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N0name's avatar

Which are the best philosophers discussing philosophy of life/value of life?

Asked by N0name (180 points ) December 6th, 2012

Greetings!

I am doing a paper on different views on the meaning and value of life, and the implication of these on various fields of science (genetics, artificial insemination, stem cell research, etc.).

My goal is to present different theories on life throughout history, and track their development, to better understand their curent form.

I began my research today, and would like to ask you for some helpful suggestions, as I am rather new to philosophy.
I decided to first look into the work of Peter Singer.

Thank you for your suggestions and help.

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9 Answers

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the100thmonkey's avatar

Obviously, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

See also Diogenes. Kierkegaard might be interesting. Nietzche, Marx, Camus, Sartre.

wildpotato's avatar

I recommend beginning with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Then, to jump forward quite a bit, maybe try Immanuel Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics – it’s like Critique of Pure Reason (his great work), but condensed.

These two are a good start, and will take you a bit to get through. If you’re really ambitious and ok with writing that is not straightforward (to put it mildly), my favorite book on your topic is Jacques Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am.

@the100thmonkey You engage in a common mistake: Socrates never wrote a word – or if he did, we have none today. Plato wrote about Socrates in his Socratic Dialogues. Also, I disagree with your recommendation of both Camus and Sartre – the latter wrote much more of an actual discussion of existentialism, the former illustrated it in his novels. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness is probably sufficient for the OP’s purposes; no need to go reading The Stranger for more info. Though it’s a great read in its own right.

dabbler's avatar

Above are great recommendations, to which I’d add the Bhagavad Gita. The author of that is unclear but it maps out some fundamentals of how to understand one’s purpose and duty.

LostInParadise's avatar

As a good starting point, I recommend Michael Sandel’s book Justice He covers the views of Aristotle, utilitarians, libertarians, Kant and the more recent philosopher John Rawls. What is nice is that the book is very conversational, with discussions of many contemporary topics, some of which touch on the ones you mention, like stem cell research. You can also look at the lectures that the book is based on.

N0name's avatar

Thank you very much! Your recommendations are much appreciated.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Robert Pirsig, Deleuze & Guattari, Karen Barad

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the100thmonkey's avatar

@wildpotato – there’s no need to read Camus?

You are dead to me.

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