Online Great Books Blog

The Online Great Books Blog

OGB Podcast #39: Scott and Karl Discuss Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

OGB Podcast #39: Scott and Karl Discuss Emerson's "Self-Reliance" By Katie King Overview You've got to go out and read the essay that brings our Reader-In-Chief to tears every time. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” is foundational in Scott's life and crucial to our mission at Online Great Books. For Emerson, authentic, unmediated thought has some [...]

Why Read the Great Books?

Why Read the Great Books? By Karl Schudt, OGB Seminar Host When you begin reading the Great Books, family and friends may be puzzled. They will see you toting around huge books, taking notes, and gazing off thoughtfully into the void. It might even look like school. Why would you do this? Why would you [...]

How To Raise A Lover Of The Great Books

How To Raise A Lover of The Great Books Given that we no longer live in colonial America, our children are no longer expected to be able to speak Latin and have knowledge of New Testament Greek by the 3rd grade.  No more reading the Latin historians Tacticus and Livy, or the Greek historians Herodotus [...]
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Logic 3, The Second Law, The Law of Noncontradiction

Logic 3, The Second Law, The Law of Noncontradiction By Scott Hambrick, Reader-In-Chief Originally posted on scotthambrick.com.  In the first two articles I wrote about being, and the first Law of thought, The Law of Identity. Go check those out before you jump into this one. This second law, the Law of Noncontradiction, and the Third law [...]

Mortimer Adler on Why We Read the Great Books

Why Read Great Books? By Mortimer Adler, Ph.D. Why Read Great Books? by Mortimer Adler, Ph.D.   I would like to share with you a letter that I recently received and my answer to it: Dear Dr. Adler, Why should we read great books that deal with the problems and concerns of bygone eras? Our [...]

How To Start A Home Book Group

How To Start Your Own Home Book Group How many close friends can you confide in? For many adults, it may feel like there’s a steady decline of friendships as we get older. After leaving high school or college, we lose the shared experience so we lose touch. A report published in the Royal Society [...]

OGB Podcast #16: Brett McKay (Art of Manliness) on Dante’s Divine Comedy

OGB Podcast #16: Brett McKay (Art of Manliness) on Dante's Divine Comedy By Katie King Overview  Ever wonder where your conception of hell comes from? You know, the fire and brimstone version? It’s probably less from Revelations and more from Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Our Reader-in-Chief Scott Hambrick talks all things Dante with Brett McKay, owner of [...]

What is a Socratic Seminar?

What is a Socratic Seminar? By Katie King What is a Socratic Seminar? Here at OGB, members are given an average of three hours of Great Book reading to complete on their own each week. They aren't just left high and dry though. At the end of the month, our members come together in a [...]

What Does the OGB Crest Mean?

What Does the OGB Crest Mean? By Katie King Ever wonder what the anvil represents in our crest? An anvil, first off, is a metalworking tool made up of a large, flattened steel surface upon which another object can be struck. You'll notice it in the bottom left corner of our crest. It's a great [...]

Logic 2, The First Law, the Law of Identity

Logic 2, The First Law, the Law of Identity By Scott Hambrick, Reader-In-Chief In part one of this series, I described a very few of Aristotle’s axioms. He believed that understanding a few primary things about being would allow us to build valid arguments and reasoning for everything that followed, which he called the posterior. To [...]

OGB Podcast #5: Dr. Jordan Peterson On the Importance of Reading Great Books

OGB Podcast #5: Dr. Jordan Peterson on the Importance of Reading Great Books By Katie King OVERVIEW Why should you bother with the Great Books? According to Jordan Peterson, the answer lies in how much unnecessary misery, suffering, and horror you want. When Jordan was at university in Alberta, he was introduced to reading the [...]

Logic, The Beginning

Logic, The Beginning By Scott Hambrick, Reader-In-Chief Recently, I’ve had a few dust-ups with folks that don’t understand how VERY basic logic can be used to test for rhetoric and other nonsense.  I’ve also had a number of very kind emails from readers who are interested in learning more about how we might do that.  [...]

Thucydides, Teenagers, and Politics

Thucydides, Teenagers, and Politics Show notes from Karl Schudt's discussion: #31 – Moments II: Thucydides & The Thin Veneer of Civility There’s a temptation to think that everything starts with us, here and now. Our memories don’t go back very far. If we haven’t experienced something in the last five years, our thought is that [...]

In Defense of Bad Books

Here at Online Great Books, we read books that are, well, great. The books have stood the test of time, are hefty enough to bear repeated readings, and make some contribution to the ongoing conversation that we humans have been having with ourselves ever since we learned how to commit our thoughts to the physical world in writing. But does all of our reading have to be weighty? Is there room for lightweight reading, for books that aren’t great, for books that aren’t important? Maybe even for books that are bad?

What the OGB Slogan Means: “The Noble Things Are Difficult”

In our open discussion forum in Slack, OGB member Tim Suddarth had a great question. So great, we thought it needed to be fleshed out for the purpose of this blog post.

Making an Entrepreneur

Making an Entrepreneur By Scott Hambrick, Reader-In-Chief This essay was originally written in April of 1998.  To begin, I want to make sure the reader understands I am not writing a research paper. This is an essay on how I have interpreted Thoreau’s Walden and some of Emerson’s writing. Because this is based on my interpretation, [...]

Justice and Artificial Intelligence

In The Republic, the greatest bit of political thought ever written, Plato asks us all, “What is Justice?” 

In The Republic, we read that justice could be giving people what is theirs, the rule of the many, that which the strongest demand, and more.  People have wrestled with this text and the problems it presents for thousands of years. We still don’t REALLY know how one “does justice.” I think we do know that justice comes into play in every single human interaction. 

Writer’s Block? Try The Gadfly Method

Writer’s Block? Try The Gadfly Method By Katie King  How To Channel the Gadfly. Experiencing Writer's Block? Need a Disruptor? Then Bite In.    Before sitting down to write, address the following questions:  What's a “big” question about the text that interests you and why? In order to answer that question, what are 3-5 questions [...]

Behind the ‘Moments’ Series

Behind the ‘Moments’ Series By Katie King  A How-To Guide: Weaving Narrative Writing with The Great Books  What Is It?  These short, 5-minute reads are personal reflections and editorials from our staff and seminar leaders on some aspect of the books that they have been reading and discussing in seminars. As seminar leaders, they are [...]

Duty to your Seminar

Here at Online Great Books, we have a problem. Sometimes, people do not attend their seminar. They keep paying and they keep receiving their books, but they don’t show up for the weekly seminar. This is problematic. Not only because they aren’t getting full value for their membership, but because the other members of their seminar are not getting full value.

Tea With Herodotus

I fell asleep reading Herodotus last week. I awoke in his study in Halicarnassus. He’s wide-eyed, insistent, takes me by the hand, and leads me into his study. Once there, he gets me a cup of tea. I’m more of a coffee guy, but it’s good tea. Herodotus shows me to a seat in between two precarious piles of scrolls.

Resentment: The Power of the People

Resentment: The Power of the People By Ben McAllister  Every era has a defining anxiety. Today, we live in an era of technological anxiety. We ask ourselves questions like: What are smartphones doing to us? Is social media making us miserable? Will automation lead to mass unemployment? We’ve been asking these kinds of questions since [...]

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rereading

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Rereading By Alex Fader “In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things you do not understand right away. …You have a much better chance of understanding [the Great Book] on a second reading, [...]

An Invitation to Narrative

An Invitation to Narrative By Steven Roberts  Steven Roberts has been a member of Online Great Books for a little under a year now. Steven graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Classical Piano Performance and is attending St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York starting this August. Living on Long Island, he [...]

Great Friends, Great Books

Books as Friends?

There’s a definite logic to the old saying that we can be measured by the company we keep. One thing that makes us feel good and even a little proud about reading Great Books is that we are keeping great company.  Of course, there’s a downside of the maxim: when we compare ourselves to the Great Thinkers, they can make us feel like zhlubs. Still, we enjoy “standing on the shoulders of giants”.”

Euripides’ Medea: Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil (Spoiler Alert!)

Euripides’ Medea: Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil (Spoiler Alert!) By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host  I hate Medea. It’s so good. I hate reading that play. If you haven’t read it, you should stop reading right now.     Ok. If you are still here, I need not worry about ruining the play for you. Medea kills [...]

Notre Dame Fire: Rummaging Through the Relics

Notre Dame caught fire this week. It took a while for it to hit me, but it hit me hard. I’ve never been there, but I have rattled around a few cathedrals in Germany. I like to climb the towers, if they’ll let me.

Creating Authenticity in Seminar: Why We Need Each Other to Gain Value

Creating Authenticity in Seminar: Why We Need Each Other to Gain Value By John Syc   "Denied, not committed to the field of human resources." This was the feedback I received after an interview for a coveted internship at a Fortune 10 company about 15 years ago. I protested. I laid out the commitment by [...]

8 Theories Explaining Why I Won’t Speak Up in Seminar (maybe you can relate)

8 Theories Explaining Why I Won’t Speak Up in Seminar (maybe you can relate) By Katie King I’ve been in a workshop setting before, so I know that’s not the issue. In fact, I loved it.  In writing classes in college, we’d sit in a round table, never more than 20 of us, and discuss [...]

A Critique of Socrates’ Argument in Gorgias

A Critique of Socrates’ Argument in Gorgias By Gil Guillory First, a quick restatement of Socrates' argument found on 474-475 in Gorgias:          Good and admirable are not the same. Bad and shameful are not the same.          Whatever is admirable is admirable because it causes pleasure or benefit, or [...]

How To Be A Good Marketer, Not Just A Great One

How To Be A Good Marketer, Not Just A Great One By Danny Knesek The author of this piece is an OGB member in addition to being Director of Rhythm Design Co. This blog post was originally posted to his website. At some point, everybody in marketing deals with the problem of having their campaigns not [...]

What Drives Insightful Thinking?

What Drives Insightful Thinking? By Sal A.  OGB Member John Syc calls this, “a level of thinking and consideration that seems to get to the heart of the matter instead of focusing on the noise.” He also notes that this kind of thinking usually draws upon a well-thought out belief system and understanding of multiple disciplines/ideologues. [...]

Our Mission at Online Great Books

Our Mission at Online Great Books By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host At Online Great Books, we are on a mission.  We believe that:   All people need to be strong. Strong of mind and body. Becoming strong in any way requires dedicated, sustained work. The gradual work of building strength requires resistance.  At Online Great [...]

Ignoring the Advice of your Friends, Lessons from Homer

Ignoring the Advice of your Friends, Lessons from Homer By Chris Moultrie And all ranks of Achaeans cried out in their assent: “Respect the priest, accept the shining ransom!” But it brought no joy to the heart of Agamemnon. ¹ In The Iliad, Agamemnon ignores the words of his friends, advisors, and subjugates which brings massive [...]

How Online Great Books Can Help You Achieve Mental Strength and Agility

How Online Great Books Can Help You Achieve Mental Strength and Agility By Michael LeCompte  The process by which our bodies continue to go on living every day is not one of consistency. The matter that composes your body, the stuff that makes you up, is constantly renewed. In fact, just about everything your body [...]

Intellectual Linear Progression. What’s That About?

Intellectual Linear Progression. What’s That About? By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host Intellectual Linear Progression or Online Great Books? You may have seen mention around here of an intellectual linear progression. It’s still the name on our Facebook page. In fact, it was the original name of the whole thing, until we decided that Online Great [...]

Bach, Vulfpeck, Socrates, and the Infinite

Bach, Vulfpeck, Socrates, and the Infinite By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host I've been listening to a lot of Bach recently, specifically the solo violin works. You can find a good example here.  [They are sparse, mathematical, non-emotional exercises in pattern manipulation. I wonder if the sparseness and Doric purity of the music is part of the [...]

How to Think About Thinking

How to Think About Thinking By Daniel Taylor I just finished the first reading assignment: those first 44 pages of  How to Read A Book. I'm relieved and excited--it was interesting, practical, and terse; just the kind of instructional book I like! In the course of completing the assignment, I added three new words to my [...]

The Iliad, Book 1 Analysis: Rage Against The Will Of Zeus

The Iliad, Book 1 Analysis: Rage Against The Will Of Zeus By Christopher Cataldi I took the time to be way more thorough with Book 1, which introduces crucial themes to the rest of the story. I usually like my reading to raise some higher-order question, so, after writing this out, my question is as [...]

The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Controlling One’s Passions

The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Controlling One’s Passions By Arbon Ransom The Iliad and The Odyssey are excellent lessons on the importance of keeping one’s passions within due bounds, or within proper limits. They teach us to control ourselves and that there is a time for aggression and a time for restraint. The Iliad shows [...]

How to Read a Book like an Explorer

How to Read a Book like an Explorer By Scott Hambrick, Reader-In-Chief When I was young, I remember encountering Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s an odd bit of music, irregular in its rhythms and harmonies. If you’ve seen Fantasia, it’s the music for the part with the dinosaurs. I used to sit up late listening on [...]

Socrates, Beethoven, and Swans

Socrates, Beethoven, and Swans By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host  I recently re-read Phaedo, the story of the last day of Socrates’ life. The ship has returned from Delos, and he knows that he’ll be drinking poison when the sun goes down. He and his friends, of course, talk about philosophy. What sort of life should [...]

I Met Socrates the Other Day at the Gym

I Met Socrates the Other Day at the Gym By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host  A fine example of working on one's mental fitness... in-between sets.   I was at the gym the other day when Socrates came in. It's kind of a nerd gym, so this is unsurprising. I asked him a question that had [...]

What Thraysmachus Can Teach Us About Self-Examination

What Thraysmachus Can Teach Us About Self-Examination By John Antonio Pascarella, Seminar Host Though only a force to be reckoned with in Book I of Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus always manages to grab my attention.  The first time I read the Republic, I thought Thrasymachus was a simpleton.  In my second reading, my opinion changed, with great [...]

Death is the Good Guy?

Death is the Good Guy? By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host  Are you ever annoyed by the powerful? Are you ever resentful? There seems to be lots of people who go through life without much effort, but have means and money to do whatever they want without care. I know that I sometimes feel offended, resenting [...]

How Legos Can Give Your Soul Wings

How Legos Can Give Your Soul Wings By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host  The Key to Self-Improvement: Finding (and Cultivating) Experiences that Make the Wings of Your Soul Grow Life can be hard sometimes. The troubles of the day can weigh you down, making everything seem gray and cold. You've had days like this. I know [...]

When to Read a Book

When to Read a Book By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host I work in “reader facilitation”--my job is to help our members read more, think more, and have a more glorious experience at onlinegreatbooks.com I also handle cancellation requests. We still do this personally, one by one, contacting everyone who wants to leave us. We would [...]

The Great Books, Okie Monks, and John Senior

The Great Books, Okie Monks, and John Senior By Jim Furr, Seminar Host The Original Home Book Group Takes a Trip to Clear Creek Monastery OnlineGreatBooks.com all started with a home book group of less than 10 members that still meet on the third Thursday of each month in Scott Hambrick’s home.  The members of [...]