The Great Books

As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that there is a gaping hole in my education when it comes to the great works of literature. This isn't a condemnation of my average public school upbringing, which did as well as any to try and teach some of the classics. Nor is it a condemnation of my Computer Science degree in college, which clearly isn't designed to teach literature. This isn't a condemnation at all, rather a realization that in the grand landscape of a lifelong learner, which I consider myself to be, that most of the burden to be educated is on me, and that there are some written works that are more important than others.

Most of us have heard the names of Homer and Plato, Kant and Kierkegaard, Marx and Dostoyevsky. We may even be able to place them at a high level in the grand scheme of human history. But how many of us have wrestled with their texts? How many of us understand how each one builds upon the next, sometime in augmentation, sometimes in refutation?

It wasn't until I heard of St. Johns College and its philosophy of education that it even struck me that I had many years of education and yet was lacking learning most of the foundation of western thought. I fell in love with the idea of starting from the beginning and working my way through the great books.

So here I am - starting from the beginning, working my way through. The time has passed when I can spend four years as an undergraduate discussing the great texts around a table with a master and a bunch of apprentices. But, I'm doing the best I can, on my own, as a working father.

It's going to take me a decade.

Here's how I'm approaching the learning: