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History of Philosophy Book Club Message Board › Reading Schedule for 2013

Reading Schedule for 2013

user 6899431
Group Organizer
Silver Spring, MD
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.  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.
user 22697371
Silver Spring, MD
Post #: 1
Just curious - why didn't you include Wittgenstein, especially given that he was #1 on the list of greats in your link? For Wittgenstein, I think the answer to your question 1 would definitely be yes, but I'm a little unsure about question 2. Just curious of your thoughts.

user 6899431
Group Organizer
Silver Spring, MD
Post #: 120
Austin, Your question about Wittgenstein is a good one. He was a top candidate for our list, and–as the survey shows–is highly esteemed by philosophy professors. Several months ago I got a copy of the Tractatus to see whether it was suitable for our group; to my disappointment I decided it wasn’t, primarily because much of the argumentation is conveyed through symbol logic. I, myself, have never taken a logic course (a gap I hope to redress at some point), and suspect that’s true for at least 80%-90% of our members. I also checked book reviews on and was troubled by several philosophy majors saying it was so difficult they could not understand it without consulting interpretive commentaries. Nonetheless, I realized that Logical Positivism was a movement too important to ignore, hence I decided to substitute the more intellectually accessible Language, Truth and Logic for Wittgenstein.

You were a philosophy major. What was your experience?
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