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Locating Philosophy

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Since I’ll be teaching a Philosophy class next year, I decided to start reading up on the subject and looking for appropriate texts. I went to my local Borders tonight to browse the Philosophy section.

The experience was discouraging – not necessarily because of the selection of books. But, the location of Philosophy was between the much larger Erotica and Self-Help sections of the bookstore. In fact, Self-Help had over three times the shelf space of Philosophy.

Oh well.

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About Roland

  • Aaman

    Is that the sum-total of your insights into Philosophy?

    Self-help and Erotica are both very philosophical, really. Post-coital insights are among the most meaningful, in my experience. Self-help and erotica can be combined quite fruitfully to deliver much self-actualization, the goal of all philosophy.

    Try looking up tantricism next time

  • DrPat

    Barnes & Noble is no better, and even worse, much of the miniscule Philosophy section is loaded with self-help stuff masquerading as philosophy.

  • Floris Vermeir

    Perhaps it is better to have a look online, at You should be able to find many books there. An intresting book is Bertrand Russell the history of western philosophy. It is a starting point, it is not complete, but gives a lot of information.

    Have a look at the bottom of my last post, you will find some intresting books. Depending on what exactley you will teach in philosophy I might be able to give you some more books.

    Amazon is great for that, as they often have more books on different subjects then local bookshops.

    But its true, when one goes looking for philosophy one often finds books that have nothing to do whith it.

  • Eric Berlin

    You make it sound like you have no background in philosophy at all and are looking into the subject area based upon the fact that you have a gig coming up.

    Is that true?

  • Dave Nalle

    I’m with Eric. It’s bizarre to hear about him teaching philosophy with no apparent knowledge of it. I wonder what grade level he’s teaching it at?

    As for philosophy sources, you can find all the basic texts in complete form on the net. I reference them frequently.

    A great links site is

    You can find almost anything there, from pre-socratics like Anaximander to some of the latest thinkers. I just wish it included economists as well.


  • Mark Saleski

    yow! great linky goodness dave. that’s a great philosophy site.

    yer ok for a non-liberal.


    What a Hallmark moment.

  • Mark Saleski

    yea, can’t ya almost hear the string section kicking in?

  • Voracious Reader

    You might also like to check out Daedulus, Powells, A Common Reader, Labrynth Books (NY), or St. John’s College Bookstore…come to think of it why did you need to go to a Borders, i.e., why not the bookstore at the college where you’ll be teaching?

    What sort of philsophy do you want to teach? e.g., survey/introcourse, religious, or politics emphasis etc…?

  • roland

    Hi Everyone – Thanks for the comments:
    Let me explain: I have a degree in philosophy and have studied philosophy and religion to a high level (National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at Yale, etc. – yada yada yada). However, I’ve spent most of my career in universities as an admissions dean (Colby, MIT, Stanford). Now, I”m an administrator at a private prep school.

    Next year, I plan to teach a one semester introduction to philosophy class to upper school students. However, since this is new to them, I want to give them a broad introduction that touches on key topics: logic, ethics, beauty, God, man, immortality. But I’d like to quickly get the students to a place where they can take a position and defend the position – in a way that is logical and consistent.

    Since philosophy is not usually taught in high schools, there isn’t a standard text. I hope to find a few texts that introduce the broad topics. For example, how to introduce logic in five class meetings, then go on to topics. The “Six Questions of Socrates” book looks like a good broad text that I may use. But to do do, I have to teach kids how to read a book like that. High School texts usually have short chapters. In this book, the chapters are 60 pages long. So, I have to teach them to read it, keep notes and questions that can pull the chapter together in a way that is useful for a classroom discussion.

  • Bennett

    Should this really be under the “book” heading? More of a culture thing imo.


  • Voracious Reader

    Oh, how fabulous. That sounds like a lot of fun. How about a novel? For that age group I would recommend a novel called Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy. I haven’t read it, but I know it’s highschool appropriate and would introduce them to a number of different philosphers and schools of thought and go from there.

    I envy you. How large will your class be? Are you going to teach in lecture or seminar format?