Friday, June 02, 2006

Tullio's Essential Reading List, Part One

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler. When you think of “Great Books,” you should think of Mortimer Adler. Adler was a prolific writer and significant contributor to the fields of philosophy and education. While at the University of Chicago, he developed the Great Books of the Western World program that has been copied and expanded the world over. How to Read a Book is a great introduction to Adler’s thoughts on education as well as a primer on how to gain the most from each book that you read.

Profiles of Courage by John F. Kennedy. Written while a US Senator, this book is Kennedy’s tribute to eight extraordinary Senators who came before him. Fans of the television show The West Wing will recognize their idealism. These men risked their political careers to stand up for what they believed was right. It is easy to become cynical about our elected leaders yet here is some cause for optimism. The book offers just a glimpse of how things could be and is an inspiration as a result.

The Republic by Plato. For over 2000 years, there has been a discussion about justice and the proper role of government. That discussion starts here. While men certainly discussed and wrote about these subjects before Plato, he was the one who laid the foundation of work later continued by scholars such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke. Those seeking to become a philosopher-king need to read this book very carefully.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. If you haven’t read this, you need to. It’s a hard book to describe. What starts as a cross-country motorcycle journey becomes an introduction to philosophy. The book is compelling yet very informative. It should be required reading for every graduate student.

More to come.

2 comments:

dave simmons said...

Todd ... I like your site and blog (and bikes) a lot, and would not question "Profiles in Courage" as a good book, just not sure (and this is still unsettled) that Kennedy really wrote it. I have been reading the Taylor Branch books on ML King and the era (started in the middle, went back and am 1/3 of the way thru the first, and the picture of Kennedy that emerges (and right now I'm at the place in the book where the 1960 election is a couple of weeks away, Kennedy comes off as "risk averse" as we would say now and the last phrase one would choose to describe his stand on civil rights at that time would be "courage".

Dave Simmons
Madison WI (from the Bob list)

Max Weismann said...

We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we are Encyclopaedia Britannica’s exclusive agent for these programs.

We have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos on the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost and are now available.

For those of you who teach, this is great for the classroom.

I cannot over exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

http://www.thegreatideas.org/