[Paleopsych] Human Events: Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College
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Fri Jun 17 19:27:09 UTC 2005
Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College
by Staff, 5.6.1
[Again, I'll mark the books I have actually read entire. Lots of them I feel as
if I've read them, for having read so much about them.
The editors of HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 28 distinguished
scholars and university professors to serve as judges in developing a
list of Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College.
To derive the list, each scholar first nominated titles. When all the
nominations were collectedthey amounted to more than 100 titlesHUMAN
EVENTS then sent a ballot to the scholars asking each to list his or
her Top Ten selections. A book was awarded ten points for receiving a
No. 1 rating, 9 points for receiving a No. 2 rating, and so on. The
ten books with the highest aggregate ratings made the list.
Interestingly enough, the No. 1 book our judges decided every college
student should read is a volume that has been virtually banned in
public schools by the United States Supreme Court.
x #1 The Bible
Written: c. 1446 B.C. to c. A.D. 95 [I'm convinced it was finished by
70 AD by John A.T. Robinson's Redating the New Testament.]
The Bible, the central work of Western Civilization, defines the
relationship between God and man, and forms the foundation of faith in
the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet, today it is virtually banned in
America's public primary and secondary schoolsmeaning many American
students may not encounter the most important book of all time in a
classroom setting until they reach college.
x #2 The Federalist Papers
Authors: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
Written: October 1787 to May 1788
Written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The
Federalist Papers first appeared in several New York state newspapers
as a series of 85 essays published under the nom de plume "Publius"
from the fall of 1787 to the spring of 1788.
The purpose of The Federalist Papers was to garner support for the
newly created Constitution. At the time the states were bound together
under the Articles of Confederation, but the weakness of the Articles
necessitated the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Once the
Constitution was drafted, nine states were required to ratify it, so
Hamilton, Jay, and Madison took up the effort to persuade skeptics.
Because Hamilton and Madison were both members of the Constitutional
Convention, their writings are instructive in divining the original
intent of those who drafted the Constitution.
According to the Library of Congress, the first bound edition of The
Federalist Papers was published in 1788 with revisions and corrections
by Hamilton. A bound edition with revisions and corrections by Madison
published in 1818 was the first to identify the authors of each essay.
To purchase The Federalist Papers, click here.
[I may not have actually finished it, since so many of the arguments are
x #3 Democracy in America
Author: Alexis de Tocqueville
A left-leaning Frenchman who visited America in 1831, de Tocqueville
produced an incisive portrait of American political and social life
in the early 19th Century. He praised the democratic ideals and
private virtues of the American people but warned against what he saw
as the tyrannical tendency of public opinion. Visiting during the
heyday of slavery, de Tocqueville foresaw the troubles racial
questions would pose for the country. He also was early in observing
that judicial power had a tendency to usurp the political in the
United States. He also wrote of the difficulties inherent in the
egalitarian sentiment then gaining strength in America. "However
energetically society in general may strive to make all the citizens
equal and alike, the personal pride of each individual will always
make him try to escape from the common level, and he will form some
inequality somewhere to his own profit," he said.
[I read an abridgement.]
x #4 The Divine Comedy
Author: Dante Alighieri
Written: A.D. 1306-1321
One of the most frequently cited poems of all time, this epic allegory
is an amalgam of Dante's views of science, theology, astronomy, and
philosophy. In it Dante recounts his imaginary journey through Hell,
Purgatory, and Paradise, during which he realizes his hatred for his
sin and becomes a changed man by the grace of God.
The work contains three sections"Inferno," "Purgatorio," and
"Paradiso." In "Inferno," Dante journeys through Hell, led by the soul
of the Roman poet Virgil. He describes Hell as a funnel-shaped pit
divided into nine circles, each one a place for those people guilty of
a particular sin, with suffering increasing as he descends to the
bottom where Satan himself dwells.
In "Purgatorio," Dante travels with Virgil up the Mount of Purgatory.
Ten terraces make up the Mount and the process of purification for its
occupants is arduous as they climb from terrace to terrace. When Dante
and Virgil pass the final terrace, they glimpse Paradise where
Beatrice, Dante's first love, awaits and Virgil is forced to depart.
In "Paradiso," Beatrice guides Dante through the various levels of
Paradise. At the highest level, Empyrean, where God, Mary, and many of
the angels and saints abide, Dante views the light of God, which
leaves him speechless and changed.
[I am not clear why Protestants reject Purgatory. Do they accept Limbo? What's
#5 The Republic
Written: c. 360 B.C.
The Republic is likely the most important work of the most important
and influential philosopher who ever lived. The writings of Plato, a
disciple of Socrates in ancient Athens, provide the foundation of
abstract thought for all of Western Civilization, and The Republic
contains expositions of various theories of justice, the state and
society, and the soul. Is justice a matter of being helpful to those
who help you and harmful to those who harm you? Or is it simply the
"interest of the stronger," defined by those who govern the rest of
us, as post-modern leftists would have it? How should society be
organized? How is the human soul structured? How may we arrive at
truth? The first author in history to deal with such questions in
systematic rational argument, Plato contrasts the ideal society with
reality in a way later echoed in the City of God (No. 7) by St.
Augustinewho explored his own soul in his Confessions (No. 9). Plato
describes the first totalitarian utopia as part of his argument, the
first of many thinkers to do so. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Out of
Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of
#6 The Politics
Written: Fourth Century, B.C.
Aristotle, the most famous student of Plato, is one of the few men who
managed to be highly appreciated both in his own time (he was hired to
tutor Alexander the Great) and by posterity. His philosophy continues
to form the backbone of Western thought. Much of his writing was lost
for centuries, but its recovery helped Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th
Century, and later political philosophers, develop the concept of
natural law that became central to the Anglo-American understanding of
just and limited government. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
cited Aristotle as an inspiration for the Declaration of Independence.
In the Politics, Aristotle examines the formation and composition of
civil society more simply and effectively than perhaps anyone since.
Beginning with a complete accounting of the elements in the basic unit
of societythe oikos or family homethe philosopher expands outward to
discuss the larger unit of human existence, the city-stateor polisin
the same terms.
#7 (tie) Nicomachaean Ethics
Written: Fourth Century, B.C.
The Ethics is a collection of notes from Aristotle's lectures, taken
by his student Nicomachus. The Ethics' elegant inductive arguments,
developed hundreds of years before the Christian era, proved that man
can indeed understand the basic concepts of good and evil without the
aid of Divine Revelationa fact that many leftists are unwilling to
accept in their quest to destroy respect for objective rules of right
[Why are "leftists" so bent? Is it Satan at work, or is it rent-seeking?]
Unlike today's secularists, Aristotle saw clearly that all human
beings have a built-in need to pursue happiness through behaving
properly. Aristotle analyzes why not all human actions lead to
happiness, and reveals how a man's daily choices between good and evil
result in the habits of virtue or vice. Virtuous action, he concludes,
makes men happy, whereas vice does not.
#7 (tie) City of God
Author: St. Augustine of Hippo
Written: A.D. 413-426
The City of God ranks as history's most influential writing by a
theologian. Augustine, the cultured bishop of an ancient Roman city in
North Africa, created a philosophy of history that answered the
argument of pagans who blamed the decline of Rome on the rise of
Christianity. (Rome had first been sacked in 410.) Augustine explained
human history in terms of Divine Providence and asserted that the
Church would bring human history to its final consummation. At that
consummation, the two "cities" that remained intermingled on Earththe
pure, virtuous city of God and the sinful, flawed city of manwould be
separated into two. Augustine argued that the sinful practices of the
pagan Romans helped prompt God to allow the Eternal City's capture by
barbarians. Augustine firmly implants teleologythe Aristotelian idea
that all things have an ultimate purposeinto history just as previous
Christian thinkers had adopted teleology to explain God's plan for
individual human beings. For Augustine, all of human history points
toward a divine purpose.
x #9 Confessions
Author: St. Augustine of Hippo
Written: c. A.D. 400
The Confessions is Augustine's spiritual autobiography. Addressed to
God, the book bares the author's soul. Here Augustine explains the
history of his life in terms of Divine Providence, much as in the City
of God he explained the history of Rome. He owns up to the sins that
pulled him away from faith despite the exertions of his intensely
devout mother, St. Monica. In the course of describing both his
exterior and interior life, Augustine reiterates the Christian
philosophy of the human person expounded by St. Paul in his epistles.
He describes the interplay among passion, will, and reason and
attempts to explain why men do evil when they know better.
#10 Reflections on the Revolution in France
Author: Edmund Burke
An Irish-born British politician of the late 18th Century, who was
popular in America because of his opposition to taxing the colonies,
Burke holds a prominent place in the history of English-speaking
conservatives. Indeed, in The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk singled
him out as the first modern conservative intellectual.
Burke's early and energetic disapproval of the French Revolution
proved prophetic in light of the Reign of Terror that followed. A
champion of the inherent wisdom of long-settled traditions, Burke
argued that by violently ripping up their nation's institutions root
and branch, the French had assured themselves years of chaos.
If changes had to be made in France, he argued, could not the
tried-and-true be kept and only the bad discarded? "Is it, then,
true," he asked, "that the French government was such as to be
incapable or undeserving of reform, so that it was of absolute
necessity that the whole fabric should be at once pulled down and the
area cleared for the erection of a theoretic, experimental edifice in
Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss 38 points
The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk 36 points
A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil
War by Harry V. Jaffa 33 points
x Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis 32 points
x The Illiad by Homer 31 points
x King Lear by William Shakespeare 29 points
x The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis 27 points
x Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton 25 points
x Aeneid by Virgil 19 points
x Hamlet by William Shakespeare 18 points
x Modern Times by Paul Johnson 18 points
Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles 18 points
[I only read the first, in high school.]
x Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver 17 points
Idea of a University by John Henry Newman 16 points
x The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek 16 points
x Animal Farm by George Orwell 14 points
Gorgias by Plato 14 points
A Humane Economy by Wilhelm Roepke 14 points
The Public Philosophy by Walter Lippman 14 points
The Roots of American Order by Russell Kirk 14 points
[No books by Mr. Mencken!]
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