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Old 06-05-2010, 02:25 PM   #1
FlorenceArt
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Montreuil sous bois, France
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Philosophy: books and discussion

Hi All,

This thread is to discuss anything related to philosophy, and of course especially books: what you are reading, what you have read, what you'd like to read, what you think about them, what you like or hate about them...

Who am I to start this thread? Someone who knows practically nothing about philosophy. Which doesn't stop me from having strong opinions about it And occasionally even reading about it!

[Warning: long rambling post ahead. Feel free to skip it and go directly to the reply box to discuss your ideas and favorite books about philosophy]

This week I started reading "On The Shortness of Life" by Seneca. And suddenly I wondered why. Here I was, standing in a hot and crowded train, with my e-reader in one hand, reading the advice of a guy who lived 2000 years ago and presumably never had to lift a finger to earn a living, living as he probably did out of inherited farmland tended by slaves. What can this guy possibly offer me? Advice on how to get out of the politics of the Roman Senate to retire and think about life?

This is not a rhetorical question. I find the reading interesting, even though I cannot simply ignore everything I know, or think I know, that he doesn't and just agree on his views about life and people. I even find some of them slightly ridiculous. And yet, I am reading this book. I am not in the habit of reading a book if I don't feel I'm getting something out of it.

So, what am I getting out of this, and of philosophy in general? The first answer that came to my mind is just the pleasure of exercising my brain. I love to learn things, to connect things together, to find out about ideas and take them apart. To read the thoughts written by a Roman patrician 2000 years ago and try to connect them to my 21st Century knowledge and opinions. It's a pure intellectual pleasure, a little like solving a puzzle.

But that's not enough. There are many things that I don't know and could exercise my mind on. Some of them I even do read about, but not all of them. I make a selection. So why philosophy?

I think that in the end, what is special about philosophy is that it's, ultimately, about me. About trying to connect and make sense of all the little and big things I know, feel, sense and live. About comparing them to the thoughts of others, and connecting them together, or opposing them. About building a knowledge of myself and how I see life, the universe, and everything. And maybe my place in all this.

Maybe.

Or maybe I just read a book that mentioned Seneca and thought I'd read that one too, and anyway I need something to do on the commute train, and since so many people have read this guy there must be something valuable in there somewhere

Anyway, that was a rather long-winded intro. I feel I could go on like this for quite a long time, but it's time for dinner, so I'll leave you to talk amongst yourselves now
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