Somewhat late in life, I have come to the conclusion that I should have studied

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Somewhat late in life, I have come to the conclusion that I should have studied philosophy in college - not as a career mover, but as a means of improving my mind and developing greater insight into fundamental questions that all of us deal with, to some extent. Recently, I have begun to do some reading on my own, and I am wondering whether there are particular readings or other resources that you might suggest to a serious beginner with a strictly amateur, part-time interest. Thanks to Peter Smith's recommendation, in response to a previous question I posted here, I am currently reading and enjoying "Philosophers Without Gods". Previously, I have read and appreciated Peter Singer's Practical Ethics". These reflect particular interests, but I'd like to start a broader study. Any suggestions? Thanks again. Neil

Another relatively recent, good, general introduction to a variety of philosophical issues is Thomas Nagel, What Does it All Mean?, which I myself read in my first year of graduate school and found most illuminating. Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy is a classic from relatively early in the twentieth century.

You might also consider reading some of the canonical texts of Western philosophy (in my ignorance, I don't know Eastern philosophy, and so am not in a position to recommend any works of Eastern philosophy): a good place to begin is with Plato's 'Socratic' dialogues, the Apology, Euthyphro, and Crito; if you like those dialogues, you might move on to the Republic, which treats many of the problem areas of philosophy, including epistemology (the nature of knowledge), metaphysics (the nature of what there is), ethics, and aesthetics, among other areas; a couple of more 'modern' works that you might consider are Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy (which focuses on issues in epistemology and metaphysics), and Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, which tries to lay a foundation (hence the word in the title translated as 'Groundwork' by certain translators) for morality and hence treats ethics; if you want to grapple with some twentieth-century philosophy from the 'Continental' tradition, you might start with something like Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism and Human Emotions. This is just a short selection, of course--other panelists would of course suggest other works!!

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