There may be no golden fleece, but human riches I'll release.
July 1, 2012 4:29 PM Subscribe
In my last year of college I took a seminar course at my school's "humanities center," a small interdisciplinary program that mostly focused on continental philosophy. Some of my fondest memories of college are from that course. Where and how can I recapture something of that fantastic mindstorm?
posted by Nomyte to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
It was a very small seminar course led by a kindly and enormously learned professor emeritus. The course had a title and a syllabus, but it was essentially all one long, far-ranging conversation about the idea of "cosmogony" throughout civilized history. We wandered through Plato's Timaeus, and the Book of Genesis, and Kepler's De Nive Sexangula, and Bacon's Organon, and Shakespeare's Tempest, and Mill's debates with Whewell, and Mill on Plato, and Coleridge on everyone in history ever, and Kafka's parables, and C. S. Peirce on new modes of logic, and Poe's Eureka, and thence went on to talk about Modernist poets, and Wallace Stevens, and Krazy Kat, and Abram Tertz, and Witold Gombrowicz, and lots and lots besides. And it didn't really happen in any order, but more or less simultaneously, because everything was intricately connected, a web of ideas stretching through history.
The experience was humbling and even transcendent. Our fantastically erudite mentor opened remarkable perspectives, allowing his students a glimpse of the richness and complexity of human thought. It's been several years since graduation, but I still have most of our readings, notes, and chronologies in PDF, and reread them occasionally.
How can I recapture some aspects of that staggering and somewhat numinous experience?
The ideas I've had don't come especially close. I can explore connections between ideas on my own, but I don't have that lifetime of learning to call upon. I've tried looking into reading groups or book clubs in this subject, but they're really quite limited and dominated by typical freshman-year philosophy class bullshit. "Great courses on audio" are a little closer, but they stick to a set list of topics and generally seem aimed at massaging the listener's ego ("how to make cocktail party chatter about Plato's Republic"). Where else can I turn? Or was my experience one of a kind?