Monday, June 06, 2005

i just found a new reading list

I'm not sure how I found Heretical Ideas, but I'm glad I did. Lots of food for thought. This post led me to my new reading list. Human Events, The National Conservative Weekly since 1944, posted their list of the Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries, with 20 more as (un)Honorable Mention. Unsuprisingly the top ten list includes Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, Mao Zedong's Quotations from Chairman Mao, and Karl Marx's and Freidrich Engels's The Communist Manifesto all made the list. The list also includes Alfred Kinsey's The Kinsey Report, Freidrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, and Auguste Comte's The Course of Positive Philosophy. On the (un)Honorable Mention list, we have The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin, Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud, and Unsafe at Any Speed by Ralph Nader.

Once again we have Evil Knowledge rearing it's ugly head. Knowledge is not inherently evil, it's what people do with it that is evil. Even Mein Kampf, isn't evil, it's what people did with that knowledge, those ideas that caused so much suffering. In the same breath, The National Conservative Weekly is condemning the Third Reich and it's ideals, and at the same time is wanting to institute the same control of ideas.

No knowledge is inherently evil, it's what is done with that knowledge that can be good, evil, or somewhere in between. We all have choices to make, based on what we know, our experiences, or prejudices. Yes, some of the ideas written in those books on that list may be horrifying, offensive, terrifying, or worse. But they make us think, which precious few of us do anymore.

One does not have to like or agree with an author or a philosophy for it to have merit. By understanding one philosophy, one that we may not agree with or even find offensive, we better understand the philosophies and beliefs we hold dear. Writers react, to events, to other writers, to previous ideas, whether they agree with them or not. That is how new philosophies, new ideas are born. This adds to the great accumulation of human acheivement.

Of the books on the National Conservative Weekly's list, I've read a few, and excerpts from many of the others. I think I need to fix that, and read every book on that list.

1 comment:

Matt Whyndham said...

What a great list (and bizarre that some of them are seen by anyone as Harmful, but conservatives are bizarre). I think I'm in agreement with you. I need to read these books, and generally think they are gifts to humanity.