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Ten Philosophical Mistakes

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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About the Author

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (September 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786107278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786107278
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,655,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28, 1902 - June 28, 2001) was an American philosopher, educator, and popular author. As a philosopher he worked within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Mateo. He worked for Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research. Adler was married twice and had four children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Review of Adler, _Ten Philosophical Mistakes_
The thesis of this book is that Western philosophy has been for the most part in serious error for the last three centuries. Many people would consider that a sufficient reason to render the well-known judgment, "I couldn't pick it up." I note, though, that E. F. Schumacher makes a very similar claim at the very beginning of _Small is Beautiful_, and that book is so popular that our local university library has three copies. And there are other such cases in which courage is rewarded.
In any event, Adler's general argument is this: the important modern philosophers, beginning with Descartes, made certain errors which have had disastrous results for contemporary notions of the objects of consciousness, the nature of the human mind, the nature of language, of knowledge, of moral principles, of free will, and even the nature of happiness. Succeeding philosophers, especially Kant, instead of ferreting out these initial errors, tried instead to circumvent their consequences, thus in a sense compounding the errors. The errors were made due to ignorance on the part of modern philosophers of ancient and medieval philosophy, especially Aristotle and Aquinas. This ignorance in turn was due to the stultifying way in which the earlier doctrines were taught in late scholasticism, and also, no doubt, due to an over-zealous rejection of the past in the light of the new advances in material science.
Nearly all of the errors to which Adler points consist of failing to make certain distinctions. Locke failed to distinguish between those "ideas" which are truly private and do not point to things beyond themselves - sensations, feelings, emotions - and the "true ideas" which point to public things beyond themselves - percepts, memories, images.
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Format: Paperback
One of the most celebrated neo-classical philosophers of this decade is Mortimer J. Adler. Adler was born in 1902 in New York City and led a fulfilling life enlightening others even after his recent death in 2001. Adler began his career as a scholar with an education at Columbia University continuing there to teach psychology and then taught at the philosophy of law at Chicago University. He was the Director of the institute for Philosophical Research and most also the Chairman of the Board of Editors for the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The prologue to Adler's "Ten Philosophical Mistakes" begins with the following quote by Aristotle and best summarizes his thesis, "The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold." The implications of the this chosen quote is proved correct in this book; Adler dissects the blunders of post-16th century philosophers, namely those philosophers who followed Descartes and himself, and shows how the consequences have impacted contemporary society with confusion. Adler separates the errors of modern philosophy into ten of the following chapters: Consciousness and its objects, the intellect and the senses, words and meanings, knowledge and opinion, moral values, happiness and contentment, freedom and choice, human nature, human society and lastly- human existence.
The classical philosophers from the ivory towers had ideas that were so enlightening and their thoughts so deep that it could pierce the darkest questions of the universe; until the modern philosophers came along and totally demolished those towers that had taken centuries to build.
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Format: Paperback
Mortimer Adler, as he would no doubt cheerfully admit, is not going to go down as one of the 20th century's great philosophers. But then, neither is the reviewer who calls him "all wet". For that matter, neither will any of us. It seems to me, therefore, that the tub-water response to his book is uncalled for, and possibly rather excessively arrogant, unless you happen to be a better philosopher than Adler; so I think it is only right to give a somewhat fairer review of the book, which I'll attempt.
"Ten Philosophical Mistakes" is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it contains a variety of quaint errors and outright misunderstandings. An example is Adler's apparent failure to understand that contemporary epistemologists use "belief" in such a way that it's simply analytic that whatever is known is believed. (Thus, he makes a big song and dance about a verbal point, warning us of the grave dangers of confusing belief and knowledge.) Again, there is considerable effrontery in the facile little argument whereby Adler hopes to defeat nominalism about properties. One might think, upon reading it, that men like William of Ockham and Jean Buridan (not to mention, in our day, Quine or David Lewis) just couldn't have been very bright to be taken in by such a stupid doctrine; yet strangely, they are accounted great philosophers. On the other hand, the book contains a number of useful pointers to major philosophical errors, which infected the entire modern tradition up to the positivist era, and continue to exert a baleful influence in many quarters of contemporary analytic philosophy.
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