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Dr. Mortimer J. Adler

Mortimer J. Adler (December 28, 1902 – June 28, 2001) was an American philosopher, educator, and popular author. As a philosopher he worked within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Mateo, California. He worked for Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research. Dr. Adler was married twice and had four children.

Adler was born in New York City on December 28, 1902, to Jewish immigrants. He dropped out of Townsend Harris at age 14 to become a copy boy for the New York Sun, with the ultimate aspiration to become a journalist. Dr. Adler soon returned to school to take writing classes at night where he discovered the works of men he would come to call heroes: Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, John Stuart Mill and others. He went on to study at Columbia University and contributed to the student literary magazine, The Morningside, (a poem "Choice" in 1922 when Charles A. Wagner was editor-in-chief and Whittaker Chambers an associate editor). Though he failed to pass the required swimming test for a bachelor's degree (a matter that was rectified when Columbia gave him an honorary degree in 1983), he stayed at the university and eventually received an instructorship and finally a doctorate in psychology. While at Columbia University, Dr. Adler wrote his first book: Dialectic, published in 1927.

In 1930 Robert Hutchins, the newly appointed president of the University of Chicago, whom Dr. Adler had befriended some years earlier, arranged for Chicago’s law school to hire him as a professor of the philosophy of law; the philosophers at Chicago (who included James H. Tufts, E.A. Burtt, and George H. Mead) had "entertained grave doubts as to Mr. Adler's competence in the field [of philosophy]" and resisted Adler's appointment to the University's Department of Philosophy. Dr. Adler was the first "non-lawyer" to join the law school faculty. Dr. Adler also taught philosophy to business executives at the Aspen Institute.

Dr. Adler and Dr. Hutchins went on to found the Great Books of the Western World program and the Great Books Foundation. Adler founded and served as director of the Institute for Philosophical Research in 1952. He also served on the Board of Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica since its inception in 1949, and succeeded Hutchins as its chairman from 1974. As the director of editorial planning for the fifteenth edition of Britannica from 1965, he was instrumental in the major reorganization of knowledge embodied in that edition. He introduced the Paideia Proposal which resulted in his founding the Paideia Program, a grade-school curriculum centered around guided reading and discussion of difficult works (as judged for each grade). With Max Weismann, he founded The Center for the Study of The Great Ideas in 1990 in Chicago.

Books by Adler

  • Dialectic (1927)
  • The Nature of Judicial Proof: An Inquiry into the Logical, Legal, and Empirical Aspects of the Law of Evidence (1931, with Jerome Michael)
  • Diagrammatics (1932, with Maude Phelps Hutchins)
  • Crime, Law and Social Science (1933, with Jerome Michael)
  • Art and Prudence: A Study in Practical Philosophy (1937)
  • What Man Has Made of Man: A Study of the Consequences of Platonism and Positivism in Psychology (1937)
  • St. Thomas and the Gentiles (1938)
  • The Philosophy and Science of Man: A Collection of Texts as a Foundation for Ethics and Politics (1940)
  • How to Read a Book: The Art of Getting a Liberal Education (1940), 1966 edition subtitled A Guide to Reading the Great Books, 1972 revised edition with Charles Van Doren
  • A Dialectic of Morals: Towards the Foundations of Political Philosophy (1941)
  • How to Think About War and Peace (1944)
  • The Revolution in Education (1944, with Milton Mayer)
  • The Capitalist Manifesto (1958, with Louis O. Kelso)
  • The Idea of Freedom: A Dialectical Examination of the Conceptions of Freedom (1958)
  • The New Capitalists: A Proposal to Free Economic Growth from the Slavery of Savings (1961, with Louis O. Kelso)
  • The Idea of Freedom: A Dialectical Examination of the Controversies about Freedom (1961)
  • Great Ideas from the Great Books (1961)
  • The Conditions of Philosophy: Its Checkered Past, Its Present Disorder, and Its Future Promise (1965)
  • The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes (1967)
  • The Time of Our Lives: The Ethics of Common Sense (1970)
  • The Common Sense of Politics (1971)
  • The American Testament (1975, with William Gorman)
  • Some Questions About Language: A Theory of Human Discourse and Its Objects (1976)
  • Philosopher at Large: An Intellectual Autobiography (1977)
  • Reforming Education: The Schooling of a People and Their Education Beyond Schooling (1977, edited by Geraldine Van Doren)
  • Aristotle for Everybody: Difficult Thought Made Easy (1978)
  • How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan (1980)
  • Six Great Ideas: Truth-Goodness-Beauty-Liberty-Equality-Justice (1981)
  • The Angels and Us (1982)
  • The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto (1982)
  • How to Speak / How to Listen (1983)
  • Paideia Problems and Possibilities: A Consideration of Questions Raised by The Paideia Proposal (1983)
  • A Vision of the Future: Twelve Ideas for a Better Life and a Better Society (1984)
  • The Paideia Program: An Educational Syllabus (1984, with Members of the Paideia Group)
  • Ten Philosophical Mistakes (1985)
  • A Guidebook to Learning: For a Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom (1986)
  • We Hold These Truths: Understanding the Ideas and Ideals of the Constitution (1987)
  • Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind (1988, edited by Geraldine Van Doren)
  • Intellect: Mind Over Matter (1990)
  • Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth (1990)
  • Haves Without Have-Nots: Essays for the 21st Century on Democracy and Socialism (1991)
  • Desires, Right & Wrong: The Ethics of Enough (1991)
  • A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror: Further Autobiographical Reflections of a Philosopher At Large (1992)
  • The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought (1992)
  • Natural Theology, Chance, and God (The Great Ideas Today, 1992)
  • The Four Dimensions of Philosophy: Metaphysical-Moral-Objective-Categorical (1993)
  • Art, the Arts, and the Great Ideas (1994)
  • Adler's Philosophical Dictionary: 125 Key Terms for the Philosopher's Lexicon (1995)
Source: Wikipedia