Meaning Making and the Importance of Questioning in the Great Books Pantheon

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Throughout the Great Books pantheon we have read and discussed the works of various individuals who aim to answer important questions such as, how should one live a life of virtue, what does the most functional society look like, is there any meaning to life at all?, and as students we have been challenged to do more than to take each of these works at face value. In reading any book, it is important to evaluate the content so that the author’s purpose in writing is properly ascertained and so that we may add our own knowledge and opinions to the work, essentially creating and solidifying our own ideals subsequently crafting within ourselves an analytical mind. Thus the Great Books program mandates from its students, the same thing that Socrates suggests when he asserts, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for”. We as human beings are easily described as meaning makers because of our ever growing penchant for finding order in even the most random of occurrences. Throughout the course of the great books program we are challenged to come face to face with our own constructs of value, virtues and vices thereby furthering our own understanding of ourselves, of others, and of the world around us. Thus, in ending with Albert Camus’ The Stranger we as great books students receive yet another important question to come to grips with and it allows us to recognize that the ultimate conclusion of the author or character, though crucial, is less important than allowing ourselves to contemplate the question primarily posed. Socrates, the father of Philosophy, is perhaps one of the best examples of the importance of questioning human constructs. In Meno, ... ... middle of paper ... ... of the readers to another way of thinking. Whether discussing virtue, honor or the meaning of life on the whole great books demands of its students an open yet critical mind. Every book discussed deepens our understanding of the world around us and life itself and whether or not we come to the conclusion that nothing has meaning the way Meursualt did or that everything has meaning but we have not yet recollected the truth as Socrates posits, it is the responsibility of the great books student to ask questions and grapple with each text and question in order to strengthen our own constructs. Thus in ending with The Stranger we are offered one more unique and challenging perspective. Works Cited Camus, Albert. The Stranger. 1st ed. New York: Random House, Inc, 1942. Print. Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quixote. eBook. Plato. Meno. Trans. J. Holbo and B Waring. Web.

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