INTELLECT: MIND OVER MATTER by Mortimer J. Adler

INTELLECT: MIND OVER MATTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The prolific author of We Hold These Truths (1987) and How to Think about God (1989), etc., chairman of the board of editors of Encyclopedia Brittanica, challenges current materialist theories in this exploration of the human intellect as a uniquely immaterial component of human nature. Adler takes an intriguing stance in proposing that the mind is dependent on but quite separate from the physical brain, thus contradicting various fashionable quantum and computer-net theories of intelligence--but his failure to define precisely what the mind might be like proves quite a letdown. Since we are unable to perceive spirits through our sense-organs, we cannot have any perception of the immaterial, Adler states: a self-serving conclusion, even if true, and not made more digestible by his dry discussion of the differences between sensation-bound animal brains and the independent human intellect that ensues. Adler goes on to grumble over modern intellectuals' tendency to create confusion with their claims that reality is subjective; to reassert the wisdom of the ancients' philosophical common sense; to argue against the possibility that artificial intelligence will ever compete with human intellect; and, claiming that any mind substantially superior to mankind's would necessarily be noncorporeal, to aver that the existence of extraterrestrial creatures smarter than ourselves is highly unlikely. Supposedly written for the lay reader, but a tedious discourse nonetheless; and in the end Adler's central argument remains disappointingly unconvincing.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Macmillan