Saturday, March 24, 2007

SUPHI: Discussion Question: Origins

Over at Suphi, I posted the following discussion question:
I am often amazed at the different ways that individuals have come to philosophy. Some from a novel or movie, others through religion, many through a philosophy course, and even a few from coming across and reading actual contemporary philosophy on their own.

So I am curious: What inspired your desire to learn more about and study philosophy? Was it a book(s)? What book(s) and why? Did you arrive here from some other path?

My response was:
I was a voracious reader from a young age and novels where my entrance point to philosophy. Some of the earliest novels I read that got me thinking, with hindsight, more philosophically were: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I read these first (I’ve read each of these at least three times) between 11-14 years-old. The first reads were, for the most part, over my head. Nonetheless, they started me thinking about the way the world was: the nature of good and evil, the influence and danger of authority and power, and how individuals relate (or fail to) to each other. These are themes I still think about and struggle with to this day.

My freshman year at Tufts, I took an introduction to philosophy class where we read Plato, Descartes, and Quine. (Yes "two dogmas" during my first semester of college!) I hated my teacher, so I got somewhat turned off to academic philosophy and ended up an English major. By my junior year, I had reread all three of the above novels again and my interest in philosophy re-emerged. I took several more philosophy courses and the rest, as they say, is history.

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