Thursday, December 22, 2011

Origin of Species - Introduction

Off I fly, careering far
In chase of Pollys, prettier far
Than any of their namesakes are
—The Polymaths and Polyhistors,
Polyglots and all their sisters.
~ Thomas Moore
What I am immediately struck by is the ease and accessibility of Darwin's writing.  He cleanly and concisely lays out his motivations, reservations, evidence, and thesis.  I think I assumed a more academic style of writing common to the philosophers of Darwin's day. 
I am fully convinced that species are not immutable ... I am convinced that Natural Selection has been the main but not exclusive means of modification.
~ Charles Darwin, Introduction p. 14-15

Polymathic Ramblings

Inspired by this post from the great Neil deGrasse Tyson, I have decided to liberal up my education.  As a lowly engineering and computer science major I am afraid my liberal arts upbringing was limited to 1 credit of economics and half a credit of psychology.  After perusing the list I mentioned above, I discovered The Harvard Classics (which I'm amazed I had never heard of before, Internets you have failed me).  Armed with my shiny new Playbook with Kobo e-reader and the brilliance of Project Gutenburg, I shall set out to polymathisize myself and complete my own education.

On an education related note, I've been wondering a lot about all this talk of 'saving' education.  I still don't think we really know what we are saving education from or what we want it to look like.  Where better to start then with what an ideal student would be like upon leaving school.  What do we want our students to know, to know how to do, and to understand.  I think much of the knowledge contained with Neil deGrasse Tyson's book list and the Havard Classics should be in there.  So, this is also a bit of a proof of concept.

My goal is to read a bit of a book every day and blog about it here (or elsewhere if I can think of an awesome name for the new blog).  I figure that may keep me honest and help me digest what I have read.  I have decided to begin with On The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection