Sunday, May 29, 2005

Good Little Article

Linked thanks to the ol' VC: article on philanthropy and ideas.

One thing worth chewing over in these posts: what we have read that has influenced our thinking. I think the article rightly points out that left-leaning citizens cannot discuss why they feel the way they do.

So, in the interest of furthering discussion, a stew of things I read that made me who I am:

* John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row, etc.
* George Orwell, 1984, Animal Farm, Essays, etc.
* Richard Feynman's assorted writings
* J.R.R. Tolkein... perhaps not formative of political ideas per se, but it lurks back there.

and then a bunch of stuff that was either: for fun, reading, but unrelated to constructing a worldview, or related to math and science, good, but also only indirectly linked to ideas about society.

I remember acting revolted to my brief exposure to Ayn Rand's writing, but I can think of nothing comparable that made me respond positively. So, I suppose my big question is: what would you give to a young critical thinker whose education you wanted to influence? What should we be reading? Where, oh where, are our ideas?


Anonymous Skipper J said...

The Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue
I read this in a history seminar on "fear and the modern city" and at the time I thought it should be mandatory reading for high school. It is about race, class, and the decline of the "downtown" in American cities, with Detroit as a case study. It really stimulates the sense of unjustice glands and for an academic work, it is remarkably well-written.

5/30/2005 9:28 AM  
Anonymous Cynic said...

I'll definitely second 1984 or Animal Farm. Here's a couple others. Also David Hume - Treatise of Human Nature or Dialogs Concerning Natural Religion. Throw in Kafka - The Metamorphosis or The Trial; Jack London - To Build a Fire or The Sea Wolf; Shirley Jackson - The Lottery or We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Add other works by those authors to taste. Stir. See what that gets you.

5/30/2005 12:18 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I would second Hume. Read him and you start questioning not only the existence of the self, but your self. And the idea of causation (no kidding).

But besides Hume, here are a list of other thinkers who helped douse, or temper, the flames of my idealism (yes, all of these fall under the general title of philosophy, a big interest of mine)...

Socrates, Aristotle, Russell, Hobbes, Locke, Nietzsche (!!!), Descartes, Kant, Sartre, Dennett.

5/31/2005 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Afraid to say said...

People who get excited about Nietzsche scare me.

6/06/2005 8:46 PM  

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