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I am a high schooler trying to grasp philosophy for i find value and meaning in this subject. However, learning philosophy without any guidance is an immensely difficult task. How can i aid my understanding of philosophy? Are there any notable courses or teachers online?

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  • There are many resources and papers online. What field do you have an interest in? Otherwise, there is YT, with many free lectures and plenty of free papers and even books online
    – emesupap
    Sep 30, 2022 at 14:05
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    It is hard to give meaningful advice without knowing where you are at and what excited you about the subject. What did you read already, what kind of philosophy appeals to you the most? Speaking generally, there are elementary books that can give you accessible bird's eye view (for example, Payne's Introduction to Philosophy is free of charge) and you can go from there. But if we knew your interests and background we could recommend something more targeted and specific.
    – Conifold
    Sep 30, 2022 at 19:02
  • There are loads of philosophy videos on youtube. It's a nice starting point as long as you consider them as such and actually delve into the authors they introduce you too. Also don't hesitate to read commentary books about classics, because those are often misleading (not aimed at the uninitiated, written in old language or translated, sometimes totally cryptic...)
    – armand
    Oct 1, 2022 at 1:41
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    In a sense, learning without guidance can bypass "teacher's biases" towards certain topics or theories and you can land on a unique perspective of your own, based on your unique journey through life's questions. In a sense, "philosophy" is exactly the quest for personal meaning.
    – Nikos M.
    Oct 4, 2022 at 14:03
  • Oh yeah, another discussion of same topic: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/86176/…
    – CriglCragl
    Oct 6, 2022 at 20:11

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There are many great youtube channels on philosophy with some very pleasant and rewarding videos to contemplate, adorned with a very enjoyable video editing; here's a few names :

Weltgeist ( Focuses on Nietzsche ), Let's Talk Religion ( Focuses on Mysticism ), Eternalised ( Talks about basically everything ), Thus Spoke Haven ( Funny guy ), The Ark ( Very dramatic guy )

And by the way don't read Plato, he is overrated and cruelly outdated; rather read Nietzsche, I recommand you audiobooks, they're way more enjoyable and confortable.

And know this that school is utterly useless as for philosophy is concerned; in the contrary school only gives birth to the fool, the anti-philosopher, the conditioned mind incapable of thinking by himself.

A true philosopher dosen't need guidance, he himself is the Light radiating within the aether of his most charismatic presence, he is the river from which everyone comes to quench their thirst of wisdom.

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  • i d made a chat about your problem, if you want you can joing to it) i tried to add you but it is too hard for me) Feb 10, 2023 at 22:09
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Cool to see you are interested in learning about philosophy :)

There are many subdisciplines in philosophy, each with their own terminology and associated texts. It can be easy to get confused when you're just getting into it. Without knowing anything about your specific interests, I will make a general recommendation to you.

A good starting place is Plato. Many of the subjects he touches on are still debated today, from ethics and epistemology to metaphysics. His writing is also not too difficult to understand, and because the texts are so old you can find free pdf's on the internet. This, combined with the amount of Youtube videos on Plato, makes it a pretty good introductory point in my opinion.

I will give you a loose recommendation of reading Plato's Crito. You can find a pdf here: https://files.romanroadsstatic.com/materials/plato_crito.pdf - it is only 19 pages. If you don't find it interesting don't hesitate to look up another of Plato's books which you do find interesting.

As for supporting material I can recommend the Youtube channel of Gregory Sadler. He's a professor of philosophy, and he makes videos explaining concepts from certain philosophical texts.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment.

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    Thankyou so much for such a helpful advice. I actually have a copy of Plato's Republic that I've only read a few pages of. As for my specific interest in philosophy, i am fascinated by metaphysics, and also philosophy of language. But i find navigating my way through philosophies very difficult. One can easily get lost. Also, thankyou for the pdf; i'll surely look up some more supporting material for the texts i read. Sep 30, 2022 at 15:28
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    @dreamerinavoid: It's worth noting Popper's criticism of Plato's imaginary state of The Republic: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Open_Society_and_Its_Enemies Plato was pro-slavery, anti-democracy, & left a lasting legacy of math-mysticism. His work, like Descartes, should be seen as cautionary of intellectual pitfalls, as much as informative
    – CriglCragl
    Oct 6, 2022 at 10:06
  • @dreamerinavoid You may have to read a book 3 or more times. You might set a book down for a year, come back to it, and it will all “click”. Be patient. Just stick to it.
    – Gordon
    Oct 9, 2022 at 1:15
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I recommend John Vervaeke's free YouTube series Awakening From The Meaning Crisis. It's a narrative of the development of Western Philosophy from the Ancient Greeks to modern thinkers, covering most of the big names, and drawing it's focus from how thinkers have addressed living a meaningful life.

Philosophy emerged from 'Wisdom Traditions', embodied by things like the Delphic Maxims, the Wisdom of Solomon, and further afield by the Analects of Confucius, the Tao te Ching, the Vedas and the Tripitaka. I arge that Socrates is paradigmatic in characterising the distinct tradition that we call philosophy, here: Is Socrates' wisdom intrinsically valuable? Specifically, Socratic dialogue, discussion with mutual commitment to search for truth, even at risk of iconoclasm. Pre-modern thinkers were very focused on wisdom, and it's interesting to look at why that has fallen out of fashion in modern philosophy - Vervaeke argues we need to rediscover it, discussed here: Wisdom and John Vervaeke's awakening from the meaning crises?

I recommend topic or theme-based reading, over trying for a sequential historical survey - start with Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy articles on a topic or thinker, to get terminology and outline, then follow threads and go to texts. Some categories worth covering:

  • Ancient Greeks (eg Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Ethics)
  • Epistemology (eg Descartes' Meditations, Hume's Enquiry).
  • Ethics (deontological, virtue-ethics, & consequentialist; plus many flavours of each)
  • Politics (Rousseau, Locke).
  • Religion (miracles, proofs of God - these are important if only as historical background).
  • Philosophy of mind (identity, qualia, teletransportation/Chinese Room/Ship of Theseus & other thought experiments).

Wittgenstein I think deserves special attention. I made an answer with some resources about: Introductory lectures to Wittgenstein's ideas

Otherwise, just follow your interests, but try to take them up seriously as you become interested in a topic.

I found Yogacara Mahayana Buddhist philosophy especially interesting, and it has become much more accessible nowadays, so I recommend digging there. I made a post with some pointers to Indian philosophy resources here: What are some good resources for learning Indian philosophy?

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You are in High School so apart from the content of this essay, you may also want to pay attention to the style of the essay, or the method of the essay. It is a good form to remember for your future writing.

Jean Paul Sartre “Existentialism as a Humanism” PDF https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/complexity/people/students/dtc/students2011/maitland/philosophy/sartre-eih.pdf

This was a rather famous event in 20th Century history: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism_Is_a_Humanism

Here is a simplified review of the essay Sartre, Simplified: A Review of Existentialism is a Humanism https://thebadbread.com/2016/02/07/sartre-simplified-a-review-of-existentialism-is-a-humanism/

The only guide I can give you is to learn one philosophical work well. Put a lot of effort into learning it, and this can help you learn other philosophers well. You may hate Sartre. Fine. Just find another philosopher you like and learn one work well.

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