Best philosophical read.

Does anyone have a particularly favourite book by a philosopher?

Because i recently tried getting Dostoevsky - Notes from Underground, of course, i couldn’t find it or it just wasn’t there.

Well, i was just wondering if there were any other books which are interesting to read about philosophy. I would be grateful if you could tell me the philosopher, name of the book and the context which it includes about philosophy. Thanks. :wink:

you should try to get the Notes again… sometimes it is contained in collections of short stories by Dostoevsky, so you might want to check there… i know there are definitely online versions (though i don’t like reading books on a computer screen)

You shoul definitely read “Notes from the Underground”. All of Dostoevsky’s books are really philosophical, but most of them this one. Brothers Karamazov maybe has the most of the thick novels (extraordinary book). In it there are fine discussions between Christians and an atheist. Dostoevsky himself was a Christian, but here he really lets the atheist speak with a full voice.

Another book with some philosophical content is Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain. It has long and fine debates between two intellectuals, one who defends the Enlightenment, and one who attacks it (and take up several positions - Christian, socialist, “nihilist”). Very entertaining but maybe not with the same depth and seriousness as Dostoevsky. One gets some insights in the intellectual climate in the years before the first world war though.

Another good book is a book by Hesse that I think is called “The Bead Game” or something like that (its about a game with glass beads). Its really hard to explain what its about. In the future, academic people have invented a strange game, the glass bead game. Playing the game is to use their knowledge on all sorts of subjects, in particular, I think, music and mathematics, in order to get fine patterns. But this is not just entertainment, no its dead serious. They even have their own part of the country, Castalia, where they seek for knowledge and develop new gaming techniques. Its all quite mystical. I haven’t read anything even remotely similar to this strange but good and thought-provoking book.

There are plenty of other of course, but I like these. What sort of books would you count as “philosophical”? For example, in one sense you could call Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm philosophical. In any case, they are good, and somewhat easier to read.

The Hesse novel is called “The Glass Bead Game” but I think its also been printed as “Magister Ludi”

Thanks a lot, i will invest with these books.

When i meant philosophical, i meant books written by actual philosophers not which have a moral issue to them. Just hoping to clear that up Stefan. :slight_smile:

Whoops. These fellas are not philosophers, at least not academic philosophers. The only person who is generally regarded as a “big” philosopher who has written appreciated novels is Sartre (though many people say he is overestimated as a philosopher), but I haven’t read anything of him. Kierkegaard wrote some books which I think are novels or something similar. But I would rather read the ones I’ve listed, though they are not philosophers.

Another “philosophical” book is the one I’m reading just now, “The Man without Qualities”, by Robert Musil. He was a PhD in philosophy, I believe with early positivist Mach as supervisor (at least they knew each other’s work). His analytic spirit, longing for carefulness of expression and contempt of people who reason slothfully or immorally reminds much of analytic philosophy. It is also a good book, giving a good view of early 20th century Vienna.

Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with Stephan that Philosopher and Novelist ussually can’t be instanceated in the same being.

Art is like water, Philosophy like salt. You can put salt in your water, but never put water in your salt or it won’t come out of the shaker anymore.

Oops, shows my lack of knowledge. :wink:

Alright, well hopefully you know what type of books i mean anyway.

in the forty-first century they’ll say not much was accomplished in philosophy between kant and some thinker yet to come.

so go buy critique of pure reason,
and add me to your christmas card list because of it

David Hume: A Treatise of Human Nature

Fredrick Nietzsche: Thus spoke Zarathustra

Two of the greatest works ever written.

I’m not sure what it is you want. If you are a beginner in philosophy, and want to learn the basics, read this thread: … p?t=140785

Especially my advice, the other is mostly crap :wink:

If you want philosophical novels read this thread: … p?t=140871

The books I mentioned are better though (except for Tolstoy who is very good, less philosophical than Dostoevsky though).

Does the “Glass bead game” book require a lot of background on philosophy or would i be able to pick it up satisfactory? It sounds rather interesting.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, best damn novel in the past fifty years.

Lokei/ Definitely not. In a sense its rather philosophical, but it doesn’t cover what academic philosophers do. If you want to find about that, read the books I listed on the link.

Tell me how “Man Without Qualities” is. i’m very curious

I’ve only read the first of four books (together they’re 1500 pages long). Anyway, what I’ve read until now is quite a new experience for me. The main character, Ulrich, is a very intelligent man, but he doesn’t seem to be really interested in anything. He isn’t depressed or anything like that, though - so far it hasn’t been dark at all, but I’m told that will change later on. Somehow, however, he finds himself in a leading position in a rather silly patriotic group that plans the celebrations of the emperor’s anniversary. Ulrich’s feelings for the other memebers of the group range from mild and gentle contempt to disdain (though he’s not a very emotional man). He especially doesn’t like people talking bullshit in intellectual matters, and clearly is a defender of Reason.

The tone in the book is rather ironic and at times I find it on the border to cynical. There are lots of small parallell stories about different people. There are also lots of rather mystical parts, when the author comments on different things (moral questions, “man in the age of exact thinking” and so on). These are very thought-provoking, but at times I find that he almost wanders off into the blue; he is difficult to follow. Anyway, he is clearly very intelligent; in fact I think he is more intelligent than the other writers I mentioned, and he gives you new perspectives on some things.

His descriptions of other people than the main character are clearly weaker than for example Tolstoy and Mann, though. They don’t really come to life, and most of them are either dumb or hysterical, or both (especially the women). Several of the characters have interesting political, ethical and artistic ideas though, and the description and commentary on these are very interesting. As I said, it gives a good view of early 20th century Vienna, which I think is a very interesting period.

So for then I would say that the part of the book that is a common storytelling novel is OK, not more, but the part that is more “philosophical”, reflecting on all sorts of problems is quite good. But I seem to think that about most books. It is however quite special; I haven’t read anything like it before.

franz kafka and albert camus

I just finished reading Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game. Took me a while as I kept leaving it to read other books, so I dont think I have a very coherent grasp of the book, especially the first part.

It was certainly unusual. The first part is about the biography of Joseph Knecht, and describes in detail the life of this talented boy, who gets selected to this monastic/academic order, existing sometime in the future. He progresses through the order and becomes Magister Ludi, or the Master of the Glass Bead Game. The book then deals with his growing disillusionment with the order. He makes big preparations to leave for the real world, and then, the book ends unexpectedly (at least for me!). Not sure what Hesse was trying to communicate here.

The 3 short stories which follow the biography is written in a different style (they are supposed to be written by Knect). They are really good. They seem to deal with how an individul finds meaning in the differing cultural contexts: a rainman (kind of whitch doctor) in a pre-historic tribe, a prince in India around 1000 years or so ago, a hermit in early Christian era. Once I read them and re-read the introduction, Joseph Knect story made bit more sense. Apparently Hesse wanted to explore how individuals find meaning and spirituality within the framework of reincarnation. I cant help feeling though if Knect biography was written in the same style as the short stories, the book would have been a lot better. But, maybe, I missed the point and need to re-read the biography.

If anybody can spread bit more light here, that would be great.

Borges, hay que leer Borges.

You might try something by the celebrated philosopher/novelist Iris Murdoch. I tried reading one of her books and was lost on the central theme – she just must be deeper than me or on a different wavelength. So, while i can’t really recommend her firsthand, i can acknowledge her reputation.

Now to put her under the philosophical movies topic, since there was a movie on her life a few years back – which i also have not seen.