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The 103 Great Ideas

 

 

   

 

   
   

The Great Ideas: Links

 Introduction | by Category | Alphabetically

Introduction

"Philosophy is Everybody's Business"

IT CANNOT BE TOO OFTEN REPEATED that philosophy is everybody's business. To be a human being is to be endowed with the proclivity to philosophize. To some degree we all engage in philosophical thought in the course of our daily lives. Acknowledging this is not enough. It is also necessary to understand why this is so and what philosophy's business is.

The answer, in a word, is IDEAS. In two words, it is GREAT IDEAS--the IDEAS basic and indispensable to understanding ourselves, our society, and the world in which we live.

These IDEAS, constitute the vocabulary of everyone's thought. Unlike the concepts of the special sciences, the words that name THE GREAT IDEAS are all words of ordinary, everyday speech. They are not technical terms. They do not belong to the private jar gon of a specialized branch of knowledge. Everyone uses them in ordinary conversation. But everyone does not understand them as well as they can be understood, nor has everyone pondered sufficiently the questions raised by each of THE GREAT IDEAS.

To do that and to think one's way through to some resolution of the conflicting answers to these questions is to philosophize. The study of these Great Ideas as found in the Great Books should achieve three results for you.

First, it should give you a surer grasp of the various meanings of the word you use when you talk about the IDEA.

Second, the delineation of each IDEA should make you more aware than you normally are of questions or issues that you cannot avoid confronting if you are willing to think a little further about the IDEA--basic ones, ones that human beings have been arguing about over the centuries.

Third, in the consideration of each IDEA, we are led to the consideration of other IDEAS. How does our understanding of truth affect our understanding of goodness and beauty? How does our understanding of what is good and bad carry us to not only to an understanding of what is right and wrong, but also to an understanding of justice, and how does that affect our understanding of liberty and equality as well?

This study will have helped you engage in the business of philosophy, which is everybody's business not only because nobody can do much thinking, if any at all, without using THE GREAT IDEAS, but also because no special, technical competence of the kind that is required for the particular sciences and other special disciplines is required for thinking about THE GREAT IDEAS. Everybody does it, wittingly or unwittingly. I hope I am right in believing that everyone would wish to do it just a little better.

In conclusion, I think you will have gained sufficient understanding to feel comfortable in discussing these IDEAS with other individuals, and that the understanding achieved will enable you to look at yourselves, your family, your country, and the world in a new light that is not only intellectually enlightening but also practically useful.

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler
Co-Founder and Chairman
Center For the Study of the Great Ideas

Mortimer J. Adler used Great Ideas as an organizing principle for The Syntopicon, the topical index to Great Books of the Western World. The thousands of topics discussed in The Great Books are organized in The Syntopicon under The Great Ideas, there 102 in number. Each of The Great Ideas includes an Introduction, Outline of Topics, References, Cross-References, and Additional Readings. For further explanation, see the Editor's Notes in Happiness, which we selected to illustrate his work.

The 103 Great Ideas by Category

SUBJECTS

Art

Education

Evolution

History

Language

Law

Logic

Mathematics

Mechanics

Medicine

Metaphysics

Philosophy

Physics

Poetry

Religion

Rhetoric

Science

Theology

Mortimer J. Adler
The Four Dimensions of Philosophy
Ch. 11

ETHICS

Beauty

Being

Courage

Desire

Duty

Equality

Good and Evil

Happiness

Honor

Justice

Prudence

Same and Other

Sin

Temperance

Truth

Virtue and Vice

Wealth

Wisdom

 

POLITICS

Aristocracy

Citizen

Constitution

Custom and Convention

Democracy

Equality

Family

Government

Justice

Labor

Liberty

Monarchy

Oligarchy

Progress

Punishment

Revolution

Slavery

State

Tyranny And Despotism

War and Peace

 

 

LIBERAL ARTS

Definition

Dialectic

Hypothesis

Idea

Induction

Language

Logic

Mathematics

Reasoning

Rhetoric

 

 

 

METAPHYSICS

Angel

Being

Cause

Chance

Change

Equality

Eternity

Fate

Form

God

Infinity

Matter

Metaphysics

Nature

Necessity and Contingency

One And Many

Opposition

Principle

Quality

Quantity

Relation

Same and Other

Space

Time

Universal and Particular

World

 

 

ANTHROPOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY

 

Animal

Desire

Emotion

 

Experience

Habit

Immortality

 

Judgment

Knowledge

Life and Death

 

Love

Man

Memory and Imagination

 

Mind

Opinion

Pleasure And Pain

 

Prophecy

Sense

Sign and Symbol

 

Soul

Will

 

 

 

PHYSICS

Astronomy and Cosmology

Cause

Chance

Element

Infinity

Mathematics

Matter

Mechanics

Nature

Quality

Quantity

Relation

Space

Time

World

 

TRANSCENDENTAL (Ideas applicable to everything)

Beauty

Being

Good and Evil

Same and Other

Truth

 

It will be noted that certain Ideas fall under several different categories, while others belong exlusively to one category or another.

Mortimer J. Adler
The Four Dimensions of Philosophy
Ch. 12

The 103 Great Ideas Alphabetically

ANGEL

ANIMAL

ARISTOCRACY

ART

ASTRONOMY AND COSMOLOGY

BEAUTY

BEING

CAUSE

CHANCE

CHANGE

CITIZEN

CONSTITUTION

COURAGE

CUSTOM AND CONVENTION

DEFINITION

DEMOCRACY

DESIRE

DIALECTIC

DUTY

EDUCATION

ELEMENT

EMOTION

EQUALITY

ETERNITY

EVOLUTION

EXPERIENCE

FAMILY

FATE

FORM

GOD

GOOD AND EVIL

GOVERNMENT

HABIT

HAPPINESS

HISTORY

HONOR

HYPOTHESIS

IDEA

IMMORTALITY

INDUCTION

INFINITY

JUDGMENT

JUSTICE

KNOWLEDGE

LABOR

LANGUAGE

LAW

LIBERTY

LIFE AND DEATH

LOGIC

LOVE

MAN

MATHEMATICS

MATTER

MECHANICS

MEDICINE

MEMORY AND IMAGINATION

METAPHYSICS

MIND

MONARCHY

NATURE

NECESSITY AND CONTINGENCY

OLIGARCHY

ONE AND MANY

OPINION

OPPOSITION

PHILOSOPHY

PHYSICS

PLEASURE AND PAIN

POETRY

PRINCIPLE

PROGRESS

PROPHECY

PRUDENCE

PUNISHMENT

QUALITY

QUANTITY

REASONING

RELATION

RELIGION

REVOLUTION

RHETORIC

SAME AND OTHER

SCIENCE

SENSE

SIGN AND SYMBOL

SIN

SLAVERY

SOUL

SPACE

STATE

TEMPERANCE

THEOLOGY

TIME

TRUTH

TYRANNY AND DESPOTISM

UNIVERSAL AND PARTICULAR

VIRTUE AND VICE

WAR AND PEACE

WEALTH

WILL

WISDOM

WORLD

   

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Introduction | by Category | Alphabetically


Mortimer J. Adler's List ] List in GREAT BOOKS INDEX ] Robert Teeter's List ] Selecting Works for the 1990 Edition ] [ The 103 GREAT IDEAS ] The Great Ideas Today ]


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