I think this semester I have some of the worst required reading I’ve ever had.
Among them are the works of Jean Paul Sartre, who presumes to be an atheist, then engages in a sort of soft theism by saying that if there are no gods whose existence precedes their essence, then it follows that human beings are that way. I can appreciate his distrust of determinism, but it has extended to the point where he swats it away and insists that absolutely nothing but free will dictates what we are.
I’ve met plenty of people who thought that way. They reveled in their own freedom, but really they were being led by the nose by the clever use of psychology, fed the opinions of another and convinced that they’d thought of the idea themselves, and buried their heads in the sand when someone pointed out that they were just following the flock.
Another simply awful book I’ve had to read this semester is “Reflections on the Revolution in France” by Edmund Burke. While his opinions are useful to understanding the mindset in 18th century England, he often goes on lengthy anti-semitic rants (he accuses George Gordon, Lord Byron, of being a proselytizer for Judaism among other things), long sentences strung together into page-long paragraphs, and no form of structure or method to his observations.
What’s worse, you can see the roots of fascism in his work, from his appeal to society to form an organic whole, to his appeals to nature to defend aristocracy and his obsession with national identity to the point where even the prejudices of a people are considered part of that whole.
If at any point I sincerely thought like either of these men, in any of my lives, I am truly sorry.