a few blogs ago I rambled on and on about arguments and words and misdirection. But, I haven't read any of the books some of the recent blogversations were addressing. I'm reading a book on philosophy right now, Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaardder and I just read an article linked to Sweet Jane's most recent blog written by Aronson (published in The Nation). Altogether, I'm starting to feel like some of the safe, quiet categories i've set up and been living within in order to make my life most peaceful on the spiritual/philosophical front are being shaken just a bit.
The book I'm reading has given an incredibly brief and shallow overview of the history of philosophy, starting with ancient myths, moving on to the natural philosophers, to Socrates/Plato/Aristotle, to the Christian era, to the middle ages, to the renaissance, the reformation, the baroque period, and so on. The thing that's good about the book is the feeling it offers from seeing so much history in a few pages, in a few pictures. Most of the food of philosophy, I imagine, is left out, but the view of history it has given me makes me wonder where we're at in the philosophical movement, now. What part is our generation playing? We're an in-between generation, aren't we? Our parents are the last-ish of the baby boomers, on the edge of the World-War influenced mind set. We were born right around the same time as the computer; we've grown up with the Internet, with increasing globalization. Our world has become significantly smaller than it was when our parents were growing up. Our grandparents didn't even have personal telephones, per se. Or easy access to cars, or televisions when they were young. Now we carry around these tiny little phone thingies that connect us to most of the world in a split second. I think we're right in the middle of a transition era. Where ideas are bubbling and brewing but nothing, as of yet, no new thoughts on how to view the world, or philosophies, have been established or agreed on. (But maybe that's every generation....I bet.)
Somewhere swishing around my brain is an identity crisis (to use a dramatic term) I can't pinpoint or define. This global world, this over-done and overwhelming amount of information constantly bombarding us, this incredibly easy access to communication and loss of the personal (email, fax, automation recordings) has helped me paint a world in which I'm finding it hard to fit in. I can't help feeling, every once in the blink-of-an-eye like a pawn, like I'm just another reactionary product of my generation.
So I have decided to begin educating myself. So I can seriously join conversation. I'm wondering if anyone has any good suggestions of books. I started reading The End of Faith this Christmas and I'm going to finish that first, but after that, if anyone has any recommendations, please pass them on.
Sweet Jane quoted Aronson's last argument in her most recent blog "Readers Poll" and I'll write it again here: "And--I save for last the touchiest question of all--shouldn't all Americans be instructed in the great religious and secular traditions, as well as their greatest books? After all, achieving literacy in both religion and secularism might allow us to discuss them more intelligently." I have chosen up to now, probably partly as a knee-jerk reaction to how I lived previously, a mode of ignorant quiet. But I do love information and I don't want to argue based only on emotion forever. I want to know what and why (and it's been a long time since I've said that...eh).