Monday, August 4, 2008

A reading list

In my humble opinion, the most important intellectual attribute is the capacity for clear, conceptual, rational thought. That might not be apparent in my the garbled gibberish that dots this blog but I don't proofread or re-draft here... maybe I should.

Still, here is a reading list for those that would like a nice example of what I value:

Eric Hoffer - most people reading this will have never heard his name but a paragraph into The True Believer and you will know just how remarkable this man truly was.

Saint Thomas Aquinas - the Summa Theologica is his premiere work and Catholic or not, this man was and is one of the truly sublime logicians in history.

Sir Francis Bacon - anyone who goes through their life without reading his essays will almost certainly be the worse for it. In terms of his clarity of thought and efficiency of prose, he is stands rivaled only by Mr. Hoffer.

Ayn Rand - apologies for her rejection of biological human nature, interesting if incomplete philosophy, late-life paranoia, cultish tendencies, and irritating literature. Other than that, she was a powerful, creative, witty, and often profound thinker who is far too often overlooked by serious intellectuals in large part because of how off-putting her devoted followers are.

Rudyard Kipling - has ever a man more important, more significant, and more praised than he been so quickly and completely dismissed? I can think of none. Kipling has cruelly and unfairly labeled many distasteful things and his poetry and literature, once a staple of western education, are now virtually black-listed by modern academia. Few men have ever spoken to the truth of human nature as he.

Aristotle - shame on you if you don't read something from him at least once a year. Aristotle may very well have been the most brilliant mind in human history. Organon and the Nichomachean Ethics are his two most relevant works but his wildly inaccurate work in biology and physics are valuable, if not for their accuracy, but for his intellectual process. It is a wonder to see how the mind of a genius works, even when it's wrong.

Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz - one of the few people on this earth of truly transcendent genius. The scope of his work ranges from history and theology to biology, linguistics, and most famously mathematics and probability. 

The clarity and elegance of these great thinkers makes them not only intellectually and philosophically valuable but also accessible and dare say, entertaining.

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