While nearly every piece of Michel Foucault's writing is renowned and worthy of attention, "What is an Author?" is one of the most accessible and universally relevant. Foucault asks a question that most readers just take for granted. In his deep search into the human psyche, he motivates his readers to question both the concept itself as well as the need to use terms like "author." While not the easiest of reads, Foucault's essay is both highly influential and approachably short,
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it time well spent for anyone who is willing to put in the effort.
The Gettysburg Address
ne of the most famous speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address is not necessarily an essay in its most traditional conception. Rather, it is a blend of the written and spoken forms, demonstrating how much can be accomplished in less than 300 words. As the source of one of the most famous opening phrases in history, "Four score and seven years ago," the Gettysburg Address gets at the heart of America's struggles following the Civil War, and it demonstrates the strength of brevity.
What the essays above provide is just a small portion of the canon of philosophical thought. They search into the mind of mankind, into the way the authors thought, and how they attempted to formulate at least some answers as to what they found. From political activism to artistic development, the essay format is the perfect medium for such concentrated notions. What these essays provide is a good foundation for further investigation, as well as a solid example of how that classic schoolroom format is only the beginning.
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