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u/ThMogget · 1 pointr/philosophy

>Things are made of behaviors that are made of behaviors
>Well this claim is disputable. One might simply reply that science only observes behaviors but has a blind spot on ontological reality. This was a criticism even Russel (and others) raised.

I don't mind making claims that are disputable, as long as they are reasonable. Do you accept that it is possible that there are only behaviors, and that such a description is coherent and useful, if possibly open to being wrong? I am quite pleased that you see that this behaviors-only view is informed by and compatible with science - that was my primary goal.

Yes science only observes behaviors, and it is able to say a great deal about the world with just that. While it is good to keep an eye out for these blind spots, I am still waiting for the god or platonic object of the gaps to rear its head and be relevant. Do you claim to know there is actually something in the blind spot worth caring about?

>It highlights the world in a very different way... which might not fit the narrow mechanistic vision we all try to fit everything now, but there is no reason to think such mechanistic view is true, in fact there are good reasons to think it's not correct. Thomas Nagel (not a religious guy at all) presents a good case in his book Mind and Cosmos 1

Thanks for that source. I have added it to my audible list, but I can tell from the title and and little poking around wikipedia that someone is about to argue for the mind to somehow be special and magical and mystical, as separate from the rest of the cosmos. I have heard the name Nagel thrown around too much to not read this.

>First I think it's pretty clear that the distinction between a table and a tree does exist, since tree grow, but tables are something that are necessarily imposed by humans on a tree.

A tree and a table are different whether that table was made by humans or by natural forces. You can make a table that grows, at least in theory, just as you can have a brain-in-a-vat thought experiment. You could also just grow a tree into a table. If your metaphysics is limited by what humans do, it will have a built-in lack of imagination.

To contradict your point, the difference between the table and tree is just one of arrangement and behavior. A car that is running because it has fuel and spark doesn't have a magical life essence or a quality of moving - its parts are just moving because they are arranged right. A broken car behaves different from working one, as its arrangement is different. I will say it again - Any unique arrangement of matter has unique causal powers. What you are doing is drawing special importance to some arrangements and behaviors over others. To me they are all just arrangements. The difference between living and dead, conscious or not, thermonuclear or not, reactive alkali or not, radioactive or not, these are all important things to notice, but they don't exist in different worlds or different sets of descriptions. They are all behaviors that result from behaviors. You can fill libraries with the very important differences and details here, but you cannot claim that properties or consciousness or qualia are metaphysically special. All that is results from the mechanistic behavior of things. My additional claim beyond garden-variety materialism is that you can eliminate the mech and just say behavior.

>The "field view" seems to reflect what we observe experimentally, but this does not mean necessarily it is ontologically true ... Right about 120 years ago scientists thought their physical view of the world was complete and done

It sounds to me like two completely different topics here. One is accuracy of a model to fit data, either existing data or new data coming out. I just asked you to not confuse the map and the terrain, and here you are doing it. We went from a model that fit the data well under a materialistic paradigm, to a better model that fit better data well still under a materialistic paradigm. What has changed is map, what has not changed is science's continued confidence that the terrain is mechanistic and can be described ever better by only doing better and better models with better and better data. At no point was materialism upended, and it is materialism we are talking about here, not any one scientific model.

What do you mean by ontologically true, anyway? It doesn't sound like it matters how accurate the latest model is to the latest observations of reality. Is a better map more ontologically true to the terrain? Or are you talking about some feature of reality that cannot be described by an infinitely precise model, because it really works by magic? If so, no level of precision or completeness of science will sway you.

I think essentialism is another attempt to add meaningless dualism with another name attached to it. I would check out this "Real Essentialism", but 50 bucks for a paperback is steep.

u/byrd_nick · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Overview of the Week's Blog Posts

>Skepticism about free will has become ever more prominent. If one browses the popular science section of any large bookshop or flicks through recent popular science magazines, one is likely to come across some books or articles arguing that free will is an illusion: a left-over from an outmoded, pre-scientific way of thinking that has no place in modern science. The authors typically cite some influential neuroscientific studies that appear to undermine the idea of free will by showing that human actions are caused not by our intentional mental states, but by physical processes in the brain and body. More broadly, if everything in the universe is governed by the laws of physics, and our actions are part of that universe, then how could those actions be free? This line of reasoning, in turn, puts pressure on our traditional notions of responsibility. How could it make sense to hold anyone responsible for their actions if those actions weren’t done out of this person’s own free will?
>Such skepticism about free will is not yet the mainstream view among the general public. Nor is it the mainstream view among academic philosophers, the majority of whom are “free-will compatibilists”: proponents of the thesis that free will – perhaps after some definitional tweaking – is compatible with a law-governed, even deterministic universe. But free-will skepticism is on the rise, as illustrated by Sam Harris’s best-selling book, Free Will (2012). Many free-will skeptics have a noble moral motive, alongside their scientific motivation: they find the present criminal justice systems in many countries unjust and wish to argue for criminal justice reform. But one can certainly agree on the need for an overhaul of our criminal justice systems and advocate a more rehabilitative and less retributivist approach, while still thinking that it is a philosophical mistake to throw the notion of free will out of the window. Moreover, the idea of free will is central to our human self-understanding as agents, independently of its relevance to criminal justice. How, for instance, could we genuinely deliberate about which course of action to take – say, when we choose a job, a partner, or a political cause we wish to endorse – if we didn’t take ourselves to be free in making this choice?
>In my book, Why Free Will is Real (Harvard University Press, 2019), I offer a new defence of free will against the growing skepticism. Crucially, I do not proceed by denying science or watering down the definition of free will. Rather, my aim is to show that if we understand the lessons of a scientific worldview correctly, the idea of free will – in a fairly robust sense – is not just consistent with such a worldview but supported by it. In short, I argue that there is a naturalistic case for free will.
>In this series of blog posts, I will first describe what I take to be the main challenges for free will from a scientifically informed perspective and then explain what my strategy is for answering those challenges. And I will illustrate this strategy by zooming in on the most widely discussed challenge, namely the challenge from determinism. Of course, I will only be able to sketch some key ideas relatively informally; more detailed and precise arguments can be found in the book itself, as well as in some of my earlier articles (available on my webpage).

The Rest of the Blog Post(s)

Use the link from the OP to find the rest of the blog post summarized above as well as the remaining blog posts from Christian List throughout the week.

The Podcast Version

You can listen to Christian List discuss their book Why Free Will Is Real on the New Books in Philosophy podcast here:

u/gnomicarchitecture · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I think the best route is to trick her into being interested in books. I think I just might have a trick for that.

Send her the wikipedia article for "trolley problem", and then send her the wiki article on judith thomson's violinist argument in favor of abortion. Then send her a link to parfit's transporter thought experiment. It's ideal if you can find versions of these online which are easy to read and presented in a cool manner. (blog entries are ideal for this. Here's a blog entry on parfit's teletransporter:

Then buy her What If...collected thought experiments in philosophy off amazon or ebay. A used one will be cheap, or take it out from the library and renew it online while she uses it. If she got intrigued by the above thought experiments, and is intrigued by strange paradoxes about truth, like the liar paradox, or leibniz's law, then she will absolutely love this book. It's full of one-page, easily consumable versions of thought experiments, and then the page next to that one contains elaboration on the experiment and current work on it. One of my favorites in there is Max Black's two spheres, which seem to violate leibniz's law. A fun alternative to this, with bite sized philosophy things is "plato and a platypus walk into a bar".

If she continues to show interest in these, you can feed her new information about them via blogs like peasoup and thoughts, arguments, and rants, by googling the name of blogs like these next to a particular paradox or thought experiment, e.g. "thoughts arguments and rants moores paradox". This will lead you to new work by contemporary philosophers on the subjects, which may feed her interest into what it is that philosophers actually do. Eventually this may prompt her to want to read a full book on philosophy, to have a more mature understanding of how these paradoxes and TE's work, then you could get her the very interesting Think by simon blackburn, which is a general intro to philosophy, or the shorter very short introduction books. You can work up to more advanced, interesting work from there (like David Lewis' On the plurality of worlds, which opens the trippy possibility that all possibilities are realities).

Hope she enjoys her reading!

u/xonoph · 1 pointr/philosophy

I recommend the Wadsworth website. This link is to their timeline series:
They also have by topic and by philosopher.
Another good website, mentioned by others, is Squashed Philosophers, but it has a different purpose (to skim original works).

If you prefer audiobooks, there's a good lecture series, Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition:
You probably don't need the whole 84 lectures, just a few of the bigger names like Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein will give you a solid foundation.

For books, Philosophy Made Simple is a solid entry level intro,

I also like from Socrates to Satre
Which goes in for just a few big names, and has a companion tv show.

There's no definitive anything, and probably better than these that I'm not aware of, but a good approach is to graze a little from a few different introductory books, aiming to familiarise yourself with terms and names - and then graze again to get a slightly deeper insight into how they connect etc.

u/hoaxium · 11 pointsr/philosophy

>I want to give my future kids the same opportunity that my parents gave me when they decided to reproduce, I want to bring them out of the void of unbeing and introduce them to all the wonder and the pain of being real.

The issue I have with this is that it's always a selfish act (having children), you cannot have a child for the child's sake. There is no way to gain consent currently from a non-existent person, but that consent is absolutely needed if you're to have any moral ground on having children. Who are you to speak for these people you act to know best for? How can you guarantee they will want to live, and will not suffer? You're essentially stealing the dice from another person and throwing them for them w/o consent and gambling with their life.

I wish my parents had the forethought to think perhaps I might not enjoy this horrible game we're all caught up in, and that bliss of void, which we all hopefully go back to anyways, might be much much much more loving and peaceful.

Cheerful optimism does far more harm than good, especially when it concerns antinatalism. We're still incapable of not forcing life on those that willfully wish to end it with dignity. We're scary with our imposition of life.

>Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence.

u/Coloradical27 · 3 pointsr/philosophy

Hi, I have a degree in Philosophy and teach Philosophy/English to high schooler. The following advice and recommendations are what I give my students who are interested in philosophy. I would not recommend Kant as an introduction (not that he's bad, but he is difficult to understand). Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a book that explains philosophical topics and questions through humor and uses jokes to illustrate the concepts. It is accessible and thought provoking. If you are interested in logic you might enjoy Logicomix. It is a graphic novel that gives a biographical narrative of Bertrand Russell, an English philosopher whose work is the basis of all modern logic. It is not a book about logic per se, but it does give a good introduction to what logic is and how it can be used. Also, Russell's book A History of Western Philosophy is a good place to start your education in philosophy. If you are interested in atheism, read Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion. This book goes through the most common arguments for the existence of God, and debunks them using logic and reasoning. Good luck and read on!

u/[deleted] · 19 pointsr/philosophy

I'm not /u/hungrystegosaurus, but here are a few personal suggestions:

Philosophy on the whole -- Copleston is the standard and for good reason

Early Greek philosophy -- Nietzsche has a relatively accessible and worthwhile overview on many Greek sages that I found to be a supremely helpful, though controversial, introduction

Plato -- Very, very tough to recommend any good introduction to his work taken holistically, but I'll go out on a limb and recommend something Straussian, which is a little tough for a first-timer but grounds Platonic philosophy in living moral and political issues OP is likely more familiar with. Shorter dialogues like the Meno and the Apology might also be worth checking out

Aristotle -- Forget the abstruse metaphysics; stick with the ethics. The Cambridge intro is adequate

Renaissance / Enlightenment philosophy -- Not my primary interest, but rather than plunging into Kant, try something like the Novum Organum by Bacon, which is an admirably clear laying-out of the Enlightenment project, written without impenetrable jargon and in a digestible aphoristic style

Nietzsche -- Most anything by Kaufmann will do, but this is a nice piece

Heidegger -- Richard Polt's introduction

Existentialism in general -- Not a written reference, but this video lecture series by Solomon, an excellent UT philosophy professor, makes for a nice companion

Contemporary philosophy -- /u/ReallyNicole, one of this subreddit's moderators, would be able to offer a ton of great introductory material. She's sort of a pro at linking to articles

This is barely scratching the surface, but scratching the surface is more than enough. If OP can get through even half of this material in a year or two's time, he'll be well on his way to developing his philosophical faculties and familiarity.

To recommend motherfucking Being and Time or the Critique of Pure Reason (without supplemental aids, no less) to a 17-year-old novice is so egregiously, maddeningly, ball-shrivelingly stupid and such wholly, purely, offensively bad advice that I honestly wouldn't mind seeing /u/JamieHugo permanently banned from this subreddit for corrupting the youth.

u/calenture9 · 3 pointsr/philosophy

Although I would love to say "read Kant" or "read Wittgenstein" or "read Sartre" or "start with Plato" I don't think you would get a really good start to reading philosophy because sometimes they can get a little complicated.

I think the best way to get introduced to Philosophy is to learn a little bit about a bunch of philosophers and their philosophies.

So seeing that you are 16, there is a great book that was written called "Sophie's World" It's a novel about a girl around your age who studies philosophy but it touches upon almost every major philosopher and it's not too harsh of a read. The plot is ok and the dialogue is miserable but I think it gives a good sampling of the major philosophers that is on a reading level for your age.

If you want a great book touching upon the major philosophers - there's always Bertrand Russell's "The History of Western Philosophy" The reading level is more advanced than Sophie's World but you get a very in depth perspective of the major philosophers from a major philosopher.

And then again, you can try to read a philosophical writing. If you're going to try that, I think Plato is an easy beginning along with Descartes.

u/philosarapter · 1 pointr/philosophy

I do enjoy myself some Alan Watts, truly a wise man.

I'd recommend reading the book "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter; In it he talks about feedback loops, specifically ones which are self-referential. He then goes on to make the case that our sense of "I" is an side effect of the way we perceive.

As per your edit:

That user states "If the self is an illusion, then who experiences the illusion?"

I think that may be a loaded question, it is assuming a 'who'. Perhaps it is rather a 'what'. "What is experiencing the illusion?" I'd answer the same mind that created it. I believe that our minds operate within many linking feedback loops.

For example: You see something you want, your hand reaches out to grab it, you see the hand reaching out and grabbing it. Your mind combines the 'want' and the movement of the hand and bundles them together. You then believe that: "I" wanted that and so "I" reached out for it. After enough time, this "I" begins to seem very real to us.

u/SubDavidsonic · 3 pointsr/philosophy

Although this sort of historical approach may work for some people, and it will definitely give you a very good background, it certainly didn't work for me. I wanted to get ideas that were articulated in easy to understand contemporary terms that I could grapple with right away without having to worry about interpreting them correctly first.

I started in early high school, after being recommended by a friend who was majoring in philosophy at the time with The Philosophy Gym by Stephen Law which gave a great and really readable introduction to a lot of philosophy problems. Depending on your previous knowledge of philosophy, it might be a bit basic, but even still it's a worthwhile read I think.

From then, I went on The Mind's I by Daniel Dennett and Douglass Hofstadter, which was a really good and fun introduction to philosophy of mind and related issues. After that I think you'll have enough exposure to dive into various subjects and authors that you come across.

u/ArtifexR · 6 pointsr/philosophy

After reading a couple of the replies, it came to me that you might enjoy reading Sophie's world. It's a novel, but also a general introduction to Philosophy. Since you're sort of 'starting over' in terms of personal philosophy and looking at the world in a new way, you might find Sophie's journey comforting and fun as well. I picked it up a few years ago while I was living in Japan and couldn't put it down:

note: I'm linking to the Amazon page because it describes the book better than the Wikipedia page, imho.

u/Huckster · 3 pointsr/philosophy

This doesn't really have a lot to do with answering your question, but for a fun take on Russell's life, read the graphic novel Logicomix ( The author takes some liberties with Russell's life, but a lot of the story is accurate and does give a fun romp through the world of philosophy and mathematics at the turn of the last century.

u/SolipsistBodhisattva · 8 pointsr/philosophy

First i want to clarify that this is not a direct quote of Epictetus, it is from a book on Stoicism called A guide to the good life and it is a somewhat altered version (but more accurate i believe) of Epictetus' own "dichotomy of control". However, i think that this version better represents what Epictetus was trying to say.
The closest quote we have that relates to this is from the Enchiridion and it is as follows (note that the Enchiridion was not written by Epictetus, he never wrote anything, but compiled from notes by his pupil Arrian).

"Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions."

Now to answer your question, Stoicism was a complex philosophy with a long history and with branches in metaphysics, ethics and logic. This illustrates one of the main ideas of the ethics of stoicism, which strove to be "free of the (negative) passions" through the use of a variety of exercises (askesis). The core of this is illustrated in the image, though of course, it is not the whole story. To see how stoics practiced these ideas, one must look at Arrians notes of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius' meditations (a hypomnema, a type of philosophical diary was another form of stoic practice), and Seneca's letters.
Hope this helps

u/lulzmao · 2 pointsr/philosophy

It starts with why you are interested in philosophy. Begin with your personal areas of interest (looks like you have a head-start there).

  • Route 1: I like Routledge and Cambridge stuff for general surveys, which is really where most folks should start before moving on to heavy-duty original text, imho.

  • Route 2: Chronological study is ok too, getting a history of philosophy book or series of them, learning what the canon is and then knocking out original texts from era to era, it's just not for everyone.

    Perhaps a mix of both...

    While true that there is no substitute for original texts, a little mediation to provide context and framework (which you can later disregard if you so choose) isn't so bad. In fact, that's what you're doing by coming to Reddit!
u/Buffalo__Buffalo · 0 pointsr/philosophy

>For those interested in Seneca anybody ever, I can highly recommend this superb collection. Reading him played a major part in sparking my interest in philosophy.


u/Moontouch · 4 pointsr/philosophy

For those interested in Seneca, I can highly recommend this superb collection. Reading him played a major part in sparking my interest in philosophy.

u/megasuperplan · 13 pointsr/philosophy

While these are all incredibly important books that outline the major chronological achievements in philosophy, I don't think that starting with ancient philosophy and working your way up is always the best move. Some of ancient philosophy is drawn out and can be intimidating to someone who's never read philosophy before, and reading whole books can be a daunting process. These are all books that would be necessary to read if one were getting a degree in philosophy, but OP is just interested in learning more on a casual level. I would recommend starting with an overview of modern problems of philosophy, like Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy. If OP is interested in learning more about specific philosophers I always found that The History of Western Philosophy is a good place to start. And of course the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy will always have more.

u/andrew_richmo · 2 pointsr/philosophy

For those new to philosophy, I'd recommend The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher, as well as Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. I'm not all the way through the second one but it seems interesting. These are fairly simple but interesting introductory books that teach you some of the issues philosophers deal with.

Hope this helps!

u/Marthman · 2 pointsr/philosophy

>I do enjoy myself some Alan Watts, truly a wise man.

Coincidentally, right after I asked my questions about free will in relation to the self, I got to the part in wisdom of insecurity where he speaks on free will. It seems he takes a compatiblist approach.

>I'd recommend reading the book "I Am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter; In it he talks about feedback loops, specifically ones which are self-referential. He then goes on to make the case that our sense of "I" is an side effect of the way we perceive.

This makes a lot of sense. I don't know if it was you or another poster I was reading, but they used the phrase "_____ unto itself" which I had to look up and discovered basically refers to what one could call a feedback loop. I'm going to go check the book out as soon as I'm done typing this, so thank you!

>As per your edit:

>That user states "If the self is an illusion, then who experiences the illusion?"

>I think that may be a loaded question, it is assuming a 'who'. Perhaps it is rather a 'what'. "What is experiencing the illusion?" I'd answer the same mind that created it. I believe that our minds operate within many linking feedback loops.

While I wouldn't have been able to articulate further as you did, the first thing that caught my eye was his intentional use of "who" rather than "what" as well.

u/NinesRS · 1 pointr/philosophy

> assume you might be thinking bout some of the experiments that show we can observe what decision a person will make before they are conscious of the decision

Not at all, although I'm familiar with those as well. Rather, there's demonstrable evidence that you have no free agency in exercising your mind to bring about specific conscious thought on demand. Further, that your biology and your environment are the driving forces that shape your nuerodevelopment, neither of which you have any command of. Thus, by extension, 'you' are the product of concurrent and prior processes that you do not control.

To return to your example,

>Did the neurons that make up my mind not weigh the options and produce an answer on their own?

Yes, and chose an answer based on the sum of your experiences that you had no true free agency in experiencing, and neither did your ancestor's whose biology you share that informed that conclusion.

See: Sam Harris on Free Will, for a deep dive into this topic. Essay Book Lecture

u/CmdrNandr · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I would also recommend Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar. I found the book extremely entertaining because of the corny jokes (and some of them are god awful), and it made some schools of philosophy easier to understand for me.

There is also a new blog someone from Reddit started yesterday, and it is highly entertaining.

u/Ascythopicism · 1 pointr/philosophy

From Socrates to Sartre gives a pretty good overview. Yes, there are many gaps, but by the end of the book you should have a pretty good framework that you can work off of.

u/iDante · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Ooooooh my friend you have entered into the realm of a particular book that I recommend to anyone who is able to think: Gödel, Escher, Bach. From the intro, "In a word, GEB is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate being can come out of inanimate matter. What is a self and how can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle." It won the Pulitzer Prize long ago and is overall amazing. Its author has worked with Dennett on other publications about intelligence too, such as The Mind's I.

That being said, it's quite a difficult and mathy read, but well worth it IMO.ödel-Escher-Bach-Eternal-Golden/dp/0465026567

u/C_M_Burns · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I know I'm tardy to the party, but I found that it's best to start with general surveys of philosophy, so you're exposed to a wide range of thought, then narrowing down your interests.

Personally, I found the following to be the most helpful:

From Socrates to Sartre: The Philosophic Quest


What Does It All Mean?

The Problems of Philosophy

u/platochronic · 3 pointsr/philosophy

I would recommend an introductory book. Personally, I suggest Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. But if you really want to understand it, you're going to have to get in the habit of reading slowly and rereading until you really understand it. And have a dictionary and look up of all of the words you don't know.

If you finish the book, I guarantee your entire perspective on life will be completely different. Not necessarily for the better, as some people learn more than they bargain for. But if you finish and really want to learn more, I can give you other good introductions.

u/samiiRedditBot · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I also enjoyed The Passion Of The Western Mind by Richard Tarnas. Personally, I think that Tarnas did of better job than Russel at giving context to the philosophical frameworks that these guys were working within, but that's just my opinion (I've read both books). Russell comes across like a professor giving you his specific interpretation - hence the bias slant - where as Tanas seems able to give you a little more perspective - not that I'm attempting to claim that he is completely without bias, himself.

You might also what to look into Sophie's World.

u/notwhoithink · 1 pointr/philosophy

Sam Harris has written a shot but excellent book on the topic of "free will" and how it relates to our current understanding of neuroscience. It is called, oddly enough, Free Will

u/nukeio · 2 pointsr/philosophy

It is hard to find books that really square this topic, and I'm not sure of your exposure so I'm going to suggest some fun fiction works to start you off.
The Diamond Age is a good book to express some of the computer science concepts.


Cryptonomicon is good to understand how some of Turing's ideas were understood.

For actual philosophy ideas I recommend just ordering some heavier works that are harder to get through like


German Idealism

History of Western Philosophy

And (while I hesitate to mention it because I worry about the backlash on /r/philosophy) I think that Philosophy: Who Needs It is important to read if only to argue with people that believe in Ayn Rand's teachings.

I'll leave it at that for now. Most of what I've learned about this have been by reading Wikipedia and random usenet and irc posts. Books that are succinct and good are hard to come by.

u/Cocomorph · 3 pointsr/philosophy

> will never have them

I really wish I had time to write a lengthier comment, because this question is an interesting one that's the subject of a lot of active research.

Some books you might be interested in, all of which are accessible to the general reader (with a few scattered technical bits here and there):

u/psykocrime · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I've been reading A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. So far it strikes me as a pretty accessible work. I also like that he's big on historical context.

I also picked up a copy of Main Currents of Western Thought at a used bookstore, and it seems like a useful book for a relative newb as well.

u/rhuarch · 3 pointsr/philosophy

I've been looking at this book as a way to introduce my kids to logic and critical thinking: The Fallacy Detective.

Also, if you haven't seen the philosophy comics, they are worth a look. These are really more for teenagers I think, but they look really good.

u/nmaturin · 1 pointr/philosophy

This may be too simplistic for what you're looking for, but Sophie's World is a pretty good introduction to philosophy.

u/Estamio2 · 1 pointr/philosophy

You were categorizing people. Everybody you classified would describe themselves with a "originality and personal individuality".

(i just pasted your wording so my sentence probably is bit awkward).

I was trying to expand on your notice that all of us can be 'grouped' which emphasizes the same-ness and non-originality of everybody.

"In a class by himself" actually becomes the set of "class by himself" (old philosophical problem...).

I was just playing with your (unintentional?) point that "people are easier to portion-out than to dig for their "original personality", which then could be further typed-out until, really, no one is 'in a class by himself'.

This is an Amazon post for a graphic novel you will probably get through a library (if you dig that sort of thing) that touches on the problems with "sets".


u/adam_dorr · 1 pointr/philosophy

I think you would enjoy Sam Harris's book, Free Will. It confirms and explores many of the insights you have had, and provides a good deal of interesting evidence from cognitive neuroscience to support your suspicion that our brains operate deterministically.

u/jez2718 · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I think S. Blackburn's Think is an excellent introduction to some of the major areas in philosophy. You might also what to look at some of the philosophical books in the "Very Short Introduction" series, for example the Philosophy, Metaphysics, Ethics, Philosophy of Science and Free Will ones, which as you can guess are good places to start.

A book I quite enjoyed as an introduction to the great philosophers was The Philosophy Book, which not only gave clear descriptions of each of the philosophers' views, but also often gave a clear flowchart summary of their arguments.

u/Gamhorra · 1 pointr/philosophy

I think that A History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russell is one of the better places to start imho.

It will provide you a toes wet entry into a broad spectrum of western philosophy.

I'd likely think you'll get hooked on certain era's or persons and stick with them for a while. This isn't a bad thing, apply their thoughts to others perspectives and try your best to be critical of all.

u/quite_stochastic · 1 pointr/philosophy

If you're going to quote me, don't skew my meaning

> My argument was that minds are turing machines because as far as we know, minds are matter, and as far as we know minds are matter because that's what science tells us, and i will certainly revise should science come up with something else.

As my complete quoted statement should show, I am fully aware that science is no dogmatic source of authority with a single voice. Science is always revising itself, and there are always debates within it.

>[the mind== matter hypothesis] is one hypothesis among several, and with less evidence than the other available ones.

>There are thousands of scientists, who issue books which are contradictory to one another. For example Raymond Tallis, a prominent neuro-scientist, argues that mind =/= matter:

It seems that you've been reduced to simply protesting that there exists disagreement among intelligent people. I will allow that the mind body problem isn't a simple problem, many years from now if a consensus is reached, many smart people will be proven wrong. Even so, your characterization of the controversy on this topic that exists within the field of neuroscience specifically is hyperbolic, like so many other things you say.

Importantly, you say you have evidence but the only evidence you've given that the mind isn't matter is your very controversial interpretation of godel and turing that every professor of logic I've spoken to or heard of (not the least of which is OP) absolutely do not endorse, godel's own side musings notwithstanding.

Furthermore, I must ask you, what then is mind? You by your own admission several posts ago, have no idea, you don't even have a guess. Now imagine yourself a neuroscientists, trying to figure out how the mind works. You have before you a human brain, in or outside of a living human body, all of which is matter. What else are you possibly going to study? You cannot step outside of this without stepping into some kind of religion, platonism, or mysticism, neither of which can be studied by science, induction, or even logic. I've spoken to lots of neuroscience professors, and this was their clear consensus. Some respectfully did not rule out religion or platonism but they certainly decried its presence in science. As I said, within neuroscience, the presumption that mind==matter isn't controversial.

By the way if you're gonna throw a book at me, I will return the favor, in fact you may have even heard of this book by cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter.

>The reason it is circular is because in OP, the author omitted one of Kurt Godel's explanations for the Incompleteness Theorem -- the one that said that mind =/= matter -- and I corrected him on that. 4-5 replies later you jump in, and presuppose that mind = matter, oblivious to the fact that this was already discussed and challenged before you ever were in the picture.

I will only say that this is a completely unreasonable caricature of what was said in this thread.

u/sinnnnner · 8 pointsr/philosophy

I like to recommend Simon Blackburn's Think as a primer. I would try reading Descartes' Meditations, Aristotle's 'Posterior Analytics', and perhaps G. E. Moore's Philosophical Papers (particularly his essay 'A Defense of Common Sense') alongside Blackburn's book. The recommendations in the sidebar have a few good suggestions (Williams, Blackburn, etc.) for introductory works on ethics.

u/ThereIsNoJustice · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I sat down and read about five books on Stoicism a couple months ago. I've considered myself a Stoic since then. Besides the older texts, I recommend A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. It's a great book.

One thing in it, I have to share. Epictetus says that there are things within our control and that there are things out of our control. If we focus on what's in our complete control only (our internal thoughts, goals, dispositions), we can be sure to be happy/tranquil. And then there are things like the sun rising tomorrow or not, which we have no control over -- and it is a complete waste of time to spend energy on (“Nothing is worth doing pointlessly.” - Marcus Aurelius). But wouldn't it be inaccurate to say we have no power over what people think of us? What Epictetus appears to present as a dichotomy is really a trichotomy. There are some things we have some but not complete control over. We can set our goals and thoughts to living virtuously in the external world, but obviously we can't base our goals on the external world and be "invincible" (as Irvine calls it). Our internal goal for the things we have some control over is to do our best. E.g. a person who bases their happiness on the outcome of a tennis match puts their happiness/tranquility on the line, opens themselves up to frustration and anger. The Stoic who invests himself in doing his best, has only incidental interest in the score, cannot fail, doesn't expose himself to frustration and anger.

u/ADefiniteDescription · 5 pointsr/philosophy

I thought this would be a fun piece to post on Mother's Day..

This blog post is written by David Benatar, a philosopher and ethicist most famous for giving the fullest defense of anti-natalism, the view that having children is morally problematic. Benatar outlines some of his views here, but the full position is found in his book Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.

If you're interested in that book but not enough to buy it or read the whole thing, two free reviews may be of interest:

  • Notre Dame Philosophical Review

  • Nous critical study

    There are also other anti-natalist philosophers you may be interested in. Most other anti-natalists are moderate anti-natalists, in that they believe there can be harms associated with procreation but it's not necessarily wrong (as opposed to Benatar, who believes that procreation is always morally wrong).

    One such philosopher is Rivka Weinberg, who did an AMA here on /r/philosophy last year, available here. There are also links to some of her work in the AMA blurb.
u/fredy · 6 pointsr/philosophy

That image is a figure (p 97) from "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" by William B. Irvine.

u/ZFGokuSSJ1 · 1 pointr/philosophy

The best way, I feel, is to read a summarization of the discourse. Read every volume in Frederick Copleston's A History of Western Philosophy. From there, delve into a specific philosopher—the obvious starting point is Plato, which is what I recommend.

u/Lawen · 1 pointr/philosophy

Sophie's World is a good recommendation. If you don't want fiction, I'd suggest (and have in other, similar threads) Simon Blackburn's Think as a good, high-level overview of Philosophy. I'd also pick up a text specifically about logic and/or critical thinking that covers basic argument structure and the common fallacies (perhaps The Philosopher's Toolkit ). After reading those, you should have a grasp on both how philosophers do their thing as well as an overview of the various topics in philosophy. From there, you can start reading more about the areas that particularly interest you.

u/illogician · 1 pointr/philosophy

Right, but I don't see how you can work bottom-up using reasons as a base. Reasons without supporting motivations ring hollow. Antonio Damasio's book Descartes' Error is a great source on this issue. Have you looked at any of the philosophical or psychological literature on the issue of the relation between reason and motivaiton?

u/Proverbs313 · 1 pointr/philosophy

Indeed. Materialism/physicalism is still the dominant view in the west but it seems to be undermined more and more as time goes on. I think its about time we move on from such an ancient paradigm and go with the evidence. Nagel has some awesome work on this in his book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False as published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

u/WaltWhitman11 · 1 pointr/philosophy

Richard Popkin's intro book Philosophy Made Simple is a pretty good resource I've found.

u/Sich_befinden · 1 pointr/philosophy

You seem to be suggesting some kind of creative evolution, which, despite its unpopularity, can have some strong arguments for it. If you're up for any reading, and curious about this idea and where the support from it comes from, I'd read Nagel's Mind & Cosmos, Bergson's Creative Evolution, or Scheler's The Human Place in the Cosmos.

u/TheFrigginArchitect · 3 pointsr/philosophy

from David C. Moses's amazon review of Russell's History of Western Philosophy

>Despite this book's well-deserved status as a classic work, it has some major flaws that a reader should keep in mind, all stemming from Russell's intolerance of viewpoints different from his own... Russell has no tolerance for systems of thought that do not conform to his preferences for democracy, atheism, pacifism, and social liberalism. So... Nietzsche is depicted as a warmonger... Russell's book is a great place to start, but to get a fair treatment of thinkers such as Rousseau and Nietzsche, it should be supplemented with material such as the chapters on those thinkers in Strauss and Cropsey's "History of Political Philosophy."

u/5py · 34 pointsr/philosophy

Even though your understanding of how choice works is correct, the conclusion that follows (life is "worthless") is false. You seem to be keen on explaining your depression with the fact that you have considered how choice works... but I feel like there's an underlying cause you didn't mention. You even hinted at this in your closing line (major factor means there are other factors at play).

I know this is /r/philosophy and not /r/psychology, but heck, I'm going to say it anyway: you might want to reconsider what the real reason is for your depression instead of (arrogantly) assuming that the "no-choice" life isn't good enough for you.

We do make choices, by the way. Every choice may be a culmination of past experiences and events but that doesn't mean there's not a lot to choose from. Introspection, reflection, meditation and creation can change us within the constraints of a formulaic universe.

Edit: Taking a risk here in /r/philosophy by suggesting this, but here goes: you might be interested in Sam Harris' "Free Will": Amazon link (I'd recommend getting it at The Book Depository alas, it's out of stock there).

u/spanK__ · -4 pointsr/philosophy

Throw in Sophie's World, arguably the best education fiction philosophy book for an intro. Essentially reads as a History of Philosophy 101 textbook framed in a narrative that has it's own philosophical twist and turns, which helps drive home the material.

u/smellegantcode · 1 pointr/philosophy

Most of us are unconscious several times in every 24 hour period, hopefully while safely in bed, so with so much discontinuity in our consciousness there is no reason to assume that today you possess "the same consciousness" as yesterday, but nor is there much of a reason to deny it either. It's a very typical metaphysical dilemma, in that it seems at first to suggest two distinct possibilities, one of which must be true and the other false, but on reflection it turns out there is no way (even in principle) to distinguish between them, so we may have been tricked by the appearance of a dilemma, but which just gives us two different ways of describing or approaching the same thing.

A common approach to creationism is to note that it describes an infinite set of possibilities: the universe might have been created at any instant in the past (even seconds ago) and you along with it, with all your memories in place so as to fool you into think the universe is much older. Much as fossils of dinosaurs are supposed to be a trick (put there by Satan?) in the more popular kinds of creationism.

Pretty much any idea that is likely to occur to us about minds/memory has occurred before to a lot of people and hence has been extensively written about by philosophers. Has anyone pointed you toward this book yet? It's a classic compendium of stuff along these lines.

u/aspartame_junky · 3 pointsr/philosophy

Given that Daniel Dennett has recently published a book on thought experiments called Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, I thought it would be good to show one of Dennett's most famous intuition pumps.

This section of the movie is based on Daniel Dennett's though experiment first published in Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology and reprinted in his famous compendium with Douglas Hofstadter, The Mind's I.

The original paper is available here and elsewhere online.

The movie itself is a documentary and dramatization of several themes in the book The Mind's I and includes an interview with Douglas Hofstadter earlier on.

u/witty82 · 5 pointsr/philosophy

I would consider reading Thomas Nagel's book "What does it all mean" as it gives you a good idea of what contemporary academic philosophy is like.

u/Fotorush · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I'm 16 and this book helped me get a handle on the basics
It's a bit corny, but it's understandable and goes through ethics, logic, metaphysics, etc, as well as some of the well known philosophers.
You can flip through the first few pages to get a feel for it.

u/RobotMugabe · 23 pointsr/philosophy

Check out David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been . Similar enough to be of interest I am sure.

u/PabloPicasso · 1 pointr/philosophy

For that age group, the hive mind usually recommends Gaarder's Sophie's World. I prefer Scruton's An Intelligent Person's Guide to Philosophy.

u/kingdumbcum · 1 pointr/philosophy

Can I offer some other choice reads that will make you question your rational decision based on "how it feels" we make decisions rather than how they "actually are made"? We can now do brain studies that show our unconscious brain makes our decisions before our conscious brain is even aware of the choices. We rationalize our decisions based on our emotions, not logic. The beautiful thing is we feel like we are the ones in charge, the 'I", me, you, they, she, he, whomever, but every single person is as predictable as our Earth's rotation around the sun.

Let's see, some interesting books with hundreds if not thousands of sources in them each: Subliminal, Free Will, Incognito to get you started.

Feelings are only feelings, they are an old response before our prefontal cortex made its appearance. Don't let those get in the way of learning about how we work. Sure it feels like the earth is flat, it feels bad when we get rejected, it feels like your conscious mind made that choice to get a burger over the salad, but don't let feelings get in the way of what's actually happening. It's all an illusion, man..

u/b3mus3d · 1 pointr/philosophy

What about sophie's world? Does a really good job of introducing the basic history and why philosophy is important. Although it's a kids book, so probably below her.

u/gerundpu · 7 pointsr/philosophy

Yes, and if you want to follow this deeper into the context of consciousness, check out this book: GEB

There's a series of chapters discussing the localization of brain functions. The author discusses a study on rat brains, in which maze-running rats had significant portions of their brains removed, and were allowed to heal. Most rats were still able to re-learn the maze.

u/rocky13 · 2 pointsr/philosophy

>If I’m going to want to learn philosophy, I’m going to have to open a book and do it myself.

Hey, good for you! I'm working through Philosophy Made Simple.

So far as I can tell it is doing a pretty good job of covering the basics.

Also, I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I agree a bad teacher does tend to put people off.

u/poor_yoricks_skull · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I would say that philosophy is the act of questioning.

I would posit the three pillars as grammer, logic and rhetoric.

To get a deeper understanding of those things, I would recommend reading any book you can on the "trivium"

But, the book I always recommend for people to start their philosophical journey is this

u/Routerbox · 9 pointsr/philosophy

I recommend some books to you:

Your sense of self, your "I", your mind, is produced by your brain, which is a physical structure that is not destroyed and remade during sleep. This is why you remember what happened yesterday. "You" are a pile of grey goo in a skull.

u/heyitsanne · 4 pointsr/philosophy

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar - amazon

Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy - wiki

And even though it is pretty heavy philosophy, I can't leave out David Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature - wiki

u/onyxleopard · 1 pointr/philosophy

I’m sorry I linked you to that page as it seems to say little about his philosophical and logical work (I’m confused as to why that is the case and it is my fault for not reading the page and assuming there was relevant information there when there isn't). He is probably most noted for Russell’s paradox. You may be interested in reading Logicomix. One of the coauthors is a computer scientist, and it will give you a better understanding of his work and also introduce you to some other philosophers interested in logic and its limits.

u/naasking · 5 pointsr/philosophy

The Guide to the Good Life for a practical approach with a little discussion of history.

u/suninabox · 1 pointr/philosophy

Just read Seneca Epistles 1 and Episltes 2.

These two include pretty much everything you'll find in Letters from a Stoic, which is one of the best books.

I highly recommend the letters on the Shortness of Life, On the Torment of Death, and On Rest and Restlessness.

You can pretty much ignore ignore anything he has to say about factual aspects of the universe, since by that time the Ionian scientific revolution had already started to fade, so there isn't much of value there, although Seneca tends to take a refreshing humility to the limits of knowledge, although occasionally he over steps the boundaries of what is reasonable to claim to know (specifically about the nature of "Nature").

u/HumeFrood · 3 pointsr/philosophy

A lot of Bertrand Russell's books are accessible, as long as you're willing to put up with some of his personal biases. There are arguably a lot of misinterpretations of individual philosophers in his book "A History of Western Philosophy," for example, but it can still give you a good general overview that's also very accessible. I've also heard nothing but good things about The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant. I haven't read it, but I've read other books by him and they're all very accessible.

u/spinman_ · 41 pointsr/philosophy

my flatmate got this Bertrand Russell graphic novel, it's damn good.
amazon link

guardian review

u/beeftaster333 · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Much of what you describe is just describing a basic take on human health and the life history of the person you see around you and interact with.

You would enjoy Sam harris I think:

Not to be a downer but I'd read up on neuroscience/research papers on human behavior. You should look for roots of instincts/feelings across species because if we have some instinct there most likely will be other examples in the history of life.

Just one example:


On reason and emotion:

u/pepto_dismal81 · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Will Durant's 'The Story of Philosophy' is what got me excited about the subject when i was a young man.

u/Pyrogenesis · 1 pointr/philosophy

First, join VHEMT (wiki because website is down) and then read this book.

u/RonWR · 1 pointr/philosophy

The same man giving this talk also wrote the most comprhensive book I know about western philosophy, he starts with the greeks and offers his opinion while going step by step through the past 2000 years, it's a very long read but you can always skip and move in eras and philosphoers according to what you find ineresting at the time .

u/KeenanW · 2 pointsr/philosophy

I prefer Frederick Copleston's History of Philosophy over Russell's. Copleston doesn't inject as much of himself in there as Russell does in his work.

u/unverified_user · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Before you read this, check out this Amazon review: here

u/mrhorrible · 2 pointsr/philosophy

"The Mind's I"

Read this. It's a bit long, but includes many very thorough discussions of exactly what you're asking and proposing.

u/FM79SG · 2 pointsr/philosophy

> Things are made of behaviors that are made of behaviors

Well this claim is disputable. One might simply reply that science only observes behaviors but has a blind spot on ontological reality. This was a criticism even Russel (and others) raised.


>I am pointing out that substance and accidents is a terrible way to describe the world

Terrible why? It highlights the world in a very different way... which might not fit the narrow mechanistic vision we all try to fit everything now, but there is no reason to think such mechanistic view is true, in fact there are good reasons to think it's not correct. Thomas Nagel (not a religious guy at all) presents a good case in his book Mind and Cosmos 1


>That distinction doesn't exist. There is no such thing a tree with a tendency to grow. The tendency of parts to grow and behave is the tree. The tree is the tendency, the behavior. Trees are the dynamic result of large scale movements that are the result of small scale movements. There are not separately substances and accidents - there is only one thing, not two. This dualistic idea is wrong because reality is mono. We do not have objects over here and properties of them over there. We do not have trees and their color, or the trees and their behavior separately.

Again you seem confused.
First I think it's pretty clear that the distinction between a table and a tree does exist, since tree grow, but tables are something that are necessarily imposed by humans on a tree.

You are trying to see some sort of dualism here which I am not describing, but definitively that "things = behavior" is a doubtful one. This in fact already breakdown if you think of animals and humans - unless you go the "Dennett route" thinking consciousness is just illusion (and that raises a whole lot more problems)

>That is why gold as a "collection of particles" is a substance, but gold nuggets isn't.

This is my mistake, I meant a "pile of nuggets" or something imposed on gold

>Again, I think this is a false distinction. If I gave you a chunk of metal, you couldn't cut down a tree with it. The axe's arrangement and the chunk's arrangement are very similar, and so they behave similar, but the axe has some causal powers that a chunk does not, and giving it a wood handle changes those further. An axe is composed of its parts, but it also does not behave as its individual bits would behave. Any unique arrangement of matter has unique causal powers.

We can agree on the last point you make but the difference is that again an axe structure is imposed externally on the substances.

The "behavior" to be an axe, is not something that exists in metal and wood itself, but something that is imposed on them and that's the difference.


>Arrangements are a convenient way of talking, but really nothing about that axe is holding still in a static position - the axe is a dance steel, and the steel is a dance of many different elements, that are dances, all the way down. Get enough steel in one place and hot enough, and it will glow and churn and produce a magnetic dynamo and continental plates on its surface. That is a very different set of causal powers of the axe, and yet they are made of the same steel. Get it hot enough, and it fuses into heavier elements. The macroscopic arrangment of things can force changes at smaller levels.

Yes arrangements are a conveninet way of talking, ans substance theory does not deny that.

And yes, again no disagreement here, the axe has many causal powers beyond that of an axe imposed purpose.. .and such causal powers derive from the powers of the substances the axe is made of.

>Don't confuse the map for the terrain. Our mathematical constructs of fields is an attempt to describe reality, but it is reality that is real, of course. That said, quantum field theory is a really close fit. A field is just something that can have a wiggle in it. We know there are wiggles, so we give it a field to wiggle in, but we aren't sure if it is even made of anything. Every thing you consider to be stationary and solid is a dance of dances of dances of wiggles.

Well technically a "field" is a mathematical idea.
A field is any set of elements that satisfies the field axioms for both addition and multiplication and is a commutative division algebra.

A field is called such because centuries ago gravity and electromagnetism were described mathematically as vector fields and now they are still described as such (but not mere vector see, gravity for example is a tensor field).

The "field view" seems to reflect what we observe experimentally, but this does not mean necessarily it is ontologically true and more importantly there are some problems (e.g. the Cosmological constant prediction) that clearly indicate that the theory is missing something...

Right about 120 years ago scientists thought their physical view of the world was complete and done - they even told Max Planck he should not get into theoretical physics because there was nothing to do there - but boy they were wrong on so many levels.

I think it's important to realize mathematical descriptions might work even if they do not actually reflect ontological reality.


In any case, we do not have to agree. If you want know more about substance theory and essentualism I'd recommend David S. Oderberg's "Real Essentialism"

In fact Oderberg can explain (and defend) this much better than I could ever do.

u/eatsleepravedad · 2 pointsr/philosophy

Useless, conceited, futurist masturbation.

You want the theoretical framework of AI, go study math and programming, then go read Russell & Norvig, or if you want philosophy without the practicality, Hofstadter.

u/mattrock23 · 2 pointsr/philosophy

What Does It All Mean? by Thomas Nagel

Stay away from The Problems of Philosophy by Betrand Russell, people recommend it as an introductory survey sometimes, but it's deeply biased into his views. Nagel's book simply puts forward and explains the main questions without really trying to answer them.

u/coldnever · 1 pointr/philosophy

Sorry but you don't understand that reasoning is unconscious it's been proven. That means that you don't literally understand what I'm saying you're attempting to reconstruct it using your own unconscious mind. This is why say religious people and secular people can't get along because they are using different dictionaries entirely.

That TED talk was made by a scientist, you do know that right? If you study the medical literature there are huge numbers of articles with regards to when our body breaks down that are statistically significant. i.e. repeated events regarding damage to that brain structure produce the same effects.

Just face it, you lost. You're just not anywhere near informed enough to understand what I'm talking about, I've got years of read medical papers under my belt, you got none kid.

u/kaosjester · -1 pointsr/philosophy

Calculus is a bullshit excuse for mathematics. It's pure computation, and it's freaking useless. You have no idea what a formal proof is, or what an axiom is, or anything related to talking about math in an abstract, metamathematical fashion. Pick up a copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach and introduce yourself.

Abstract mathematics, or `pure mathematics', is a specific field of mathematics that spends time examining and proving theorems. It is, in some regard, the study of metamathematics - you use math to prove other math. Check out a basic explanation here.

u/Curates · 3 pointsr/philosophy

> The only plausible explanation would be that the fish struggled onto land with it's fins due to a shortage of food in the water and the fins eventually changed into walkable stubs.

This is basically right. A missing link between fish with fins and "fish" with legs would have looked something like the mudfish. The fins do indeed evolve to function more like legs, and these animals then start to look more like lizards. The important thing to keep in mind about evolution is that these changes are really minuscule from generation to generation, but that these marginal changes eventually add up to large functional differences.

It seems like much of your argument revolves around a poor understanding of evolution, that it is somehow consciously directed. This is in fact not at all the case. There are several mechanisms through which adaptive changes in hereditary traits occur, and not one of which is conscious willing for bodily change. A quick glance at the wikipedia article on evolution should avail you of some of these misconceptions. I know that abiogenesis and evolution can seem mysterious, but it's actually not, and this really doesn't seem to be a good argument for incompatibilism. You might be interested in an argument that seems related, presented in Nagel's Mind and Cosmos, which argues that consciousness itself cannot be explained by evolution and the naturalistic world picture, determinism included. This argument is highly controversial and in my opinion not at all convincing, but it's there and Nagel presents it.