October 9, 2012 by Peter Gratton
Stuart Elden has his reply up on Reading the Classics of Western Philosophy. One can always kvetch about the list, but this one really is circumscribed: why the Organon of all of Aristotle? The Analects don’t make the list? Not one from outside of Europe? (Unless there’s someone I’m missing who may be an American.)
And I did a whole semester leading a reading group and I can attest, as Stuart suggests, no we didn’t get all the way through. It’s like the people say they pick flight over invisibility, I don’t believe ‘em. And I’ve read Hobbes’ Leviathan all the way through, more as a quirk that I find his theology fascinating, but I think I know a few people who work on him who haven’t finished it. (In fact, that’s a good parlor game: how many specialists in modern or ancient philosophy have finished the pertinent texts? The Ethics anyone?) And who knew we were to read all of the Tractatus? I thought it was enough just to quote the last line endlessly. Anyway, I’m missing six from the list, though I think a couple of those I count are cheats–was I really awake while finishing Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding? (People disagree with me, but I find Kant’s prose genuinely lively and exciting next to Locke. Real tepid tea, that stuff.) My eyes I think were technically open, so we’ll count it.