Friday, January 23, 2009

Mortimer Adler

Mortimer Jerome Adler was an American Aristotelian philosopher and author. He was born into a Jewish family in New York City, the son of an immigrant jewelry salesman. He dropped out of school at 14 years of age and went to work as a secretary and copy boy at the New York Sun, hoping to become a journalist. After a year, he took night classes at Columbia University to improve his writing.

It was there that he became interested in the great philosophers and thinkers of Western civilization and earned a PhD in psychology.

He continued to participate in the Honors program (today the Core Curriculum) which had been started by John Erskine which focused on the reading of the classical texts. His tenure at the university included study with such eminent thinkers as Erskine and John Dewey, the famous American pragmatist philosopher. This kind of environment inspired his early interest in reading and the study of the "Great Books" of Western Civilization. He also promoted the idea that philosophy should be integrated with science, literature, and religion.