Friday, September 13, 2013

The study plan - first steps

Long before I set my copy of The Intellectual Life down, I got a strong feeling that putting a study plan together was not going to be easy.  But, it wasn't so hard as my fearful, melancholic temperament would have me believe either.  In the end, I settled on this preliminary plan: Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.  I'm hoping to add something about the history of the industrial revolution in Europe because I believe this will complement my study of the Church's Social Doctrine, which will form the foundation for my specialty in economics and finance.  Yes, Pride and Prejudice is conspicuously absent from this list, but I've been trying to reduce my intake since I read Sertillanges' critique of novels.

Sertillanges laid down several principles about what to study in his chapter on "The Field of Work" that I pieced together to come up with this preliminary plan.  Although I plan to go into greater detail about these principles, its worth mentioning them now in the context of how I selected this plan to give you a sense of the whole before diving into the parts.  The Intellectual, as perhaps we should call Sertillanges, puts an emphasis on quickly acquiring a "body of directive ideas forming a whole,"* which means mastering St. Thomas.  But, before jumping into the Summa, you need to acquire a philosophical background and "to inform yourself exactly of the content of the faith."

So, philosophy and the content of the faith before St. Thomas.  Finding a source for the content of the faith was easy, of course, but the question of where to start in philosophy was not so straightforward.  I have taken classes in Logic, Philosophy of Nature, Metaphysics, etc., so I have some background in Philosophy, which was helpful in thinking through where to start in that area.  In the end, I settled on Logic as the first topic in Philosophy because it provides the tools that all the other topics are going to use--how to make an argument, how to formulate a definition, and countless other questions are answered by Logic.  Plus, I was familiar with Peter Kreeft's book from my Logic class and I knew that it would provide an excellent refresher in other areas like philosophy of nature and metaphysics.  I can't say that I thoroughly researched the Logic books available and settled on Peter Kreeft's book, but I was so impressed with the book during my Logic class that I didn't feel the need to find another one.

In terms of the third topic, this is definitely going to vary from person to person depending on you area of focus.  On the other hand, I don't think I would be departing from the spirit of the Intellectual when I recommend starting with a basic text in your field.  Perhaps it's something that you already read, or that everybody has already read.  This could be a good time to really read that book.  Also, I have chosen three topics, but that number is a minimum more than a particular recommendation.  Hopefully, this brief explanation will give you a sense of how to lay out your study plan.  More to come!

*"The Field of Work," section II.

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