Mortimer J. Adler

Mortimer J. Adler


Wisdom: Who, When and Why?

wisdom: Picard's Specialty? June 2nd, 2022

Who has wisdom? At what age is it likeliest? How can one develop it? What does it look like? Here are some practical characteristics of this challenging concept grounded in the idea that it takes more than just age to develop; it is based more on skill and perception than accumulation of years. If the 60s is the decade wisdom is likeliest, that makes the 20s and 30s virtually impossible to really grasp the nature of and importance of learning (beyond technique, such as how to repair a car or how to administer the law, which is more easily attained at younger ages). As well, a person in their 80s is probably too subject to cognitive decline to be the wisest among us. Though it can be heard “from the mouths of babes,” usually babes just cry, gossip, and whine. Read on to hear what some experts think is likely to result in not just knowledge, but wisdom.

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Ch. 2 Summary: “In Defense of a Liberal Education”

education January 1st, 2018

In my previous posting on historian and political analyst Fareed Zakaria’s book In Defense of a Liberal Education, I introduced the topic, shared how it was that the author came to value a true and deep kind of education, and extolled America’s great history of “an education to all that was not skills-based.” The “Great Books” approach found fertile soil in the United States in the 1930s and in the ensuing few decades. Now, in an era of iPads, Slurpees, and 300-horsepower cars, most students want to study business, psychology, or marketing. Fareed Zakaria and I believe that skills, such as STEM learning, are useful, but that it is not the entirety of what a distinguished and wise strain of thinkers from Socrates on thought was going to make the best, most well-rounded person. In this blog, I will review and summarize chapter two in the book, which is essentially a history and encapsulation of the approach to education known as liberal education/liberal arts.

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Quotations About Liberal Education

quotations about liberal education found here August 26th, 2017

Mortimer J. Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins were twin engines when it came to popularizing, promulgating, and proselytizing about liberal education, liberal arts, and a broadening of the American mind. Rolling over in their graves at present, these two “men of letters” were prominent, accomplished, and erudite individuals who wanted the best for the populace. Seemingly half-Ancient Greek, half Carolingian, half-pre-war American, these blue bloods are now reminiscent of a by-gone era. Happily, they were prolific and outspoken, so we have plenty of  books and quotations about liberal education from these gentlemen (they were as genteel and classical as two can be). They remind me of Mr. Keating, the inimitable professor from the movie Dead Poet’s Society. Perhaps less enthusiastic, but equally passionate about true learning – not just for some profession or to prevail on some standardized test. I present you with a little biographical sketch, a few representative quotes, and links to The Wisdom Archive, where you may search for free and learn more about what quotations about liberal education are in the collection. Put on your thinking cap and get out your pipe!

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How to Be Successful: It’s Not All About Money

how to be successful: follow your heart August 4th, 2017

There are many different views and opinions about what it means to succeed, what fulfillment is really about, and how to achieve this sought-after status of “a successful person.” When you hear someone from the upper echelon describing a person’s work life, they often say, rather euphemistically: “He has done very well for himself.” It’s usually code to mean: “That guy is rich; he makes a lot of money every year.” So that is the default description of someone who is a success. However, the ability to command a large paycheck or have a thriving and profitable business is just one of a few different approaches to the age-old quest of how to be successful. There are other tried-and-true takes on this important goal, including being of service, having fun and making the most of leisure, overcoming limitations and obstacles, and being a good person. Indeed, “How to be successful?” is the perennial, deep question asked by every parent and virtually every thinking person. Here are views and opinions from wise persons throughout the ages…

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Philosophical Quotes: The Great Ideas

philosophical quotes July 6th, 2017

If you are looking for philosophical quotes, one excellent exponent is man of letters, Mortimer J. Adler. Though he has since shuffled off of this mortal coil, in his lifetime he was a dedicated and passionate voice for “the great ideas” (he and fellow intellectual Robert Maynard Hutchins pioneered the Great Books of the Western World series). A defender of rationality, rational inquiry, applied philosophy, the search for wisdom, and liberal education, he wrote and taught and was essentially “a public philosopher.” I recently read his book How to Think About The Great Ideas, essentially a snapshot of his general approach found here. In it were conversations in which many interesting philosophical quotes could be found. I will share a few in this blog and direct the interested reader to learn about Adler and public philosophy by seeing what quotations of his are housed in The Wisdom Archive, right here on Values of the Wise.

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