After circling around the field at a great height for a few months I’m beginning to home in on a few things I’m interested in:
Philosophy of language
Philosophy of mind
The first three fit together nicely, but I feel that aesthetics is where I’m aiming, especially music. And that fits nicely with my explorations in saxophony. I’ve added politics just because I discovered the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, and he’s got me wanting to go back and read Marx properly.
I have to confess that without the structure of a course, I’ve been getting distracted – but not by non-philosophical interests. There is so much great philosophy to read, and so much that people will tell you is essential, that keeping focus is not easy.
However, I can always return to Scruton’s Modern Philosophy to keep me on track. I’m half intending on taking things in the order of the book, and the tasks I have at the moment are:
Scepticism: write some stuff on the dream argument and the cogito from Descartes’ Meditations, in the light of modern responses such as those of Stroud, Strawson, and I’ll want to look at Wittgenstein’s On Certainty too.
The Private Language Argument: I’m still not exactly sure why this appears so early in the book. Well, why not?
Logic: I’m already doing well with the logic, working through the exercises in Hodges’ introductory book. Once that’s done I’ll have a decent grounding in propositional calculus and predicate logic. I’m enjoying it, so I’ll probably move on to another textbook afterwards.
Language: It’s the elementary stuff about Frege on Sense and Reference, and Russell’s Theory of Descriptions. I’ve enjoyed reading and re-reading Sense and Reference and I’m trying to pull together my notes into an essay of some kind.
However, one book that was too tempting a distraction to resist was Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. Now I want to re-read it, but before I do that I’ll have to read up on the stuff he’s attacking. I may go down this route before returning to the scepticism and the private language argument.
So, here’s what I’ll have to do:
Frege’s Sense and Reference and The Thought, at least
Russell’s On Denoting and other places
Strawson’s On Referring
Maybe some Searle for the cluster theory
Kripke’s Naming and Necessity again
It occurs me that reading the Tractatus might work at some point soon after all this, and before Philosophical Investigations.
That’s probably enough to be going on with, but I’m trying to get the aesthetics going in parallel, so I’ve started George Santayana’s The Sense of Beauty; and I’ve got some Nietzsche and Schopenhauer to read, for which I don’t need any reasons anyway.
On top of all that I’ve got to work through a mathematics textbook, plus Euclid’s Elements, various books on relativity, and a music composition book. And then there’s the saxophone and piano practice.
Oh, and work – must find time to work!