The four dimensions of philosophy: metaphysical, moral, objective, categorical

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Macmillan Pub. Co., 1993 - Biography & Autobiography - 273 pages
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In Greek and Roman antiquity, philosophy was supreme in the domain of learning. Philosophy was the name for the pursuit of truth about the most fundamental things to be known or understood. It was the most desirable of all the goods of the mind.
But today we live in an age dominated by science and technology - an age that has witnessed not only the rise of positivism, but the retreat of academic philosophy to an analysis of language. Professorial philosophy has become as specialized a subject as logic and mathematics. If anyone asks why we should be concerned with the intellectual respectability of philosophy, this book provides the answer.
Try to imagine a world from which philosophy is totally absent. Imagine a world in which no one philosophizes to any degree - that done almost unconsciously by ordinary men and women or inexpertly by scientists, historians, poets, novelists, and dramatists. Imagine a world in which philosophy is completely expunged. Philosophy is not taught, even poorly in our colleges. No philosophical books are written.
In the Prologue to this book, Dr. Adler asks us to consider whether that deprivation would make any difference to us. Though we might not realize it, a great many of our opinions and beliefs would go unquestioned; for any enlightenment about those beliefs can come only from philosophizing about them, about the shape of the world and our place in it: questions about what we should be doing and what we should be seeking; questions that are not answerable by empirical science and historical research.
What, then, are philosophy's four dimensions? Science gives us only partial knowledge and superficial understanding of the reality about which philosophy gives us a more penetrating analysis and a deeper understanding (Dimension One). Science gives us no knowledge or understanding of the good life and the good society. This moral and political philosophy gives us Dimension Two. Science gives us no understanding at all of the intelligible objects of thought - the great ideas (Dimension Three). It does not even enable us to understand science and history. This requires a philosophical understanding of all the intellectual disciplines and branches of learning (Dimension Four).
The Four Dimensions of Philosophy not only explains why philosophy must be revived in the coming century, but it also throws light on what must be done to revive it, by overcoming all the obstacles to be found in philosophy's long past.

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Contents

An Autonomous Branch of Knowledge
3
Diverse Modes of Inquiry
8
First and Second Intentions
17
Copyright

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About the author (1993)

Born in New York, Mortimer Adler was educated at Columbia University. Later as a philosophy instructor there, he taught in a program focused on the intellectual foundations of Western civilization. Called to the University of Chicago in 1927 by President Robert Maynard Hutchins, Adler played a major role in renovating the undergraduate curriculum to center on the "great books." His philosophical interests committed to the dialectical method crystallized in a defense of neo-Thomism, but he never strayed far from concerns with education and other vital public issues. From 1942 to 1945, Adler was director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, based in San Francisco, California. Beginning in 1945 he served as associate editor of Great Books of the Western World series, and in 1952 he published Syntopicon, an analytic index of the great ideas in the great books. In 1966 he became director of the editorial planning for the fifteen edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and in 1974, chairman of its editorial board. Adler has been devoted in recent years to expounding his interpretations of selected great ideas and to advocating his Paideia Proposal. That proposal would require that all students receive the same quantity and quality of education, which would concentrate on the study of the great ideas expressed in the great books, a study conducted by means of the dialectical method. Mortimer J. Adler died June 28, 2001 at his home in San Mateo, California at the age of 98.

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