How to Think About the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western CivilizationPaperback
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- Publisher: Open Court Publishing Co ,U.S.
- Format: Paperback | 600 pages
- Dimensions: 152mm x 226mm x 34mm | 739g
- Publication date: 1 April 2000
- Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
- ISBN 10: 0812694120
- ISBN 13: 9780812694123
- Edition statement: Revised ed.
- Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
- Sales rank: 285,030
Philosophy of everybody's business. As human beings, we all have the ability, and even the proclivity, to philosophize. We all engage in philosphical thought in the course of our daily live. What is philosophy? Why is it important? The importance of philosophy can be summed up in two words: Great Ideas. Great Ideas are the ideas that have been captured and developed in what are often called the Great Books of Western Civilization. They are common concepts that are a part of everyone's vocabulary and ordinary conversation and important, basic ideas that we think about throughout our lives - as children, adolescents and adults. What does it mean to be Good? How do we decide the Right thing to do? What is Love? The same question may appear to have different answers; the journey through the conflicting answers to a resolution is called philosophy. The Great Ideas are Art, Beauty, Change, Democracy, Emotion, Freedom, God, Good and Evil, Government, Justice, Labour, Language, Law, Learning, Love, Man, Opinion, Philosophy, Progress, Punishment, Truth, and War and Peace. Although everyone has a basic grasp of these Great Ideas, not everyone understands them as well as he or she could or should. In "How to Think About the Great Ideas", renowned philosopher Mortimer J. Adler guides readers to an understanding of these fundamental ideas and their practical applications to our daily lives. Not only does he clarify what the Great Ideas are, he helps readers understand the immediate role/application and importance of these ideas in our lives. These essays are based on the famous television lecture series by Mortimer Adler.
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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)