Unlike my peers in 1870 I have access to literally thousands of competing theories and little guidance as to what I 'should' read.
In the end I read bits and pieces and fit those bits imperfectly into my understanding of the world, aided by a diversity of insights from those who have read and understood the theories.
Oh trust me there was no shortage of theories and all of that in the 1870s. The enlightenment lead to an entire era of people developing theories in philosophy, politicals, economics ect. That said, it's perfectly fair to say that there's too much to read. There are good reading lists I've come across and I'd be more than willing to write up a few lists of what to read at different levels
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