25 Matching Annotations
  1. Sep 2023
    1. The Great Conversation: The Substance of a Liberal Education. 27th Printing. Vol. 1. 54 vols. The Great Books of the Western World. 1952. Reprint, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1984.

      I read the first edition.

      Hutchins, Robert M. The Great Conversation: The Substance of a Liberal Education. Edited by Robert M. Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler. 1st ed. Vol. 1. 54 vols. Great Books of the Western World. Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1952.

      urn:x-pdf:0ce8391ed9f9f1cfc78c28b6c923abac<br /> Annotation search: https://jonudell.info/h/facet/?user=chrisaldrich&max=100&exactTagSearch=true&expanded=true&addQuoteContext=true&url=urn%3Ax-pdf%3A0ce8391ed9f9f1cfc78c28b6c923abac

  2. Aug 2023
    1. Whereas ChatGPT may be a bullshitter, Claude can be a co-reader whose output specifically references and works to make “meaning” in response to another author’s words.

      "Reading with an artificial intelligence" seems like a fascinating way to participate in the Great Conversation.

    1. I could continue a thread anywhere, rather than always picking it up at the end. I could sketch out where I expected things to go, with an outline, rather than keeping all the points I wanted to hit in my head as I wrote. If I got stuck on something, I could write about how I was stuck nested underneath whatever paragraph I was currently writing, but then collapse the meta-thoughts to be invisible later -- so the overall narrative doesn’t feel interrupted.

      Notes about what you don't know (open questions), empty outline slots, red links as [[wikilinks]], and other "holes" in tools for thought provide a bookmark for where one may have quit exploring, but are an explicit breadcrumb for picking up that line of thought and continuing it at a future time.

      Linear writing in one's notebooks, books they're reading, and other places doesn't always provide an explicit space which invites the reader or writer to fill them in. One has to train themselves to annotate in the margins to have a conversation with the text. Until one sees these empty spaces as inviting spaces they can be invisible to the eye.

    1. Imagine the younger generation studying great books andlearning the liberal arts. Imagine an adult population con-tinuing to turn to the same sources of strength, inspiration,and communication. We could talk to one another then. Weshould be even better specialists than we are today because wecould understand the history of our specialty and its relationto all the others. We would be better citizens and better men.We might turn out to be the nucleus of the world community.

      Is the cohesive nature of Hutchins and Adler's enterprise for the humanities and the Great Conversation, part of the kernel of the rise of interdisciplinarity seen in the early 2000s onward in academia (and possibly industry).

      Certainly large portions are the result of uber-specialization, particularly in spaces which have concatenated and have allowed people to specialize in multiple areas to create new combinatorial creative possibilities.

    2. The mathematical specialist, for example, canget further faster into the great mathematicians than a readerwho is without his specialized training. With the help ofgreat books, specialized knowledge can radiate out into agenuine interfiltration of common learning and common life.

      Here Hutchins is again prefiguring C.P. Snow's "two cultures". He makes the argument that by having a shared base of knowledge and culture in our society's past history of knowledge (and especially early scientists and mathematicians), everyone, despite their individual interests and specializations, can be an active participant in a broader human conversation.

    3. The task is to have a communitynevertheless, and to discover means of using specialties topromote it. This can be done through the Great Conversa-tion.

      We need some common culture to bind humanity together. Hutchins makes the argument that the Great Conversation can help to effectuate this binding through shared culture and knowledge.

      Perhaps he is even more right in the 2000s than he was in the 1950s?

    4. I should like to add that specialization, instead of makingthe Great Conversation irrelevant, makes it more pertinentthan ever. Specialization makes it harder to carry on anykind of conversation; but this calls for greater effort, not theabandonment of the attempt.

      The dramatic increase in economic specialization of humanity driven by the Industrial Revolution has many benefits to societies, but it also has detrimental effects when the core knowledge and shared base of the society is lost.

      Certainly individuals have a greater reliance on specialists for future outcomes (think about the specialization of areas like climate science which can have destructive outcomes on all of humanity or public health outcomes with respect to vaccines and specialized health care delivery), but they also need to have a common base of knowledge/culture and the ability to think critically for themselves to be able to effect necessary changes, particularly when the pace of those changes is more rapid than humans have generally been evolved to accept them.

    5. Do science, technology, industrialization, and specializa-tion render the Great Conversation irrelevant?
  3. Jul 2023
    1. Books aren’t something one approves or disapproves of; they are to be understood, interpreted, learned from, shocked by, argued with and enjoyed. Moreover, the evolution of literature and the other arts, their constant renewal over the centuries, has always been fueled by what is now censoriously labeled “cultural appropriation” but which is more properly described as “influence,” “inspiration” or “homage.” Poets, painters, novelists and other artists all borrow, distort and transform. That’s their job; that’s what they do.
    1. a conver-sation that has gone on for twenty-five centuries, all dogmasand points of view appear.

      Does it really?!? When the conversation omits so many perspectives and points of view for lack of diversity, it's also going to be missing quite a lot that one may not anticipate either. It's also likely to go down some blind alleys that may not be as beneficial too.

    2. the reader becomes to thisextent his own editor.
    3. Some writers have made an important contribution to theGreat Conversation, but in a way that makes it impossible toinclude it in a set like this. These are writers, of whom Leib-nitz, Voltaire, and Balzac are notable examples, whose con-tribution lies in the total volume of their work, rather thanin a few great works, and whose total volume is too largeto be included or whose single works do not come up to thestandard of the other books in this set.
    4. In many cases, all or some of an author'sworks included in this set were unavailable.

      One of the primary goals of The Great Books, was to make some of the (especially ancient writers) more accessible to modern audiences with respect to ready availability of their works which were otherwise much more expensive.

      This certainly says something about both publishing and reading practices of the early 20th century.

    5. The reason, then, for the omission of authors and worksafter 1900 is simply that the Editors did not feel that they oranyone else could accurately judge the merits of contempo-rary writings.

      The idea of the Lindy effect is subtly hiding here. Presumably it also existed before.

      It's often seen in how historians can or can't easily evaluate the impact of recent historical figures without the appropriate amount of additional evaluation with respect to passing time.

    6. the Great Conversation coversmore than twenty-five centuries.

      Broadly the entirety of the documented existence of mankind...

    7. The set is almost self-selected, in the sense that one bookleads to another, amplifying, modifying, or contradicting it.

      amplifying, modifying, contradicting...

      what other means of argumentation/conversation could one enumerate here with respect to a greater conversation?

    8. THE GREAT CONVERSATION

      How specifically does the author define "The Great Conversation"?

      Note that it is consistently capitalized throughout the book to give it greater importance.

    9. They now have the chance to understandthemselves through understanding their tradition.

      It feels odd that people wouldn't understand their own traditions, but it obviously happens. Information overload can obviously heavily afflict societies toward forgetting their traditions and the formation of new traditions, particularly in non-oral traditions which focus more on written texts which can more easily be ignored (not read) and then later replaced with seemingly newer traditions.

      Take for example the resurgence of note taking ideas circa 2014-2020 which completely disregarded the prior histories, particularly in lieu of new technologies for doing them.

      As a means of focusing on Western Culture, the editors here have highlighted some of the most important thoughts for encapsulating and influencing their current and future cultures.

      How do oral traditions embrace the idea of the "Great Conversation"?

    1. readers typically turn to translations not to hear about culinary ephemera but to read literature.

      Part of literature is the Great Conversation, which often turns on the ability for writers to be understood and appreciated, often in translation. Gary Saul Morson takes P&V to task for their Russian translations which often focus on the incredibly specific nuances of direct translation, but which simultaneously lose the beauty and sense of literature. He says, "[...] readers typically turn to translations not to hear about culinary ephemera but to read literature."

  4. Jun 2023
    1. I do think it’s helpful for members of the public to know some basic facts about the past. For me, it’s the same idea as the saying “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Similarly, if you know nothing you can be convinced of anything.

      These are much pithier versions of what Robert Hutchins is getting at when he's talking about the importance of the Great Conversation with respect to Democracy.

  5. May 2023
    1. Studs Terkel, the oral historian, was known to admonish friends who would read his books but leave them free of markings. He told them that reading a book should not be a passive exercise, but rather a raucous conversation.

      love "raucous conversation"!

  6. Apr 2023
    1. TheSyntopicon invites the reader to make on the set whatever demands arisefrom his own problems and interests. It is constructed to enable the reader,nomatter what the stages of his reading in other ways, to find that part of theGreat Conversation in which any topic that interests him is being discussed.

      While the Syntopicon ultimately appears in book form, one must recall that it started life as a paper slip-based card index (Life v24, issue 4, 1948). This index can be queried in some of the ways one might have queried a library card catalog or more specifically the way in which Niklas Luhmann indicated that he queried his zettelkasten (Luhmann,1981). Unlike a library card catalog, The Syntopicon would not only provide a variety of entry places within the Western canon to begin their search for answers, but would provide specific page numbers and passages rather than references to entire books.

      The Syntopicon invites the reader to make on the set whatever demands arise from his own problems and interests. It is constructed to enable the reader, no matter what the stages of his reading in other ways, to find that part of the Great Conversation in which any topic that interests him is being discussed. (p. 85)

      While the search space for the Syntopicon wasn't as large as the corpus covered by larger search engines of the 21st century, the work that went into making it and the depth and focus of the sources make it a much more valuable search tool from a humanistic perspective. This work and value can also be seen in a personal zettelkasten. Some of the value appears in the form of having previously built a store of contextualized knowledge, particularly in cases where some ideas have been forgotten or not easily called to mind, which serves as a context ratchet upon which to continue exploring and building.

    1. Oakeshott saw educationas part of the ‘conversation of mankind’, wherein teachers induct their studentsinto that conversation by teaching them how to participate in the dialogue—howto hear the ‘voices’ of previous generations while cultivating their own uniquevoices.

      How did Michael Oakeshott's philosophy overlap with the idea of the 'Great Conversation' or 20th century movement of Adler's Great Books of the Western World.

      How does it influence the idea of "having conversations with the text" in the annotation space?