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The Difference of Man and the Difference It Makes Revised Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0823215348
ISBN-10: 0823215342
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Editorial Reviews


aAmassing information from biology, chemistry, paleontology, cybernetics, and psychology, [Adler] has contrived a dazzling exercise in scholarship and logic.a

About the Author

Mortimer J. Adler was the director of the Institute for Philosophical Research in Chicago and a member of the board of editors of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; Revised edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823215342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823215348
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.4 x 5.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,705,772 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 7, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr Adler here gives us a fine presentation and analysis of animal cognition and how it corresponds with human knowledge. The distinctions Adler offers here are timeless and crucial. The answer to this question of the difference in man and animals is neither purely scientific, nor purely philosophical; rather a combined approach is needed. The relevant question to be answered is "Does man differ from the rest of the animal kingdom by degree or by kind, and if by kind is this difference radical or superficial?" Adler, using a traditional Aristotelian and Thomistic analysis of the modern research while combining it with the more recent positions of other philosophers and scientists, concludes that it is a difference in kind and that this difference is indeed radical. Man is a different "kind" of thing than the other creatures that inhabit our planet.
Adler is indeed fair and objective throughout. We must look at the operation of the creature in question, and in this case - articulation indicates what a given creature does in fact "know". The argument for difference in kind turns on man's ability to articulate "designators", that is verbalized concepts in both their connotative and denotative form. There is no evidence that animal communication is expressive in this way. The data that has resulted from inquiring into animal intelligence suggests no more than an ability of perceptual abstraction, whether memorized or immediate. Mankind articulates designators and these articulations cannot be explained by mere sense perception or any perceptual generalization for the very fact that such designators are inherently non - perceptible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Vitols on January 30, 2014
Format: Paperback
This philosophical analysis of the problem of “human nature” casts a strong and rare light on one of the most important questions ever asked.

What is this thing called Man? In the first place he’s an enigma, or, in the words of Jacob Needleman, “partly divine and partly an animal that reads.” From ancient times man has been exalted as a being above all the other animals, holding mastery over the rest of creation by virtue of his intellectual power and his special relationship with God or, anyway, with ultimate reality. On the other hand, since the advent of modern science and particularly since the publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, the species known as Homo sapiens has come to be seen as one organism among the many that make up the natural biological world, possessing unique and distinctive traits to be sure, but only in the sense that every other animal does as well. Man is the smartest land animal in the same way that the elephant is the heaviest and the cheetah the fastest.

This latter view is generally the view of the modern world and certainly that of modern science. But, as Mortimer J. Adler shows, we’re not very consistent about this, and we certainly have not worked through the implications for our attitudes about society, law, and rights. He’s convinced that if we wish to be governed by principles and by reason, it makes the biggest possible difference what our view of human nature is. For if man is really just one animal among many, then there can be no fundamental reason to justify treating humans and animals differently.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
M.J.A is fantastic. His years setting up his school on dialectic have given him a clear insight to what is being said and where that went/is wrong.
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