How to Think about the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization(volume 1 of 2 )
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How to Think about the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization(volume 1 of 2 )

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  150 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Time magazine called Mortimer J. Adler a "philosopher for everyman." In this guide to considering the big questions, Adler addresses the topics all men and women ponder in the course of life, such as "What is love?," "How do we decide the right thing to do?," and, "What does it mean to be good?" Drawing on his extensive knowledge of Western literature, history, and philoso...more
Paperback, Large Print, 478 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by ReadHowYouWant (first published March 1st 2000)
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Special K
Comprised of the edited transcripts of the 1950s television series The Great Ideas produced by the Institute for Philosophical Research in San Fransisco, this book introduces laypeople to 52 great ideas of philosophy through dialogue between an interviewer and the philosopher Mortimer Adler.

The concept of "The Great Ideas" was championed by Dr Adler as a foundation for education and consists in identifying the major themes discussed throughout the history of Western philosophy: Truth, Freedom, B...more
A great book that goes into some detail about how to consider the main ideas of the Western tradition. The author is obviously well-read and proposes interesting arguments. He can be rational and thorough, but sometimes comes off as a tad conservative. Also, the author clearly has a religious bias that inserts itself in the discussion and renders some conclusions not so scientific.

For instance, the discussion on evolutionary theory is weak: evolution does not state that an intermediary species m...more
Amanda Miranda-flores
So incredible to think about ideas in their purest form and to really feel like you are getting something priceless for the price of a few minutes. He did all the work of compiling evidence for each of the great ideas and put it into the form of a totally accessible dialogue. Bravo I say. One of the best books I've read bar none. It is a safe bet to say that after reading this book my conversion into a full fledged adlerphile is complete.
I've been a fan of the Great Books and Great Ideas since my days of yore at junior college. I like this book and the way Adler, et al. tried to get people to read and think.

This book is a good starting point for philosophy and ideas, and what thinkers have had to say over the course of history. Adler has a good way of giving elementary sketches of ideas and making all of it very interesting. The biggest drawback is the number of topics covered in this book. Also, there is no a lot of depth. Howe...more
Geoff Whiteman
Geoff Whiteman marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2014
This was originally a radio talk show that was transcribed in book form. In many parts the reading is difficult and tedious - it would be much easier to listen to than it is to read. There are some good ideas present in the book, but I do disagree with a lot of what is said. For pleasure's sake, this would be a very, very poor choice.
Barry Smith
"There are a limited number of Great Ideas which form the core of the thought of Western Civilization," from the preface.

Mortimer Adler selected 22 of those ideas and masterfully explained and applied those ideas to modern times in a way that does not require a graduate degree in philosophy to understand.
Dennis Schvejda
"How To Think About The Great Ideas," by Mortimer J. Adler, is based on the TV show transcripts - 52 chapters. One of the author's 60 some-odd books, Adler was also the driving force behind Encyclopedia Britannica, Great Books of the Western World, Annals of American History. Definitely enjoyed the book!
Brian Olson
Wonderful book, very significant and interesting. The chapters about Opinion were really very revelatory. Its a collection of transcripts from a television program that aired in the 50s. Mortimer Adler is one of the finest minds of the last century, and his analysis is clear and insightful.
Love the concept of this book. It achieves what it specifically stakes out to do - to get more people thinking. It's not meant to be an authoritative text on philosophy or the breat ideas. It just gives an introduction to these topics, enough background information to catalyze thinking.
Anna Cate
Helpful for leading seminar I suppose as long as one remains wary of his politics / ever present perspective on said ideas ... I'm not a fan.
A good bathroom type book for the thinker.
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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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