Saturday, January 21, 2012

Schopenhauer's Lightning Eliminator Method

Need some philosophical rejuvenation? Do this:

1. Go to the beginning of the philosophy section of a large university library (or the largest you can get to).
2. Open the first book.
3. Read the first 2 pages of either the introduction or of the first chapter if there's no introduction.

4. Go to the next book.
5. Return to step 3.
6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you've worked through the entire philosophy section.

Needless to say, your mind will be blown.

And the more you do it, the smaller percentage of books you'll want to read more of, as your taste and judgment refines itself over time.

The scope of philosophy will narrow as you realize just how few heavy hitters are doing most of the philosophical work.

May take a number of sessions, depending on how much time you have and how large the library's selection is.

You can also do this online using Amazon's preview feature, but it's not available for a number of important (and usually older) philosophy books.

Anyway, you'll find this activity encouraging, since like with anything else---there's a lot of crap out there that you don't yet realize is crap. This procedure will quickly give you a real direct sampling of all those books, thereby weeding out the one's that can't compel further reading more than two pages. Make a list of the ones you want to read more of, and you're done!  Works for journals too, but only one page should do for each article. Next library!