There’s not only engaging directly with those who came before, but using those same annotations (sometimes moved into different contexts) to regularly re-engage with, refine, and extend one’s own thinking.

Annotations aren’t only a conversation with a particular text, but should also serve to begin a conversation with one’s self.

In particular I’m thinking of the tradition of commonplace books, waste books, and zettelkasten.

Some notable examples of this sort of thinking pattern can be seen in Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Hans Blumenberg, and Niklas Luhmann. Isaac Newton famously created the calculus in his waste book.


scholars are annotators

The practice of scholarship is the practice of engaging in written dialogue with those who came before. Aristotle’s regular engagement with the things said by his predecessors is an important part of his legomenology. tags: Aristotle, Legomenologycplong on May 28 1


links: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Niklas Luhmann, waste books, Zettelkästen, Isaac Newton, annotations, conversations with texts

connected ideas:


  1. Annotation on [[Joining the great conversation’ — The fundamental role of annotation in academic society]] | syndication link↩︎


June 8, 2021