Is there a correct or better order to read Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates?

  • I would like to read the text written by Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and so on. Is there any reference of the best order to read them? Is the chronological order the best or correct one? Or is there a best or correct order?

    There is certainly no best or correct order in general. Forming a reading strategy is hard work... In passing is there any chance I might be able to persuade you to cleanup the headline a little bit? It is unclear what "Philosopher's texts" is intended to indicate -- and after reading the question and tags it is unclear whether you just mean Ancient Greek philosophy, or philosophy in general, etc. Anyway I would encourage you to reformulate your question and headline somewhat to clarify the scope you intend to ask after here

    The "best" order would depend on your goal. If your goal is to get an A in "Plato class" and you have limited time, the "best" order would be to start with Plato. If your goal is to get an idea of how these ancient philosophers' views changed over time, it might be appropriate to read Socrates, Plato, then Aristotle. Once you define your goal or purpose, we can better help you figure out what's "best". :)

    I'd recommend starting with the writings of Socrates, but ought implies can…

  • Mitch

    Mitch Correct answer

    10 years ago

    Most philosophers are writing in a given historical background, either consciously within it or against it (Kant was reacting to Hume), so a chronological reading will tend to maintain context.

    But each author has written quite a lot, so I'd advise against trying to read the totality of one author before moving on to the next one.

    I'd suggest some kind of mix-up that generally follows time and influence, but putting off minor things til later.

    That is, start with one or two dialogs of Plato then a chapter or two of Aristotle before trying a pre-Socratic. (note that Socrates is really only presented by Plato)

    Another suggestion, if you're just starting out, is to read an historical commentary along the way. For example, Bertrand Russell's Intro to Western Philosophy is very readable and gives scope and relation between the main players (sort of a playbook to see were the trends are).

    But don't feel like it is a big slog that you have to get through from start to finish. You don't have to read Descartes before Spinoza; they all have a tendency to stand on their own. If you like what people have suggested about Nietzsche, then go ahead and read something by him, you don't have to consume Aquinas first.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM