Patrick Henry College Students & Alumni Reading Group (Unofficial) discussion

33 views
General > Most influential book as a student?

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Philip (new)

Philip (philgreendyk) | 4 comments Mod
What one book (besides the Bible) that you read or studied at PHC has made the most impact on your thought or philosophy? Why? Please also specify whether it was part of the required curriculum or independent reading. What one book has influenced you most since you graduated?


message 2: by Bart (new)

Bart | 3 comments Philip,

I noticed that it was non-required reading that had the greatest influence on me. I read Lukacs' Historical Consciousness, The Consolation of Philosophy, and the Man Who Was Thursday on my own. They remain firm influences for me--really changing my life. I also read T. S. Eliot, probably for the worse.

Ever since graduation, I've found Barfield's Saving the Appearances and the works of Pseudo-Dionysius to be incredibly influential in my understanding.


message 3: by Jacob (last edited Feb 24, 2012 09:01AM) (new)

Jacob (jacobholt) | 2 comments I'm just choosing one, so I might answer this question differently if you asked me again tomorrow.

At Patrick Henry: Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (assigned reading for Mitchell's philosophy class). Kierkegaard's progression from (to put it crudely) optimistic rationalism to pessimistic rationalism to optimistic non-rationalism is foundational to how I live. Resignation is the only proper response to the world, but resignation is conquered by faith.

After graduation: Evelyn Waugh's perfect novel, Brideshead Revisited. Waugh is by no means the greatest of the English Catholic writers, but he shares with Graham Greene a whiff of existentialism and a fascination with the mysteries of sin and repentance and faith, and with Chesterton a love of all the old and beautiful things that are passing out of this world and are worth weeping for.

(EDIT: Proust said that "the whole art of living is to make use of the individuals through whom we suffer as a step enabling us to draw near to the divine form which they reflect and thus joyously to people our life with divinities" (Time Regained, p. 304). If you think you don't have time for Proust, try Brideshead instead and you'll get something similar.)


message 4: by David (last edited Feb 24, 2012 01:20PM) (new)

David (davidsess) | 3 comments Great topic, Phil - thanks for getting it started.

At PHC: I would echo Jacob and say Kierkegaard's "Fear and Trembling," which probably challenged me to search my own understanding of reason, faith, and resignation more than any other book. It also pulled me deeper into various strains of existentialism, including Camus and Sartre, that I found particularly relevant at the time. On a less personal level, Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" taught me some enduring insights about human beings and politics that I've never forgotten.

After PHC: Terry Eagleton's "After Theory" introduced me to a broad survey of contemporary thought, of which I must say our PHC education was almost criminally deficient. (Though that may just be the major I chose.) I don't think it's necessarily a deep or profound book, but it's accessibly written and a captivating introduction.


message 5: by David (new)

David (davidsess) | 3 comments Though I was in the very last Freedom's Foundations class taught by Stacey, it did include a very thorough and fair reading of The Social Contract (Rousseau), which is a proto-socialist text. Of course, as you say, socialism was never really up for debate, but the attention to Rousseau was serious enough to allow us to feel his power even if we never asked "what if..."


back to top

64871

Patrick Henry College Students & Alumni Reading...

unread topics | mark unread