Monday, September 10, 2007

Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28, 1902June 28, 2001) was an American Aristotelian philosopher and author. He was born in New York City, the son of an immigrant jewelry salesman. He dropped out of school at 14 years of age and went to work as a secretary and copy boy at the New York Sun, hoping to become a journalist. After a year, he took night classes at Columbia University to improve his writing. It was there that he became interested, after reading the autobiography of the great English philosopher John Stuart Mill, in the great philosophers and thinkers of Western civilization. Adler was driven to continue his reading after learning that Mill had read Plato when he was only five years old, while he had not read him at all. A book by Plato was lent to him by a neighbor and Adler became hooked. He then decided to study philosophy at Columbia, where he received a scholarship. But he was so focused on philosophy that he failed to complete the requisite physical education course to earn his bachelor's degree.
Adler became an instructor at Columbia in the 1920s. He continued to participate in the Honors program (today the Core Curriculum) which had been started by John Erskine. This program focused on the reading of the great Classics. His tenure at the university included study with such eminent thinkers as Erskine and John Dewey, the famous American pragmatist philosopher. This kind of environment inspired his early interest in reading and the study of the "Great Books" of Western Civilization. He also promoted the idea that philosophy should be integrated with science, literature, and religion.

Mortimer Adler Quotations

Dialectic (1927)
The Nature of Judicial Proof: An Inquiry into the Logical, Legal, and Empirical Aspects of the Law of Evidence (1931, with Jerome Michael)
Diagrammatics (1932, with Maude Phelps Hutchins)
Crime, Law and Social Science (1933, with Jerome Michael)
Art and Prudence: A Study in Practical Philosophy (1937)
What Man Has Made of Man: A Study of the Consequences of Platonism and Positivism in Psychology (1937)
The Philosophy and Science of Man: A Collection of Texts as a Foundation for Ethics and Politics (1940)
How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education (1940), 1966 edition subtitled A Guide to Reading the Great Books, 1972 revised edition with Charles Van Doren, The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading: ISBN 0-671-21209-5
A Dialectic of Morals: Towards the Foundations of Political Philosophy (1941)
How to Think About War and Peace (1944)
The Revolution in Education (1944, with Milton Mayer)
The Capitalist Manifesto (1958, with Louis O. Kelso) ISBN 0-8371-8210-7
The Idea of Freedom: A Dialectical Examination of the Conceptions of Freedom (1958)
The New Capitalists: A Proposal to Free Economic Growth from the Slavery of Savings (1961, with Louis O. Kelso)
The Idea of Freedom: A Dialectical Examination of the Controversies about Freedom (1961)
Great Ideas from the Great Books (1961)
The Conditions of Philosophy: Its Checkered Past, Its Present Disorder, and Its Future Promise (1965)
The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes (1967)
The Time of Our Lives: The Ethics of Common Sense (1970)
The Common Sense of Politics (1971)
The American Testament (1975, with William Gorman)
Some Questions About Language: A Theory of Human Discourse and Its Objects (1976)
Philosopher at Large: An Intellectual Autobiography (1977)
Reforming Education: The Schooling of a People and Their Education Beyond Schooling (1977, edited by Geraldine Van Doren)
Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy (1978) ISBN 0-684-83823-0
How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan (1980) ISBN 0-02-016022-4
Six Great Ideas: Truth-Goodness-Beauty-Liberty-Equality-Justice (1981) ISBN 0-02-072020-3
The Angels and Us (1982)
The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto (1982)
How to Speak / How to Listen (1983) ISBN 0-02-500570-7
Paideia Problems and Possibilities: A Consideration of Questions Raised by The Paideia Proposal (1983)
A Vision of the Future: Twelve Ideas for a Better Life and a Better Society (1984) ISBN 0-02-500280-5
The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus (1984, with Members of the Paideia Group)
Ten Philosophical Mistakes (1985) ISBN 0-02-500330-5
A Guidebook to Learning: For a Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom (1986)
We Hold These Truths: Understanding the Ideas and Ideals of the Constitution (1987)
Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind (1988, edited by Geraldine Van Doren)
Intellect: Mind Over Matter (1990)
Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth (1990) ISBN 0-02-064140-0
Haves Without Have-Nots: Essays for the 21st Century on Democracy and Socialism (1991) ISBN 0-02-500561-8
Desires, Right & Wrong: The Ethics of Enough (1991)
A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror: Further Autobiographical Reflections of a Philosopher At Large (1992)
The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought (1992)
Natural Theology, Chance, and God (The Great Ideas Today, 1992)
The Four Dimensions of Philosophy: Metaphysical-Moral-Objective-Categorical (1993)
Art, the Arts, and the Great Ideas (1994)
Adler's Philosophical Dictionary: 125 Key Terms for the Philosopher's Lexicon (1995) Edited works

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