Life is Aburd and The Myth of Sisyphus

SolitaryIndividual

Pig that doesn't eat Jews
Ninjabro
#1
This was brought on by ninja's thread about suicide. I know alot of people aren't going to read this, but those who are truly interested should, print it out and read it later if you want, its worth the time. The following are two essays written by Albert Camus.



"There is but one truly serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest - whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories - comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect.

If I ask myself how to judge that this question is more urgent than that, I reply that one judges by the actions it entails. I have never seen anyone die for the ontological argument. Galileo, who held a scientific truth of great importance, abjured it with the greatest of ease as soon as it endangered his life. In a certain sense, he did right. (From the point of view of the relative value of truth. On the other hand, from the point of view of virile behavior, this scholar's fragility may well make us smile) That truth was not worth the stake. Whether the earth or the sun revolves around the other is a matter of profound indifference. To tell the truth, it is a futile interest. On the other hand, I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying). I therefore conclude that the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions. How to answer it? On all essential problems (I mean thereby those that run the risk of leading to death or those that intensify the passion of living) there are probably but two methods of thought: the method of La Palisse and the method of Don Quixote. Soley the balance between evidence and lyricism can allow us to achieve simultaneously emotion and lucidity. In a subject at once so humble and yet so heavy with emotion, the learned and classical dialectic must yield, one can see, to a more modest attitude of mind deriving at one and the same time from common sense and understanding.

Suicide has never been dealt with except as a social phenomenon. On the contrary, we are concerned here, at the outset, with the relationship between individual thought and suicide. An act like this is prepared within the silence of the heart, as is a great work of art. The man himself is ignorant of it. One evening he pulls the trigger or jumps. Of an apartment building manager who had killed himself I was told he had lost his daughter five years before, that he had changed greatly since, and that that experience had "undermined" him. A more exact word cannot be imagined. Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined. Society has but little connection with such beginnings. The worm is in man's heart. That is where it must be sought. One must follow and understand this fatal game that leads from lucidity in the face of existence to flight from light ...

But it is hard to fix the precise instant, the subtle step when the mind opened for death, it is easier to deduce from the act itself the consequences it implies. In a sense, and as in melodrama, killing yourself amounts to confessing. It is confessing that life is too much for you or that you do not understand it. Let's not go to far in analogies, however, but rather return to everyday words. It is merely confessing that that "is not worth the trouble." Living, naturally, is never easy. You continue making the gestures commanded by existence for many reasons, the first of which is habit. Dying voluntarily implies that you have recognized, even instinctively, the ridiculous character of that habit, the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the ugliness of suffering.

What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of the sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and light, man feels and alien, a stranger. His exile is without rememdy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity. All healthy men having thought of their own suicide, it can be seen, without further explanation, that there is a direct connection between this feeling and the longing for death.

The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship between the absurd and suicide, the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd. The principle can be established that for a man who does not cheat, what he believes to be true must determine his action. Belief in the absurdity of existence must then dictate his conduct. It is legitamate to wonder, clearly and without false pathos, whether a conclusion of this importance requires forsaking as rapidly as possible an incomprehensible condition. I am speaking, of course, of men inclined to be in harmony with themselves ...

All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door. So it is with absurdity. The absurd world more than others derives its nobility from that abject birth. In certain situation, replying "nothing" when asked what one is thinking about may be pretense in a man. Those who are loved are well aware of this. But if that reply is sincere, if it symbolizes that odd state of soul in which the void becomes eloquent, in which the chain of daily gestures is broken, in which the heart vainly seeks the link that will connect it again, then it is as it were the sign of absurdity.

It happens that the stage sets the collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep, and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday according to the same rhythm - this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the "why" arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement. "Begins" - this is important. Weariness comes at the end of the acts of a mechanical life, but at the same time it inaugurates the impulse of conciousness. It awakens conciousness and provokes what follows. What follows is a gradual return into the chain or it is the definitive awakening. At the end of the awakening comes, in time, the consequence: suicide or recovery. In itself weariness has something sickening about it. Here, I must conclude that it is good. For everything begins with conciousness and nothing is worth anything except through it ...

But what does life mean in such a universe? Nothing else for the moment but indifference to the future and a desire to use up everything that is given. Belief in the meaning of life always implies a scale of values, a choice, our preferences. Belief in the absurd, according to our definitions, teaches the contrary. But this is worth examining.

Knowing whether or not one can live without appeal is all that interests me. I do not want to get out of my depth. This aspect of life being given me, can I adapt myself to it? Now, faced with this particular concern, belief in the absurd is tantamount to substituting the quantity of experiences for the quality. If I convince myself that this life has no other aspect than that of the absurd, if I feel that its whole equilibrium depends on that perpetual opposition between my concious revolt and the darkness in which it struggles, if I admit that my freedom has no meaning except in relation to its limited fate, then I must say that what counts is not the best of living but the most of living ...

On the one hand the absurd teaches that all experiences are unimportant, and on the other it urges toward the greatest quantity of experiences. How, then, can one fail to do as so many of those men I was speaking of earlier - choose the form of life that brings us the most possible of that human matter, thereby introducing a scale of values that on the other hand one claims to reject?

But again it is the absurd and its contradictory life that teaches us. For the mistake is thinking that that quantity of experiences depends on the circumstances of our life when it depends soley on us. Here we have to be oversimple. To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be concious of them. Being aware of one's life, one's revolt, one's freedom, and to the maximum, is living, and to the maximum. Where lucidity dominates, the scale of values becomes useless ...





The Myth of Sisyphus

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

If one believes Homer, Sisyphus was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. According to another tradition, however, he was disposed to practice the profession of highwayman. I see no contradiction in this. Opinions differ as to why he became the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the gods. He stoles their secrets. Aegina, the daughter of Aesopus, was carried off by jupiter. The father was shocked by the disappearence and complained to Sisyphus. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on the condition that Aesopus would give water to the citadel of Corinth. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in the underworld. Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.

It is said also that Sisyphus, being near to death, rashly wanted to test his wife’s love. He ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square. Sisyphus woke up in the underworld. And there, annoyed by an obedience so contrary to human love, he obtained from Pluto permission to return to earth in order to chastise his wife. But when he had seen again the face fo this world, enjoyed water and the sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of anger, warnings were of no avail. Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf, the sparkling sea, and the smiles of earth. A decree of the gods was necessary. Mercury came and seized the impudent man by his collar and, snatching him from his joys, led him forcibly back to the underworld, where his rock was ready for him.

You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain.

It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already a stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. This word is not too much. Again I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and the sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy rises in a man’s heart: this is the rock’s victory, this is the rock itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. Thus, Oedipus at the outset obeys fate without knowing it. But from the moment he knows, his tragedy begins. Yet at the same moment, blind and desperate, he realizes that the only bond linking him to the world is the cool hand of a girl. Then a tremendous remark rings out: “Despite so many ordeals, my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well.” Sophocles’ Oedipus, like Dostoevsky’s Kirilov, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Ancient wisdom confirms modern heroism.

One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. “What! By such narrow ways-?” There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness. “I conclude that all is well,” says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.

All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. His rock is his thing. Likewise, the absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences all the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and the price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his effort henceforth will be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Sisyphus returning toward his rock, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which becomes his fate, created by him, combined under his memory’s eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The rock is still rolling.

I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#4
I think I made a thread about the Myth of Sisyphus a while ago and it got no responses.

One of the best pieces of writing in the history of literature.
 
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SolitaryIndividual

Pig that doesn't eat Jews
Ninjabro
#7
I think I made a thread about the Myth of Sisyphus a while ago and it got no responses.

One of the best pieces of writing in the history of literature.
i havent read the piece, but im going to after reading that essay and seeing that you hold it very high. that link you provided is f-ing up for me right now, ill try it again later.
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#10
i havent read the piece, but im going to after reading that essay and seeing that you hold it very high. that link you provided is f-ing up for me right now, ill try it again later.
It's a good book, excellent popular introduction to logotherapy and the prescriptive features of existential philosophy (at least, the theistic brand of it). Keep it mind though that it is ultimately a book on psychology. I don't want you to be disappointed if he doesn't further a philosophical school of thought.
 

SolitaryIndividual

Pig that doesn't eat Jews
Ninjabro
#11
i got very into existentialism awhile back, so I probably won't be disappointed and will be able to take it for what it is. But you saying "at least, the theistic brand of it" surprises me. I hadn't seen Camus in that way. Am I missing something major?
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#13
i got very into existentialism awhile back, so I probably won't be disappointed and will be able to take it for what it is. But you saying "at least, the theistic brand of it" surprises me. I hadn't seen Camus in that way. Am I missing something major?
lol, yeah...that Man's Search for Meaning was written by the psychiatrist, neurologist, holocaust survivor, and Austrian Victor Frankl, as opposed to the Algerian philosopher Albert Camus. :sifone:

Also, do you think Man's Search for Meaning or The Myth of Sisyphus is a better introduction to logotherapy's point of view or approach?
The Myth of Sisyphus is an extremely dense philosophical collection of essays in which Camus elaborates directly on his philosophical perspective of absurdism, as opposed to most of his other writings and fiction in which it forms more of a backdrop and he alludes to it only indirectly.

Man's Search for Meaning is a popular work by Frankl (he has technical writings on the subject), in which he presents his experiences in Auschwitz, and uses it as sort of a case study to introduce the concepts that he elaborates more clearly in the second half, entitled "Logotherapy in a Nutshell". Depending on the edition, the book is structured in different ways. My friend checked it out of the library, and the set up was a bit different. The content is the same though, which is all that matters.
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#15
but what makes you see Camus as forwarding theistic existentialism?
He didn't, Frankl did.

Camus and absurdism has nothing to do with logotherapy, I just figured you'd probably like that book if you liked existentialism. And as I recall you had a pic of Kierkegaard as your av, so I figured it would be right up your alley.
 

SolitaryIndividual

Pig that doesn't eat Jews
Ninjabro
#17
He didn't, Frankl did.

Camus and absurdism has nothing to do with logotherapy, I just figured you'd probably like that book if you liked existentialism. And as I recall you had a pic of Kierkegaard as your av, so I figured it would be right up your alley.
i guess i figured logotherapy was a way of helping people through coming to terms with the meaninglessness of their own existence but then showing that it is themselves who can solely give meaning to their own life, which can be seen as a very positive thing. This seems to tie into camus's ideas.

But you are right, The Myth of Sisyphus is right up my alley. I am only into 20 some pages into right now though because i've got a lost of other books im trying to get into as well.

Ive been getting into archaeology and geneology - Foucault's methods of historical analysis through reading History of Sexuality, The Birth of the Clinic, The History of Madness( the unabridged version of Maddness and Civilization), and The Araeology of Knowledge - have you been into these? if so, what are your takes on the methods he uses.

I hope this post made sense, i just took a couple ambien and am having a hard time doing anything that requires any concentration
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#18
i guess i figured logotherapy was a way of helping people through coming to terms with the meaninglessness of their own existence but then showing that it is themselves who can solely give meaning to their own life, which can be seen as a very positive thing. This seems to tie into camus's ideas.
No, I don't think Camus believe you can give meaning to one's life. Or rather, he doesn't believe it is important to do so, like say, Sartre believed it was. Camus believes that they the struggle is the important thing...the meaningful thing. And it is not important that if be a conscious act of will. Simply the realization of the absurd is sufficient.

There is a lot of talk about meaning in existentialism, but meaning is not a word that Camus seems to use much if I recall. It isn't really his purpose. He personally did not believe he was an existentialist in any sense, nor that absurdism was a variety of existential philosophy.

But you are right, The Myth of Sisyphus is right up my alley. I am only into 20 some pages into right now though because i've got a lost of other books im trying to get into as well.
Lol...I think we keep getting them confused. I thought that logotherapy, and hence Man's Search for Meaning, would be up your alley since it deals with theistic existentialism.

Ive been getting into archaeology and geneology - Foucault's methods of historical analysis through reading History of Sexuality, The Birth of the Clinic, The History of Madness( the unabridged version of Maddness and Civilization), and The Araeology of Knowledge - have you been into these? if so, what are your takes on the methods he uses.
I read The Problemization of Parrhesia and some of Madness and Civilization. He has some interesting things to say, but by and large, I think he simply over complicates things. He's a bit like Freud in that he seems to enjoy drawing broad ad hoc generalizations and anthropomorphizations of society in rather vague terms and without a great deal of substaniation.

It's a bit like a really nasty book review I once read that said, "The author has said many true and interesting things. Unfortunately the things that are true are not interesting and the things that are interesting are not true."

But I've already expressed my general distaste for the post-structuralists to you, so I won't go into that.



I take it you don't not dig epistemology or logic much, eh? Don't care for the analytic philosophers? I could recommend some stuff, but I think our areas of interest are different.
 
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SolitaryIndividual

Pig that doesn't eat Jews
Ninjabro
#19
I'm feeling completely mind blown in studying philosophy ... I have found the german and french philosophers such as foucault, derrida, deleuze, sartre, kierkegaard (Danish), nietzsche, etc. the most interesting i guess, but i have also taken a strong interest in rorty who seems to me to stradle the line between being pragmatic and analytic, and i do find wittgenstein very interesting, although i guess i've mainly read the later wittgenstein, but i guess it was the early wittgenstein (tractatus) that spawned logical positivism and eventually analytic philosophy? I really don't know much about analytic philosphy, I just feel that the direction it is going is very questionable ... thinking that there is a specific truth out there and that we as humans can find it and capture it though refining language and using lanugage and meta-languages and so on. And by the way please do correct me if any of this sounds wrong because honestly i'm pretty much self educated in all of this, today I turn in my final papers and take my final in a non-western philosophy class, but that is the only philosophy class i have taken, and it obviously doesn't touch on anything even close to these things.

As for Foucault, i like the idea of going back into history and trying to find what has been lost ... it kind of goes along with the saying, "the victor gets to write the history" so i feel much is lost, but that what is lost is essential to a fuller view and understanding of why things are the way they are. For example, The Birth of the Clinic at least is attempting to show where the beginnings of current medical perception spawned and developed into what we have today giving us a very different view than we would get looking at it from the point of view of looking at what medicine is like today and then looking backwards through that lense, which is what even most doctors and medical professionals seem to do. And tieing this into "the victor gets to write the history," here the modern day medical establishment would be considered the victor, having won out over a number of other possible outcomes, showing its contingency.

Back to analytic philosophy ... The one book of Rorty's i have that i believe is supposed to be a view, from one perspective at least, into anaytic philosophy is Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature which I have not read yet. What would you think of that book as a starting point?
 

Reaper Man

New Member
Ninjabro
#20
I'm feeling completely mind blown in studying philosophy ... I have found the german and french philosophers such as foucault, derrida, deleuze, sartre, kierkegaard (Danish), nietzsche, etc. the most interesting i guess, but i have also taken a strong interest in rorty who seems to me to stradle the line between being pragmatic and analytic, and i do find wittgenstein very interesting, although i guess i've mainly read the later wittgenstein, but i guess it was the early wittgenstein (tractatus) that spawned logical positivism and eventually analytic philosophy?
It seems like the common theme in your interests is that you tend to oppose the general idea that there is a notion of Truth and/or rationality, and that that which is true is something that, when stated, corresponds to the external world. Now naturally we are unable to know if such a correspondence actually exists, but the notion of truth is nevertheless important as it provides a focus and common ground for discussion and argument. For instance, if you and I were disputing whether a bed is hard or soft, after making it jointly clear and precise what constituted hardness or softness, all we have to do is appeal to what we both know about the world, or attempt to gather further knowledge by, say, sitting on the bed.

The problem I have with most of the philosophers that claim that they are attempting to make us realize that there is no truth seem to certainly be propounding something and if it isn't the truth (or at least what the philosophers believe to be true), then what is it? Similarly those who claim that there is no notion of rationality, are making an argument, and therefore are appealing to a notion of rationality implicitly.

The trouble with most of the philosophers mentioned above, Derrida and Nietzsche in particular, is that they tend to introduce ideas with connotation rather than denotation. A term is introduced, and then, rather than rigorously making clear what is meant by the term so that the philosopher and his listeners/readers are on the same page, some generalizations are made, with perhaps an example or anecdote to accompany it. This lack of clarity both inhibits the serious intellectual rigor needed to build on the idea, and insulates it from criticism, as the philosopher can always retreat to the claim: "You didn't understand me properly."

Wittgenstein is the exception in which is is very clear and effective in the attacks he makes on truth. However, he attacks more how language is used conceptually rather than actually claiming that there is no external world. Indeed, I think his claims regarding use as meaning could be said to be an approach similar to pragmatism.

As to Rorty, if he straddles anything it is the line between continental and pragmatic. However, I would not place him within the pragmatist tradition myself, nor would Susan Haack.

I really don't know much about analytic philosphy, I just feel that the direction it is going is very questionable ... thinking that there is a specific truth out there and that we as humans can find it and capture it though refining language and using lanugage and meta-languages and so on. And by the way please do correct me if any of this sounds wrong because honestly i'm pretty much self educated in all of this, today I turn in my final papers and take my final in a non-western philosophy class, but that is the only philosophy class i have taken, and it obviously doesn't touch on anything even close to these things.
Analytic philosophy since Wittgenstein and Quine tends to be seen as encompassing a lot of things, but mostly the unifying stance is that philosophy is a field of study in which concepts and ideas should be approached with an enormous amount of clarity and precision, and that logical rigor is an ideal to be upheld.

In fact, I would say that the distinction between continental philosophy and analytic philosophy is this emphasis on rigor and clarity. This doesn't mean that no continental philosophy is clear (Husserl is a good example of a clear thinking continental), just that it is not an important focus.

And in my humble opinion, analytic philosophy has simply made more progress and contributed more to human thought than most continental philosophy precisely for this reason--when there is no emphasis on clarity, you cannot be critiqued seriously and you cannot communicate seriously. Ultimately, much of it comes down to fluffing your feathers pompously by writing the most purple prose imaginable.

Back to analytic philosophy ... The one book of Rorty's i have that i believe is supposed to be a view, from one perspective at least, into anaytic philosophy is Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature which I have not read yet. What would you think of that book as a starting point?
I think it is a terrible starting point. Although I have not read the book, I am familiar with it. Rorty is supposed to have done to philosophy the same that Kuhn is supposed to have done to science with The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Even if Rorty does accomplish what he is purported to, it would be a bad place to start, because it would be starting at the intellectual end, rather than the beginning.

The best introduction I can recommend is A.J. Ayers' Language, Truth, and Logic. While it was not the beginning, it sums up the thought going on at the time of the logical positivists. If you want to see how it ended, you can read Quine's Two Dogma's of Empiricism which I think is more readable than Wittgenstein. Then read J.L. Austin's Sense and Sensibilia, which will give you a taste of how ordinary language philosophers worked. You should also read Russell's essay, On Denoting. It doesn't fit in neatly, but it deals with ideas that are addressed throughout the analytic tradition.

After that you can take it in any direction you want--Philosophy of Mind is probably the cutting edge at the moment. John Searle is also a personal favorite of mine as he is very no nonsense and has none of the arrogant airs about him that characterize so many intellectuals.



Regarding philosophy in general I would just say this much: Beware of people trying to sell you a staggering new idea that "changes everything". If there is one thing that I have found is that what philosophy does best is take what you thought you knew, challenges it with precision and logical analysis, confuses the shit out of you, and then at the end of your analysis shows you that what you actually thought was right was right all along.

The world is not that complicated and there is no secret key waiting to be discovered that will unlock the secrets of the world. Philosophy at its best simply teases out the nuances in what is already there and helps guide us in how to frame our questions and thoughts about the world.