Can we save Socrates? An invitation
Join us for a dialogue on the promise of The Great Conversation on Tuesday, why the Great Conversation is for everyone, and a giveaway!
Happy President’s Day!
I write to invite you to join us for a conversation with Dr. Roosevelt Montás on the themes of his lates book, Saving Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation, recently published by Princeton University Press. This book is a renewed defense for the humanities and the liberal arts—the course of study that makes us not only more human, but also humane, and the mode of learning that liberates us and sets us free to live full and meaningful lives.
The conversation is happening TODAY, Tuesday, Feb 22, at 2:30 pm EST.
You can register for the event by clicking the link below.
All registrants will be entered to win a copy of Saving Socrates, Dr. Montás’ book.
Please also share this invitation with anyone you think might be interested joining the conversation.
Dr. Montás has a telling story. Shortly after moving to Queens, NY, from the Dominican Republic, he found a collection of the Harvard Great Books in the garbage close to his home. (A powerful metaphor of the way in which our society fails to treasure the wisdom of history if there every was one!)
Without having the room at his home for all the books, he took just one: the edition containing several of Plato’s dialogues. This was his introduction to Great Books, big ideas, and the Great Conversation.
He never looked back.
Today, he is a professor at Columbia University where, among other things, he teaches “Introduction to Contemporary Civilization in the West,” a year-long course on primary texts in moral and political thought.
But he also knows that The Great Conversation is comprised not only of Western Authors, nor do its treasures stand to benefit only Western readers.
During the summer, he runs and teaches at a summer program that offers a great books education to low income students.
(Interestingly enough, he teaches this summer program alongside Dan-el Padilla Peralta, the subject of the popular and controversial NYT Magazine essay entitled He Wants to Save Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?. Readers of this article might remember that Peralta , like Roosevelt, also arrived from the Dominican Republic to America at a young age, and found comfort and consolation in the Great Books. Tune in to our conversation tomorrow to learn why and how, despite these differences, they differ on the role of the humanities today.)
As the premise of his book, Rescuing Socrates, suggests, Roosevelt believes that the ideas and questions that Great Books and The Great Conversation raise and help answer are for everyone—not only people from a particular background or economic status.
This is because there are certain questions that all of us must ask, and answer, for ourselves in order to lead meaningful lives. Who are we? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Among others.
The Great Books help us answer these and other primary questions for ourselves by showing us how other thoughtful people have answers these questions across history.
All people must engage with these questions and ideas if we are to become fully human. Regardless of where we were born or how we were raised, these questions and conversations around these ideas texturize and enrich our existence. Great Books extend an invitation to each of us, regardless of who we are.
They also hold great promise for each of us, too: to enrich, ennoble, enliven, and add meaning to our lives.
I love the lines of University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins, a linchpin of the Mortimer Adler Great Books series and project: “The best education for the best is the best education for us all.”
(Earl Shorris, founder of the Clemente Course in the Humanities—another excellent program that offers low income students a a Great Books Education—also loved quoting this line.)
I hope you’ll join us today for this event and important conversation.
If you can’t make it, but would like to win a copy of Saving Socrates, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win! Put the subject SOCRATES in the subject line.
Thank you for being part of the Civic Renaissance community!