Great Books and Questions

Introduction

In the spring of 2018, at the suggestion of my headmaster, I began a reading plan that will have me reading 210 selections from The Great Books of the Western World series. This ten-year plan is described in the appendix of a book titled The Great Conversation by Robert M. Hutchins. I am attempting to complete the plan in a span of five years by reading approximately 14 selections each trimester (fall, spring, summer). As I read through these selections I am collecting quotes and composing questions to discuss. Therefore this section of the website will grow as I move through the reading plan. I invite you to read along with me. You might even ask a few colleagues to do the same so that you can discuss the quotes and questions I am posing.

Consider Reading with your Colleagues

For each book that I read, I will post a corresponding blog post of prompts and questions (the same questions that can be accessed via the trimester headings below) for group discussion. The blog format allows teachers to respond online with their own answers and reflections. Teachers are encouraged to gather a group of colleagues to complete each reading together and post comments on the blog along with others in the Classical Caveman community.  Click on the "BOOKS" category in the Classical Caveman blog and search works by title and author.

Readings by Trimester

Works listed in blue text represent selections that I have read in their entirety. Click on a trimester heading below to view the corresponding discussion questions.

Trimester 01

PLATO | APOLOGY

PLATO | CRITO

ARISTOPHANES | LYSISTRATA

ARISTOPHANES | THE CLOUDS

PLATO | THE REPUBLIC

ARISTOTLE | NICHOMACHEAN ETHICS

ARISTOTLE | POLITICS

PLUTARCH | THE LIVES OF THE NOBLE GRECIANS AND ROMANS

THE NEW TESTAMENT | MATTHEW

THE NEW TESTAMENT | ACTS

SAINT AUGUSTINE | THE CONFESSIONS

MACHIAVELLI | THE PRINCE

RABELAIS | GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL

MONTAIGNE | ESSAYS

SHAKESPEARE | HAMLET

LOCKE | CONCERNING CIVIL GOVERNMENT (THE SECOND TREATISE)

ROUSSEAU | THE SOCIAL CONTRACT

Trimester 02

GIBBON | THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (CH. 15-16)

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

THE FEDERALIST | NUMBERS 1-10, 15, 31, 47, 51, 68-71

SMITH | THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (INTRO - BOOK I, CH. 9)

TOCQUEVILLE | DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA (VOL I, PART II, CH. 6-8)

MARX-ENGELS | MANIFESTO OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY

IBSEN | THE MASTER BUILDER

SCHRODINGER | WHAT IS LIFE?

HOMER | THE ILLIAD

AESCHYLUS | AGAMEMNON, THE LIBATION BEARERS, THE EUMENIDES

SOPHOCLES | OEDIPUS THE KING, ANTIGONE

HERODOTUS | THE HISTORY (BOOKS I-II)

PLATO | MENO

ARISTOTLE | ON POETICS

ARISTOTLE | NICOMACHEAN ETHICS

Trimester 03

NICOMACHUS | INTRODUCTION TO ARITHMETIC

LUCRETIUS | THE WAY THINGS ARE (BOOKS I-IV)

MARCUS AURELIUS | THE MEDITATIONS

HOBBES | LEVIATHAN (PART I)

MILTON | AREOPAGITICA

PASCAL | PENSEES

PASCAL | TREATISE ON THE ARITHMETICAL TRIANGLE

SWIFT | GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

VOLTAIRE | CANDIDE

ROUSSEAU | A DISCOURSE ON THE ORIGIN OF INEQUALITY

KANT | FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS

MILL | ON LIBERTY

NIETZSCHE | BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

WHITEHEAD | SCIENCE AND THE MODERN WORLD

Trimester 04

AESCHYLUS | PROMETHEUS BOUND

HERODOTUS | THE HISTORY (BOOKS VII-IX)

THUCYDIDES | THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR (BOOKS I, II, V)

PLATO | STATESMAN

ARISTOTLE | ON INTERPRETATION

ARISTOTLE | POLITICS (BOOK III-V)

EUCLID | ELEMENTS (BOOK I)

TACITUS | THE ANNALS

ST THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PARTS I-II, QQ 90-97)

CHAUCER | TROILUS CRISEYDE

SHAKESPEARE | MACBETH

MILTON | PARADISE LOST

LOCKE | AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (BOOK III, Ch. 1-3, 9-11)

KANT | THE SCIENCE OF RIGHT

Trimester 05

MILL | REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT (CH. 1-6)

LAVOSIER | ELEMENTS OF CHEMISTRY (PART I)

TWAIN | ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN

DOSTOEVSKY | THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (PARTS I-II)

FREUD | THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHO-ANALYSIS

LEVI-STRAUSS | STRUCTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY (SELECTIONS)

POINCARE | SCIENCE AND HYPOTHESIS (PARTS I-II)

EURIPIDES | THE MEDEA, HIPPOLYTUS, THE TROJAN WOMEN, THE BACCHAE

PLATO | THE REPUBLIC (BOOK VI-VII)

PLATO | THEAETETUS

ARISTOTLE | PHYSICS (BOOK IV, Ch. 1-5, 10-14)

ARISTOTLE | METAPHYSICS (BOOK I, Ch.1-2; BOOK IV; BOOK VI, Ch.1; BOOK XI, Ch.1-4)

ST AUGUSTINE | THE CONFESSIONS (BOOK IX-XIII)

ST THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART I, QQ 16-17, 84-88)

Trimester 06

CALVIN | INSTITUES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION (BOOK III)

MONTAIGNE | APOLOGY FOR RAYMOND SEBOND

GALILEO | TWO NEW SCIENCES (THIRD DAY, THROUGH SCHOLIUM OF THEOREM II)

BACON | NOVUM ORGANUM (PREFACE, BOOK I)

DESCARTES | DISCOURSE ON THE METHOD

NEWTON | PRINCIPIA (PREFACES, DEFINITIONS, AXIOMS, GENERAL SCHOLIUM)

LOCKE | AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (BOOK II)

HUME | AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON (PREFACES, INTRO, TRANSCENDENTAL AESTHETIC)

MELVILLE | MOBY DICK

DOSTOEVSKY | THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (PARTS III-IV)

WILLIAM JAMES | THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (Ch. XV, XX)

FRAZER | THE GOLDEN BOUGH (SELECTIONS)

HEISENBERG | PHYSICS AND PHILOSOPHY (Ch. 1-6)

Trimester 07

PLATO | PHAEDO

ARISTOTLE | CATEGORIES

ARISTOTLE | ON THE SOUL (BOOKS II - III)

HIPPOCRATES | THE OATH; ON ANCIENT MEDICINE; ON AIRS, WATERS AND PLACES; THE BOOK OF PROGNOSTICS; OF THE EPIDEMICS; THE LAW; ON THE SACRED DISEASE

GALEN | ON THE NATURAL FACULTIES

VIRGIL | AENEID

PTOLEMY | THE ALMAGEST (BOOK I)

COPERNICUS | ON THE REVOLUTIONS OF THE HEAVENLY SPHERES (INTRO - BOOK I)

KEPLER | EPITOME OF COPERNICAN ASTRONOMY

PLOTINUS | SIXTH ENNEAD

ST THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART I QQ 75-76, 78-79))

DANTE | THE DIVINE COMEDY (INFERNO)

HARVEY | ON THE MOTION OF THE HEART AND BLOOD

CERVANTES | DON QUIXOTE (PART I)

SPINOZA | ETHICS (PART II)

BERKELEY | THE PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE

Trimester 08

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON (TRANSCENDENTAL ANALYTIC)

DARWIN | THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES (INTRO, CHAPTER 6, CHAPTER 15)

TOLSTOY | WAR AND PEACE (BOOKS I - VIII)

WILLIAM JAMES | THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTER XXVIII)

DEWEY | EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION

WADDINGTON | THE NATURE OF LIFE

ORWELL | ANIMAL FARM

OLD TESTAMENT | GENESIS, EXODUS, DEUTERONOMY

HOMER | THE ODYSSEY

PLATO | LAWS (BOOK X)

ARISTOTLE | METAPHYSICS (BOOK XII)

TACITUS | THE HISTORIES

PLOTINUS | FIFTH ENNEAD

SAINT AUGUSTINE | THE CITY OF GOD (BOOKS XV - XVIII)

Trimester 09

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART I, QQ 1-13)

DANTE | THE DIVINE COMEDY (PURGATORIO)

SHAKESPEARE | THE COMDEY OF ERRORS; THE TAMING OF THE SHREW; AS YOU LIKE IT; TWELFTH NIGHT

SPINOZA | ETHICS (PART I)

MILTON | SAMSON AGONISTES

PASCAL | THE PROVINCIAL LETTERS

LOCKE | AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (BOOK IV)

GIBBON | THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (CHAPTERS 1-5, GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE IN THE WEST)

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON (TRANSCENDENTAL DIALECTIC)

HEGEL | THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY (INTRODUCTION)

KIERKEGAARD | FEAR AND TREMBLING

TOLSTOY | WAR AND PEACE (BOOKS IX - XV, EPILOGUES)

HUIZINGA | THE WANING OF THE MIDDLE AGES (I - X)

SHAW | SAINT JOAN

Trimester 10

OLD TESTAMENT | JOB, ISAIAH, AMOS

PLATO | SYMPOSIUM

PLATO | PHILEBUS

ARISTOTLE | NICOMACHEAN ETHICS (BOOKS VIII - X)

ARCHIMEDES | MEASUREMENT OF A CIRCLE; THE EQUILIBRIUM OF PLANES (BOOK I), THE SAND-RECKONER; ON FLOATING BODIES (BOOK I)

EPICTETUS | THE DISCOURSES

PLOTINUS | FIRST ENNEAD

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART I-II, QQ 1-5)

DANTE | THE DIVINE COMEDY (PARADISO)

RABELAIS | GARGANTUA AND PANTAGRUEL (BOOKS III-IV)

SHAKESPEARE | JULIUS CAESAR; ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA; CORIOLANUS

GALILEO | TWO NEW SCIENCES (FIRST DAY)

SPINOZA | ETHICS (PART IV-V)

NEWTON | MATHEMATICAL PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY (BOOK III, RULES)

NEWTON | OPTICS (BOOK I, PART I; BOOK III, QUERIES)

Trimester 11

HUYGENS | TREATISE ON LIGHT

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF PRACTICAL REASON

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF JUDGMENT (CRITIQUE OF AESTHETIC JUDGMENT)

MILL | UTILITARIANISM

WEBER | ESSAYS IN SOCIOLOGY (PART III)

PROUST | SWANN IN LOVE

BRECTH | MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN

ARISTOPHANES | THE POET AND THE WOMEN; THE ASSEMBLYWOMEN, WEALTH

PLATO | GORGIAS

ARISTOTLE | NICOMACHEAN ETHICS (BOOK V)

ARISTOTLE | RHETORIC (BOOKS I-III)

SAINT AUGUSTINE | ON CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE / TEACHING

HOBBES | LEVIATHAN (PART II)

SHAKESPEARE | OTHELLO; KING LEAR

Trimester 12

BACON | ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING (BOOKS I-II)

DESCARTES | MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY

SPINOZA | ETHICS (PART III)

LOCKE | A LETTER CONCERNING TOLERATION

ROUSSEAU | A DISCOURSE ON POLITICAL ECONOMY

ADAM SMITH | THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (BOOK II)

BOSWELL | THE LIFE OF SAMUEL JOHNSON

MARX | CAPITAL (PREFACES, PART I-II)

GOETHE | FAUST (PART I)

WILLIAM JAMES | THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTERS VIII-X)

BARTH | THE WORD OF GOD AND THE WORD OF MAN (I-IV)

BERGSON | AN INTRODUCTION TO METAPHYSICS

HARDY | A MATHEMATICIAN'S APOLOGY

KAFKA | THE METAMORPHOSIS

Trimester 13

PLATO | SOPHIST

THUCYDIDES | THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR (BOOKS VII-VIII)

ARISTOTLE | POLITICS (BOOKS VII-VIII)

NEW TESTAMENT | JOHN, ROMANS, 1 CORINTHIANS)

SAINT AUGUSTINE | THE CITY OF GOD (BOOKS V, XIX)

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART II - II, QQ 1-7)

GILBERT | ON THE LOADSTONE

DESCARTES | RULES FOR THE DIRECTION OF THE MIND

DESCARTES | GEOMETRY

PASCAL | THE GREAT EXPERIMENT CONCERNING THE EQUILIBRIUM OF FLUIDS; ON GEOMETRICAL DEMONSTRATION

MOLIERE | TARTUFFE

MONTESQUIEU | THE SPIRIT OF LAWS (BOOKS I - V, VIII, XI - XII)

FARADAY | EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCHES IN ELECTRICITY (SERIES I - II); A SPECULATION TOUCHING ELECTRIC CONDUCTION AND THE NATURE OF MATTER)

HEGEL | THE PHILOSOPHY OF RIGHT (PART III)

Trimester 14

AUSTEN | EMMA

MARX | CAPITAL (PART III - IV)

FREUD | CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS

PLANCK | SCIENTIFIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY

VEBLEN | THE THEORY OF THE LEISURE CLASS

JOYCE | A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN

HEMINGWAY | THE SHORT HAPPY LIFE OF FRANCIS MACOMBER

SOPHOCLES | AJAX; ELECTRA

PLATO | TIMAEUS

ARISTOTLE | ON THE PARTS OF ANIMALS (BOOKS I - II); ON THE GENERATION OF ANIMALS (BOOK I, CHAPTERS 1, 17-18, 20-23)

LUCRETIUS | THE WAY THINGS ARE (BOOKS V - VI)

VIRGIL | THE ECLOGUES; THE GEORGICS

SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS | SUMMA THEOLOGICA (PART I, QQ 65-74, 90-102)

Trimester 15

CHAUCER | CANTERBURY TALES

ERASMUS | PRAISE OF FOLLY

SHAKESPEARE | THE TRAGEDY OF KING RICHARD II; THE FIRST PART OF KING HENRY IV; THE SECOND PART OF KING HENRY IV; THE LIFE OF KING HENRY V

HARVEY | ON THE GENERATION OF ANIMALS (INTRO - EXERCISE 62)

CERVANTES | DON QUIXOTE (PART II)

KANT | THE CRITIQUE OF JUDGMENT (CRITIQUE OF TELEOLOGICAL JUDGMENT)

GOETHE | FAUST (PART II)

DARWIN | THE DESCENT OF MAN (PART I; PART III, CHAPTER 21)

MARX | CAPITAL (PART VII - VIII)

WILLIAM JAMES | THE PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGY (CHAPTERS I, V - VII)

FREUD | A GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOO-ANALYSIS

HUIZINGA | THE WANING OF THE MIDDLE AGES (XI - XXIII)

EDDINGTON | THE EXPANDING UNIVERSE

T. S. ELIOT | THE WASTE LAND