I was a very narrow-minded young boy. The only person who mattered was me; everyone else were simply characters in the story of my life. It wasn’t until college that I was exposed to philosophy, and it totally changed my life. It not only expanded my mind, it also gave me compassion for others- something I had never possessed. For anyone looking to get a better understanding of this crazy world we live in, I highly recommend dipping your toes into some philosophy.
Philosophy is commonly seen as dense and dry reading material. Most people never even consider picking up a philosophy book when they go to their local bookstore. This is unfortunate considering the wealth of knowledge buried deep within our ancient tombs of philosophic literature. In my opinion, these three short texts are a great way to get started in the world of philosophy.
Allegory of the Cave by Plato
This short story is pulled from Plato’s larger work, The Republic. The allegory of the cave tells a story of humanity’s search for truth. We are all born ignorant, it is not until we begin a quest of understanding that we are able to see the world more clearly. The story is a great way to get a basic idea of what philosophy has to offer.
History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
Once you have a sense of what the essence of philosophy is, you will then be ready for the grand tour of its history. Bertrand Russell puts together an amazing compilation of all the most significant western thinkers. As you go through this book, or audiobook, keep in mind that you do not have to understand everything about every philosophy. Look instead for a thinker that relates to you, then you can engage their works more seriously later.
Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu
After learning about western philosophy, take a trip to the other side of the world and read what Lao-Tzu, Sun-Tzu, and Confucius have to offer. The two sides of philosophy are very different, and you can see their epic rap battle here. Eastern philosophy is notoriously difficult to understand. Monks dedicate their lives to isolation just to meditate on a single philosophical question.
The thing about philosophy is that it requires dedicated focus, like anything worth doing. Reading is laborious for the mind, especially when you begin to read challenging material. It may seem daunting at first, but after you complete your first few books, you’ll get hooked. The whole reason why we read in the first place is because we want to be exposed to new ideas and to learn from them. Why not challenge ourselves every once and while?
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