Friday, March 17, 2017

Important: ignore the previous, anticipate the next


Ignore last night's strange posting, which -- in any case -- I have deleted, and anticipate my future postings by answering this urgent question: 

                   What is the most important, most influential book ever written? 

Note: 
This is not a trick question. 
I am very interested in your answers. 
Let the comments and discussions resume!




20 comments:

  1. Interesting question, Tim, as ever, and very pleased to see you back. In my opinion, 'important' and 'influential' aren't the same thing. So I'd have to give different answers there. As to 'influential,' I'd probably say the Bible. It's certainly been the source of a great deal of human choices for thousands of years. As for 'important?' That's a different question, to which I don't have a ready answer. It's wonderful 'food for thought,' though, for which thanks.

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    1. Margot, as for influential and important, what about Qur'an rather than Bible? Of course, I know nothing about one and not enough about the other. I suspect I am not alone. What if the question were changed to asking about author? And are our answers overly determined by our Western cultural heritage?

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    2. yes... if the answer to the query is to be in terms of numbers of persons influenced, i'd be tempted to cite the works of Confucius, who, from c. 500 bc to the present day, has affected the lives of billlions of Chinese, in spite of the Manchus and the Communists, and western culture...

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    3. There would be no "Western cultural heritage" without the bible. It's the backbone to our culture. Of course, now a great many people would like to remove the backbone.

      And if you accept the leveling tendencies of postmodernism, well, that doesn't matter to you. Having just spent a week in the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay and Sainte-Chapelle, etc., I'm even more sure that postmodern leveling is wrong.

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    4. Amen, Marly! How is that for succinct and complete!

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    5. There would be no "Western cultural heritage" without the bible.....

      I'm sure that the Ancient Greeks and the Romans would be mortified to hear that!

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    6. Of course, Greco-Roman threads are woven into the Bible, and I guess no one in Western culture can either deny or escape the influence of all three.

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    7. The point I'm making is that, although the Bible certainly had a significant impact on Western Culture, we would still have a deep, detailed and rich culture if the Bible had never existed. It would just be a different one.

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  2. Tim,

    Western European Civ. The Bible

    Middle East/Mediterranean: The Koran

    Asia: The written teachings of Buddha and Confucius

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  3. Fred, Mudpuddle, and Margot: You each get at the heart of the problem by highlighting/suggesting the differences in geographies and cultures; however, even as I would argue that one culture (Western) has been internationally dominant for a very long time, I wonder this: will one culture eventually overrun and obliterate all others? That question invites speculation, which I know is not very productive, but even such speculation might suggest something about current events and our perception and understanding of those events. Forgive the whirligig musings. The subject underlying my musings has been much of my mind. More will be revealed soon.

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  4. I'd be inclined to go with the Bible, principally because it has exerted influence more widely than the others. The others have had little influence in the West, but the Bible has exerted some just about everywhere to some extent. And I say this as someone who often describes himself as a Catholic Taoist.

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    1. Frank, you would not be surprised, of course, that many people now in the beginning of the 21st century would either disagree with you about the Bible or would hope to see that influence dissipated and replaced by secular humanist influences. And I have noticed that when I mention or discuss the Bible, some people react as if they were vampires and I were holding a crucifix in front of them. Like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz, those folks writhe and shrivel. It is fun too observe. Now, though, I must figure out just what you mean by "Catholic Taoist." Would that be similar or related to Christian existentialism? You can tell by my puzzlement that I am now at sea without navigational aids.

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  5. If I had to go out on a limb I agree that the Bible is the most influential. Many other works are vitally important but do not occupy such a central role.

    Mentioning the Koran in understandable but it was so influenced by the Bible I think that it must be considered less influential.

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    1. I would argue that 'Origin of Species' and 'The Communist Manifesto' are both more important and more influential than The Bible. The 20th Century (and into today) would be pretty much unrecognisable without either of them - political or scientifically.

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    2. darwin for sure; dunno about the manifesto... although, if darwin hadn't published, wallace would have for sure, in fact did, a bit later...

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    3. sometimes i think human history, past and future, exists on a giant analog computer somewhere and the paper just keeps rattling through the reader part, with no chance of alteration or change; are we all robots, unerringly performing our pointy tasks...?

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    4. Oh, I totally disagree Mudpuddle.... It's a giant DIGITAL computer.

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    5. haha; i get those mixed up; i'm sure you're right... one is paper and the other is real stuff, right?

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  6. read somewhere that four most significant works of the modern era are by Darwin, Freud, Einstein, and Marx.

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  7. Fred et al: The arguments for different "most influential" books leave me unpersuaded, but that says more about me than it says about the arguments, selections, and authors. For example, what I know about Confucius, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, Marx, and others is next to nothing; I barely know how to spell the names. On the other hand, I was so profoundly indoctrinated in the Bible when I was growing up, and I was so completely immersed in the study of literature as an adult that I cannot escape my conviction that the Bible is the heart and soul of human existence during the last 2000 years. So, it will surprise no one who has been following this threated discussion that the Bible will be prominently featured at Informal Inquiries in future postings. I will not limit myself to that book, but I will follow my conviction that Bible is the most important and most influential book ever written. Feel free to argue that assertion, and feel free to comment upon any and all future postings in which the Bible takes center stage either explicitly or implicitly.

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