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How to get started with philosophy without getting overwhelmed quickly?

What philosophy books are good for an new person to philosophy? Philosophy in general, not specific branches of it.

I tried learning Philosophy in high school once. My friends were clearly gifted thinkers; they could easily analyze certain situations and deal with them appropriately. I struggled to grasp any concepts they had about anything. I remember one point in our meetings where our focus was that Freud wasn't actually a real philosopher, and I did not understand a single bit of it.

In short, I don't know where to start. There are just so many philosophers out there, so many of them with different ideas, Voltaire, Locke, Nietzsche, Socrates, etc., where do I go from here?

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marked as duplicate by iphigenie, DBK, commando, Ryder, Joseph Weissman Dec 20 '12 at 0:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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See How to get started with philosophy without getting overwhelmed quickly and Books to get started on philosophy. Since this has been covered before it will probably get voted down/closed, although the slight distinction it has from the linked questions above is that it's more general as opposed to asking for specific books and is not necessarily about not getting overwhelmed... –  stoicfury Dec 12 '12 at 9:47

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I would suggest Betrand Russell's "Problems of philosophy", "Our knowledge of the external world" and his history of western philosophy (in that order), because his writing is very clear and he explains how he views other philosophers. Some of the major philosophers are very hard to read, such as Kant, Hegel and Nietzsche. Plato is more easy to read than Aristotle. If you don't understand the author, pick someone else, whom you find easier to read. But pick one of the major ones and read the originals.

Edit: thanks for the comment, I actually meant problems of philosophy.

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Maybe include Russell's "Problems of Philosophy"? –  leancz Dec 13 '12 at 11:00

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