19 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2022
    1. https://occidental.substack.com/p/the-adlernet-guide-part-ii?sd=pf

      Description of a note taking method for reading the Great Books: part commonplace, part zettelkasten.

      I'm curious where she's ultimately placing the cards to know if the color coding means anything in the end other than simply differentiating the card "types" up front? (i.e. does it help to distinguish cards once potentially mixed up?)

    2. But the real goal of a Great Books reading program is to experience the minds of these authors (something the Schoolmen called connatural knowledge) and imprint whatever value we find there on our souls (i.e. will and intellect). This can only be done through a process of intentional re-reading.
    1. Louis Menand had an interesting article on great books courses recently: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/12/20/whats-so-great-about-great-books-courses-roosevelt-montas-rescuing-socrates.

      If you look closely at those photos of Adler, you'll notice that one is in context and the other is the same image of him cut and pasted onto a set of books.

      Those who are into this broader topic may also appreciate Alex Beam's book "A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books". A while back I remember going though Lawrence Principe's Great Courses lecture series on the History of Science to 1700 which I suspect might help contextualize a tour through the great courses.

      I'm curious if you're adding any other books that Adler et al left off their list?

    1. https://github.com/sajjad2881/NewSyntopicon

      Someone's creating a new digitally linked version of the Syntopicon as text files for Obsidian (and potentially other platforms). Looks like it's partial at best and will need a lot of editing work to become whole.

      found by way of

      Has anyone made a hypermedia rendition of the Syntopicon, i.e. with transcluded windows or "parallel pages" into the indexed texts?<br><br>Many of Adler's Great Books are public domain, so it wouldn't require *so* titanic a copyright issue… pic.twitter.com/UmWiyn5aBC

      — Andy Matuschak (@andy_matuschak) August 17, 2022
      <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
  2. Jun 2022
    1. when Britannica conducted followup research on whether or not the books were actually being read, they found that buyers who really read the books were the exception. The two largest sub-categories among buyers who were more likely to have read the books were housewives and men trained in some sort of technical profession.

      Research by Britannica (source?) indicated that the Great Books of the Western World sold well but were not often read.

      Link to: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking Owen Gingerich Copernicus

    2. certain sub-currents in their thought. One being the proposition that the original (or translated) texts of the most influential Western books are vastly superior material to study for serious minds than are textbooks that merely give pre-digested (often mis-digested) assessments of the ideas contained therein.

      Are some of the classic texts better than more advanced digested texts because they form the building blocks of our thought and society?

      Are we training thinkers or doers?

    1. Mortimer J. Adler's slip box collection (Photo of him holding a pipe in his left hand and mouth posing in front of dozens of boxes of index cards with topic headwords including "law", "love", "life", "sin", "art", "democracy", "citizen", "fate", etc.)

      Though if we roughly estimate this collection at 1000 cards per box with roughly 76 boxes potentially present, the 76,000 cards are still shy of Luhmann's collection. It'll take some hunting thigs down, but as Adler suggests that people write their notes in their books, which he would have likely done, then this collection isn't necessarily his own. I suspect, but don't yet have definitive proof, that it was created as a group effort for the 54-volume Great Books of the Western World and its two-volume index of great ideas, the Syntopicon.

  3. Jan 2022
    1. Most of the world's great books are available today, in reprint editions.

      Published in 1941, this article precedes the beginning of the project of publishing the Great Books of the Western World for Encyclopedia Britannica, so Adler isn't just writing this from a marketing perspective.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Books_of_the_Western_World

  4. Dec 2021
    1. Discussion is led by an instructor, but the instructor’s job is not to give the students a more informed understanding of the texts, or to train them in methods of interpretation, which is what would happen in a typical literature- or philosophy-department course. The instructor’s job is to help the students relate the texts to their own lives.

      The format of many "great books" courses is to help students relate the texts to their own lives, not to have a better understanding of the books or to hone methods of interpreting them.

      This isn't too dissimilar to the way that many Protestants are taught to apply the Bible to their daily lives.

      Are students mis-applying the great books because they don't understand their original ideas and context the way many religious people do with the Bible?

    2. The idea of the great books emerged at the same time as the modern university. It was promoted by works like Noah Porter’s “Books and Reading: Or What Books Shall I Read and How Shall I Read Them?” (1877) and projects like Charles William Eliot’s fifty-volume Harvard Classics (1909-10). (Porter was president of Yale; Eliot was president of Harvard.) British counterparts included Sir John Lubbock’s “One Hundred Best Books” (1895) and Frederic Farrar’s “Great Books” (1898). None of these was intended for students or scholars. They were for adults who wanted to know what to read for edification and enlightenment, or who wanted to acquire some cultural capital.

      Brief history of the "great books".

  5. Nov 2021
    1. Though firmly rooted in Renaissance culture, Knight's carefully calibrated arguments also push forward to the digital present—engaging with the modern library archives where these works were rebound and remade, and showing how the custodianship of literary artifacts shapes our canons, chronologies, and contemporary interpretative practices.

      This passage reminds me of a conversation on 2021-11-16 at Liquid Margins with Will T. Monroe (@willtmonroe) about using Sönke Ahrens' book Smart Notes and Hypothes.is as a structure for getting groups of people (compared to Ahrens' focus on a single person) to do collection, curation, and creation of open education resources (OER).

      Here Jeffrey Todd Knight sounds like he's looking at it from the perspective of one (or maybe two) creators in conjunction (curator and binder/publisher) while I'm thinking about expanding behond

      This sort of pattern can also be seen in Mortimer J. Adler's group zettelkasten used to create The Great Books of the Western World series as well in larger wiki-based efforts like Wikipedia, so it's not new, but the question is how a teacher (or other leader) can help to better organize a community of creators around making larger works from smaller pieces. Robin DeRosa's example of using OER in the classroom is another example, but there, the process sounded much more difficult and manual.

      This is the sort of piece that Vannevar Bush completely missed as a mode of creation and research in his conceptualization of the Memex. Perhaps we need the "Inventiex" as a mode of larger group means of "inventio" using these methods in a digital setting?

  6. Sep 2021
    1. Book review (and cultural commentary) on Alex Beam's A Great Idea at the Time, (Public Affairs, 2008).

    2. Soon enough the Great Books were synonymous with boosterism, Babbittry, and H. L. Mencken’s benighted boobocracy. They were everything that was wrong, unchic and middlebrow about middle America.”

      what a lovely sentence

    3. When asked for his views on which classic works to include among the Great Books, the science historian George Sarton pronounced the exercise futile: “Newton’s achievement and personality are immortal; his book is dead except from the archaeological point of view.”

      How does one keep the spirit of these older books alive? Is it only by subsuming into and expanding upon a larger body of common knowledge?

      What do they still have to teach us?

    4. In “A Great Idea at the Time,” Alex Beam presents Hutchins and Adler as a double act

      Just the title "A Great Idea at the Time" makes me wonder if this project didn't help speed along the creation of the dullness of the humanities and thereby attempt to kill it?

      What might they have done differently to better highlight the joy and fun of these works to have better encouraged it.

      Too often reformers reform all the joy out of things.

    5. In a postwar world in which educational self-improvement seemed within everyone’s reach, the Great Books could be presented as an item of intellectual furniture, rather like their prototype, the Encyclopedia Britannica (which also backed the project).

      the phrase "intellectual furniture" is sort of painful here...