Mortimer Adler's autobiography is a happy surprise. Who would have thought that this dedicated philosopher, pedagogical...

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PHILOSOPHER AT LARGE: An Intellectual Autobiography

Mortimer Adler's autobiography is a happy surprise. Who would have thought that this dedicated philosopher, pedagogical scrapper, and preeminent cataloguer of ideas possessed a self-effacing wit and winning charm? He didn't always, it seems, for he began his intellectual career as ""an objectionable student, in some respects perhaps repulsive."" And it took him most of his life to acquire the ""emotional maturity"" that has softened him. Adler describes that life with candor, humor, some regrets, much praise of mind, and plenty of detail about his role in the intellectual and educational history of the last 50 years--from the birth of the great books course at Columbia, through the embattled innovations at the University of Chicago and the expansion of the Great Books idea, to the writing of the Syntopicon, the work of the Institute for Philosophical Research, and the creation of Britannica 3. As might be expected, Adler confesses a greater interest in ideas than in thinkers, believing that ideas must be judged by logic-not by their human origins. But this is not to say he is oblivious of people. In fact, he dismisses all of his philosophical writings prior to those of the last fifteen years, when he began to write for all. And he admits that his own intellectual preoccupations originated in his distinctive temperament: a compulsive organizer and inveterate yea-sayer, how could he have become other than an intrepid encyclopedist and intellectual zealot? That he also became an appealing sort is evident from this warmhearted record of how the ""great bookie"" learned from both books and life.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1977

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1977