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05/27/2021

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Karl

I have not read more than 3 or 4 paragraphs of Kant.

jimmy

I'm almost done with my PhD. I have never read Hegel.

I'm in a grad program where other historical figures (Berkeley, Locke, Kant) are emphasized, so I got my dose of them during coursework, and I work in an area where it's just not clear that reading Hegel would be a benefit. Maybe one day!

Don't Tell My Advisor

Distinguished scholar of ancient philosophy here.

I have never read a bit of Aristotle's Politics or Plato's Sophist.

I also never even looked at a page of Homer in the Greek. I haven't read that much of the Odyssey or the Iliad in English either!

Don't Tell My Advisor

Sorry, you wanted an explanation. Neither the Sophist or the Politics were assigned in any of my classes in undergrad or grad school (both with strong ancient philosophy concentrations), and I didn't get the sense they were relevant to the things that I was publishing. I don't teach either in my courses. There are only so many hours in the day to reading philosophy that doesn't directly impact my research or teaching.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Confession

I have not read Plato.

I do not think I have read any entire book from the beginning to the end in the history of western philosophy.

Eynon

I've never read Du Bois or Fanon. I work in ethics. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

No Critique

Recent PhD here. I have not read any of Kant's Critiques.

My undergrad program was content to have us read the Prolegomena and Groundwork. I re-read the Groundwork in grad school and read none of Kant's metaphysics. I work in epistemology and phil. of religion.

Anon UK Grad

I work in logic. I have never read a word of Kripke.

Timmy J

I work on nonclassical logics. I know nothing (and have read nothing) about intuitionistic logic.

Daniel Weltman

Wittgenstein! I tried reading him a bit but I did not understand any of it. Ditto Heidegger. Carnap's The Logical Structure of the World I did technically read part of, in that I passed my eyes over it (it was an assigned reading in a grad seminar) but it might as well have been written in Nordic runes. I've read almost no Derrida. I haven't read any Deleuze and/or Guattari. I think I've only read three or four things by Lewis. Nothing by Ramsey. Almost no Sellars. Almost nothing by Frege or Russell (perhaps this is why I can't understand Wittgenstein). No Gödel outside a tiny bit assigned in a couple courses. No Whitehead, no Adorno. Barely any of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit or Science of Logic. I've read approximately 10 pages of Levinas and nothing more. Zero Weil. No Cassirer. No Newton. Zero Gadamer. Zero Schelling, almost zero Schiller, zero Schlegel, and I think zero Fichte. I have read neither the Mahābhārata nor the Ramayana. I have never read any Japanese philosophy of any sort. I've read very little Leibniz. No Merleau-Ponty I think. Nothing by Ricoeur. No Ortega y Gasset. I've read a lot of Habermas but there's a ton I haven't read, and unlike the stuff listed above he's pretty central to analytic political philosophy, which is what I mostly work on. I think I could keep going forever (maybe it would be faster to list stuff I HAVE read!) so to wrap this up, for perhaps the biggest omission, I haven't read Hume's Treatise of Human Nature or his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals from anything near start to finish - only excerpts in each case.

As for "why," I don't think there's anything interesting to say: just time, lack of capacity to comprehend the text, or both. I actually bought Hume's Treatise a while ago, figuring that paying money would commit me to reading it, but then I gave away all my books before I could read it...

UK Lecturer

I think it would be quicker to list the important works I have read... Maybe I'm just a slow reader, or I lack the motivation, but I've never understood how anyone had the time to read all of the classics in full. Just focusing on the Western tradition, I've read bits of the key works by Descartes, Hume, Locke, Kant, Plato, Aristotle etc but in most cases not full books. Nowadays my reading is mostly based on what I need to teach. I also haven't read a lot of the 20th century "classics" in my area of specialisation, which is epistemology (Chisholm etc).

Jakub

I think it is not embarrassing to admit not having read this or that classical philosophical work. What does it mean to have read X? To read a whole book from the beginning to the end? If so I haven’t read many classics. What is more important is to grasp the gist of what a philosopher is aiming at. Sometimes a selective reading is a good way of achieving it.

Sam Duncan

The two philosophers I haven't read that I'm most embarrassed about not reading are Aquinas and Confucius. With Confucius it's just that it's really hard to make sense of the text on its own and one almost needs a commentary but the Chinese commentaries taken together are HUGE and the English ones seem to have agendas that I kinda sorta suspect might distort the original. With Aquinas there's just something about the whole writing style that I'm almost allergic to. I just glaze over after two or three pages. In fact, I have that experience with pretty much all the scholastic philosophy I've tried to read. The thing is I know that scholasticism is important and philosophers like Heidegger and Pasnau have convinced me that a lot of seemingly unavoidable and insoluble problems of modern philosophy would be completely alien to the scholastics and arise only because of some moves and assumptions early modern philosophers made in breaking with the scholastics. So I definitely think there's something to be learned from scholasticism, but I just absolutely loathe the writing style.
Also, I wonder if one useful thing here might be for people to make suggestions about how to read X philosopher people may not have read? By this I mean something like suggesting a manageable and representative bit of their work as well as some good secondary lit. For both Aquinas and Confucius I'd appreciate something like that since I do want to read them one of these days.

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