Monday, November 16, 2020

Nonfiction November-- Week 3: Be/Ask/Become the Expert


Week 3
: (Nov. 16 to 20) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Rennie of What’s Nonfiction): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert) 

I'm going to use a mix of all three this week. My friend and I have been reading philosophy books together for a few years now. I've been learning a lot about Western philosophical origins, specific philosophers and their philosophies, and even ones on whole movements and the philosophers involved. I'll share a few that are on my list and hope you share any books you've read that fit the topic!



For an interesting and somewhat entertaining overview of Western philosophy I highly recommend The Dream of Reason: A History of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance by Anthony Gottlieb. Gottlieb really dives into the ancient Greeks and how their ideas were syncretized and adopted by Christian thinkers. It was quite an eye-opener to see how the threads connected. I highly enjoyed this one.


For individual philosophers and their movements/philosophies I can't recommend enough Sarah Bakewell. I'm in the process of reading At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, which is all about Existentialism and its philosophers like Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, and Edmund Husserl. She blends history and thought and biography seamlessly.


Her book on Montaigne is also quite good How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. You truly get a sense of what France was like, how it affected Montaigne and his philosophy, which is pretty revolutionary. His essays are on the mundane and day-to-day. As one person's inner thoughts are important so are others and we can gleam humanity and what's like to be human from that.


Another fantastic book on a specific philosopher is Rebecca Goldstein's Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. She goes into some history of the Spanish Inquisition and the displacement of Jews either outside of their jurisdiction or as conversos (forced Catholic conversion). So we end up getting the history of Spinoza and his Jewish community in Holland in the mid-1600s. Fantastic history and it was incredibly interesting about Spinoza and how his ideas changed so many things.

philosophy_books 

Anthony Gottlieb has another book The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy. My friend and I will probably read it after we're done with At the Existentialist Café. Since I enjoyed Rebecca Goldstein's book on Spinoza, I'd like to read her Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away. And due to my Existentialism reading I'd really like to pick Beauvoir's The Second Sex and Albert Camus' The Plague and The Stranger. And then there's Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith that looks fascinating.

There are so many more I'd like to get to but if anyone has any philosophy-type books they've read and really enjoyed, I'd love to hear them!

20 comments:

  1. I’m sorry to say I have no suggestions for you, perhaps the closest I’ve come to the topic is The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery which I did love.
    Thanks for sharing your recommendations

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. Philosophy is a weird one!

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  2. I have loved reading philosophy ever since I took my first class on philosophy in high school. I have added several of your choices to my TBR list I'll post next week. Here are some I've read: The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers; Six Questions of Socrates: A Modern-Day Journey of Discovery through World Philosophy; Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It: Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live; Socrates Cafe: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy; Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes; Montaigne in Barn Boots: An Amateur Ambles Through Philosophy; and Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between.

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    1. I've got a few of these on my list but I'm adding the others! Thanks for all the glorious suggestions.

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  3. Hmm. This is a great topic but one I don't explore too much! I know in college I read Sophie's World, I don't know if that is what you are looking for. My husband loves to read Marcus Aurelius.

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    1. I read Sophie's World a few years ago. But I wasn't a huge fan. And I do read Marcus Aurelius from time to time. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I enjoyed Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy when I read it years ago. A fiction story all about philosophy (that is almost non-fiction) is Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I loved it when I read it 20 yrs ago.

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    1. I've read one of his books before and I've heard of this one. I should get back to a few more of his. Thanks for the suggestion! I read Sophie's World a bit ago but I just didn't like it that much.

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  5. Excellent selection! Especially since I really like Bakewell, The Plague and other existential stuff. Bakewell was on my own list too, which waxes philosophical on what makes a good life (https://lexlingua.co/nonficnov-week3-good-life-theme-books/). Happy NFN!!

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    1. Right? I want Bakewell to write all the philosophy books. She's fantastic!

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  6. I love philosophy! Earlier this year I read Camus' The Sisyphus Myth - that was a tough one! Very tempted by At the Existentialist Café. Great recommendations!

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    1. Bakewell talks a bit about Camus and his writings. I don't know if I'm up for an actual reading of this one! Yikes!

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  7. Fully agreed that Sisyphus Myth is a tough one. It took me days before I could even understand what Camus means by defiant spirit, phew!

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  8. I love philosophy books! And I haven't read any of these. Thanks for the suggestions.

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  9. I can't say that I know anything about philosophy so I don't have any book recommendations. I will recommend watching The Good Place on Netflix if you haven't already! I recognize most of the names you mention only because I've watched that show.

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    1. Love the Good Place. Looking forward to finally sitting down and catching up on the last season!

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  10. Wow, I really admire that you're undertaking this project! I've read a little Neitzsche and an intro to philosophy book and I found that very challenging. The books you describe here, which are also part biography, might be more approachable for me :)

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    1. I think the intro to western philosophy is really great by Anthony Gottlieb. Everything is pretty clear and he's got quite a sense of humor throughout. But the books that talk about philosophy and their philosophers are my favorite. They comb through the original texts and let us know. I'm not one to examine the writings firsthand!

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