Am I too dumb to read Philosophy?
I had never read any before, but I found myself interested in 'The Myth of Sisyphus' by Camus, not really knowing what it would be like to read. I am struggling a lot.
Did I pick the wrong book for my level? Am I too dumb? For a complete beginner philosophy seems really overwhelming to get into. Do I really need to start right at the beginning with greeks?
I guess I would ask for a good book on absurdism for someone like me, but looking it up it seems like 'Sisyphus' is THE book.
philosophers build on each other. its as if you skipped to book 5 and had trouble understanding what was going on. however, the myth of sisyphus is special in that camus' reference of other philosophers is so shallow that you could easily read it with a guide.
>Do I really need to start right at the beginning with greeks?
"The entire history of western philosophy may be thought of as a series of footnotes to Plato" - paraphrase of a quote I read somewhere
It's pretty facetious but also accurate. Your ability to jump around in the history of philosophy goes up exponentially once you're familiar with Plato and Aristotle.
>but looking it up it seems like 'Sisyphus' is THE book.
The Myth of Sisyphus is a nearly awful book, it's the philosophical equivalent of Brief History of Time or any divulgative work.
If you want to learn philosophy, I'm afraid it is true that you need to start with the greeks. Just have in mind that in practice we hardly study the whole book of any philosopher.
The professor usually assigns a few chapter and some secondary material. This is what you have to not only read but study, and you must remember it well enough to answer any questions related.
I'd suggest you to check The Presocratic Philosophers by Kirk & Raven, that's the book I used in my Ancient Philosophy class before getting into Plato and Aristotle.
Honestly some authors are simply harder to read than others. Sometimes this is because they're bad writers like Kant, and sometimes the subject matter they're dealing with is simply that crazy and nuanced and ineffable. The first time I read Shakespeare was a pain, but now I can read him with little frustration. Some of that is simply being better at parsing apart the words and sentences, and some of that is having better context for catching references to other authors and historic events, and some of that is being better informed about Shakespeare's larger body of work so that I am better at identifying references to his own ideas. All of these principles are just as applicable in reading philosophy, and my point in saying all this is that it can be very appropriate to think of reading philosophy as a skill you need to work at. I find it to be a very rewarding skill to practice and work on, and lord knows I'm not nearly so good as I'd like to be. But I would encourage you not to give up, but do consider giving attention to easier authors at first if you are struggling, or if the thinkers that interest you are all difficult at least take a look at reading some introductions or supplementary material on them. Lord knows there's bound to be a universe of "introductions" to Camus.