The list author says: "Many people will list as their favorites only those books with which they agree. I love the books that ask the new questions, even though I may disagree with the author's conclusion. Sometimes the question itself, not the answer, is the key insight that introduces a new generalization, a new perspective. As Ralph Waldo Emerson (Top of my List) put it:
"Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end. There is not a piece of science but its flank may be turned tomorrow; there is not any literary reputation, not the so-called eternal names of fame, that may not be revised and condemned. The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind are all at the mercy of a new generalization.""
"Milton's Satan is one of the great characters in literature. Satan would rather "reign in hell than serve in heaven." Ambitious and Bellicose, he erupts, "War then, war must be resolved." But upon expulsion, Satan laments, "Oh sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams that bring to my remembrance from what state I fell; how glorious once above thy sphere til pride and worse ambition threw me down.""
"Nietzsche's most incisive criticism is that Judeo-Christian morals invert the truly noble human virtues, replacing courage, honor, pride, beauty, power with diminutive human qualities such as pity, humility, meekness, submissiveness. Nietzsche's ideal is the SuperMan, but Judeo-Christian virtues have a broader aim (a Super People). Accordingly, they increase cohesion, enabling groups to scale."
"I named my son Blake after him. In "Songs of Innocence and Experience," each poem within the collection offers the viewpoint of either innocence or experience. The collection includes: The Garden of Love, The Poison Tree, The Human Abstract, The Divine Image, The Lamb, The Tiger, and many more favorites."
"Deeply contoured personality, immeasurably insightful, K is known for subjectivity, ("Truth is subjectivity; subjectivity is truth") and also known for "the leap of faith." K's leap of faith is an unconditional commitment to "a specific" in this life (a cause, person, purpose, etc.). That unconditional commitment gives our life meaning and fortifies us against despair."
"My favorite Wordsworth poem: Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey. Here's an excerpt: "I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused whose dwelling is in the light of setting suns, and the round ocean, and the living air, and the blue sky, and in the mind of man.""
"Unfortunately, war is an unmitigated part of the human experience. Wilfred Owen is the best poet ever to write about war. In places, Owen gives us the guns of war--brutal, percussive descriptions of death; in other places, he laments delicately as in "Futility" (pg. 135) which is difficult to read without becoming tearful."
"Leaves of Grass is easily one of my all time favorites. One of my favorite lines: "Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity; when I give, I give myself." Still much more to glean from Uncle Walt."
"My Favorites: King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Henry IV (for Falstaff), and of course, the Sonnets. Can't stomach so much old english? If you're going to only read one play, read King Lear--and don't miss out on the Sonnets."
"Dryden dominated literature in Restoration England which became the "Age of Dryden." Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel" recalls Absalom's political rebellion against his father, King David. Dryden writes of the treasonous Achitophel (disloyal advisor to King David), that he "Disdained the golden fruit to gather free / And lent the crowd his arm to shake the tree." Terrific lines!"
"Victor Hugo's story of the balance of mercy and justice, restitution and redemption, war and love. Among my favorite lines, "These thinkers forget to love" and later, "Love is the foolishness of men and the wisdom of God." I've even procured Victor Hugo's authentic signature. Not a quick read, but one of the only fictional works I've included."
"Kant here sets forth the principle of the categorical imperative, based in part on Christ's golden rule. I didn't list Critique of Pure Reason or Critique of Practical Reason, but those are two favorites as well."
"This book offers a collection of spiritual wisdom from the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a luminary figure in 20th Century Judaism. Among my favorites: "God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions, but an immediate insight, self evident as light. He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light.""
"Forestructures (perspectives) of understanding enable us to learn, to know the world, and to understand each other. They also incline us to understand the world in a certain way. Culture enables us to fuse our particular perspectives with other perspectives, thus transforming our perspective. transformed, we now understand the world differently."
"Athletes experience a fundamental way of being in the world that they often call "being in the zone." Larry Bird said that sometimes he didn't realize that he had passed the basketball until a moment after he had actually passed it. We are enmeshed or absorbed in the world in ways that are more fundamental and deeper than our cognitive, intentional, or analytical ways of being."
"Kaufmann discusses positivism, existentialism, theories of truth, Judaism, and Christianity. His critique of religion gives decent analysis of Aquinas, Bultmann, and Tillich, but degrades on Niebuhr. Understands Judaism, but lacks depth in Christianity. Fails to adequately criticize Aquinas or Luther who said "Any man who desires to believe must tear the eyes out of his reason" (sigh)."
"Arnold: "But often, in the world's most crowded streets, But often, in the din of strife, there rises an unspeakable desire after the knowledge of our buried life; a thirst to spend our fire and restless force in tracking out our true original course; a longing to inquire into the mystery of this heart which beats so wild, so deep in us--to know whence our lives come and where they go.""