Thursday, 6 December 2012

How many great books have you actually read?

How many great books have you actually read?

 Scan the list, and say how many you’ve read.

 I think most people studying or teaching philosophy have read large parts of what we might call ‘the good stuff’, and we confuse reading that with actually reading the whole of a work.

(I think of myself as having read Berkeley’s Principles, but I really only know the good bit, which is to say the arguments for idealism at the start — God alone knows what’s in the second half of the book.)

Here's a list.

  1. The Republic, Plato
  2. Organon, Aristotle
  3. Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
  4. City of God, Augustine
  5. Summa theologiae, Aquinas
  6. The Prince, Machiavelli
  7. Novum Organum, Francis Bacon
  8. Discourse on Method, Rene Descartes
  9. Meditations on First Philosophy, Rene Descartes
  10. Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes
  11. Ethics, Spinoza
  12. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke
  13. Monadology, Leibniz
  14. Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley
  15. A Treatise of Human Nature, Hume
  16. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume
  17. The Social Contract, Rousseau
  18. The Principles of Morals and Legislation, Jeremy Bentham
  19. Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant
  20. Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel
  21. Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill
  22. Vindication of the rights of Women, Mary Wollstonecraft
  23. Either/Or, Soren Kierkegaard
  24. Method of Ethics, Sidgwick
  25. Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche
  26. Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx
  27. Principia Ethica, G. E. Moore
  28. Being and Time, Martin Heidegger
  29. Tractatus, Wittgenstein
  30. Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein
  31. Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre
  32. The Second Sex, de Beauvoir

Well, how many have you read, page by page, cover to cover?