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How to Think about the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization

  • Paperback
Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Western literature, philosophy, and history, Adler considers what is meant by democracy, law, emotion, language, truth, and other abstract concepts in light of more than two millennia of Western civilization. 15 photos.
How to Think about the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization
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Time magazine called Mortimer J. Adler a "philosopher for everyman". In this guide to considering the big questions, Adler addresses the topics all men and women ponder in the course of life, such as "What is love?", "How do we decide the right thing to do?", and, "What does it mean to be good?" Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Western literature, history, and philosophy, the author considers what is meant by democracy, law, emotion, language, truth, and other abstract concepts in light of more than two millennia of Western civilization and discourse. Adler's essays offer a remarkable and contemplative distillation of the Great Ideas of Western Thought.
Adler was Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, and Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute.
This collection of transcripts from a 50-year-old educational television series has its creaky moments, but overall it is surprisingly fresh, containing much sound thinking on a variety of philosophical questions.As if embarrassed to reveal the book's age, the publishers neglect to mention until the afterword that its contents were originally broadcast in 1953 54 as a series of 52 weekly half-hour TV shows. This material has been shaped into 52 chapters on the `Great Ideas`: e.g., truth; knowledge and opinion; good and evil; beauty and art; law and government; philosophy; and God. Each idea is rationally investigated, on the assumption that clear thinking can yield some knowledge and sharpen some questions. As a window into television's early days, the book has curiosity value: viewers of the time evidently considered it good television to watch Adler (Art, the Arts, and the Great Ideas, 1994, etc.) discourse on philosophy with his sidekick Lloyd Luckman. Try selling that format to a network today! In some ways the show was forward-looking: viewers interacted with Adler, sending written queries that were answered the following week, like a slow-motion Internet forum. Other touches seem musty: references to President Eisenhower and the burning issue of `conformity versus dissent,` and the absence of references to non-Western writings. Much of the content is familiar from Adler's other books, padded with the wordiness endemic to speech. Even so, the encyclopedic scope on issues of genuinely perennial interest is welcome, as is Adler's refreshingly non-postmodern optimism about the power of philosophy to discover truth. Adler, who characterizes philosophy as `rational talk about the basic problems of mankind,` is occasionally too talky, but for the most part delivers the rational discourse he promises. (Kirkus Reviews)
Author
Mortimer Jerome Adler
Pages
530
Publisher
Open Court Publishing Company
Edition Description
Revised
Language
English
ISBN-10
0812694120
ISBN-13
9780812694123
Media
Book
Format
Paperback
DEWEY
081
Year
2000
Publication Date
2000-03-31
Short Title
HT THINK ABT THE GRT IDEAS REV
Imprint
Open Court Publishing Co ,U.S.
Subtitle
From the Great Books of Western Civilization
Place of Publication
Chicago, IL
Country of Publication
United States
Residence
Chicago, IL, US
Illustrations
black & white illustrations
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