Lost in Thought

Lost in Thought
Title Lost in Thought PDF eBook
Author Zena Hitz
Publisher Princeton University Press
Pages 238
Release 2021-08-24
Genre Philosophy
ISBN 0691229198

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An invitation to readers from every walk of life to rediscover the impractical splendors of a life of learning In an overloaded, superficial, technological world, in which almost everything and everybody is judged by its usefulness, where can we turn for escape, lasting pleasure, contemplation, or connection to others? While many forms of leisure meet these needs, Zena Hitz writes, few experiences are so fulfilling as the inner life, whether that of a bookworm, an amateur astronomer, a birdwatcher, or someone who takes a deep interest in one of countless other subjects. Drawing on inspiring examples, from Socrates and Augustine to Malcolm X and Elena Ferrante, and from films to Hitz's own experiences as someone who walked away from elite university life in search of greater fulfillment, Lost in Thought is a passionate and timely reminder that a rich life is a life rich in thought. Today, when even the humanities are often defended only for their economic or political usefulness, Hitz says our intellectual lives are valuable not despite but because of their practical uselessness. And while anyone can have an intellectual life, she encourages academics in particular to get back in touch with the desire to learn for its own sake, and calls on universities to return to the person-to-person transmission of the habits of mind and heart that bring out the best in us. Reminding us of who we once were and who we might become, Lost in Thought is a moving account of why renewing our inner lives is fundamental to preserving our humanity.




Rescuing Socrates

Rescuing Socrates
Title Rescuing Socrates PDF eBook
Author Roosevelt Montas
Publisher Princeton University Press
Pages 248
Release 2023-03-21
Genre Biography & Autobiography
ISBN 0691224390

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A Dominican-born academic tells the story of how the Great Books transformed his life—and why they have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds What is the value of a liberal education? Traditionally characterized by a rigorous engagement with the classics of Western thought and literature, this approach to education is all but extinct in American universities, replaced by flexible distribution requirements and ever-narrower academic specialization. Many academics attack the very idea of a Western canon as chauvinistic, while the general public increasingly doubts the value of the humanities. In Rescuing Socrates, Dominican-born American academic Roosevelt Montás tells the story of how a liberal education transformed his life, and offers an intimate account of the relevance of the Great Books today, especially to members of historically marginalized communities. Montás emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Queens, New York, when he was twelve and encountered the Western classics as an undergraduate in Columbia University’s renowned Core Curriculum, one of America’s last remaining Great Books programs. The experience changed his life and determined his career—he went on to earn a PhD in English and comparative literature, serve as director of Columbia’s Center for the Core Curriculum, and start a Great Books program for low-income high school students who aspire to be the first in their families to attend college. Weaving together memoir and literary reflection, Rescuing Socrates describes how four authors—Plato, Augustine, Freud, and Gandhi—had a profound impact on Montás’s life. In doing so, the book drives home what it’s like to experience a liberal education—and why it can still remake lives.




Why We Are Restless

Why We Are Restless
Title Why We Are Restless PDF eBook
Author Benjamin Storey
Publisher Princeton University Press
Pages 264
Release 2021-04-06
Genre History
ISBN 0691211124

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"No one seems to be happy with the present. That loathing of the present is understandable. The present moment, in modern life, is hard to love, or even to grasp. For the modern present is a state of constant motion. Perpetual moral, social, and psychic revolution is the price we pay for our unprecedented liberty, equality, and prosperity. Though we rightly prize those great political goods, having our world turned upside down every morning makes us all of us uneasy and some of us miserable. We exacerbate our unease by our failure to recognize it. With our ritual insistence that we are perfectly content to "go with the flow," we deny even the existence of our disquiet. We refuse to see what time it is, and we refuse to see ourselves"--




Closing of the American Mind

Closing of the American Mind
Title Closing of the American Mind PDF eBook
Author Allan Bloom
Publisher Simon and Schuster
Pages 403
Release 2008-06-30
Genre Social Science
ISBN 1439126267

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The brilliant, controversial, bestselling critique of American culture that “hits with the approximate force and effect of electroshock therapy” (The New York Times)—now featuring a new afterword by Andrew Ferguson in a twenty-fifth anniversary edition. In 1987, eminent political philosopher Allan Bloom published The Closing of the American Mind, an appraisal of contemporary America that “hits with the approximate force and effect of electroshock therapy” (The New York Times) and has not only been vindicated, but has also become more urgent today. In clear, spirited prose, Bloom argues that the social and political crises of contemporary America are part of a larger intellectual crisis: the result of a dangerous narrowing of curiosity and exploration by the university elites. Now, in this twenty-fifth anniversary edition, acclaimed author and journalist Andrew Ferguson contributes a new essay that describes why Bloom’s argument caused such a furor at publication and why our culture so deeply resists its truths today.




Action Versus Contemplation

Action Versus Contemplation
Title Action Versus Contemplation PDF eBook
Author Jennifer Summit
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Pages 253
Release 2018-03-22
Genre Philosophy
ISBN 022603237X

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“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” Blaise Pascal wrote in 1654. But then there’s Walt Whitman, in 1856: “Whoever you are, come forth! Or man or woman come forth! / You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house.” It is truly an ancient debate: Is it better to be active or contemplative? To do or to think? To make an impact, or to understand the world more deeply? Aristotle argued for contemplation as the highest state of human flourishing. But it was through action that his student Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Which should we aim at? Centuries later, this argument underlies a surprising number of the questions we face in contemporary life. Should students study the humanities, or train for a job? Should adults work for money or for meaning? And in tumultuous times, should any of us sit on the sidelines, pondering great books, or throw ourselves into protests and petition drives? With Action versus Contemplation, Jennifer Summit and Blakey Vermeule address the question in a refreshingly unexpected way: by refusing to take sides. Rather, they argue for a rethinking of the very opposition. The active and the contemplative can—and should—be vibrantly alive in each of us, fused rather than sundered. Writing in a personable, accessible style, Summit and Vermeule guide readers through the long history of this debate from Plato to Pixar, drawing compelling connections to the questions and problems of today. Rather than playing one against the other, they argue, we can discover how the two can nourish, invigorate, and give meaning to each other, as they have for the many writers, artists, and thinkers, past and present, whose examples give the book its rich, lively texture of interplay and reference. This is not a self-help book. It won’t give you instructions on how to live your life. Instead, it will do something better: it will remind you of the richness of a life that embraces action and contemplation, company and solitude, living in the moment and planning for the future. Which is better? Readers of this book will discover the answer: both.




Burnt Books

Burnt Books
Title Burnt Books PDF eBook
Author Rodger Kamenetz
Publisher Schocken
Pages 385
Release 2010-10-19
Genre Religion
ISBN 0307379337

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From the acclaimed author of The Jew in the Lotus comes an "engrossing and wonderful book" (The Washington Times) about the unexpected connections between Franz Kafka and Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav—and the significant role played by the imagination in the Jewish spiritual experience. Rodger Kamenetz has long been fascinated by the mystical tales of the Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. And for many years he has taught a course in Prague on Franz Kafka. The more he thought about their lives and writings, the more aware he became of unexpected connections between them. Kafka was a secular artist fascinated by Jewish mysticism, and Rabbi Nachman was a religious mystic who used storytelling to reach out to secular Jews. Both men died close to age forty of tuberculosis. Both invented new forms of storytelling that explore the search for meaning in an illogical, unjust world. Both gained prominence with the posthumous publication of their writing. And both left strict instructions at the end of their lives that their unpublished books be burnt. Kamenetz takes his ideas on the road, traveling to Kafka’s birthplace in Prague and participating in the pilgrimage to Uman, the burial site of Rabbi Nachman visited by thousands of Jews every Jewish new year. He discusses the hallucinatory intensity of their visions and offers a rich analysis of Nachman’s and Kafka’s major works, revealing uncanny similarities in the inner lives of these two troubled and beloved figures, whose creative and religious struggles have much to teach us about the Jewish spiritual experience.




What Are We Doing Here?

What Are We Doing Here?
Title What Are We Doing Here? PDF eBook
Author Marilynne Robinson
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages 336
Release 2018-02-20
Genre Literary Collections
ISBN 0374717788

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New essays on theological, political, and contemporary themes, by the Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson has plumbed the human spirit in her renowned novels, including Lila, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. In this new essay collection she trains her incisive mind on our modern political climate and the mysteries of faith. Whether she is investigating how the work of great thinkers about America like Emerson and Tocqueville inform our political consciousness or discussing the way that beauty informs and disciplines daily life, Robinson’s peerless prose and boundless humanity are on full display. What Are We Doing Here? is a call for Americans to continue the tradition of those great thinkers and to remake American political and cultural life as “deeply impressed by obligation [and as] a great theater of heroic generosity, which, despite all, is sometimes palpable still.”