The second step in syntopical reading from How To Read A Book From Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren is bringing the author to terms. Coming to terms with an author is different in analytical reading as compared to syntopical reading. An excerpt from page 318:
“Thus it is you who must establish the terms, and bring your authors to them rather than the other way around.
This is probably the most difficult step in syntopical reading. What it really come down to is forcing an author to use your language, rather than using his.”
This is quite different for me than normal analytical reading and I must understand as the author’s state that it is an exercise in translation. I must begin to understand all the authors and build up a set of terms that allows me to solve the problem that I am faced with.
It has been over a year since we have discussed syntopical reading here and I thought it might be a good idea to explore the five steps. The first step is to find the relevant passages. Remember that the books are not the priority, but it is your concerns that need to be addressed. One of the most difficult things for me to do with syntopical reading is to narrow my question in what I want to discover through syntopical reading. If I am too broad, then I must address more books than I possible have time for. So my first advice is to narrow your focus.
By inspectionally reading these books, you can uncover the relevant passages and as you read more books syntopically you will be able to further clarify the passages that you need to understand your subject more clearly.
Remember that your main purpose is to make a connection with the author in what he is attempting to get across to the reader and as Adler and Van Doren have previously stated: Come to terms with the author in a different way.
I picked this book up over the weekend and it looks fascinating from the standpoint I absolutely know very little about past extinctions and I am currently trying to understand about climate change. I will be reporting in this blog about this book and my thoughts, but any readers that may have read this and have any comments, we would certainly appreciate them.
This is a short article primarily about Debbie Stier, who at the age of forty-six decides to tackle the SAT’s with the goal of making a perfect score of 2400. My takeaway from this article is that we are not measuring the correct areas when taking these standardized tests. It is great to focus on writing, math and reading, but as is stated in the article where is the focus on critical thinking.
Any readers know of research done recently that shows how top scorers in the SAT’s from twenty-five years ago are currently doing professionally? How would we judge their success?
I love this excerpt toward the end of the article:
“Whatever is at the center of the SAT—call it aptitude or assessment of assiduousness or ambition—the exam at this point represents an accident. It was conceived for one purpose, adapted for another, and somewhere along the line it acquired a hold on American life that nobody ever intended. It’s not just high school seniors who are in its thrall; colleges are, too. How do you know how good a school is? Well, by the SAT scores of the students it accepts.”
Please take the time to peruse this article and give us some feedback!