My New Coat

PortalPhilosophers

I read a lot. I like to read fiction. Usually something that stretches me a little. Like the classics. But lately I’ve ventured into another reading arena. I’m reading nonfiction classics, mostly of the philosophical bent.

I’m wading through selected readings from Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx. I’ve started reading Plato and Charles Darwin. Soon I’ll delve into Rene Descartes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and others. I’m vaguely familiar with some of these writings, but most of it is new material for me.

As I expose myself to the ideas of each of these writers, I try each of them on as if it were a new coat. I wear it for a while, and see how it fits. Parts of them fit great, others I discard. If I ever finish this experiment, I expect my coat to be a great patchwork of ideas that I have made my own. A very colorful quilt of a coat that always has room for another patch.

Learning about these ideas in the context of their times helps me understand how we got where we are today. I can draw on these ideas, and from the luxury of hindsight, see what worked and what didn’t. I’m finding many correlations in the history of those times and the times we are going through now. What worked then might work now.

Study the writings of these men. Think about the historical context in which they were written. Try on their ideas for a while. Do you see any similarities with today? Do you think some of their ideas might be relevant today?