Category Archives: Learning/Education

WHAT A BOOK!

I read a lot of history.  Usually, I have to read long books (400 pages plus) to get as much insight as this much shorter one by Gregg.  In only 166 pages the author gives intellectual insights on every page.  It is a feast for both heart and mind.

The writing is clear and compelling.  Gregg knows the flow of Western ideas very well.  He communicates with ease some of the main currents of thought.

It is rare that the number of my markings (or marginalia) exceeds the number of the pages of a book I have read, but this is one of those rare times.

I highly recommend this balanced and beautifully conceived book!

DELIGHT IN LEARNING

From my forthcoming book on history, Making Connections: Discovering the Riches of the Past:

According to neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, we are hardwired (he thinks due to evolution, I think due to God) to name our world. Not only are we hardwired to do so, but we delight in doing so:

This innate passion for naming and categorizing can be brought into stark relief by the fact that most of the naming we do in the plant world might be considered strictly unnecessary. Out of the 30,000 edible plants thought to exist on earth, just eleven account for 93% of all that humans eat: oats, corn, rice, wheat, potatoes, yucca (also called tapioca or cassava), sorghum, millet, beans, barley, and rye. Yet our brains evolved to receive a pleasant shot of dopamine when we learn something new and again when we classify it systematically into an ordered structure.[1]

With respect to history, it is easy to see that classification (knowing some of the differences between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment) provides a necessary scaffolding to keep learning and delighting in one’s understanding of the world.

[1] Daniel J. Levitin, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload (New York, NY: Dutton, 2014), 32.