The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

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

Post by Spectrum » June 1st, 2018, 3:08 am

Name Is Unnecessary wrote:
May 31st, 2018, 2:54 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?
I suppose it is to plead his own ego by acknowledging he is able to grasp toughest writings. I am a new member and think this will need to be approved by a mod, so I'd wish it to be either posted approved without any edits or not approved at all
I think it is very typical and normal to relate 'wanting to achieve the best' is related to the ego or being egoistic.

However when it comes to philosophy, there is room for exception.
Thus when you jump to the above conclusion thinking of 'being egoistic' you are not philosophical but rather 'vulgar' philosophically speaking.
"Vulgar" = of or relating to the common people : plebeian
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vulgar

The point with Heidegger and Kant is their philosophical view are based on the dissolution of the ego, i.e. self. Thus the question of egoism is out of the question.

The critical determination in philosophy is the truth, no certainty of knowledge and the continual seeking of knowledge.
It so happen the two most profound philosophers happened to be the toughest to read, so if one were to rely one's philosophy on profound philosophical knowledge one has no choice but to read them.
Surely you will find it unconvincing if someone were to argue their points with kindergarten philosophical stuffs.

I agree there is a possibility 'ego' may come into play but there is due to wrong vulgar thinking and not philosophical thinking.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Georgeanna » June 1st, 2018, 6:05 am

This need for heavy reinforcements sounds a bit like fortress building. Defensive against attacks on potentially weak argument.

So which philosophers will be used to provide the necessary opposition; counter arguments. Those who disagree with the 'truth' as proclaimed.
Also, you need to avoid deprecating language.

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

Post by Georgeanna » June 1st, 2018, 6:26 am

Using the most difficult to understand philosophers will not necessarily lend credibilty to your writing.
Indeed, if there are many interpretations of concepts this opens up criticisms of ambiguity, lack of clarity and coherence.

http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/resources/writing.html

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

Post by chewybrian » June 1st, 2018, 7:45 am

-1- wrote:
May 31st, 2018, 3:18 pm
I need at least one example. A sure-proof example of a willing of some action, and doing it, that is free of any sort of cause.
I can't come up with any.
It's every action you've ever taken that was not involuntary or unconscious/subconscious. If I decide to walk to the 7-11, I do not arrive by a series of involuntary spasms, and with each step I am free to stop or divert my direction. My thoughts may be causes, but they are not necessarily (arguably never) fully caused. A choice, by definition, does not have a cause (incentives, maybe, but not 100% cause and effect).

Thoughts don't have weight, take space, or consist of matter (even though they connect to the physical world). A motorcycle is born of thought, and its 'motorcycleness' dies without anyone to perceive it as a motorcycle. I need not assume thoughts are bound by the same laws as physical matter, and it's pretty clear in effect that they are different. A thought can cause a sand castle or a skyscraper, without any weight or force of its own, but rather by its ability to "drive the bus".

I hope I don't offend, but once again I'll give an honest assessment. It's the ultimate "Emperor's New Clothes" scenario. Socrates was willing to die for his will, but you are ready to give yours in return for feeling clever, or to move science from the lab to the church. Can you give an example of a conscious act fully forced? Is it not clear that you can refuse any demand no matter the threat or cost?

I definitely 'get' your line of thought, but disagree, and I suspect neither can give satisfactory proof to the other. I suppose the key error in the equation (if there is one) is assuming that thoughts are bound by the same rules as rocks.

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

Post by Name Is Unnecessary » June 1st, 2018, 10:21 am

I think it is very typical and normal to relate 'wanting to achieve the best' is related to the ego or being egoistic.
It is not that you want "to achieve the best", it is the introduction ("most difficult to grasp"). The another user nicely wrote something about reading "best written", not "toughest" philosophers. Unless I forced myself to be polite, I couldn't close my ears to how it sounded.
"Vulgar" = of or relating to the common people : plebeian
I could write 267 lines answer to "common people", assuming from the context in which it's used. But I very well know it would be useless and everyone would need to force themselves to be polite so the mods don't edit or delete posts, once something everyone knows but no ones likes was said.
"Vulgar"
That's fine. There was a time when I said everything softly, with much sugar on it, because what I had to say simply wasn't sweet or easy to chew (to accept, not to understand, I don't try to be Kant). I forced myself to be polite in front of people, all people, friends and relatives included. That was because I was almost forced to go to psychologist and later to psychiatrist because of my unmasked words and behaviour. I also had some rather real troubles because of that. So I tried to make myself chocolate cover, but I realized it didn't work and decided to throw it away.

I somehow always liked the straight method - as if people who sweeten their sayings want to be liked or are afraid of what people they know, barely and don't know would think about them; as if people who compose the ingredients in their sayings by 5 star restaurants standards want to look better, while making their creation no tastier.

I can only guess what readers are going to think now. Maybe that I don't sound... philosophical. Maybe also that I am angry, or disappointed, or desperate, or that I am lying all, even myself, or that I am just hungry for attention. Maybe some other similar things. Maybe I guessed, maybe I didn't, I don't know. I remember the far minute when I wrote "267 lines" and although I am still far from these 267 lines, maybe there are already things someone may not find tasty.

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

Post by -1- » June 1st, 2018, 11:04 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.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by -1- » June 1st, 2018, 11:06 am

chewybrian wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 7:45 am
-1- wrote:
May 31st, 2018, 3:18 pm
I need at least one example. A sure-proof example of a willing of some action, and doing it, that is free of any sort of cause.
I can't come up with any.
It's every action you've ever taken that was not involuntary or unconscious/subconscious. If I decide to walk to the 7-11, I do not arrive by a series of involuntary spasms, and with each step I am free to stop or divert my direction. My thoughts may be causes, but they are not necessarily (arguably never) fully caused. A choice, by definition, does not have a cause (incentives, maybe, but not 100% cause and effect).

Thoughts don't have weight, take space, or consist of matter (even though they connect to the physical world). A motorcycle is born of thought, and its 'motorcycleness' dies without anyone to perceive it as a motorcycle. I need not assume thoughts are bound by the same laws as physical matter, and it's pretty clear in effect that they are different. A thought can cause a sand castle or a skyscraper, without any weight or force of its own, but rather by its ability to "drive the bus".

I hope I don't offend, but once again I'll give an honest assessment. It's the ultimate "Emperor's New Clothes" scenario. Socrates was willing to die for his will, but you are ready to give yours in return for feeling clever, or to move science from the lab to the church. Can you give an example of a conscious act fully forced? Is it not clear that you can refuse any demand no matter the threat or cost?

I definitely 'get' your line of thought, but disagree, and I suspect neither can give satisfactory proof to the other. I suppose the key error in the equation (if there is one) is assuming that thoughts are bound by the same rules as rocks.
Thanks for the examples.

I agree to disagree with each other.

And no offense taken.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by chewybrian » June 1st, 2018, 12:22 pm

-1- wrote:
May 31st, 2018, 3:30 pm
I understand that some things are in our control. Thanks for describing it in such nice terms with the words of Epictetus. Our thoughts, actions, feelings... these are in our control. Desire, aversion. But these things did not develop on their own. All of them are rooted in our DNA and/or in our upbringing. There is nothing else that shapes our values and will. Our aversion and desires are more DNA driven, the basic ones. Our values are mainly commanded by our upbringing and conscience. Or by innate feelings such as compassion and empathy. Or even hatred. Can you hate someone who has not caused you to hate him or her?
Well, a tree is not dirt, and you are more than the sum total of DNA, emotions and ideas dropped onto you by others. You can control your response to the call to hate, and such call is usually born of ignorance. I don't know if I could summon hate randomly. I'm not game to try. Some people can certainly love others who hate them, but I don't think I am that enlightened. I've learned to pity or ignore them, and that's a start.

The other thing that shapes your values and will is you! You can receive an input, introspect, and choose the path forward with your new knowledge.
-1- wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 11:06 am
Thanks for the examples.

I agree to disagree with each other.

And no offense taken.
I'm not sure this is allowed. Seriously, thanks for the discussion and no hard feelings.

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

Post by -1- » June 1st, 2018, 2:38 pm

chewybrian wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 12:22 pm
-1- wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 11:06 am
Thanks for the examples.

I agree to disagree with each other.

And no offense taken.
I'm not sure this is allowed. Seriously, thanks for the discussion and no hard feelings.
The law of the excluded middle does not apply to shouting matches, wars, pie-eating contests and sex(*). Only to donut-eating contests.

(*) A very strong evidence of this is MIddlesex, England.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Spectrum » June 2nd, 2018, 12:06 am

Georgeanna wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 6:26 am
Using the most difficult to understand philosophers will not necessarily lend credibilty to your writing.
Indeed, if there are many interpretations of concepts this opens up criticisms of ambiguity, lack of clarity and coherence.

http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/resources/writing.html
In general one must cover as much as possible the full range of philosophies and philosophers i.e. from both Western and Eastern [and anywhere else], but one should not leave out those with profound knowledge even if their philosophies are tough to read.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Georgeanna » June 2nd, 2018, 3:48 am

Spectrum wrote:
June 2nd, 2018, 12:06 am
Georgeanna wrote:
June 1st, 2018, 6:26 am
Using the most difficult to understand philosophers will not necessarily lend credibilty to your writing.
Indeed, if there are many interpretations of concepts this opens up criticisms of ambiguity, lack of clarity and coherence.

http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/resources/writing.html
In general one must cover as much as possible the full range of philosophies and philosophers i.e. from both Western and Eastern [and anywhere else], but one should not leave out those with profound knowledge even if their philosophies are tough to read.
'In general' is a different kettle of fish.
What one decides to read depends on one's aims and resources; time, energy, motivation.

I suggest that those who turn to philosophy as a way to make the most of their lives look for forms of wisdom which can be practically applied.

This is the opposite of some of the more obscure academic stuff which might be deemed necessary for professional credibility.

Of course there are books which are both deep and helpful. And a challenge to read reflectively. It is not so much about 'mastering' but mind-expanding.

Inspiration from others more learned and who know what is likely to uplift and enlighten you at a particular time - well, that is a wonderful gift.

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

Post by Spectrum » June 3rd, 2018, 12:55 am

Georgeanna wrote:
June 2nd, 2018, 3:48 am
Spectrum wrote:
June 2nd, 2018, 12:06 am
In general one must cover as much as possible the full range of philosophies and philosophers i.e. from both Western and Eastern [and anywhere else], but one should not leave out those with profound knowledge even if their philosophies are tough to read.
'In general' is a different kettle of fish.
What one decides to read depends on one's aims and resources; time, energy, motivation.

I suggest that those who turn to philosophy as a way to make the most of their lives look for forms of wisdom which can be practically applied.

This is the opposite of some of the more obscure academic stuff which might be deemed necessary for professional credibility.

Of course there are books which are both deep and helpful. And a challenge to read reflectively. It is not so much about 'mastering' but mind-expanding.

Inspiration from others more learned and who know what is likely to uplift and enlighten you at a particular time - well, that is a wonderful gift.
Agree with some of your points.
'General' can be a very loose term.

What I meant was Philosophy as applicable to anyone in general and not specifically to any individual.
An individual can do what what s/he likes with 'philosophy'. One can do 'kindergarten' philosophy, specialize in one field of philosophy their whole life or be a critique of various philosophies.

However I do not believe the inherent quality of philosophy proper or philosophy per se condone nor accept a lackadaisical, half-hearted approach or a narrow specialization like a PhD. Where there is specialization, it must be covered by a team of experts from various other specialties.

The common problem within the philosophical community is where one group focus on one section of philosophy but insist theirs is the only valid philosophy while others are inferior or useless. Note the wars & battles between Analytical [mostly Anglo-Americal] and Continental [mostly European] Philosophy where some will try to tear as each other throat.
  • Many philosophers at leading American departments are specialists in metaphysics: the study of the most general aspects of reality such as being and time. The major work of one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century, Martin Heidegger, is “Being and Time,” a profound study of these two topics. Nonetheless, hardly any of these American metaphysicians have paid serious attention to Heidegger’s book.

    The standard explanation for this oddity is that the metaphysicians are analytic philosophers, whereas Heidegger is a continental philosopher.
    Although the two sorts of philosophers seldom read one another’s work, when they do, the results can be ugly.
    A famous debate between Jacques Derrida (continental) and John Searle (analytic) ended with Searle denouncing Derrida’s “obscurantism” and Derrida mocking Searle’s “superficiality.”

    The distinction between analytic and continental philosophers seems odd, first of all, because it contrasts a geographical characterization (philosophy done on the European continent, particularly Germany and France) with a methodological one (philosophy done by analyzing concepts). It’s like, as Bernard Williams pointed out, dividing cars into four-wheel-drive and made-in-Japan. It becomes even odder when we realize that some of the founders of analytic philosophy (like Frege and Carnap) were Europeans, that many of the leading centers of “continental” philosophy are at American universities, and that many “analytic” philosophers have no interest in analyzing concepts.
    https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2 ... al-divide/
To get involve in philosophy-proper, one must understand the definition of philosophy-proper and cultivate an all round knowledge of philosophy with emphasis on understanding [not necessary agree] with the more refined profound philosophies.
To be engaged with philosophy-proper one must also cultivate the necessary practical aspects of philosophy-proper.

The above are the principles of philosophy-proper in general which are preferred but I do not expect everyone to comply to the above. To each their own.
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Re: The Toughest Western Philosophers to Read, Grasp and Master?

Post by Georgeanna » June 3rd, 2018, 3:53 am

To each their own. Indeed. And views are there to be justified and challenged. Philosophy for all. Even in kindergarten.

Valuable exchange of ideas here:

'What makes a good philosopher ?'

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=15561&hilit=philoso ... r&start=30

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

Post by shuzbot » June 5th, 2018, 5:36 am

I am a beginner but find Deleuze and Guattari impenetrable at times and they don't even get a mention! Am I to assume they are easy compared to Heidegger, Hegel and Kant?

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

Post by Spectrum » June 5th, 2018, 11:46 pm

shuzbot wrote:
June 5th, 2018, 5:36 am
I am a beginner but find Deleuze and Guattari impenetrable at times and they don't even get a mention! Am I to assume they are easy compared to Heidegger, Hegel and Kant?
Generally it is stated by many most the the German and French philosophers [as such including Deleuze and Guattari ] are tough to read.
Thus if you happened to start or pick any of those difficulty philosophers it is obvious they are by the characteristics difficult to read, especially since you are a beginner.
To be objective one has to read all the said books before we can judge which is most or more difficult. This is not practical for the average person. This is why I raised the OP to find out which are the more difficult philosophers to read and consider whether to read those I have missed out.

I have read Kant and Heidegger [ongoing] in detail, i.e. line by line many times and as agreed by many both are extremely difficult philosophers' to read.

I have only brushed through Deleuze's works but not in detail so cannot precisely judge his work in comparison to Kant or Heidegger. However one point re Deleuze is while he did not agree with Kant on everything, his work fall within the umbrella [paradigm] of Kant's philosophy and others. Thus if one is familiar with Kant [&others], one will be able to see where he agree and where his philosophy depart from the others.

On the other hand, Kant and Heidegger are 180 degrees paradigm shifters to something very novel with wide coverage and thus the difficulty in grasping the new foundations they started. I don't agree with Heidegger totally but his difficulty is the crazy number of neologisms he thrown in so he can eject readers from their status quo.
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