Fundamentals of Western philosophy

Questions related to final answers and certainty led me to reject the beliefs I had been taught. They also led me to read more widely. The Explorer Post booklist exposed me to Karl Marx, Gandhi, Voltaire, and many others.

My father purchased the Great Books of the Western World collection. He read the initial volume, The Great Conversation, and then systematically worked his way through the Synopticon and the other volumes. I’ve always wondered what percentage of those who had the set actually did that, other than students in Great Books programs or professional scholars. I suspect that many just had a nice set to display. That would be in its special bookcase, since it was too heavy for a coffee table.

I didn’t read as much in the collection as Dad did, but Through it I was exposed to Thucydides, Plutarch, Lucretius, Aristotle, Marx, and many more. One lesson from the collection was how philosophy could be enacted through novels (Melville, Tolstoy), drama (Euripides), psychology (James, Freud), mathematics (Euclid), politics (Hobbes, Locke), science (Galileo, Newton), and many other genres.

I began to think of philosophy as the glue that connects all forms of knowing, while sometimes throwing any form of knowing into question. That perspective was amplified for me through Radoslav Tsanoff’s course at Rice.

I also read more widely in education, such as Teaching as a Subversive Activity and Summerhill.