Damasio.

For the record: it's a shame that Vom Schnee by German poet Durs Grünbein is not available in other languages, because it is such a witty, insightful and sensitive poetic approach to Descartes' life and philosophical themes and a real pleasure to read right after having read some of Descartes' own work.

Next stop: Pascal.


message 36: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Pascal's Pensées would be the book for which I might join you along in the reading.


message 37: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Dhanaraj, it is one that I am planning to read in about 2 or 3 months time! It would be great to have company for it!


message 38: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments In two or three months time - Certainly I will join you in reading.


message 39: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Um, both Pensées and Blaise Pascal interest me. Despite my very perfunctory knowledge about philosophy, I would like to join you in reading this. The one thing I know about Pascal is his interesting wager that God does exist rather than not. Another is that he invented the first calculating machine!

In two or three months' time sounds good!


message 40: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Great, I will post a schedule her some time soon for the Pascal portion of the project.


message 41: by Jenny (last edited Sep 17, 2014 12:17AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Ok, so here is the schedule for Blaise Pascal
What I am still missing is a good biography or a critical work/essay on Pascal, or like I did with Descartes a non-fictional work of sorts that orbits Pascals philosophy but may not necessarily be strictly philosophical. Does anyone have a recommendation?

2.Pascal

original work: Pensées (August/September)

critical work/biography: Blaise Pascal - Biographie eine Genies(October/November)

fiction/poetry: Frost by Thomas Bernhard (December)


message 42: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments I just found in the internet some interesting books (subjective view). They are: God Owes Us Nothing: A Brief Remark on Pascal's Religion and on the Spirit of Jansenism and consult this author Donald Adamson.


message 43: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments By the way, I gathered the information from this following link: http://www.enotes.com/topics/blaise-p...

Check it out.


message 44: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Thank you Dhanaraj, I will have a look later in the week.


message 45: by Charbel (new)

Charbel (charliecosmos) | 2654 comments Jenny, has this philosophy challenge introduced you to a new perspective of the world around you?


message 46: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Re: Pascal. I've been most impressed by one of his quotes: "Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point."


message 47: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Jenny wrote: "Thank you Dhanaraj, I will have a look later in the week."

Jenny, I don't know if this is any good as a biography: Pascal's Wager: The Man Who Played Dice with God by James A. Connor.


message 48: by Anastasia (last edited Jun 25, 2014 12:05PM) (new)

Anastasia (universe_beats) | 401 comments Uh, I like Pascal very much! I'm curios to know what you will think about his philosophy :)


message 49: by Jenny (last edited Jun 26, 2014 07:15AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Charbel wrote: "Jenny, has this philosophy challenge introduced you to a new perspective of the world around you?"

I think I have a strong tendency for kitchen-philosophy in general (not sure if that makes sense in English? Amateur philosophy?) As in: I tend to look at the world with a bit of a probing eye, creating little theories in general.That tendency didn't so much change, it did get fed though quite a bit. And while reading Descartes for example I really enjoyed trying to look at life by adapting his understanding (or at least what I thought I understood of his understanding ;)) of it. It makes you realize how very different the world looks like to different people and how much we assume to be 'true' merely because it is impossible to go through life doubting all that is doubt-worthy.

One of the most interesting aspects of Descartes for me for example, was his theory of the location of the soul, which he believed to be in the pineal gland. It sounds absurd from today's point of view, but is very interesting as it broke through the typical soul - body separation of the time and feels like neuroscience in it's baby shoes.


message 50: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments @Alice, thank you, I'll have a look at it!

@Anastasia, I will let you know! :)


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