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Mortimer J. Adler quotes Showing 1-30 of 222

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
Mortimer J. Adler
“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“Reading list (1972 edition)[edit]
1. Homer – Iliad, Odyssey
2. The Old Testament
3. Aeschylus – Tragedies
4. Sophocles – Tragedies
5. Herodotus – Histories
6. Euripides – Tragedies
7. Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War
8. Hippocrates – Medical Writings
9. Aristophanes – Comedies
10. Plato – Dialogues
11. Aristotle – Works
12. Epicurus – Letter to Herodotus; Letter to Menoecus
13. Euclid – Elements
14. Archimedes – Works
15. Apollonius of Perga – Conic Sections
16. Cicero – Works
17. Lucretius – On the Nature of Things
18. Virgil – Works
19. Horace – Works
20. Livy – History of Rome
21. Ovid – Works
22. Plutarch – Parallel Lives; Moralia
23. Tacitus – Histories; Annals; Agricola Germania
24. Nicomachus of Gerasa – Introduction to Arithmetic
25. Epictetus – Discourses; Encheiridion
26. Ptolemy – Almagest
27. Lucian – Works
28. Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
29. Galen – On the Natural Faculties
30. The New Testament
31. Plotinus – The Enneads
32. St. Augustine – On the Teacher; Confessions; City of God; On Christian Doctrine
33. The Song of Roland
34. The Nibelungenlied
35. The Saga of Burnt Njál
36. St. Thomas Aquinas – Summa Theologica
37. Dante Alighieri – The Divine Comedy;The New Life; On Monarchy
38. Geoffrey Chaucer – Troilus and Criseyde; The Canterbury Tales
39. Leonardo da Vinci – Notebooks
40. Niccolò Machiavelli – The Prince; Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy
41. Desiderius Erasmus – The Praise of Folly
42. Nicolaus Copernicus – On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
43. Thomas More – Utopia
44. Martin Luther – Table Talk; Three Treatises
45. François Rabelais – Gargantua and Pantagruel
46. John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion
47. Michel de Montaigne – Essays
48. William Gilbert – On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodies
49. Miguel de Cervantes – Don Quixote
50. Edmund Spenser – Prothalamion; The Faerie Queene
51. Francis Bacon – Essays; Advancement of Learning; Novum Organum, New Atlantis
52. William Shakespeare – Poetry and Plays
53. Galileo Galilei – Starry Messenger; Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
54. Johannes Kepler – Epitome of Copernican Astronomy; Concerning the Harmonies of the World
55. William Harvey – On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals; On the Circulation of the Blood; On the Generation of Animals
56. Thomas Hobbes – Leviathan
57. René Descartes – Rules for the Direction of the Mind; Discourse on the Method; Geometry; Meditations on First Philosophy
58. John Milton – Works
59. Molière – Comedies
60. Blaise Pascal – The Provincial Letters; Pensees; Scientific Treatises
61. Christiaan Huygens – Treatise on Light
62. Benedict de Spinoza – Ethics
63. John Locke – Letter Concerning Toleration; Of Civil Government; Essay Concerning Human Understanding;Thoughts Concerning Education
64. Jean Baptiste Racine – Tragedies
65. Isaac Newton – Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy; Optics
66. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz – Discourse on Metaphysics; New Essays Concerning Human Understanding;Monadology
67. Daniel Defoe – Robinson Crusoe
68. Jonathan Swift – A Tale of a Tub; Journal to Stella; Gulliver's Travels; A Modest Proposal
69. William Congreve – The Way of the World
70. George Berkeley – Principles of Human Knowledge
71. Alexander Pope – Essay on Criticism; Rape of the Lock; Essay on Man
72. Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu – Persian Letters; Spirit of Laws
73. Voltaire – Letters on the English; Candide; Philosophical Dictionary
74. Henry Fielding – Joseph Andrews; Tom Jones
75. Samuel Johnson – The Vanity of Human Wishes; Dictionary; Rasselas; The Lives of the Poets”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life.”
Mortimer J. Adler
“....a good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable - books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 49
“Television, radio, and all the sources of amusement and information that surround us in our daily lives are also artificial props. They can give us the impression that our minds are active, because we are required to react to stimuli from the outside. But the power of those external stimuli to keep us going is limited. They are like drugs. We grow used to them, and we continuously need more and more of them. Eventually, they have little or no effect. Then, if we lack resources within ourselves, we cease to grow intellectually, morally, and spiritually. And we we cease to grow, we begin to die.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“The great authors were great readers, and one way to understand them is to read the books they read.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 173
“The ability to retain a child's view of the world with at the same time a mature understanding of what it means to retain it, is extremely rare - and a person who has these qualities is likely to be able to contribute something really important to our thinking.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“To agree without understanding is inane. To disagree without understanding is impudent.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 143
“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Bestselling Guide to Reading Books and Accessing Information
“76. David Hume – Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau – On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile – or, On Education, The Social Contract
78. Laurence Sterne – Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
79. Adam Smith – The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations
80. Immanuel Kant – Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace
81. Edward Gibbon – The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography
82. James Boswell – Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.
83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier – Traité Élémentaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry)
84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison – Federalist Papers
85. Jeremy Bentham – Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions
86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Faust; Poetry and Truth
87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier – Analytical Theory of Heat
88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History
89. William Wordsworth – Poems
90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Poems; Biographia Literaria
91. Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice; Emma
92. Carl von Clausewitz – On War
93. Stendhal – The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love
94. Lord Byron – Don Juan
95. Arthur Schopenhauer – Studies in Pessimism
96. Michael Faraday – Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity
97. Charles Lyell – Principles of Geology
98. Auguste Comte – The Positive Philosophy
99. Honoré de Balzac – Père Goriot; Eugenie Grandet
100. Ralph Waldo Emerson – Representative Men; Essays; Journal
101. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Scarlet Letter
102. Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America
103. John Stuart Mill – A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography
104. Charles Darwin – The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography
105. Charles Dickens – Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times
106. Claude Bernard – Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine
107. Henry David Thoreau – Civil Disobedience; Walden
108. Karl Marx – Capital; Communist Manifesto
109. George Eliot – Adam Bede; Middlemarch
110. Herman Melville – Moby-Dick; Billy Budd
111. Fyodor Dostoevsky – Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov
112. Gustave Flaubert – Madame Bovary; Three Stories
113. Henrik Ibsen – Plays
114. Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales
115. Mark Twain – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger
116. William James – The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism
117. Henry James – The American; The Ambassadors
118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals;The Will to Power
119. Jules Henri Poincaré – Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method
120. Sigmund Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
121. George Bernard Shaw – Plays and Prefaces”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“The complexities of adult life get in the way of the truth.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“There are genuine mysteries in the world that mark the limits of human knowing and thinking. Wisdom is fortified, not destroyed, by understanding its limitations. Ignorance does not make a fool as surely as self-deception.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Bestselling Guide to Reading Books and Accessing Information
“Is it too much to expect from the schools that they train their students not only to interpret but to criticize; that is, to discriminate what is sound from error and falsehood, to suspend judgement if they are not convinced, or to judge with reason if they agree or disagree?”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Bestselling Guide to Reading Books and Accessing Information
“If your friend wishes to read your 'Plutarch's Lives,' 'Shakespeare,' or 'The Federalist Papers,' tell him gently but firmly, to buy a copy. You will lend him your car or your coat - but your books are as much a part of you as your head or your heart.”
Mortimer J. Adler
“A lecture has been well described as the process whereby the notes of the teacher become the notes of the student without passing through the mind of either.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Bestselling Guide to Reading Books and Accessing Information
“A good book deserves an active reading. The activity of reading does not stop with the work of understanding what a book says. It must be completed by the work of criticism, the work of judging. The undemanding reader fails to satisfy this requirement, probably even more than he fails to analyze and interpret. He not only makes no effort to understand; he also dismisses a book simply by putting it aside and forgetting it. Worse than faintly praising it, he damns it by giving it no critical consideration whatever.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“The complexities of adult life get in the way of the truth. The great philosophers have always been able to clear away the complexities and see simple distinctions - simple once they are stated, vastly difficult before. If we are to follow them we too must be childishly simple in our questions - and maturely wise in our replies.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“If a book is easy and fits nicely into all your language conventions and thought forms, then you probably will not grow much from reading it. It may be entertaining, but not enlarging to your understanding. It’s the hard books that count. Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you don't already possess”
mortimer adler
“Imaginative literature primarily pleases rather than teaches. It is much easier to be pleased than taught, but much harder to know why one is pleased. Beauty is harder to analyze than truth.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 204
“The truly great books are the few books that are over everybody's head all of the time.”
Mortimer J. Adler
“... The person who, at any stage of a conversation, disagrees, should at least hope to reach agreement in the end. He should be as much prepared to have his own mind changed as seek to change the mind of another ... No one who looks upon disagreement as an occasion for teaching another should forget that it is also an occasion for being taught.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 148
“The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.”
Mortimer Adler
“If you ask a living teacher a question, he will probably answer you. If you are puzzled by what he says, you can save yourself the trouble of thinking by asking him what he means. If, however, you ask a book a question, you must answer it yourself. In this respect a book is like nature or the world. When you question it, it answers you only to the extent that you do the work of thinking an analysis yourself.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
tags: 15
“Sometimes it feels like I'm thinking against the wind.”
Mortimer J. Adler
tags: humor
“If you are reading in order to become a better reader, you cannot read just any book or article. You will not improve as a reader if all you read are books that are well within your capacity. You must tackle books that are beyond you, or, as we have said, books that are over your head. Only books of that sort will make you stretch your mind. And unless you stretch, you will not learn.”
Mortimer Adler
“There have always been literate ignoramuses who have read too widely and not well. The Greeks had a name for such a mixture of learning and folly which might be applied to the bookish but poorly read of all ages. They are all sophomores.”
Mortimer J. Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
“The best protection against propaganda of any sort is the recognition of it for what it is. Only hidden and undetected oratory is really insidious. What reaches the heart without going through the mind is likely to bounce back and put the mind out of business. Propaganda taken in that way is like a drug you do not know you are swallowing. The effect is mysterious; you do not know afterwards why you feel or think the way you do.”
Mortimer Jerome Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

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