Great Ideas, Great Books is our ongoing, monthly Salon where you will encounter the core texts and core ideas in the western
Great Ideas, Great Books is our ongoing, monthly Salon where you will encounter the core texts and core ideas in the western intellectual tradition. Each month, we read a key work by authors such as Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Milton, Marx, Austen and Eliot. Through these works, you will wrestle with the basic and enduring questions of what it means to be human: What is right and wrong? How do we come to know things? What do we owe to our families, our society, ourselves? What is happiness? What is a good life? What is a good society? We will talk about justice, morality, beauty, love, honor, death, government, society, goodness, community.
To encourage careful reading, and to fit our discussions into busy lives, we keep each month’s selection to a manageable length. For longer works, we read the book over two or more months, or we read substantial selections that present an author’s most important ideas.
During our discussions, we examine a reading from many different angles, puzzling over difficult passages, exploring the intricacies of a plot line, the layers of meaning in a poetic phrase, the subtleties of an argument or the implications of a thesis. We examine the ideas an author has set out, and consider them seriously. We also step back from the details to see whether what an author has to say makes sense and is relevant to us or not.
You don’t need any specialized knowledge or background in classic literature to join Great Ideas, Great Books. It is our expectation that most participants will be reading many of the authors for the first time. All you really need is a willingness to read carefully, listen thoughtfully and entertain new and sometimes-challenging ideas.
In our first year since starting in September 2018, Great Ideas, Great Books has dwelt in the ancient Greek world, with Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle. As the program progresses, we will move to later works including those from the Roman world, from the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition, the middle ages and enlightenment, up to modern thought. Great Ideas is structured as a long-term project, with the flexibility to direct our focus to differing topics and time periods according to the interests of the group.
Our readings so far:
September 2018—Homer, The Iliad, Books 1 – 12
October 2018—Homer, The Iliad, Books 13 – 24
November 2018—Herodotus, The Persian Wars, selection
December 2018—Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, selection
January 2019—Plato, Meno
February 2019—Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
March 2019— Sophocles, Antigone
April 2019—Aristotle, Poetics
May 2019—Plato, Apology, Crito, Phaedo
June 2019—Euripides, Medea
17 September 2019—The Epic of Gilgamesh
15 October 2019—Plato, Republic, Books 1 – 5
19 November 2019—Plato, Republic, Books 6 – 10
The Great Ideas group currently has two seats available. Registration for Great Ideas, Great Books is in six-month subscriptions. The £25 per month registration includes introductory notes that set the context for each reading, and questions to help focus your reading and prompt your thinking about key aspects of the text.
- Facilitated by Mark Cwik
- Tuesday evenings 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
- Ongoing monthly study
- Meetings at The Mug House, London Bridge SE1 2PF
- September recommended edition: The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated by Andrew George; Penguin Classics, revised edition (2002); ISBN-13: 978-0140449198
- £25 per month, registration in six-month subscriptions
TO REGISTER for the study, please use the secure Paypal payment button below to pay £150. Opening notes will be sent shortly after registration.