cooperative individualism - lesson 8 - what i learned from mortimer j.

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An overview of the life and teachings of philosopher Mortimer J. Adler

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Cooperative Individualism: The Third Way to the Just Society LESSON 8 What I Learned from Mortimer J. Adler

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“There have been almost no positive efforts, on the part of leading twentieth-century writers, to address themselves to the problems of politics in a normative manner. Normative political philosophy has almost ceased to exist and has been supplanted, in the literature and teaching of the subject, by historical studies and descriptive discourse.”

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“After [a] bit of personal confession, the paper dealt mainly with conflicts that I now realize have troubled me during most of my career – the tension between philosophy as every man’s business and philosophy as a technical subject of interest only to professionals, the tension between teaching philosophy as something useful to every student in the class and teaching it as if the only aim were to train another generation of professional philosophers. …”

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“John Dewey seldom raised his voice or gesticulated for emphasis. I doubt if anyone had ever before seen him explode with rage. But on this occasion, annoyed by my contempt for scientific psychology, angered by the general drift of my remarks, and probably irritated by some infelicitous phrasing of the point I was trying to make, he pounded the arms of his chair, stood up, and walked out of the room muttering that he did not intend to sit around listening to someone tell him how to think about God;”

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“Teaching a course in elementary psychology consisted in assigning chapter after chapter in the textbook that the students were required to study, and then recapitulating the contents of the chapter in a fifty-minute lecture. Such lectures, it has been remarked, are a process in which the notes of the teacher become the notes of the student without passing through the minds of either.”

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“My chief complaint was that Durant had ‘humanized’ philosophy – exactly the thing for which Dewey praised him. His book … dealt mainly with men, not with ideas, or with ideas only as opinions formed by men under certain psychological or cultural influences. An interest in human beings is one thing; an interest in thought another; and one should not be allowed to get in the way of the other.”

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What is equality?

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“I was able to marshall arguments which, in my judgment, demonstrated that constitutional democracy is the most just, indeed the only completely just, form of government, based not on the assumption, but on the self-evident truth of human equality.”

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NO CITIZEN LEFT BEHIND

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Robert M. Hutchins

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“However effective it may be in the training of future practitioners, it is certainly not designed to give the student an understanding of the underlying principles and the nonlegal context of the legal subjects he is studying. If the law is to be a genuinely learned profession, then lawyers should be more learned about the law than instruction by the case method can equip them to be.”

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“Current research programs in the social sciences are misdirected and methodologically ill-advised because of erroneous conceptions of the nature of science which comprise the ‘raw empiricism’ characteristic of contemporary social science. …The distinction between exact science (the physical sciences) and inexact science (the social sciences) is a distinction between good and bad science, not between two different kinds of science.”

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“After being removed from the Philosophy Department, I removed myself from academic politics and turned my attention to writing in the field of law; to teaching the liberal arts…; and to giving university lectures on a wide variety of subjects. In addition, I continued to teach the great books with Bob Hutchins.”

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“Mr. Dewey has stated my position in such a way as to lead me to think that I cannot write, and has stated his own in such a way to make me suspect that I cannot read.”

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“He failed because he was asking the professors to change their minds. He failed as much with the professors of philosophy as with the professors of science; he failed even more with those teachers of religion who regard themselves as liberal. What Hutchins proposed ran counter to every prejudice that constitutes the modern frame of mind and its temper.”

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“The deplorable fact is that, with the establishment of almost universal schooling, functional illiteracy on the part of a sizeable fraction of the population has increased relative to the school population. Even more shocking is the fact that an overwhelming number of those who are functionally literate because they can read signs, business forms, newspapers, and popular magazines leave secondary schools and even colleges with the same reading ability that they had developed by the time they reached the fourth grade. …”

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“The reason is simply that the liberal arts, which occupied a central place in the curriculum of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, have been progressively displaced by ‘progressive education’ in the twentieth.”

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Walter Lippmann

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“At first it seemed to me odd, for I was a child of my generation, that the men who had made the modern world should have been educated in this old-fashioned way. And then I began to think that perhaps it was very significant that men so educated had founded our liberties, and that we who are not so educated should be mismanaging our liberties and be in danger of losing them. …”

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“Gradually I have come to believe that this fact is the main clew to the riddle of our epoch, and that men are ceasing to be free because they are no longer educated in the arts of free men. …”

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“We have emptied education of rigorous training in the arts of thought, and having done that, we are no longer able to read in any language the classical masterpieces of the human mind. Between ourselves and the sources from which our civilization comes, we have dropped an iron curtain of false progress that leaves us to the darkness of our whims, our vagrant opinions, and our unregulated passions.”

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“He had himself maintained … that science gave us knowledge only of matters of fact, not about values. For there to be objectively valid answers to questions of value, there had to be valid knowledge other than empirical science. Such ‘knowledge other than empirical science’ was clearly not mathematics or history. There was nothing left for it to be but philosophy.”

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“There may be many causes of war, but there is only one cause of peace, and that is government. Civil government produces civil peace. …Civil peace, positively conceived, consists not in the absence of fighting but rather in conditions that make it possible to settle all differences without recourse to violence or bloodshed. Civil government, by providing that set of conditions, establishes and preserves civil peace.”

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“We must be prepared to relinquish the sovereignty of the United States, and other peoples must do likewise, in order to form a world government, just as Massachusetts and Virginia and the other states gave up their external sovereignty to form the federal union of the United States.”

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Will Lissner

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“The decision to make interdisciplinary research the basis of our work was mine and it was entirely a pragmatic one. I believed then, and I believe now, that the challenging problems of democratic capitalist society can be solved - not by some genius's blueprint, and not necessarily by some current program - but by using the whole range of the social sciences and philosophy to achieve an objective analysis of a problem and an understanding of its rational solution.”

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“The selections were both historically and currently germane to the consideration of the problems and issues that confront the citizens of an industrial, free-enterprise, capitalistic democracy, and especially citizens who also are executives of large corporations.”

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GREAT IDEAS

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“Democracy requires an economic system which supports the political ideals of liberty and equality for all. Men cannot exercise freedom in the political sphere when they are deprived of it in the economic sphere. …”

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LIBERTY LICENSE

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“Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.”

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FEDERAL LAND OFFICE

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L A B O R T H E O R Y o f P R O P E R T Y

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“Going beyond the original appropriation, it is possible to generalize Locke’s theory by saying that, apart from gift or inheritance, a man’s right to acquired property derives from the productive use of such property as he already owns, whether that is his own labor power, his land, or his stock of workable materials and working instrumentalities.”

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The Commons Have Been Enclosed and Sold Stopping and Standing Prohibited

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END of Lesson Eight

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