About “Know-It-All to Know-Nothing”

I was going to call it “Know-Nothing to Know-It-All” when I reminded myself what Socrates said about people who claim to have a lot of knowledge about this or that. So, in a sense, this site is my attempt to descend into ignorance. By that I don’t mean emptying my head of brain cells. I’m really attempting what Socrates viewed what real knowledge was, knowledge of one’s ignorance…

“Well, although I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off than he is – for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.”
– Socrates in Apology.

So, this place is just an attempt to log my exposure to what I’ve been reading. A lot of what I’ll be is in “Ten Years of Reading in Great Books of the Western World“, a collection of “great works” of Western philosophy, literature, political science, physical science and economics. The main guy behind this collection was Mortimer J. Adler – a fellow who wrote How to Read a Book. That was not being ironic or facetious at all. He felt that so many people really do not know how to read a book properly. Sure, we can read the words aloud, or in our heads. But can we read the true intentions of the author? Can we interpret the words, internalize them and compare them to what others have said on the matter? Can we take what someone like Socrates said over 2000 years ago and apply it to our world today?

With all that said, there’s another aspect of the site that I wanted to make as a major point. NO ACADEMIC horseshit. By that, I mean that I’m not going to try to make myself into a “holier than thou” person because I’m reading the great writings of the past. I’m not going to use unnecessarily flowery language. I’m not going to try to get too over-the-top about things. I’ll try to keep to the apocryphal quote from Einstein, “If you can’t explain something to a six-year-old, you really don’t understand it yourself.” I’ll try to keep the notes of and responses to the readings as conversational and approachable as possible. This probably means a fair amount of cursing and modern analogies. That’s mostly because that’s how my own conversations usually go.

Furthermore, I really want to have fun with this. As anyone who’s ever spent a decent amount of time in schools and classrooms should know, most forms of learning are boring and painful. If I’m going to educate myself voluntarily, I intend to have fun doing it! So, let’s get this sumbitch started!!