Returning to Philosophy
May 14, 2018 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Hi folks. I have always read quite a bit, but once upon a time (in university) was way more on the critical theory/philosophy kick. In the spirit of new beginnings, I have been trying to delve into lots of old pastimes/skills/etc. recently, and I told myself instead of a novel I'd pick up one of my philosophy texts sitting around to get back into the swing of things.

I chose Simon Critchley's "Infinitely Demanding", which funnily enough had a bookmark in it exactly from my College days. I chose it because rather than being a 'primary' text, it appeared to cover the work of other philosophers and attempts to make a novel argument, and is politically up my alley as well.

I had a feeling it wouldn't be easy going, and I was right. It's not even the language--though that's a part of it--it's the...'rhythm' of thinking in this way, as it were. I also find that there are just straight gaps, so that when he's rushing through some Kant in a few pages I'm really struggling to pin it down, whereas before I may have had a point of reference (without ever having read through Kant's work). I've done the best in sections about Levinas, Badiou, the 'Event', etc. because that is all exactly up my alley and a path I have tread extensively in the past. But other sections not so much.

So the point of the question is...what are some texts/authors I can use to 'warm up' again (preferably Continental rather than Analytical)? Do I need to do some remedial history of philosophy (I did like the smorgasboard approach in College, but maybe I need to go back to basics)? In particular I have a copy of Of Grammatology I'm really committed to reading, as well as Wittgenstein's Tractatus (I know). Back in the day I was really into Postcolonial/Decolonial theory (Bhabha, Spivak, Said, etc.), Post-structuralists and other Frenchies (Mainly Foucault but also Derrida, Badiou, Blanchot, etc.), and Marxists and Anarchists of all types.

I know myself and want to maybe get back into the right 'mode' before I go full on. Foucault might be the cure for what ails me, but I'm open to anything. Thanks!!
posted by parkbench to Religion & Philosophy (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
There is a program on PBS called "Closer to Truth" in which ‚ÄéRobert Lawrence Kuhn explores philosopy by interviewing many modern philosophers. I find it fascinating if often incomprehensible.
posted by H21 at 12:23 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I often recommend this book to any of my post-grad students who are looking for a sophisticated and reasonably in-depth yet still relatively readable general introduction to Continental Philosophy, and even though you already have some familiarity with the field, I am wondering if it might prove similarly useful for you, both in terms of letting you gently dip a toe back into the water and also as a text that might provide you with some starting points for philosophical threads to follow going forward...
posted by Chairboy at 3:31 PM on May 14, 2018

Forget Foucault by Jean Baudrillard is a breezy interpretation of some things. It's tricky to dip our toes back into continental philosophy because it's not designed that way.
posted by ovvl at 6:33 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Possibly Gary Gutting's Thinking the Impossible? It's about post-1960s French thinking but does a run-up from, well, Hegel, really.
posted by praemunire at 11:28 PM on May 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

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