I have mentioned this before in one of my zillion posts, but if you get a kick out of contemplation and hopes of understanding, Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy is a rundown and brief analysis of every major advancement in philosophy since the Pre-Socratics. If you memorized the chronological order of these 70 or so philosophers and the premises and conclusions of their major arguments, and of course read and understood the book, you would (I’m serious) have knowledge far above those with BA’s in Philosophy (which is one thing I do have) not because it is a true replacement for all of the material that would be absorbed through college, but because as we all know, just a few years after you study a subject (even in depth), it’s pretty much impossible to remember the details, or much of anything really. But not for a fine mnemonist such as yourself
The experience of understanding the depth of some reality that you would have sworn was prosaic and unworthy of consideration, or more accurately, that you wouldn’t have considered at all, is as sweet as sugar
Take for instance the color of your skin. You would describe it as a certain shade, but we all know that the sense-datum of color is derived from the light reflected off of an object. Colored lights of sufficient strength would therefore change the color of your skin in the truest and most literal sense, but without consideration of this fact, you would be inclined to consider the color of your skin that you would have original described as somehow “more real” than when it is altered by colored light, but only because your used to light of a certain hue, from the sun and the most common artificial lights.
That’s plain enough. But notice what happens when you apply the same principle to the shape of physical objects, such as the chair you are sitting on. Its shape is perceived differently when seen from different angles. We are inclined to say well “really” it is such and such a shape, but that shape you would describe is a fabrication, and there is no good reason to believe it is so. Very possibly, it is not. The persistence of the shape of your chair: not so obvious after all. Not so prosaic. Aw, but now I’m just getting sentimental. sniff
I bring it up not because I assume that you and everyone else here has no idea what metaphysics is but because it is a brief summary of a section of a more complete argument of Russell’s. An example of his thought. His is the keen intellect that critiques the thought that formed our Western World.
Then again, you said “just for fun,” and memorizing and understanding the content of this book would be a greater and more serious endeavor than what you may be looking for.
End of Chapter