HOW CLASSICS CAN HELP YOU UNDERSTAND PRINCIPLES

Lecture Notes

Classic as defined by Thomas Jefferson: “…everything is useful which contributes to fix us in the principles and practice of virtue.”

A Classic:

  1. Contains profound ideas on several topics
  2. Contains truth
  3. Deepens the understanding
  4. Can be learned from over and over again- sometimes indefinitely
  5. Elevates and enlightens
  6. Helps you to understand yourself and the world in new ways
  7. Facilitates learning by discovery

Reasons to Read Classics:

  1. Because, “we can learn only from our ‘betters.’ We must know who they are and how to learn from them.”
  2. To be enlightened rather than informed
  3. To be pulled out of the culture and mores of our time and see the bigger picture
  4. To come closer to truth because pursuit of truth is the goal of the truly great writers

Components of Classics:

Bent stories portray evil as good, and good as evil. Such stories are meant to enhance the evil tendencies of the reader, such as pornography and many horror books and movies.

Broken stories portray accurately evil as evil and good as good, but evil wins. Something is broken, not right, in need of fixing…Broken stories can be very good for the reader if they motivate him or her to heal them, to fix them.

Whole stories are where good is good, bad is bad and good wins…readers should spend most of their time in such works.

Healing stories can be either Whole or Broken stories where the reader is profoundly moved, changed, or significantly improved by her reading experience.”[1]

  1. Natural consequences
  2. Natural laws and natural rights
  3. How you are inspired
Recommended Readings
 
For a better understanding of the nature of classics and their ability to bring us to truth, read the following:
  • The Great Conversation by Robert Hutchins
  • The Healing Power of Stories by Daniel Taylor, Ph.D
  • Robert Skipwith’s letter to Thomas Jefferson
  • The Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour


[1] DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education

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