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Six Great Ideas

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  258 ratings  ·  26 reviews

A Simon & Schuster eBook
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 1997 by Touchstone (first published 1981)
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How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. AdlerThe Trivium by Miriam JosephShakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language by Miriam JosephThe Idea of a University by John Henry NewmanTen Philosophical Mistakes by Mortimer J. Adler
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6th out of 59 books — 7 voters
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Brain Power
11th out of 59 books — 9 voters


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Community Reviews

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Reuel
Mortimer J. Adler, the author,was chairman of the editorial board of Encyclopedia Britannica and an editor of the Great Books of Western Civilization for about thirty years. He also wrote the two volume synopticon for the Great Books series, which summarizes the Western thinking of the past 2500 years about 102 "great ideas" of Western Civilization. In Six Great Ideas, he argues for his interpretation of six ideas: truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality, and justice. I didn't agree with him ...more
Josh Kienzle
Apr 14, 2007 Josh Kienzle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in big ideas
This is an amazing book, boiling the varied concepts of life into six main ideas. It is a tough book to read sometime, definitely not a bedside or toilet book. This book requires focus and attention to detail. But when you're done, you'll love it and be glad you read it.
Bill
terrible book, notable for having nearly killed my interest in Great Ideas.
Ryan
I struggled to get through this book. I've never studied philosophy in a school setting before (this book was assigned as part of my Ethical and Humane Decision-Making class). Adler does a good job of making it approachable but I was left with a sense that I was only being told about the dust jacket of a great book without ever diving into the story. The book came alive in conversations with classmates.
John Guenther
A good introduction to 6 great ideas that are central to pretty much everything related to human thought. Adler certainly presents the ideas from his perspective but I felt the arguments were logical and sound. This book is a good starting point for further study of truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality and justice. After reading, you can begin further study to build and refine your own understanding of these critical ideas.
Jim
The author discusses six great ideas, and in the process, gives the reader an enjoyable introduction to Philosophy. A worthwhile read!
Brittany
I should probably just admit to myself that I not going to finish the book. I have too many books I want to be reading! I enjoyed what I did read, but the writing is so philosophical and college-y that I couldn't just pick it up and start reading easily when I had a minute or two. And it's not quite the page-turner style of book that I can read in bed into the wee hours (not that I expected it to be, of course). But I do think I got a good feel for the 6 great ideas, which are great. I liked the ...more
Fred
Wonderful outline of the ideas that guide all human life and society, in all places and at all times!
Amy
I really wanted to like this. I LOVED the idea of it. The execution of the book just fell flat for me. The book sadly, did just not capture me. It was too wordy when I needed concise. It felt like listening to someone who just loves to hear themselves talk.

I maxed out my renews and never made it half way through. Maybe another time?

Update:
From reviewer Kristen: Adler makes some good points but they are sometimes lost in a sea of pretentiousness and self indulgence.

That sums it up perfectly for
...more
Mark
my parents gave me this book and I haven't done much except browse through it.
Ed Vaughn
Actually, I quit reading this to get it off my active list. I skimmed the last two ideas. The concept is wonderful. Those ideas are:
Truth
Goodness
Beauty
Liberty
Equality
Justice
This boils down everything of Western philosophy. Adler was a great 20th century thinker. All that said. you can only expound on the six concepts for so long. Then it gets as dry as old shredded wheat. Six 2000 word essays would have done them justice. But that doesn't sell books, does it!
I plan to skim Adler's "Ten Philosoph
...more
Miriam
Dec 07, 2009 Miriam rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Miriam by: a high school teacher
The six great ideas are truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality, and justice. What exactly do these words mean, and how do the concepts relate to one another?

We were made to read this is high school but only talked about for about 5 minutes. I think the teacher realized pretty quickly that most of the students didn't understand it at all. In fact, I think I was one of the only people who read past the first couple pages. It would probably work better read gradually rather than crammed into on
...more
Patrick\
Truly six great ideas. Adler is humane and democratic in his soul - also a brilliant observer and synthesizer. This is a fairly easy read, the concepts easy to grasp. They are eseential ones to planet earth's (and America's)survival(my opinion) and I believe this should be a classroom standard. But, no, we are blind and rancorous when it comes to this sort of book.
Richard
It felt like reading a textbook, you wanted to finish. I think it's a book everyone should read at least the chapters about truth, goodness and beauty; fundamentals we don't think about often enough.

The 6 ideas are: truth, goodness and beauty; ideas we judge by; justice, liberty and equality; ideas we live by.
Richs101
You can not speed read this book.

Best definition of truth I've ever read.

The last chapter is asking a question every human being should answer.

You may have to re-read this book several times to understand all the concepts.
Jeremiah
For the budding philosopher in your family this book hits the spot. Adler turned a huge corner in his writing style with this book, and re-launched his career becoming (nearly) a household name-as well as the highest paid philosopher in the U.S.
Susan Clark-cook
Gave you a lot to think about, and come back to. Really did have great ideas, and it makes you wonder why they aren't put into more use.
Kristen
3.5 stars

Adler makes some good points, but they are sometimes lost in a sea of pretensiousness and self-indulgence.
Daniel
This is probably the first true philosophy book I ever read. pen my mind to a world of ideas.
Kevin
I read the precursor to this, "The Great Ideas" by Mortimer Adler. It's good. Thoughtprovoking.
Jessica
it all seemed kind of like common sense, but good lessons none the less :)
Arline
Philosophy. One could discuss this book for the rest of their lives...
Gretchen
Very tough read but terribly insightful.
Craig J.
Six Great Ideas by Mortimer J. Adler (1997)
Dan
Aug 07, 2014 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: College Students
Should be read along his other book "Ten Philosophical Mistakes". An introduction to the great ideas: Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Liberty, Equality, Justice. Also a great gift for any student about to enter college.
Pappy
Good stuff
Jenny
Jenny marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2015
Agnes
Agnes marked it as to-read
Jul 17, 2015
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Mortimer Jerome Adler was an American educator, philosopher, and popular author. As a philosopher he worked with Aristotelian and Thomistic thought. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Mateo. He worked for Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research.

Adler was born in N
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“A good life is made by accumulating in the course of a lifetime everything that is really good and by wanting nothing that impedes or frustrates this effort.” 0 likes
“we must not forget that the restful experience of enjoyable beauty is not limited to the contemplation of sensible objects. We can experience it as well in the contemplation of purely intelligible objects—the contemplation of truths we understand. “Mathematics,” wrote Bertrand Russell, “rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere … without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music …” Or, as the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in the opening line of her sonnet on Euclid, “Euclid alone has looked on beauty bare.” 0 likes
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