Celebrating Aristotle in Autumn

tumblr_kylxqyKU511qay2luSo recently I read and reviewed A.J. Jacobs’ book The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World and I kind of mentioned that I would like to do something similar sometime – and then I promptly forgot about it.
But then Rick from Another Book Blog wrote and said, among other things, that he wanted to steal my idea to read all of Fredrick Coppleston’s History of Philosophy for 2014 and after a couple of comments back and forth as well as several twitter messages, somehow we agreed to start reading all of Coppleston. I’m really not sure quite how I got myself into this and how it’s going to play out but here we are. On October 1st, we begin. Slowly working our way through the entire history of philosophy. Or most of it, at least.
Frederick Charles Copleston begins his history of philosophy with the Pre-Socratics and ends with Existentialism. 11 volumes of philosophy, covering most of Western philosophy. Even though Copleston is a Roman Catholic and never hides this, this is supposed to be a very good history of philosophy which treats every theory fairly and shows how every theory and philosopher connect with what came before and after.
And yeah, I know the title of this post was a bit of a lie but it has a certain ring to it, hasn’t it. And then we don’t care that we’re not starting with Aristotle – or that this is not just an autumn thing. And maybe it will turn out to be anything but a celebration. Really, nothing in the title fits but well, that’s how it goes sometimes. Titles can be misleading…
Anyways, if you want to join us, that will be totally cool. We’re going to attempt to read a volume every other month – but how that goes and how often I’m going to write about this (insane) project, I have no idea. Rick and I agreed that this is a project that demands a lot of support – so if you want to read along, that’s great and if you want to just watch us struggle and snicker a bit, that’s totally cool too. I’m not going to put a Mr Linky here because this really isn’t a read along that many people are foolish enough to attempt to so just holler if you want to play with us!
(Oh, this post may sound like I really don’t want to do this and that’s only partly true. You see, ever since I started to study philosophy in 1996, Coppleston has been kind of a holy grail and I just find it so so intimidating! But I’m slowly getting ready to do this – and looking forward to get the party started! Or the slow descent into philosophical madness … or solipsism, whichever comes first.)
And if you want to read what Rick thinks of it all, you can find his post here. Be warned though, his post contains dragon-humping. Oh and he thinks it’s only 9 volumes – imagine how disappointed he will be when he reach the end of volume 9 and realizes that he’s still missing an entire book about Russian Philosophy and one about Logical Positivism and Existentialism!! (Sorry, Rick!)
Oh, and I just had to share this quote from Rick’s post because it’s wonderful and funny and for the first time ever, I am now pondering whether I’m Frodo or Sam…: ‘Christina and I hope to tackle one of Copleston’s volumes every two months, starting in October. If all goes as planned, we will be finishing this little quest in March of 2015 (which sounds insane, now that I write it). It’ll take a whole lot of guts and even more luck, but I’m optimistic. We’ll be the philosophic descendants of Frodo and Sam. Or it’ll crash and burn rather quickly and Sauron will take over the Earth. Those are the stakes.’

6 thoughts on “Celebrating Aristotle in Autumn

  1. “Really, nothing in the title fits but well, that’s how it goes sometimes.” LOL

    This is going to be one hell of an undertaking, but at the very least, I’ll be able to claim I got something from the Philosophy minor I took in college.

    And about the 9 volumes. It depends on what version you read. There’s a 9-volume version from Doubleday, which appears to be the standard version now (it’s the one you have pictured above). The 11-volume one is from Continuum, and includes two extra books. I think you have to find them online. I just wasn’t sure which version we were reading. If we survive the first 9, we’ll talk about doing 10 and 11 haha. I would really like to read the Russian book. The existentialist one scares the living s#!+ out of me.

    Good luck!

  2. I let Adam at Roofbeam Reader know about your quest because he’s doing a month of philosophical reading next year… I don’t think he could get through all nine (or eleven) volumes in that time though🙂

    I’m gonna watch and wait.. there are certain things I might be interested in. Existentialism and Russian Philosophy sound interesting but I guess it’ll be a while before you get there! I remember my English teacher trying to teach us about existentialism in grade 12 and I was just like “what the…!?” I still don’t really know what is it, but I remember this bible passage which was on a badly photocopied handout about existentialism. It really spoke to me as a moody 16 year old goth chick🙂

    “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “

    • Yeah I did see that Adam was doing that. I read one of Sartre’s novels as a teenager and just loved it. I think existentialism really speaks to the moody teenager inside us all! The Russian Philisophy volume has a huge part on Dostoevsky and Tolstoy so we have to get to that!

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