Great Books And The Eastern World: Why is there no requisite canon?

A quick search of wikipedia brings up articles like Great Books or Western Canon but there is no equivalent outside of the Western tradition. If people think this is a problem, like I said earlier, create your own list. I would love to see what comes out in the wash when developing other ideas of canon and great books.

To me, this seems to be a failure in academia. Professors and educated folks love to criticize the West for not being inclusive enough and not developing outside of their own little thought bubbles… But by limiting yourself to criticism of the Western tradition and not developing your own set of classics that people might benefit from, you’re worse than the 14th Century thinkers who were simply writing out their ideas in the only system they knew.

Image result for homeless reading

When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.

-Desiderius Erasmus

In college, it blew my mind that whole lectures, courses and careers were devoted to criticizing the idea of Western Canon, or the ethnic/socioeconomic makeup of authors. Seriously, this is a problem that could be solved like this:

“Universities need some new and interesting books, students keep complaining about some of the stuff we read and we’re sending them out unprepared to Graduate School and the job market. How much 8th Century European literature, or 16th Century alchemy do we really need? Is it necessary to completely delve into some of these outdated scientific modes?”

“You have a point. Let’s reach out to some staff and students and see what sort of books we can use to fill the gap. Since we have a student body from all over the world, we should look into the different literary, cultural and scientific traditions of the different home countries too.”

…But it’s so much easier to complain and never come up with a solution.


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