"So what are the “'good' books? Where is 'knowledge' gained? Robert Maynard Hutchins observes, 'Until lately the West has regarded it as self-evident that the road to education lay through the great books.' And what are the great books? 'There never was very much doubt in anybody’s mind about which the masterpieces were,' writes Hutchins. 'They were the books that had endured and that the common voice of mankind called the finest creations, in writing, of the Western mind.' The great books are those writings that have most shaped history and culture, civilization and science, politics and economics. They prompt us to think about the great issues of life.'
"C.S. Lewis simply called them the 'old' books.
"Actual collections of such writings have been attempted. Hutchins, along with Mortimer Adler, compiled a set that went from Homer to Freud, over 25 centuries, including the works of Plato and Aristotle, Virgil and Augustine, Shakespeare and Pascal, Locke and Rousseau, Kant and Hegel, Darwin and Dostoevsky. Charles W. Eliot, who served as president of Harvard for 40 years, dreamed of a five-foot shelf of books that would provide an education to anyone who would spend even 15 minutes a day reading them. His vision took form when he became the editor of the 50-volume Harvard Classics (1909). In the appendix to A Mind for God, I suggested my own list of books."
NEH Chairman William D. Adams Announces Resignation
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