Friday, March 7, 2014

Six Great Ideas, by Mortimer Adler

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, who was chairman of the Board of Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica, an editor of the Great Books of Western Civilization, and a senior associate at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, in his thought-provoking discussions of the six philosophical ideas--truth, goodness, beauty, freedom, equality and justice--argues that philosophy is not the exclusive concern of the specialist but “everybody's business," and that a better understanding of these ideas, is essential if human beings are to cope with the political, moral, and social issues that confront them in an increasingly complex, interconnected and interdependent world. To Adler, philosophy is all about ideas, especially the “great ideas.” He urges that a philosopher should begin with these six ideas, and how they relate to each other, because of our shared and common call to be good citizens and thoughtful human beings. Truth, goodness and beauty are ideas we judge by. And freedom, equality and justice are ideas we live by. Noting that these ideas are prominent in some of the foundational documents in American history such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address, Dr. Adler describes difficult philosophical concepts in non-techincal language, to contemporary audiences who might not have a background in philosophy.