This month’s featured website is Early Modern Texts. This wonderful websites hosts a number of classical (and more modern) books and papers rewritten in such a way that they are easier for the modern reader to understand. The site was started by Jonathan Bennett (Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University), but is now run by Peter Millican and Amyas Merivale of Hertford College, Oxford.
When Jonathan started this is how he modified the text to make it easier to understand:
- basic updating of language
- less convoluted syntax and shorter sentences
- numbering of points
- indenting of passages that are helped by such a display
- replacement of obsolete words with current ones
- replacement of still-current words used in now-obsolete meanings
- material that makes the author’s meaning clearer or more explicit
- bullets to make formal aspects of the text more easily accessible
- omitting passages that don’t earn their keep
- relocate parts of one paragraph in the following paragraph
- interposing an explanation of in small type within [square brackets]
- replacing a passage with a description of its main content.
He explains all these modifications in the FAQ section.
But the result is that students no longer have to grapple with archaic terms, convoluted 17th century language and impenetrable text.
The texts are arranged chronologically by author and go from Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) to Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) via all the obvious philosophers (Descartes, Hume, Leibniz, Locke, Kant…..) and quite a few less obvious ones (Anne Conway, Anthony Cooper, Jonathan Edwards….)
Try out this website to find out how reading philosophy can be made much easier.