3 Answers

  1. “Intellectual tricks” by Sokal and Brickmon. You will learn a lot about modern “philosophy” and modern “philosophers”. I highly recommend it.

    1. Harry Frankfurt – “On the Lie”. This paper describes why there is so much bullshit, why it is used spontaneously, most often aimlessly, and what is its meaning? This work caused fierce discussions at one time, and even now there are hotbeds of fire in various university classrooms.�

    2. Peter Strawson – “Freedom and Indignation”. An excellent article from 1962, which was the beginning of Strosonian compatibilism. The reactions of people to the actions of others are illustrated, thus showing good or evil will.�

    It will be useful to understand the difference between compatibilism, incompatibilism, and rigid incompatibilism – it is important to simply read works on these topics, determine your position for yourself, and only study in more depth works that relate to your chosen direction of thought about free will.

  2. For “modern philosophy”, let's take texts published by living authors. In addition, it is worth making two more reservations. Philosophy is very diverse; it often discusses, for example, the meaningfulness and limits of applicability of those concepts that we use uncritically in various fields of knowledge, from history and psychiatry to mathematics. And besides, philosophy can be very different both in style and in the level of complexity – some things can be understood only by specialists, as in other sciences, while others are aimed at a more general reader. So I will focus on giving a variety of themes and styles, starting from which you can get some idea of what is happening in “philosophy in general”.

    1. Stephen Pinker “Language as an instinct”. In the 20th century, the so-called linguistic turn took place in philosophy, which consisted in the fact that language began to be perceived, first, as a method of solving philosophical problems, and, secondly, as the space where philosophy is generally possible as a critical practice. In short, philosophers began to think about language much more often. Ironically, this is perfectly played out in the “Fry and Laurie Show” in the sketch “Philosophy of Language” – although to get real pleasure from this scene, you must first properly sit your ass in libraries. Pinker has written an excellent review of the debate about what a language is, starting from the perspective of Chomsky's generative grammar. This book is not on linguistics, because it does not offer to study language as a real object or existing languages, it claims to be a classic philosophical statement of the question of “language in general” and it turns out perfectly. If you think that philosophers write boring, incomprehensible or superficially, then you are definitely here – Pinker is a bright representative of the analytical school, which requires clarity of statements, and at the same time a good, clear popularizer. It is worth paying attention to Pinker's other books, in particular, Better Angels of Our Nature, which proves that people with the course of the development of civilization still become morally better (spoiler: because they learned to read).

    2. Peter Sloterdijk, ” A Critique of Cynical Reason.” If you have grown out of popularizing approaches (I, by the way, do not, because you can not be an expert in everything), then pay attention to the magnum opus of the most famous living European philosopher – Sloterdijk. His work was written 30 years ago in the genre of a classic philosophical treatise and is devoted, which also happens quite often, to criticism of the modern era. Starting from the concept of ideology, Sloterdijk turns to the concept of cynicism as a fundamental condition of our contemporaries. It's a difficult read, but it can be fun, just like any good philosophy – thinking with the author is an intellectual challenge.

    3. Thomas Nagel “What does it all mean? A very brief introduction to philosophy.” A 50-page book that is worth reading at the age of 17 before claiming that philosophy doesn't make sense. After reading it, you will know that such a statement is philosophical in itself, which is the simplest form of a logical paradox. The only complaint about Nagel is that many people think that he writes too simply.

    4. Douglas Hofstadter “Godel, Escher, Bach”. Arguably the most widely read book on philosophy in recent decades in the West, the author won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for it. Starting from the parallelism between the theorems of the mathematician Godel, Escher's graphics and Bach's fugues, Hofstadter develops an ambitious project “explanations of consciousness”. I'm not sure that he will eventually succeed, but this is in any case the best book about those very logical paradoxes, and it is also very relevant because of the popularity of neural networks today – the author shows what human neurons and a colony of ants have in common.

    5. Ian Hacking “Representation and Intervention”. A book on the philosophy of science, dedicated to a very specific and purely philosophical topic (in case you already want hard philosophy): how is scientific realism possible, i.e., how do we know that scientific theories actually describe some reality, and not just sometimes instrumentally useful for solving certain puzzles?

    6. David Edmonds “Wittgenstein's Poker”. Speaking of puzzles, Edmonds ' book is not exactly a pure case of modern philosophy, according to our definition, since it is dedicated to philosophers who are dead, but Edmonds himself is still alive and recently spoke in Moscow. This is a kind of philosophical detective story or journalistic investigation about the meeting of two key figures for analytical philosophy of the XX century – Wittgenstein and Popper-and their dispute about the nature of philosophy. One said that there are no philosophical problems, only puzzles in the language, and the second defended a more traditional view of things. Edmonds is important to read, because Wittgenstein himself is quite difficult to understand, but at the same time remains a key figure for the English – speaking intellectual tradition-it is impossible to pass by him if you want to talk to educated people in the same language. Edmonds 'second book,” Would You Kill a Fat Man, “is devoted to modern applied ethics and discusses an important idea of the” thought experiment ” – this will be our point 6.5.

    7. Giorgio Agamben “Homo Sacer”. The most influential philosopher of our era is probably Michel Foucault, but he died in 1984. Agamben can be called his successor – he provides a powerful analysis of the political life of the modern Western state, opposed to both tyranny and a liberal interpretation of what is happening. He focuses on the concepts of concentration camps-places where laws do not apply – biopolitics as a practice of coercion and control, focused directly on the bodies of the “population”, and the state of emergency, through which he, like Karl Schmitt, defines the political. Agamben is worth reading because it provides a specific and non-trivial way to talk about, for example, Russian news or the Snowden case.

    8. Martha Nussbaum “Not for Profit: Why Democracy needs humanities”. Nussbaum's main works on gender theory and political philosophy have not been translated into Russian. Nevertheless, I think it is useful to mention it in our series, because it simultaneously refers to two topics – the book mentioned above deals with the philosophy of education (that is, in particular, the answer to the question “what is a good education”), and the figure Nussbaum herself is also quite well known as a representative of the philosophy of feminism. The latter discusses such questions as” what is gender as a social phenomenon “or” where does gender behavior come from”, and ultimately is a rather interesting theory of the origin and functioning of power and, accordingly, a project of liberation. Among the well-known philosophers and theorists of gender studies, Judith Butler is also worth mentioning here.

    9. Peter Singer “Animal Liberation”. One of the most cited contemporary philosophers is Singer, an Australian who became famous for his notion of speciesism – a racist or sexist notion of the exclusivity of our species, homo sapiens. Singer is mentioned so often because his ideas are largely based on the ethical concept of vegans, and in the theoretical sense of the word, he asks very provocative questions about the boundaries of freedom and responsibility: how far we are willing to go along this path.

    10. Slava Zizek “On violence”. A short book by the most popular philosopher in the world, about whom I was somewhat hesitant to include him in this list. A lot has been said about Zizek, and a lot has been written by him – I would choose this small book from this corpus of texts. In it, Zizek discusses the media phenomenon of violence and turns everything on its head, as his guru Marx would put it: more terrible than terrorism as subjective violence is organized violence – the poverty and inequality in which the world continues to live. To scold Zizek with a reasonable argument, take a look.

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