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December 29, 2016 / compassioninpolitics

Ultimate Classics Reading List for Cultural Literacy

This is the classics reading list from St. Johns College in Sante Fe New Mexico, (or about 60 to 70% of that reading list), which includes philosophy, literature, and history from the Western intellectual tradition.  These texts represent the core of cultural literacy in terms of the West.  That is, they represent the canon.  They also generally represent works of artistic and intellectual merit which is perhaps another reason they are deemed by large sections of the population and academia to be classics.  Please realize this is part of a four year reading list, but does provide pretty comprehensive coverage of the Western philosophical tradition:

  1. Homer, Illiad
  2. Homer, Odyssey
  3. Aeschylus, Agamemnon
  4. Herodotus, Histories
  5. Plato, Gorgias
  6. Plato, Republic
  7. Plato, Crito
  8. Plato, Apology
  9. Plato, Phaedo
  10. Plato, Theatetus
  11. Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
  12. Plutarch, Lives
  13. Livy, The Early History of Rome
  14. Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
  15. Aristotle, Politics
  16. Aristotle, Physics
  17. Aristotle, Metaphysics
  18. Aristotle, Poetics
  19. Aristotle, On the Soul
  20. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
  21. Augustine, Confessions
  22. Epictetus, Discourses
  23. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
  24. Anselm, Proslogium (Gaunilon’s Reply and Anselm’s Response)
  25. Descartes, Meditations
  26. Descartes, Discourse on Method
  27. Pascal, Penes
  28. Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Psalms, Jeremiah, Jonah, Job)
  29. New Testament (Matthew, John, John I, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians)
  30. Milton, Paradise Lost
  31. Cervantes, Don Quiote
  32. Shakespeare, Macbeth
  33. Shakespeare, Henry IV
  34. Shakespeare, King Lear
  35. Shakespeare, Othello
  36. Shakespeare, Tempest
  37. DeToquville, Democracy in America
  38. Locke, Second Treatise on Government
  39. Rousseau, Discourses on the Origin of Inequality
  40. Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
  41. Hawthorne, Scarlett Letter
  42. The Federalist Papers, The Federalists
  43. Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
  44. Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason
  45. Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
  46. Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death
  47. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
  48. Hegel, Philosophy of History
  49. Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts
  50. Marx, Communist Manifesto
  51. Leibniz, (Selections)
  52. Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
  53. Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  54. Dante, Divine Comedy
  55. Wordsworth, Two Part Reply
  56. Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s Greatest Speeeches (available from Dover)

I recommend bookmarking these.  You may also learn from looking at their Graduate Classics Reading List, which has a similar focus.  I would probably add more from the New Testament, particularly in a homeschooling or private school environment.

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