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Know Your Heritage

November 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments
Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books Set

Encyclopedia Britannica Great Books Set

Having an extraordinary method for acquiring knowledge I think it will become extremely important to have a very clear idea of what to learn, and what real knowledge is. One possible guidepost to this might be “The Great Conversation” The essay by Robert Hutchins that introduced Encyclopedia Britannica’s “Great Books of the Western World” collectionoriginally published in 1952.

There are things that I appreciate about the essay, and also things that I do not like.

“The Great Conversation” is valuable, partly because it presents a clear statement of the aims of education, and does a good job of showing how alternative, partial views of education fall short.

Is there such a thing as an education, apart from training in how to make a living, do a job, serve as a technician, or specialist or professional? Is the aim of education purely for the purposes of being able to work? Is there something you should be learning in school that is distinct from what you might learn at home, at church, in the Boy Scouts or the Y.M.C.A.? Or is socialization, teamwork and sportsmanship really the whole point? Do your teachers need to know the details of your talents or your personal path in life to properly educate you? Is there such a thing as an education that does the necessary job of imparting an understanding of what it is to be a human being, know your part within your culture, and how your specialty relates to the big picture of the human race and your culture?

For those who find something of value in the ideals of education offered here the information, communication and media wealth of the Internet age makes this kind of education dependent on little more than the desire, some consistency, and that you pay your utility bills.

Here are some links to get you started:

Great Books Online – a collection of links to online texts on another wordpress blog.

The Great Conversation Reading Group – Website for a yahoo group dedicated to reading the Great Books

Librivox.org – Come here to find some of the great books available for free in an audio format. Alternative media sometimes aids the understanding, or maybe the attention.

I welcome all thoughts related to the Great Conversation or the Great Books in your comments below.

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