Monday, April 27, 2009

"In the end?" Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends. 

Book leads to book. My determination to understand the entire world never ends.

I've refrained from typing a word (here, anyway) about the Watchmen. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had not read it until I saw the movie. I quickly made up for lost time and this gap in my geek education by reading the book a dozen times in a week, and countless times since. I picked up a copy of Watchmen and Philosophy, ed. by Mark D. White. I've copies of nearly all the media studies and philosophy books about Joss Whedon's work (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and I look forward to similar books on Dollhouse). This book, though, has turned out to be more difficult to understand than I'd expected.

Georgetown University had course requirements in philosophy, ethics, and religion. I took "Intro to Philosophy" as a freshman. I don't remember much. I remember reading and actually understanding Descartes' "I think, therefore I am" (not agreeing with it at all, but at least understanding the reasoning). I remember a ten page paper discussing arguments for and against, then countering and counter-countering, the doctrine of transubstantiation. That was interesting to me, at least. I may not have been Catholic anymore, but it never leaves your blood. Finally I understood transubstantiation, after weeks of study of the meaning of what "is" means.

But all in all, I remember so little. People's names, the names of philosophies - that's it. I can't remember the differences between utilitarianism and moral relativism.

Hence my difficulty with Watchmen and Philosophy.

I've started to read Will Durant's The Story of Philosophy. I've had the book for a while, since my last trip to Nashville last year. I found it in a used book store, a cheap hardcover with the leather tearing away from the spine, printed in 1933, and clearly well-read if not well-loved.

The book is organized first in chronological order by the major philosopher. Within each chapter, organization instead is based on a logical explanation of the particular philosophy, major pieces of literature, historical context, and other major players.

After about four pages I have realized I will *never* be able to follow, let alone retain, the material without keeping a running outline as I read. So I gotta read it with a notebook next to me.

Geez. I thought I was beyond that for any book but math texts. It's a bit humbling. Luckily, though, my husband majored (a couple decades ago, but still) in philosophy. I'm gonna rely on him to explain the hard stuff. Wish me luck.

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