What are the Great Books?

great books reading Oct 02, 2020

When you hear the term “The Great Books,” what does that mean to you? It could mean something great on a personal level, like a story that elevates your soul beyond immediate concerns, or something filled with knowledge and ideas that change the way you see the world. But the Great Books is also a historical term, a name given to the very best works of Western Civilization, handed down throughout the generations as the most important examples of what it means to be a part of this culture.

But what makes them so great? As described by editors in "The Great Conversation," the first volume of the Britannica Great Books series, these works are based in the “spirit of inquiry” of Western Civilization. Unlike other civilizations, the West has a long-standing tradition of exchanging, questioning, and building upon ideas that have come before. It is in this spirit that we build all content for the Pisan Academy, from our student success courses to our reading level-based curriculum that will be released in August.

We know that using the Great Books as the foundation of a classical education allows anyone, not just young students, the capabilities to engage with other people on a deeper and rational level. The Great Books build empathy, demonstrate the best ways to communicate, and help develop thinking skills that allow oneself to question ideas and come to conclusions based on reason.

There was a time when the Great Books were only available to the educated elite, but that is not the case in the modern world. Through technology (Project Gutenberg), public libraries, and the availability of used books online (Amazon), it is easier than ever to dive into the greatest works of history, literature, and philosophy. So, you can follow along with us as we share our love of the Great Books in our monthly newsletters, on our blog, in our products, and through social media.


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