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This week, Scott and Karl tackle a massive narrative of one of the world's greatest civilizations. Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire follows the Roman Empire over thirteen centuries - its rulers, wars and society, and, of course, the events that led to its collapse. Published between 1776 and 1788 in six volume…
 
This week, Scott and Karl are off, so we'll flashback to July 2019, for a very relevant conversation from a very different world. Scott and OGB producer Brett discuss pedagogy and dominant learning theories, as Scott aspires to be a better Starting Strength coach and a more effective interlocutor at Online Great Books. We begin our discussion with …
 
This week, Scott and Karl finish their discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, a heavy fandom collection of mythopoeic stories that form a complete history of Middle Earth. The duo agrees— don't read this unless you’ve read the big trilogy first. Karl adds, “I think it’s very good. If Tolkien is as big of a part of your life as it is in …
 
This week, Scott and Karl begin their discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, a collection of mythopoeic stories that form a complete history of Middle Earth. Until 1977, these manuscripts were unpublished until his son, Christopher Tolkien, edited them posthumously. Producer Brett warns, "If you don't know what The Silmarillion is, you …
 
This week, Scott and Karl finish their discussion of John Dewey's essay, "Challenge to Liberal Thought." Written in his later life, Dewey expands on his criticisms of the Great Books of Western Civilization enterprise and a liberal arts education. The duo agrees— this is shoddy work to say the least. At the end of their conversation, Scott says, “T…
 
In the tradition of intellectual fairness, Scott and Karl read from someone they don’t agree with this week. Toted as the 'King of Progressive Philosophers', John Dewey was an educational reformer active throughout the first half of the 20th century. He left a very significant, progressive mark on the public school system. His essay "Challenge to L…
 
Scott and Karl finish their two-part discussion of Robert Maynard Hutchins' 1952 essay "The Great Conversation: Substance of a Liberal Education." The Great Conversation is the ongoing process of the best writers and thinkers of Western Civilization referencing, building on, and refining the work of their predecessors. According to Hutchins, "The t…
 
In 1943, two University of Chicago educators, Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer Adler, launched a series of Great Books seminars with prominent Chicagoans. By 1952, Hutchins had penned "The Great Conversation," an essay promoting the Great Books of the Western World published by Encyclopædia Britannica and intended for the masses. The Great Conv…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Joel Salatin's book Polyface Micro: Success with Livestock on a Homestead Scale. Success with domestic livestock does not require large land bases. Salatin's goal is to raise animals that yield integrity edible food as evidence of his family's Polyface Farm in Virginia. Scott says, "He's an efficiency exper…
 
This week and next, Scott and Karl explore Joel Salatin's book Polyface Micro: Success with Livestock on a Homestead Scale. Joel Salatin and his family own and operate Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The farm produces pastured beef, pork, chicken, eggs, turkeys, rabbits, lamb, and ducks, servicing roughly 6,000 families and 50 restau…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Walker Percy's 1983 book Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book. Percy's contribution to the self-help book craze deals with the Western mind's tendency toward heavy abstraction. With that, he invites readers to think about how we communicate with our world. The duo dives into Percy's take on the probl…
 
This week, Scott and Karl pick up another book by a recurring guest on the show, Walker Percy. Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book is more of a mock self-help book, designed not to help but to provoke. Part satire part deadly serious, Percy's goal is to explore ideas of the self and expose the social ills which plague society as a result of…
 
Scott and Karl finish discussing the Rule of Saint Benedict, written over 1,500 years ago. Benedict's careful and comprehensive Rules outline a monastic day of work, prayer, and contemplation. Karl says, "If you're going to do work and prayer, which is the Benedictine motto, this is a really great way to keep people working hard for lifetimes and h…
 
Scott and Karl begin discussing the Rule of Saint Benedict, written by the father of Western monasticism. These rules have been used by the Benedictines for 15 centuries and act as a guide for religious communities or anyone wishing to live more simply. Karl says, “It’s civilization stuff, it’s not papal stuff. Western civilization, probably all ci…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Volume One of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. The duo agrees, if there was anyone to write about the real Civil War, Shelby Foote was the man to do it. Overflowing with color, life, and character, Foote is able to bring a novelist's narrative power to this great epic. In Karl's words, "this book …
 
This week, Scott and Karl are discussing Volume One of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative which is largely considered one of the great historical narratives of our century. In Karl's words, this is the American Iliad. Originally published in 1958, Foote spent 20 years writing this classic narrative of the American Civil War which includes th…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Edward Feser’s Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. The duo picks up where they left off last week, exploring Feser's arguments against scientism and the issues that arise when the scientific method implies moral truths or the limits of reality. Karl says, "It becomes a problem when the scie…
 
Scott and Karl explore Edward Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction. Published in 2014, Professor Feser provides an overview of scholastic metaphysics in the tradition of Thomas Aquinas, relying heavily on an appeal to reason. Scott says, "The scholastics are the best at steel manning. They will investigate, and explore, and e…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Lysander Spooner's 1870 essay No Treason No. 6: "The Constitution of No Authority." While the duo believes Spooner is metaphysically wrong about the nature of government, this essay will leave you with a lasting impression. Karl asks, "How can you compel someone to stay in an organization which he freely jo…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read Lysander Spooner's 1870 essay No Treason No. 6: "The Constitution of No Authority." Spooner was an American anarchist, abolitionist, and legal theorist of the nineteenth century. He is known for competing with the U.S. Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company, later forced out of business by the United States…
 
Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Martin Heidegger's ten-page lecture "What is Metaphysics?". A friend of the void, Heidegger's writing style isn’t for everyone. Karl points out, “Part of the problem with any of these early 20th-century continental philosophers is that you can get seduced by them. Every now and then you have to step back an…
 
Scott and Karl begin their discussion of Martin Heidegger's ten-page lecture "What is Metaphysics?". This lecture was presented to the faculties of the University of Freiburg on July 24, 1929, as Heidegger's inaugural address. Taking the typical continental approach, Heidegger isn't telling us what metaphysics is; instead, he's instructing us on ho…
 
This week Scott and Karl finish their discussion of Edmund Morris's Ten Acres Enough: The Classic 1864 Guide to Independent Farming. After giving up city life and buying a small farm in the New Jersey countryside, Morris chronicles his family's experience and ends up writing of the most popular books of the time. He emphasizes that agricultural suc…
 
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