ART, THE ARTS, AND THE GREAT IDEAS by Mortimer J. Adler

ART, THE ARTS, AND THE GREAT IDEAS

KIRKUS REVIEW

 The philosopher for Everyman turns his attention to the place of painting and music in education in this small volume that is characteristically straightforward, but not too gripping. Adler (The Four Dimensions of Philosophy, 1993, etc.) argues against his own earlier work in saying that painting and music do not belong in the core of instructional materials. Rather, he argues, they belong to the realm of appreciation and delight. Through careful definitions of terms such as art, the arts, and ideas, the author seeks to demonstrate that the great ideas embodied in written literature, ideas that can be read and reread over and over without exhausting their potential, cannot exist in great painting or in great music. This, Adler asserts, is because great painting and music do not engage in conversation (``They do not affirm or deny. They do not disagree and dispute''). His strongest example of this is Picasso's Guernica, a work of art whose meaning, expressed in words, could be as simple as ``war is hell.'' In keeping strict lines between what is written and what is painted or played, between the intellect and the senses, Adler remains firmly in line with the oldest of philosophical camps. And other than some interesting insights into the genesis of the Great Books and Great Ideas series, the illustrative material is uniformly bland. Those who are interested in future curriculums that are more inclusive of gender and nonwestern cultures will want to avoid this one. The plodding, sometimes pedantic style and extensive excerpts from previously published works make this long on definitions and reiterations, short on burning issues.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-500243-0
Page count: 150pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1994




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