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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?


1 Answer 1


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.

  • Maybe include Russell's "Problems of Philosophy"?
    – leancz
    Dec 13, 2012 at 11:00

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