Great Books Paradox

Reading Thoreau’s “Walden” pretty thoroughly this time around, should be capturing more notes that I am noting mentally, and this is one.

In his chapter entitled “Reading” Thoreau extols the virtues of reading the wisdom of the real classics, widely and in the original (original dead languages) where possible, but balances this with the warning not to let reading replace maximum experience of real life, as you’d expect from one of the founding fathers of US-Pragmatism.

Ironic that the Great Books movement of Chicao University (Adler / Mckeon) should be responsible for rejecting the pragmatism of Dewey, and turning posession of their published collections into a Brittanica-style negative sell. Something no self-respecting family should deprive their kids of. One wonders how many of those editions were read, and read in any way that the educational value of their sources was understood as originally intended ?


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