The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

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Spectrum
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The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 26th, 2018, 11:24 pm

The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

From my own experiences and reading of the views of others, the most difficult Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master are as follow;
  • 1. Heidegger
    2. Kant
    3. Hegel
    4. ..
    5. ..
Agree with the above? if not which are yours [more than 3 if necessary]?



I have covered Kant fully and is now researching into Heidegger in details. I have spent 3 years full time researching Kant's philosophies.

I have only done a quick read of Hegel's books but find it tough going. However I did not go into it in detail and with seriousness because the end result of Hegel is the 'Absolute' which is illusory.

Currently I am reading and researching Heidegger. The toughness of Heidegger is his very extensive paradigm shift from the typical Western Philosophy view of 'being.'
In addition Heidegger introduced tons [much more than any other modern philosophers] new concepts and new meanings to existing concepts, note this;
viewtopic.php?p=310735#p310735

So far I have spent nearly 3 months full time on Being and Time only and I think I will need many more months before I can grasp and master Being and Time. Thereafter there are another 120 volumes of books [large and small] by Heidegger to cover [other than a few don't think I will read all of the 120]. Besides there are also many secondary sources that need to be read.
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ThomasHobbes
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by ThomasHobbes » May 27th, 2018, 7:32 am

Theodore Adorno.

A man that excels in verbal diarrhoea and obscurantism.

Not even the translators understand that the hell "Negative Dialectics" is about. Put the two major translations side by side and they say completely different things, page by pagea

Better still since the entire book seems to be saying just one thing repeated endlessly.

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by chewybrian » May 27th, 2018, 10:29 am

Shall I display my ignorance and 'summarize' Wittgenstein in one minute? Why not?

"...Language, logic, science and math are neither able to describe themselves nor each other nor the universe satisfactorily. There are great truths which exceed our ability to express them in any meaningful way. After reading my work and understanding these truths, you shall see I was not able to express them. You may climb the ladder of knowledge with its rungs of logic, language and such, but you must then discard the ladder if you want to live up here on the roof with me and enjoy the really juicy bits of knowledge which we'll never be able to express to each other or anyone else.

Thought is at least partly public, as we must be given the language and concepts to form the thoughts (the first inviting door to non-duality I've seen). But, if you get good enough at thinking, then you won't be able to make your thoughts public at all.

The ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything lies outside life, the universe and everything. A question which can not be answered can not be asked, so you should probably stop asking it..."


Of course, I'm partly having some fun with it, but also displaying the fact that I don't fully get it. Then again, maybe not getting it really means I got it, right? Only you can't tell me if I got it, and I can't even ask, so...

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Erribert » May 27th, 2018, 9:18 pm

Well, yes, Heidegger. Mainly because he makes upwords on the spot. Also, because I don’t like him.

How about Swedenborg?

My favorite is William Blake. I like the way he takes Christianity and Swedenborg to task. Still, Blake’s poetry/philosophy can be hard for me.

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 12:23 am

chewybrian wrote:
May 27th, 2018, 10:29 am
Shall I display my ignorance and 'summarize' Wittgenstein in one minute? Why not?

"...Language, logic, science and math are neither able to describe themselves nor each other nor the universe satisfactorily. There are great truths which exceed our ability to express them in any meaningful way. After reading my work and understanding these truths, you shall see I was not able to express them. You may climb the ladder of knowledge with its rungs of logic, language and such, but you must then discard the ladder if you want to live up here on the roof with me and enjoy the really juicy bits of knowledge which we'll never be able to express to each other or anyone else.

Thought is at least partly public, as we must be given the language and concepts to form the thoughts (the first inviting door to non-duality I've seen). But, if you get good enough at thinking, then you won't be able to make your thoughts public at all.

The ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything lies outside life, the universe and everything. A question which can not be answered can not be asked, so you should probably stop asking it..."


Of course, I'm partly having some fun with it, but also displaying the fact that I don't fully get it. Then again, maybe not getting it really means I got it, right? Only you can't tell me if I got it, and I can't even ask, so...
Relatively to others, Wittgenstein's is not easy stuff especially the later Wittgenstein but cannot be as difficult as Kant or Heidegger. I have read Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' and I don't find it difficult but one need some similar background to get his point.
You may climb the ladder of knowledge with its rungs of logic, language and such, but you must then discard the ladder if you want to live up here on the roof with me and enjoy the really juicy bits of knowledge which we'll never be able to express to each other or anyone else.
The above is quite obvious in the sense when one reach one's destination, one must forget about the vehicle one used to arrive at the destination. If one reached a scenic spot by car, but is still attached mentally to one's car, i.e. worry of theft, scratch, rain, or bragging to others of one's ferrari, etc. then one will not have the maximum [optimum] benefits of enjoying the intended joy of the scenes.
The Buddha used the simile of discarding the raft once one have reached the other shore.

As for the other points, I think I know what is he was driving at but I need to read the whole context to be sure.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 12:31 am

ThomasHobbes wrote:
May 27th, 2018, 7:32 am
Theodore Adorno.

A man that excels in verbal diarrhoea and obscurantism.

Not even the translators understand that the hell "Negative Dialectics" is about. Put the two major translations side by side and they say completely different things, page by pagea

Better still since the entire book seems to be saying just one thing repeated endlessly.
Will take note. I have superficial knowledge of Adorno but I have not read his philosophy is difficult to grasp.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 12:34 am

Erribert wrote:
May 27th, 2018, 9:18 pm
Well, yes, Heidegger. Mainly because he makes upwords on the spot. Also, because I don’t like him.

How about Swedenborg?

My favorite is William Blake. I like the way he takes Christianity and Swedenborg to task. Still, Blake’s poetry/philosophy can be hard for me.
Yes, I agree, in general, personal bias will make it difficult to read a person's book, but worst if the book itself is very difficult to read and understand.

Note sure with Swedenborg, what are the specfic difficulties with his philosophy?
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 12:44 am

Here is one comment on Edmund Husserl.
His [Husserl] phenomenological idealism is often confusing (or it was to me when I first encountered it in grad school), requiring a conception of the mind and consciousness that can be difficult to follow if you are not careful. For instance it’s difficult to follow how his brand of transcendental consciousness is not just another form of psychologism (which he argued against), especially once he introduces the idea of the pure Ego or the transcendental Ego that can be intuited as an object directly.

His writing is dense. I would prefer to read Kant and Hegel, honestly, even though I respect the influence Husserl has had on philosophy and really admire his writing on temporality. Husserl introduces neologism after neologism in a way that can be maddening.
I am thinking of reading Husserl because he was Heidegger's mentor. Heidegger rejected Husserl main thesis [subject-based] but he relied on many of Husserl's concepts [& neologisms ?].
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Eduk » May 28th, 2018, 4:55 am

Out of interest why are you looking for the toughest to read and hardest to master?
Why not the most well written and profound?

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by chewybrian » May 28th, 2018, 5:19 am

Spectrum wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 12:23 am
The above is quite obvious in the sense when one reach one's destination, one must forget about the vehicle one used to arrive at the destination. If one reached a scenic spot by car, but is still attached mentally to one's car, i.e. worry of theft, scratch, rain, or bragging to others of one's ferrari, etc. then one will not have the maximum [optimum] benefits of enjoying the intended joy of the scenes.

The Buddha used the simile of discarding the raft once one have reached the other shore.
You hit on the reason I find it distasteful. I am a bit of a caveman on the duality issue. I think ego, consciousness, etc. is important and a different thing than a rock or a can opener. But that idea of language coming from others did crack a window for me.
Spectrum wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 12:23 am
Relatively to others, Wittgenstein's is not easy stuff especially the later Wittgenstein but cannot be as difficult as Kant or Heidegger. I have read Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' and I don't find it difficult but one need some similar background to get his point.
I guess your answer depends on which aspect of 'difficult' gets the focus. Is it difficult to read, to comprehend, or to accept as true or useful?

Socrates and Epictetus are my favorites. Is it pandering or patronizing to use a metaphor or analogy to make a point, or even to use plain language? I think their delivery only shows they think the message is more important than the messenger. They would gladly trade your impression that they were not too bright for the greater chance that you got the memo. I suppose sometimes the message is necessarily difficult, but I suspect a lot of other philosophers want to pass on the appearance of intelligence as much as the message.

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 10:32 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 5:19 am
Spectrum wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 12:23 am
The above is quite obvious in the sense when one reach one's destination, one must forget about the vehicle one used to arrive at the destination. If one reached a scenic spot by car, but is still attached mentally to one's car, i.e. worry of theft, scratch, rain, or bragging to others of one's ferrari, etc. then one will not have the maximum [optimum] benefits of enjoying the intended joy of the scenes.

The Buddha used the simile of discarding the raft once one have reached the other shore.
You hit on the reason I find it distasteful. I am a bit of a caveman on the duality issue. I think ego, consciousness, etc. is important and a different thing than a rock or a can opener. But that idea of language coming from others did crack a window for me.
Not sure on your point re distasteful.

My point here is one has to be entangled with and detached from duality and non-duality at the same time but in complementarity.

To Wittgenstein language is a 'game' or a tool of philosophy thus while we have not choice but use this essential tool of language we should not be too attached to it, else we will not be able to optimize the ultimate objectives of what the tool is supposed to produce.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 28th, 2018, 11:07 pm

Eduk wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 4:55 am
Out of interest why are you looking for the toughest to read and hardest to master?
Why not the most well written and profound?
It is not possible to read all the philosophy books out there in detail, so I wonder whether there are other philosophy books that are as difficult than the ones I have read or are familiar with. There are others who would have an interest in other philosophers for various reasons and thus they can express their views.

Other the ones mentioned above by others, I noted from a scan, the French philosophers are also tough to read, e.g. Derrida, Laruelle, Sartre? etc.

I agree well written and profound would be the best [should raise an OP for this].
'Well written' itself is not critical but 'profound' is.
Thus from the list of "badly written" [difficult to read] philosophically books we need to find out which ones has profound philosophies.

Point is to be credible in Philosophy one has to cover and understand [not necessary agree with it] the greatest profound books of philosophy regardless of whether it is well or badly written.

Re Western Philosophy, [as claimed by many],
Kant is among the top greatest philosophers of all times,
Heidegger is the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century.
Radio 4's greatest philosopher poll:
True, a case can be made for the giants of ancient Greece, Aristotle and Plato, not least because of their vital role as the founders of philosophy. But on every other measure the undefeated heavyweight philosophy champion of the world is Immanuel Kant. Few professional philosophers would seriously quibble with Kant's number one status - although being philosophers, no doubt several would, especially Britain's collection of David Hume fans.
https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian ... ianleaders
Martin Heidegger is now widely recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. He transformed mainstream philosophy by defining its central task as asking the 'question of being'. His thought has contributed to the turn to hermeneutics and to postmodernism and poststructuralism.

Read more at http://www.cambridge.org/vi/academic/su ... 2EsPVqJ.99
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by chewybrian » May 29th, 2018, 5:34 am

Spectrum wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 10:32 pm
Not sure on your point re distasteful.
The "Eastern" aspect... I don't care for any ethical, political, scientific or philosophical system that subjugates the individual more than necessary. I'm not quite sure where non-duality falls on that spectrum, but it seems to be in there.

At the extreme is the idea that we have no free will, which is the most distasteful idea of all. If any action you take turns out to have been the only possible action, this seems to justify anything. I don't see room in that view for empathy or respect for individual rights, or accountability. In one shot, with no proof, it tries to knock down everything that matters.

I think regular folks, non-philosophers, would tend to dismiss the notion. But, the fact that so many here seem to have accepted it, and don't acknowledge the implications, is frightening.

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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » May 29th, 2018, 9:40 pm

chewybrian wrote:
May 29th, 2018, 5:34 am
Spectrum wrote:
May 28th, 2018, 10:32 pm
Not sure on your point re distasteful.
The "Eastern" aspect... I don't care for any ethical, political, scientific or philosophical system that subjugates the individual more than necessary. I'm not quite sure where non-duality falls on that spectrum, but it seems to be in there.

At the extreme is the idea that we have no free will, which is the most distasteful idea of all. If any action you take turns out to have been the only possible action, this seems to justify anything. I don't see room in that view for empathy or respect for individual rights, or accountability. In one shot, with no proof, it tries to knock down everything that matters.

I think regular folks, non-philosophers, would tend to dismiss the notion. But, the fact that so many here seem to have accepted it, and don't acknowledge the implications, is frightening.
It is not philosophically healthy if you simply generalize "Eastern" without accounting for the specific contexts.

The day humans are born they are burdened and the mother of all burdened = mortality. The essence of those "Eastern" philosophies is imbued with the concept of non-duality [emptiness, nothingness, sunyata] which teaches one how to engage within inevitable duality but simultaneously at the same time detaches from those burdens.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by -1- » May 29th, 2018, 9:55 pm

I don't know who Grasp and Master are, whom you tote as the toughest Western Philosophers to read.

I know of Masters and Johnson, but they are a rather entertaining read.
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