Is it very difficult to read, digest and understand philosophy without a class or instructor? I want to start reading some by Plato or Descartes but I'm sorta worried I'm in over my head.
Definitely find some secondary sources or a good annotated edition of the works. In the case of older philosophers, a lot of time you read them and think "Well that's obvious, of course that's true" but their significance is either a response to certain historical contexts we're not familiar with or perhaps a word being used in a way that you don't grasp the full significance of. So yes, by diving into the work without help it will go over your head, no question, but you don't need to have an instructor on hand to discuss it with either.
Thanks guys. I'm excited to get into it. I'll see which editions have annotations and i'll see if theres guides on the internet elsewhere.
Read slowly and try to ask constantly throughout the reading and get to the core question the dialogue ask in case of Plato. I also find Xenophon as pretty good start as he can bring issues more on surface.
I also tend to read Leo Strauss commentary\listen to available lectures as he tend to point things easier to miss and attack more the subtext.
also try to read Aristophanes Clouds as its can shed different light along Xenophon on Socrates.
>Leo Strauss commentary
That's like instead of fucking your girlfriend solo, you watch Strauss fuck her first, then you do it whilst subconsciously emulating Strauss' fucking style.
You philosophical cuck.
Not your interlocutor but a good commntary as I presume Strauss wrote is a help. It can make things more beautiful and alive. Though one shouldn't rely on one commentary alone.
You should read it first and see what you get out of it by yourself though. Then a commentary seeing where you agree and disagree, what you didn't notice and what you changed your mind on.
I use such tools after I read or for specific questions that brought to my mind throughout the reading.
he tend to be connected to text quite heavily and I find that he does bring valid points that interesting to consider and develop as well as to see how he derive them and learn form it.
Plato can be tough, the language is pretty easy and youll understand well enough, but in my experience a professor or anyone who has studied the texts extensively will show you the much broader and "deeper" questions the Dialogues actually reveal. I remember a very interesting argument that related Platos The Stranger to set theory and what it takes for an idea to be and idea. Something the dialogue itself wouldve never let on itself, atleast to me.
Kant is tough but beautiful, I think people overrate his difficulty. If you take it slow, jot down notes and note how deliberate and careful his wordchoice is you wont have a problem. I understood most of the Groundwork on my own, albeit after several readings and writing many essays about it. Also remember that the bulk is his philosphy is merely unpacking the box of common sense.