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On Reading Old Books

It is actually raining too hard to go outside today.  I walked to the corner for some soup for lunch and, in spite of my rainboots, umbrella, and raincoat, I came back soaked.  Since I don't have the stamina to go to the library to pick up the Celtic literature books I've recalled, I'm sitting here getting started on my Theological Aesthetics paper that is due in a few weeks.  Just five pages, but five pages comparing Plato and Aristotle's philosophies of beauty.

Why are these guys so intimidating?  Quoting either one of them, or at least identifying their influence in any text, is like an English seminar silver bullet.  I don't know how many times I've read their respective Wikipedia articles over the past few years, trying to get a handle on ideas like forms, the Good, World Soul, nous, the allegory of the cave, the Philosopher-King, logic, the Four Causes, Universals...  I think I feel like I should be a Plato and Aristotle expert at this point, but I never read a world by either of them until I got to grad school.  That's the grad student disease: paralysis via self-imposed expectations of preexisting knowledge.

Today a friend posted this excellent CS Lewis article about why even amateurs should dive right into "old books," no matter how scary they are.  My confidence is bolstered:

http://www.theelliots.org/Soapbox2008/OntheReadingofOldBooks.pdf

No time like the present.

Comments

  1. Write moooooooore. I miss you ! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Catherine,

    I just sent this off to two families in Quincy. Praise God for CS Lewis and that boost of confidence! I'm so proud of you for slugging through these deep waters and I can't wait to hear what treasures you will bring back to the surface for us all!

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