How to start studying philosophy? My interest seems to be more in Metaphysics. It would be nice to have a guideline or program to follow. Is college a way to go?
Answer by Helier Robinson
Not many university philosophy departments teach metaphysics these days: analytic philosophy, which repudiates metaphysics, is all the rage. You might try a Jesuit college. Or read about it on your own: start with Russell’s ‘A History of Western Philosophy’ and follow it with Copleston’s ‘A History of Philosophy’. Or, as a last resort, try my ‘Renascent Rationalism’, available from Sharebooks.com. Good luck!
Answer by Peter Jones
How wonderful. Someone who is interested in metaphysics.
I would say no, college is not the way to go. If it is a typical western-style course you will emerge just as confused as your teachers and quite possibly even more so.
My suggestion would be that you devise your own programme and then pursue it while using something like the Pathways Programme to hone your thinking and writing skills, gain an introduction to the literature and get access to good advice and encouragement. Pick a topic or problem that fascinates you then pursue it to the bitter end. On the way you will have to deal with the whole range of metaphysical problems, but you will have a focus for your investigation, and solving one metaphysical problem is solving them all.
If you go to college you will have to do a great deal of work that will not necessarily help you understand anything but has to be done for sake of the exams and shoring up the prevailing paradigm. A modular distance-learning course such as the one Pathways offers is flexible, cheap and convenient and tuition is geared towards you specifically. No student binge-drinking parties, unfortunately, but you’ll cover the ground in a quarter of the time. I say this as an appreciative ex-student and not as a member of staff. If I can be of any further help feel free to track me down.
As the author of the Pathways Metaphysics Programme I would like to put in a word for the analytic tradition in which I was trained, at London and Oxford Universities.
It is true that what analytic philosophers generally conceive as ‘metaphysics’ is something more modest than great philosophers in the Western or Eastern traditions have regarded as metaphysics. Some regard modesty as a virtue. I regard it as is a reason to be dissatisfied with analytic philosophy but not a reason to shun that tradition. A university degree, together perhaps with some more adventurous reading of your own, would be the best of both worlds.