by Mortimer J. Adler
This one was a project! Philosophy is not my forte in life. A lot of it goes right over my head. But there was a lot to ruminate over in How to Think About the Great Ideas: From the Great Books of Western Civilization. My favorite sections were on the ideas of Education and Democracy. The one on Education sparked my autodidactic flame back to life, and the one on Democracy sent me immediately to the computer to order The Federalist Papers and to download a copy of The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution. I've read the Declaration and the Constitution before, but I felt the need to take a closer, more, well, philosophical look.
This is a book a person could go on and on about, but the fact is that if it interests you, you really need to experience it yourself. My purpose in reading it was to start identifying concepts that are meaningful to me in my reading and really thinking about how I feel about them. In that, I was successful. I'm hoping to translate that into reviews and reading notes that amount to more than, "I liked this book. You should read it. Or not." :-)
For those who do read this book, keep in mind that it is basically a collection of transcripts from an old television show that Mortimer Adler hosted. ("Old" as in there were still only 48 states in the U.S. when it aired, and there are cultural references in the discussions that reflect this.) It's written in a more narrative form, but the idiosyncrasies of spontaneous speech have not been edited out. It does not always flow smoothly. And while I usually can just blow by the occasional typo, the edition I read had just enough of them for me to begin taking notice. Also, I was hoping to hear from a much, much larger selection of "Great Books", but most of the quotes that are used come from the likes of Plato and Aristotle. If you can ignore those couple of superficial grievances, the book is still more than worth the effort to kick-start long-dormant brain cells.
If you would like to learn more about The Great Ideas, click here to check out the Center For The Study Of The Great Ideas.
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!