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I made my first venture into philosophy of the year with my fifth book, John Locke’s Of the Conduct of the Understanding.  This book is essentially Locke’s assessment of what prevents most men from using their understanding to its full potential and how to remedy that problem.  Locke can be a bit tough to get through at times, but is always worth the effort.  So many of his writings, whether political, moral, or educational, contain observations that seem fundamental to those of us that have grown up in a liberal democracy but were revolutionary in Locke’s time.  Of the Conduct is one of those works.  Locke points out that the educational system of his day was flawed, stressing dependence on showy argumentation and the unquestioned acceptance of orthodox principles in all areas of study.  This particular work is aimed at grown men who want to free themselves from ignorance imposed either by themselves or by instructors.  A man must, according to Locke, maintain an absolute neutrality on all topics until he has examined them with his own understanding and discerned the underlying principle of truth that should direct his view.  No tenet should be accepted without examination, whether out of party loyalty or religious devotion.  He also offers advice to the man who wants to train his understanding to be better equipped for such examinations.  Reading is important, but disciplined and detailed examination is paramount.  This book is not one to be picked up for a quick read (despite its relative brevity).  If you are serious about intellectual improvement, this book is a must.

The Current Count:

5 Read, 95 To Go