One of the liveliest and most engaging of the philosophy graduate students who took my course last semester on Karl Marx’s Critique of Capitalism was a young first year student who has been forced to take a year off from his studies to return home so that he can help to support his mother. I offered to mentor him this coming year in order to enable him in some manner to continue his study of philosophy during his year in California. As I have often made clear on this blog, I am deeply suspicious of the contemporary practice of giving doctoral students snippets of philosophy to read – selections from great works, or recent journal articles. I am unashamedly old-fashioned in my belief that the very best preparation for beginning students is close reading of a number of major texts of Western philosophy. Accordingly, I arranged to have Amazon.com send the young man copies of Descartes’ Meditations, Leibniz’s Monadology, Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature, and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Over the coming months, I hope to take him through these works – all of each of them, even the less highly regarded or commented upon parts – and perhaps through other classic works as well, if time permits. By the time he returns to resume his doctoral studies, he should have some solid grounding for whatever his professors ask him to read. It should be an interesting experience for me, and perhaps for him as well.