Given the importance and interest in twentieth century philosophy, I have decided to devote all of next year to it. In 2014--assuming I and other members haven’t burnt out--we will re-start the group with the ancient Greeks and continue chronologically.
Below is a tentative list of the writers and works to be covered in 2013.
January: Sartre's Existentialism is a Humanism
February: Austin's How to Do Things with Words
March: Ryle's The Concept of Mind
April: Arendt's Between Past and Future
May: Levinas' Entre Nous
June: Quine's From A Logical Point of View
July: Derrida's Of Grammatology
August: Foucault's Madness and Civilization
September: Gadamer's Philosophical Hermeneutics
October: Rawls' Justice as Fairness: A Restatement
November: Rorty's Philosophy as Cultural Politics
December: Jurgen Habermas on Society and
Politics: A Reader
In formulating this list I had only one criterion: philosophers who were considered to have made major contributions to the discipline. Sartre, Austin, and Rorty were obvious candidates; important but less obvious were several feminists writers, such as de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Irigaray, and Butler. I was particularly interested in de Beauvoir, having postponed for several decades reading The Second Sex
. But I did not include this work because it is over 800 pages (I try not to exceed 300 pages per session); as for the other writers, as timely as the subjects of sexism and gender are, they seemed to me secondary when compared with the broader sub-categories of philosophy: epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, the philosophy of language, etc. Finally, all of the authors on this list are European or American, and one of the things I pledged to do (stated in our meetup’s Introduction) is to periodically include
writers from other cultures. So far we have had only three, the medieval Arabic writers.
Let me stress the word “tentative” in my characterization of this list. If you have other suggestions, especially of non-American and non-European philosophers, please share them in a reply on our message board (where this announcement will also be posted). Hopefully that will lead to additional responses and fruitful dialogue. Just ask yourself beforehand: (1) Does this person’s impact on the history of philosophy parallel that of others on the list? and (2) Is their subject broad enough to interest most of our members? If you find entries for them in Wikipedia
, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
, and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
, that will be useful corroboration.
Identifying the major philosophers is inherently a subjective task. If you are interested, however, in the results of a survey sent to
thousands of philosophy professors, click here