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)
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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