Upon Being Invited to Study the Great Books Online

Thanks for the invitation. I must say, having looked into facilitating my own Great Books curriculum at several times in the past, that the concept is neither unfamiliar to me, nor uninviting. However, my reason for declining at present has little to do with the scope of the program, but more with the medium. I have participated in a number of online study groups, interest groups, etc., over the past ten years, and have found that while they do promote a degree of intellectual stimulation, and do foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, they by their very nature limit the exchange of ideas because they have as their foundation a sense of anonymity. It is very easy to expound one’s ideas, and wax philosophic, in the vacuum of not having to look another person in the eye. It is gratifying, particularly to one’s ego, to have the group linger on a thread of your own creation for endless iterations. However, too often it seems that is where it ends. Having a cluster of pen-pals, so to speak, does not improve my opportunity to have intellectual (or otherwise stimulating) conversations in real life, with people that I encounter in the flesh on a daily basis. Without that level of personal contact, having an exchange of ideas to me is stale and flat.

I don’t say that this particular curriculum or this forum will lead to that end. For me, however, particularly since my own meaning of an educated liberal extends FAR beyond the narrow, and one might even say, self-destructive, confines of Western culture, that at this point in my life, your group is not for me. It smacks too much of knowledge for the sake of knowledge alone, as some kind of barometer by which one can compare one’s education to others and somehow feel more justified in holding opinions, and grasping the illusory reins of control over a life that to be understood must be tasted in the flesh, rather than by sucking the aged marrow from its volumes of bones.

That’s a long way of saying, thanks, but no thanks.

However, I wish you success in this venture, and again, appreciate the invitation.

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