Saturday, November 15, 2008

Alex Explores Sophie's World

After a lamentable decade or so on my shelf (apologies to Mohamad since he gifted it to me so long ago), I finally pulled out Sophie's World and began reading. I can't say, really, what prompted me. I know there were sparks of curiosity and, no doubt, guilt. After all, it's a bestseller -- and everyone and his dog in forty-one countries has read it. But there are plenty of books awaiting my studious perusal that spark both curiosity and residual levels of guilt for having not yet been read that sit lonely upon my many shelves.

So it wasn't only curiosity. And it wasn't only guilt. In retrospect, I wonder if it wasn't a final admission to feeling very much at loss with the world at large and America in particular. In reading a history of philosophy, perhaps I hoped to find not necessarily answers, but rather questions that would help me settle into my own.

Sophie's World is not a book for answers. Or at least easy answers. Of course, Reagan said that there were no easy answers, just simple ones. And we must have the courage to do what we know to be morally right. Those are reassuring words, indeed. Truth be known, however, there were Greek philosophers who would have agreed whole-heartedly with him.

As I finished the last words on the last page tonight, I found myself already plotting my second reading of the book, replete with a much larger copy and a journal for keeping notes. I've contemplated taking the book apart at the binding, punching it for a 3-ring binder, much like Sophie & Hilde had, and going on from there. Certainly highlighters and post-it notes are a must.

On the other hand, I've been meaning to read We the Living for some time now. And, in a way, as it is but a continuation of the history of philosophy via a fictional journey, I'll have remained true to the ideal of searching for answers.


Anonymous said...

I started this a couple of months ago because it was around (my son read it in school) and then set it aside in favor of something a little more - suspenseful. But it's still sitting in the bathroom, waiting to be picked up again.

Alex Moore said...

I have to admit that I started reading it for about fifteen minutes every morning this last week. Then yesterday, I devoured the entire rest of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it -- but my feeling is that so much was left out (eg the concept of inalienable or inherent rights that mankind is born with). So I want to go back, create an outline of sorts from the book itself, and then go out and complete the research. Yes, there are undoubtedly books on the history of philosophy out there, but I will actually learn -- and hopefully retain -- through this process.

What grade level and for what class did your son use the book for?

Anonymous said...

um... it was a weird private school catering to an interesting assortment of bright kids who didn't fit well in any system, and some of the grade stuff was muddled up. 8th grade, I think? It was an elective Intro to the Humanities class, offered by one of the parents.