Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy
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Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  45 reviews
"Adler traces 'in the simplest language & with occasional modern analogues, the logic & growth of Aristotle's basic doctrines.'" Publishers Weekly
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) taught logic to Alexander the Great &, by virtue of his philosophical works, to every philosopher since, from Marcus Aurelius, to Thomas Aquinas, to Mortimer J. Adler. Now Adler instructs the...more
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published May 1st 1978 by Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (NYC) (first published 1978)
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Riku Sayuj

Aristotle IS Everybody

We often come across teachers or books getting us to understand a philosopher. It is only common sense, they say. See, this is their thought: in a nutshell. See how easy it is? You already knew all this. You just have to remember that this guy talked of it first.

You read those and come away with a feeling that you now understand the philosopher. Worse, you might come away feeling that the great guy was so wrong! Surely you are quite smart if you know more than Aristotle!

Wel...more
Chris Byron
This is the second book my Mortimer J. Adler that I have read. The first was ‘How to Read a Book.’ I know, how can you read a book titled How to Read a Book, if you don’t already know how to read? Adler already expected his audience to be literate, the point of the book was to read and comprehend, ascertain, and fully exercise one’s understanding faculties, when reading ANY book, no matter how difficult. Although that book was required school reading, it was one of the clearest texts I’ve ever r...more
Erik Graff
Sep 27, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Aristotle beginners
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: philosophy
In 1980, two years after completing a professional degree in psychology, after two years of earning a living as a childcare worker for ostensibly 'psychotic' adolescent boys, I decided to return to school. I'd liked the jobs I'd had, but they had no future and such challenges as they'd originally posed had been overcome.

My psychology degree hadn't been a practical one, my focus being on the depth psychologies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, my thesis having been on Kant's influence on...more
Erica
This book establishes Aristotle's "uncommon common sense" as central to the thinking of our everyday lives in Western society--that is, society that has come out of the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. The early chapters seem to illustrate truths so elementary that it is strange to realize that there was a time that these notions were not regarded as common knowledge. The later chapters regarding Aristotle's logic and terminology were painful to me. I have studied symbolic logic and f...more
Clay
Mortimer J. Adler is a renowned philospher, but this slim paperback avoid the jargon and linguistic complexities that make modern philosophy too often turgid and self-involved. Instead, Adler just summarizes Aristotle's thought, and though at times it seems a little too simplistic, at book's end, the reader will have a clear and distinct impression of Aristotle's philosophy.

At the same time, the reader will begin to understand why Aristotle was so revered in medieval times: The range and depth o...more
Dana
I've tried to read Aristotle before, but I kept getting bogged down and couldn't get the big picture. This book is the perfect introduction and summary for the non-philosopher. I wish I had read this in high school. It's very easy to read and I couldn't put it down.
Mike
After this book I remembered why I did not want to major in Philosophy.
Michael Dorais
This little book is a fast and worthwhile to read. It was written originally as a book to explain Aristotle to children ages 11 and above, but is wholly adult oriented as well.

Although Adler skirts over some difficult problems with the claims he makes, or the claims he says Aristotle makes, this is expected given the goal of this book. I think the problem with books that try to deal immediately with every problem that someone might raise loose their ability to communicate an attempt at a coheren...more
Gene
A very good introduction to Greek philosophy, if I can say so without being very knowledgeable on the topic. Some of what is contained in the book helps explain some of what I've read about St. Thomas Aquinas' writings. It also seems that Chas. Murray must have gotten the backbone of what he wrote about in In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government either directly from Aristotle (He's smart enough to have done so.) or indirectly through Adler's book or one much like it. And I also saw some pa...more
Edward
This small book is a good first introduction to Aristotle and it is easily read. However, it requires some amount of attention on the reader’s part to understand the import of what Adler is talking about otherwise certain points can easily slip by.

Some of the early chapters can be frustrating because Aristotle gives the appearance that he can prove anything just by choosing his arguments to fit his observations which gives one the impression that his argument is circular. Aristotle can be forgiv...more
Michael Connolly
Aristotle was the founder of Western Civilization. Adler writes that Aristotle's philosophy begins with common sense, but it does not end there. Unfortunately, many philosophers have instead tried to subvert common sense. That is one reason why much of modern philosophy has no practical application to either understanding reality or helping the individual plan his or her life. In Aristotle's own opinion, his greatest idea was the four causes: the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient c...more
Jimmy
Two common games--"Twenty Questions" and "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral"--are Aristotelian because they classify things.

Man's three dimensions:1. making not only works of art but all man-made things, 2. doing in both social and moral spheres, and 3. knowing or acquiring knowledge. Another way to put it: making is the concern for beauty, doing is the concern for the good, and knowing is the concern for the truth. Beauty, goodness, and truth.

The good man obeys just laws because he is virtuous, not...more
Mike W

This is a decent introduction to Aristotle's thought. In it, Mortimer Adler presents the great thinkers ideas clearly and logically-but also prosaically. It is true that Aristotle's own writings lack the poetry and eloquence of Plato's, but that might be because the works we have were merely lecture notes transcribed by his students, rather than Aristotle's own literary creations. And there are certainly passages in Aristotle's works that sparkle, like this description of the "great-souled man":...more
Brian
I picked this up in my beginning philosophy class at BYU and it's been unread on my shelf since then. Now, clearly more sophisticated (ptbfbbb!), I was actually interested enough to pick it up and try and understand what was written.

The concept of the book is pretty straightforward: take Aristotle's writings and put them into everyday language and concepts. It mostly succeeded in being understandable. There is a lot of ground covered in a (relatively) short number of pages, so at times it moves...more
Lewis Hotchkiss
I read this when it first came out, 1978, in the dinosaur days. Adler was still big on his Great Books kick with Chicago. . . I refuse to digress! Anyhow, this book was aimed at a pop audience that had just experienced the end of the Vietnam war, the end of the crazy 1960's, and the beginning of Stagflation---the economy was experiencing a weirdness not seen before or since it ended. Look that econ term up on Google if you want. Anyhow, Adler presents much of what Aristotle is onto in concise an...more
Kate
Oct 06, 2013 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: high school intellectuals
Shelves: academic
In Adler's preface to this edition, he writes that he considered entitling this book Aristotle for Children. I'm not sure that it would have sold as well with that title, but the title would have better described the book you are buying.

First of all, I did like this book. I have read no Aristotle at all or any other philosopher at great length.

Some ideas (creation, production, contradictory, contrary, subcontrary statements, living well) were presented in more detail while others (disjunctions...more
Nicky
Spanning metaphysics, logic, ethics, and epistemology, Adler gives an excellent brief introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle. The epilogue contains references to the sections of Aristotelian writings from which the specific parts in the book were drawn, which is quite helpful for someone already familiar with Aristotle or looking to read more about the topics presented.

Aristotle for Everybody doesn't assume any previous knowledge of philosophy on the part of the reader, so some parts may se...more
Charles Lewis
My formal education was a bit a weak but at one point I wanted to read some deeper Catholic theology. I bought the easiest version of the ST. Thomas Aquinas' "Summa" call A Shorter Summa, edited by Peter Kreeft. In the introduction Kreeft said don't even try reading and version of the Summa without some background in philosophy. His suggestion was Aristotle for Everybody. It's one of those books that will make you feel smarter and also give you the fundamental notions of logic. I'm still working...more
Jeremiah
This is a great introduction to Aristotle's ideas for high school kids (or younger). Adler had a complete conversion of writing style during the 1980s and after which allowed him to communicate to a much broader audience. This book was one of his first after this shift and is spot on. Adler was subsequently named by Time magazine as "The philosopher for everyman," because Adler believed that philosophy, in a democratic society, was everybody's business. I agree. Adler also thought that, "No idea...more
Jason
I really enjoyed this book. Mr. Adler does a remarkable job simplifying some very difficult concepts. In his introduction, he states that this book is "an introduction to common sense." I would recommend this book to anyone who does not have a background in philosophy, but is interested in understanding the basics. According to Mr, Adler, "philosophy is everybody's business" not because it will help us to know more about the world, but because it will help us to "understand the things we already...more
Alex Milledge
Adler's expose on Aristotle was very simple and complete, however the reason why I liked the book so much was how he made Aristotle's philosophy so practical.

The part I throughly enjoyed was when Adler dicussed Aristotle on happiness. To summarize, Aristotle said that the end of human life was happiness, which is the final cause for all sane people. Happiness comes when we desire that which is to be desired regardless of when we desire it, and live up to our true excellence and find our genuine...more
Scott
This is a good introductory survey of the key points of Aristotle's philosophy. I read it simply because it had been in my collection for years, and I wanted a quick refresher as part of my reading through the philosophical canon again. I had also recently re-read the Posterior Analytics and read De Anima for the first time. I think I'll re-read the Poetics next.

The key element of Adler's argument is that Aristotle's thought is reasoned reflection upon common sense experience. And he does a real...more
Timo
I read this at age 18 or thereabouts. I was disappointed. I moved away from Aristotelian thought and towards modern philosophy. This book is not as terrible a book as Veatch's RATIONAL MAN, but it struck me as not much better. Perhaps it was too simple for me. Thankfully, I never did give up on Aristotle.

Now, more than thirty years later, it is time to re-read Adler's book.

It is worth noting that I did admire his book THE DIFFERENCE OF MAN AND THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES, and his excellent work for...more
Derek Neighbors
It claims to be for everyone, but I might suggest that it is for everyone interested in learning more about philosophy or the teachings of Aristotle. Adler does a great job of using metaphor and plain language to discuss hard topics of philosophy, but it is still philosophy. I highly recommend for those that haven't read much Aristotle or did in high school/college and want to refresh their mind.

Available on Overdrive.
Scott
This is a great introduction to one of the philosophers which western culture and thinking is based upon. It explains many of his key ideas clearly in way accesable to the average person without dumbing so much as to make it meaningless. Aristotle's ideas helped shape not only western philosophy, but economics, christianity, and logic. This book affected how I think and convinced me I need to read Aristotle's actual works.
Bud Hewlett
I know I give a lot of 5 star reviews, but that is because I'm such a slow reader that I have to be very careful in my selections. My research usually pans out in allowing me to generally choose books that I really enjoy. This book, suggested by a friend I trust, is no exception. When I finished, it was well marked up and is one I ought to reread yearly. Several parts should be required reading in all high schools.
Matthew
Having picked up Aristotle ad hoc over the years, principally through St Thomas, it was nice to read such a simple presentation of his thought. I came away with a renewed sense of how clear and useful Aristotle's observations on the world can be. While not dumbing down the material, the style of the book is very readable.
Yeoldehoosier
This book delivers exactly what it promises. This is a clear, simplified review of the basics of Aristotle's contributions to the human dialogue. His categorization of man's intellectual activity into man as producer, as doer and knower helps the reader to break through the archaic terms that prove to be such a barrier to the novice.
Meg
A solid introduction, though I probably would have retained more had this been delivered as a course rather than quick reading book!

Adler on p 86: "Unfortunately, we seldom experience the pangs of ignorance as we feel the pangs of hunger" Me: clearly he never watched Fox News!
Ken Parsell
As suggested by it's title, Aristotle for Everybody is the quintessential introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle. Written in simple and practical prose, Mortimer J. Adler brilliantly outlines the deep and penetrating philosophy of one of the world's greatest thinkers.
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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...more
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