Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mortimer Adler Dies
July 1, 2001 5:20 PM   Subscribe

Mortimer Adler Dies at the age of 98. He founded the Great Books programs that many colleges adopted and believed that ones education never stops.
posted by vanderwal (8 comments total)

 
Hear hear for Great Books! Dammit, we need a little more general education in this country. No respectable member of the middle class could have survived a hundred years ago without having read Plato's Republic -- look at us now! "Old books are bad! New books are good!" sigh.
posted by tweebiscuit at 5:32 PM on July 1, 2001


Well, you see, there's no time for reading when you've got all those standardized tests to take.

There was a series of Great Books classes at my high school which - not to put too fine a point on it - pretty much rocked my world. I am almost scared to inquire as to whether those classes still exist.

As a nation - U.S., that is - I wonder if we still believe in the value of a humanities based education, or if we're so enamormed of specialization that reading has become passe.
posted by gsh at 7:45 PM on July 1, 2001


i use my set as sandbags.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on July 1, 2001


For another take on Adler and Hutchins and the University of Chicago, read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Phaedrus says, "All this is just an analogy."

Silence. And then confusion appears on the Chairman's face. "What?" he says. The spell of his performance is broken.

"This entire description of the chariot and the horses in just an analogy."

"What?" he says again, then loudly, "It is the truth! Socrates has sworn to the gods that it is the truth!"

Phaedrus replies, "Socrates himself says it is an analogy."

"If you will read the dialog you will find that Socrates specifically states it is the Truth!"

"Yes, but prior to that . . . in, I believe, two paragraphs . . . he has stated that it is an analogy."

The text is on the table to consult but the Chairman has enough sense not to consult it. If he does and Phaedrus is right, his classroom face is completely demolished. He has told the class no one has read the book thoroughly.

Rhetoric, 1; Dialectic, 0.
posted by anewc2 at 8:15 PM on July 1, 2001


Great books series were by no means a new idea even when Mortimer was putting together his collection for Britannica. Probably most prominent at the time would have been the Harvard Classics (also called the "Five-Foot Shelf of Books") edited by Harvard President Charles Eliot. It's still hard to walk into a used book store in the United States and not find one or two volumes from this set.
posted by leo at 8:26 PM on July 1, 2001


Odd bit of trivia: Mortimer Adler hired Charles Van Doren after the quiz show scandal broke and he lost his academic and television jobs. Van Doren has written several well-respected books with Adler, but he can't promote any of them because he doesn't want to answer any questions about "21."
posted by rcade at 6:18 AM on July 2, 2001


According to this article.. "Discussion of the books is a big part of the learning process, he [Adler] stressed, saying, "Solitary reading is as horrible as solitary drinking."

I'm sorry, but boo to him! I enjoy reading books on my own and not discussing them with others.

Boy, I've tried, but I don't really know anyone who's interested in books anyway, and certainly not the type of books I'd wanna read <g>

Here's to solitary reading.. and drinking, if that's your thing.
posted by wackybrit at 9:50 AM on July 2, 2001


According to this article.. "Discussion of the books is a big part of the learning process, he [Adler] stressed, saying, "Solitary reading is as horrible as solitary drinking."

I'm sorry, but boo to him! I enjoy reading books on my own and not discussing them with others.


I would have thought that some time ago, but I must say it rules to discuss literature... I think you get much more out of it. That's just my experience in my American Lit class, which changed my mind on a lot of things.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:52 PM on July 2, 2001


« Older Monster.com parent buys HotJobs....  |  Death in threes?... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments