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Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College
HUMAN EVENTS ^ | Week of June 2, 2003 | 28 distinguished scholars and university professors

Posted on 05/30/2003 11:45:30 AM PDT by Remedy

The editors of HUMAN EVENTS asked a panel of 28 distinguished scholars and university professors to serve as judges in developing a list of Ten Books Every Student Should Read in College.

To derive the list, each scholar first nominated titles. When all the nominations were collected-they amounted to more than 100 titles-HUMAN EVENTS then sent a ballot to the scholars asking each to list his or her Top Ten selections. A book was awarded ten points for receiving a No. 1 rating, 9 points for receiving a No. 2 rating, and so on. The ten books with the highest aggregate ratings made the list. We have also compiled an Honorable Mention list.

Interestingly enough, the No. 1 book our judges decided every college student should read is a volume that has been virtually banned in public schools by the United States Supreme Court.

1. The Bible

Score: 116
Written: c. 1446 B.C. to c. A.D. 95

The Bible, the central work of Western Civilization, defines the relationship between God and man, and forms the foundation of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet, today it is virtually banned in America's public primary and secondary schools-meaning many American students may not encounter the most important book of all time in a classroom setting until they reach college.

2. The Federalist Papers

Score: 106
Authors: Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
Written: October 1787 to May 1788

Written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist Papers first appeared in several New York state newspapers as a series of 85 essays published under the nom de plume "Publius" from the fall of 1787 to the spring of 1788.

The purpose of The Federalist Papers was to garner support for the newly created Constitution. At the time the states were bound together under the Articles of Confederation, but the weakness of the Articles necessitated the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Once the Constitution was drafted, nine states were required to ratify it, so Hamilton, Jay, and Madison took up the effort to persuade skeptics. Because Hamilton and Madison were both members of the Constitutional Convention, their writings are instructive in divining the original intent of those who drafted the Constitution.

According to the Library of Congress, the first bound edition of The Federalist Papers was published in 1788 with revisions and corrections by Hamilton. A bound edition with revisions and corrections by Madison published in 1818 was the first to identify the authors of each essay.

3. Democracy in America

Score: 80
Author: Alexis de Tocqueville
Written: 1835

A left-leaning Frenchman who visited America in 1831, de Tocqueville produced an incisive portrait of American political and social life in the early 19th Century. He praised the democratic ideals and private virtues of the American people but warned against what he saw as the tyrannical tendency of public opinion. Visiting during the heyday of slavery, de Tocqueville foresaw the troubles racial questions would pose for the country. He also was early in observing that judicial power had a tendency to usurp the political in the United States. He also wrote of the difficulties inherent in the egalitarian sentiment then gaining strength in America. "However energetically society in general may strive to make all the citizens equal and alike, the personal pride of each individual will always make him try to escape from the common level, and he will form some inequality somewhere to his own profit," he said.

4. The Divine Comedy

Score: 57
Author: Dante Alighieri
Written: A.D. 1306-1321

One of the most frequently cited poems of all time, this epic allegory is an amalgam of Dante's views of science, theology, astronomy, and philosophy. In it Dante recounts his imaginary journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, during which he realizes his hatred for his sin and becomes a changed man by the grace of God.

The work contains three sections-"Inferno," "Purgatorio," and "Paradiso." In "Inferno," Dante journeys through Hell, led by the soul of the Roman poet Virgil. He describes Hell as a funnel-shaped pit divided into nine circles, each one a place for those people guilty of a particular sin, with suffering increasing as he descends to the bottom where Satan himself dwells.

In "Purgatorio," Dante travels with Virgil up the Mount of Purgatory. Ten terraces make up the Mount and the process of purification for its occupants is arduous as they climb from terrace to terrace. When Dante and Virgil pass the final terrace, they glimpse Paradise where Beatrice, Dante's first love, awaits and Virgil is forced to depart.

In "Paradiso," Beatrice guides Dante through the various levels of Paradise. At the highest level, Empyrean, where God, Mary, and many of the angels and saints abide, Dante views the light of God, which leaves him speechless and changed.

5. The Republic

Score: 55
Author: Plato
Written: c. 360 B.C.

The Republic is likely the most important work of the most important and influential philosopher who ever lived. The writings of Plato, a disciple of Socrates in ancient Athens, provide the foundation of abstract thought for all of Western Civilization, and The Republic contains expositions of various theories of justice, the state and society, and the soul. Is justice a matter of being helpful to those who help you and harmful to those who harm you? Or is it simply the "interest of the stronger," defined by those who govern the rest of us, as post-modern leftists would have it? How should society be organized? How is the human soul structured? How may we arrive at truth? The first author in history to deal with such questions in systematic rational argument, Plato contrasts the ideal society with reality in a way later echoed in the City of God (No. 7) by St. Augustine-who explored his own soul in his Confessions (No. 9). Plato describes the first totalitarian utopia as part of his argument, the first of many thinkers to do so. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Out of Plato come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought."

6. The Politics

Score: 54
Author: Aristotle
Written: Fourth Century, B.C.

Aristotle, the most famous student of Plato, is one of the few men who managed to be highly appreciated both in his own time (he was hired to tutor Alexander the Great) and by posterity. His philosophy continues to form the backbone of Western thought. Much of his writing was lost for centuries, but its recovery helped Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th Century, and later political philosophers, develop the concept of natural law that became central to the Anglo-American understanding of just and limited government. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson cited Aristotle as an inspiration for the Declaration of Independence.

In the Politics, Aristotle examines the formation and composition of civil society more simply and effectively than perhaps anyone since. Beginning with a complete accounting of the elements in the basic unit of society-the oikos or family home-the philosopher expands outward to discuss the larger unit of human existence, the city-state-or polis-in the same terms.

7. Nicomachaean Ethics

Score: 52
Author: Aristotle
Written: Fourth Century, B.C.

The Ethics is a collection of notes from Aristotle's lectures, taken by his student Nicomachus. The Ethics' elegant inductive arguments, developed hundreds of years before the Christian era, proved that man can indeed understand the basic concepts of good and evil without the aid of Divine Revelation-a fact that many leftists are unwilling to accept in their quest to destroy respect for objective rules of right and wrong.

Unlike today's secularists, Aristotle saw clearly that all human beings have a built-in need to pursue happiness through behaving properly. Aristotle analyzes why not all human actions lead to happiness, and reveals how a man's daily choices between good and evil result in the habits of virtue or vice. Virtuous action, he concludes, makes men happy, whereas vice does not.

7. City of God

Score: 52
Author: St. Augustine of Hippo
Written: A.D. 413-426

The City of God ranks as history's most influential writing by a theologian. Augustine, the cultured bishop of an ancient Roman city in North Africa, created a philosophy of history that answered the argument of pagans who blamed the decline of Rome on the rise of Christianity. (Rome had first been sacked in 410.) Augustine explained human history in terms of Divine Providence and asserted that the Church would bring human history to its final consummation. At that consummation, the two "cities" that remained intermingled on Earth-the pure, virtuous city of God and the sinful, flawed city of man-would be separated into two. Augustine argued that the sinful practices of the pagan Romans helped prompt God to allow the Eternal City's capture by barbarians. Augustine firmly implants teleology-the Aristotelian idea that all things have an ultimate purpose-into history just as previous Christian thinkers had adopted teleology to explain God's plan for individual human beings. For Augustine, all of human history points toward a divine purpose.

9. Confessions

Score: 47
Author: St. Augustine of Hippo
Written: c. A.D. 400

The Confessions is Augustine's spiritual autobiography. Addressed to God, the book bares the author's soul. Here Augustine explains the history of his life in terms of Divine Providence, much as in the City of God he explained the history of Rome. He owns up to the sins that pulled him away from faith despite the exertions of his intensely devout mother, St. Monica. In the course of describing both his exterior and interior life, Augustine reiterates the Christian philosophy of the human person expounded by St. Paul in his epistles. He describes the interplay among passion, will, and reason and attempts to explain why men do evil when they know better.

10. Reflections on the Revolution in France

Score: 44
Author: Edmund Burke
Written: 1790

An Irish-born British politician of the late 18th Century, who was popular in America because of his opposition to taxing the colonies, Burke holds a prominent place in the history of English-speaking conservatives. Indeed, in The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk singled him out as the first modern conservative intellectual.

Burke's early and energetic disapproval of the French Revolution proved prophetic in light of the Reign of Terror that followed. A champion of the inherent wisdom of long-settled traditions, Burke argued that by violently ripping up their nation's institutions root and branch, the French had assured themselves years of chaos.

If changes had to be made in France, he argued, could not the tried-and-true be kept and only the bad discarded? "Is it, then, true," he asked, "that the French government was such as to be incapable or undeserving of reform, so that it was of absolute necessity that the whole fabric should be at once pulled down and the area cleared for the erection of a theoretic, experimental edifice in its place?"

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: books; federalistpapers; highereducation; humanevents; readinglist
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To: eastsider
Aristotle remains the premier philosopher of the Western world. I know it is simplistic, but maybe the difference between Christendom and Islam is that the West honored the Philosopher while Islam abandoned him.
121 posted on 05/30/2003 1:23:55 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: Remedy
Never said anything to indicate otherwise. Bias is generally opposed to knowledge however and prevents its acquisition.

And I certainly know the difference between the greatest leaders America ever produced: Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Marshall and their trivial opponents whose names will become more obscure as the ages and the glory of their antagonists progress.

Hamilton and Madison were so far above the antis it is laughable. The document they produced and implemented is the greatest political work ever conceived by man. Federalist is the greatest work of policical science in the last millenium at least, no, make it the last two millenia.
122 posted on 05/30/2003 1:30:41 PM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (RATS will use any means to denigrate George Bush's Victory.)
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To: Aquinasfan
I was very old before someone pointed out to me that one needs to read his metaphysics in conjunction with his logic. Much of the difficulties of his essentialism went away when I did this.
123 posted on 05/30/2003 1:30:46 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: justshutupandtakeit
Better work in Aristotle, Locke and Hume, since they built on these philosophers.
124 posted on 05/30/2003 1:33:39 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: M Kehoe

to show my respect for the 2nd amendment

The Emerson case had extensive research about 2nd amendment, that needs to be universally promulgated.

125 posted on 05/30/2003 1:35:16 PM PDT by Remedy
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To: Remedy
...the hippies of the 1960s did understand something. They were right in fighting the plastic culture, and the church should have been fighting it too... More than this, they were right in the fact that the plastic culture - modern man, the mechanistic worldview in university textbooks and in practice, the total threat of the machine, the establishment technology, the bourgeois upper middle class - is poor in its sensitivity to nature... As a utopian group, the counterculture understands something very real, both as to the culture as a culture, but also as to the poverty of modern man's concept of nature and the way the machine is eating up nature on every side.

-Francis Schaeffer, Pollution And The Death of Man

126 posted on 05/30/2003 1:36:19 PM PDT by FoxPro
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To: Remedy
gee, you forgot the most important.


127 posted on 05/30/2003 1:39:05 PM PDT by tuna_battle_slight_return
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To: RobbyS
Aristotle remains the premier philosopher of the Western world.
I still think so, the blurb under The Republic notwithstanding ("The Republic is likely the most important work of the most important and influential philosopher who ever lived").
[M]aybe the difference between Christendom and Islam is that the West honored the Philosopher while Islam abandoned him.
LOL : ) Maybe, maybe ...
128 posted on 05/30/2003 1:39:14 PM PDT by eastsider
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To: RobbyS
Yes, they did but Publius adapted them to their time and place and made those philosophies practical.
129 posted on 05/30/2003 1:39:28 PM PDT by justshutupandtakeit (RATS will use any means to denigrate George Bush's Victory.)
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To: widowithfoursons
the list says "10 Books" not philosophers. Tolstoy is listed as a philosopher on some lists, though I don't think he belongs there.
130 posted on 05/30/2003 1:42:23 PM PDT by aardvark1
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To: justshutupandtakeit
Anti-federalists were opposed to a nation and a federal government so they walked. They were irrelevent to history anyway and their leaving didn't matter maybe helped. They thought that would torpedo the CC but didn't count on Washington, Madison and Hamilton's genius.

Um, exsqueeze me? You only demonstrate that the anti-Federalist papers *should* be required reading, because you're hugely ignorant of how our nation was formed.

If it weren't for the anti-Federalists, we would not have a Bill of Rights. No Second Amendment, no First Amendment, no Tenth Amendment...

The Constitution would be a list of broad powers granted to the federal government, with no explicit "hands off" areas spelling out what government may *not* do with respect to the rights of individuals.

And in fact, many of the anti-federalist papers read like a litany of modern conservative essays about how the Constitution has failed or been subverted for lack of proper safeguards in the original language, such as:

Anti-federalist #11: UNRESTRICTED POWER OVER COMMERCE SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT (warnings about the expansion of federal power under the commerce clause)

Anti-federalist #12: HOW WILL THE NEW GOVERNMENT RAISE MONEY? (warnings about the inability of the fedgov to raise sufficient funds via impost taxes, foreshadowing the problem of spiraling income taxes and other kinds of taxes)

Anti-federalist #17: FEDERALIST POWER WILL ULTIMATELY SUBVERT STATE AUTHORITY (title speaks for itself)

Anti-federalist #23: CERTAIN POWERS NECESSARY FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE, CAN AND SHOULD BE LIMITED (more concerns about the loss of state control of local events, powers, and monies. Sample excerpt: "These powers taken in connection, amount to this: that the general government have unlimited authority and control over all the wealth and all the force of the union. The advocates for this scheme, would favor the world with a new discovery, if they would show, what kind of freedom or independency is left to the state governments, when they cannot command any part of the property or of the force of the country, but at the will ofthe Congress.")

Anti-federalist #26: THE USE OF COERCION BY THE NEW GOVERNMENT (foreshadowing the unrestrained abuses of the IRS. Excerpt: " The excise officers have power to enter your houses at all times, by night or day, and if you refuse them entrance, they can, under pretense of searching for exciseable goods, that the duty has not been paid on, break open your doors, chests, trunks, desks, boxes, and rummage your houses from bottom to top. ")

Anti-federalist #32: FEDERAL TAXATION AND THE DOCTRINE OF IMPLIED POWERS (warnings of the unrestricted ability of the fedgov to raise taxes without limit. Excerpt: "Second. We will next inquire into what is implied in the authority to pass all laws which shall be necessary and proper to carry this power into execution. It is, perhaps, utterly impossible fully to define this power. The authority granted in the first clause can only be understood in its full extent, by descending to all the particular cases in which a revenue can be raised; the number and variety of these cases are so endless, and as it were infinite, that no man living has, as yet, been able to reckon them up.")

Anti-federalist #46: WHERE THEN IS THE RESTRAINT? (powers of Congress defined too broadly. Excerpt: "Under such a clause as this, can anything be said to be reserved and kept back from Congress? Can it be said that the Congress have no power but what is expressed? "To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" - or, in other words, to make all such laws which the Congress shall think necessary and proper")

Anti-federalist #51: DO CHECKS AND BALANCES REALLY SECURE THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE? (warnings about the corruption of Congress and the lack of sufficient controls on it)

Anti-federalist #78: THE POWER OF THE JUDICIARY (warnings on the lack of checks and balances on the Supreme Court. Excerpt: "The supreme court under this constitution would be exalted above all other power in the government, and subject to no control. The business of this paper will be to illustrate this, and to show the danger that will result from it. I question whether the world ever saw, in any period of it, a court of justice invested with such immense powers, and yet placed in a situation so little responsible.")

And so on.

The anti-federalists foresaw and warned about almost every weakness and loophole in the US Constitution which today's conservatives bemoan. Far from being "irrelevant", history has shown them to have been right on the money on the issues of how certain parts of the US Constitution were not sufficiently protected against abuse, or openly invited abuse. Far from being the work of the "genius" of Hamilton et al, who trusted too much to the good will and wisdom (*cough*) of those in power, the US Constitution would have been a far better document had the concerns of the anti-federalists been heeded and addressed.

Even in their own time, however, they managed to win an important victory which has immeasurably improved the US Constitution -- imagine what our government would be like today without it:

Anti-federalist #84: ON THE LACK OF A BILL OF RIGHTS (Excerpt: "This principle, which seems so evidently founded in the reason and nature of things, is confirmed by universal experience. Those who have governed, have been found in all ages ever active to enlarge their powers and abridge the public liberty. This has induced the people in all countries, where any sense of freedom remained, to fix barriers against the encroachments of their rulers.")

131 posted on 05/30/2003 1:43:20 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: justshutupandtakeit
Don't forget that Dr. Locke was the leading publicist of the Whigs and most of his political writings are propoganda for their cause.
132 posted on 05/30/2003 1:43:59 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: Remedy
133 posted on 05/30/2003 1:44:31 PM PDT by Fiddlstix
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To: Remedy
Are there Cliff Notes available for The Bible? Or maybe "Idiot's Guide To Christ", etc. I HATE reading. I recognized a few of the texts on the list but have read none of them. I can read, of course, I just HATE reading. I like to listen.
134 posted on 05/30/2003 1:46:14 PM PDT by tuna_battle_slight_return
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To: Remedy
Here's an interesting site with an extensive set of links to online "greatest books":

135 posted on 05/30/2003 1:47:25 PM PDT by Stefan Stackhouse
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To: Ichneumon
I agree, but not too many college students can handle the disalogue between the two sides. Too many think the Constitution is a sacred text/dusty old document. The idea that brilliant could becomes so engaged in its issue is beyond all buy the two per cent. who are able to think in historical terms.
136 posted on 05/30/2003 1:48:27 PM PDT by RobbyS
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To: Ichneumon
That is soo cool!
137 posted on 05/30/2003 1:49:49 PM PDT by gavriloprincip
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To: BillyBoy
I'm glad Anthem put you to sleep. TYou were probably a good student. It was designed to be as simple a statement as possible and is often recommended for children. She wrote it for the express purpose of reaching semi-literate people who she felt needed to start somewhere. Of her fiction, Atlas Shrugged is the most on-point of her philosophy.

Yes she is not religious and does not try to mask that to gain a broader audience. Many of us are not religious but that does not detract from what she has to say about objectivism

138 posted on 05/30/2003 1:50:54 PM PDT by muir_redwoods
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To: Remedy
great thread bump
139 posted on 05/30/2003 1:51:31 PM PDT by Lil'freeper
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To: Remedy
140 posted on 05/30/2003 1:51:52 PM PDT by CyberCowboy777 (In those days... Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.)
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