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Mortimer Adler quotes

1902 - 2001, American author and educator

Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men.
Mortimer Adler

The truly great books are the few books that are over everybody's head all of the time.
Mortimer Adler

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as
we continue to live.
Mortimer Adler

The complexities of adult life get in the way of the truth.
Mortimer Adler

Think how different human societies would be if they were based on love rather than justice.
But no such societies have ever existed on earth.
Mortimer Adler

If your friend wishes to read your "Plutarch's Lives," "Shakespeare," or "The Federalist
Papers," tell him gently but firmly, to buy a copy. You will lend him your car or your coat -
but your books are as much a part of you as your head or your heart.
Mortimer Adler

True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.
Mortimer Adler

There is only one situation I can think of in which men and women make an effort to read
better than they usually do. It is when they are in love and reading a love letter.
Mortimer Adler

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through,
but rather how many can get through to you.
Mortimer Adler

Love without conversation is impossible.
Mortimer Adler

The ability to retain a child's view of the world with at the same time a mature understanding
of what it means to retain it, is extremely rare - and a person who has these qualities is likely
to be able to contribute something really important to our thinking.
Mortimer Adler

Love consists in giving without getting in return; in giving what is not owed, what is not due
the other. That's why true love is never based, as associations for utility or pleasure are, on
a fair exchange.
Mortimer Adler

Love can be unselfish, in the sense of being benevolent and generous, without being selfless.
Mortimer Adler

Friendship is a very taxing and arduous form of leisure activity.
Mortimer Adler

Men value things in three ways: as useful, as pleasant or sources of pleasure, and as
excellent, or as intrinsically admirable or honorable.
Mortimer Adler

Freedom is the emancipation from the arbitrary rule of other men.
Mortimer Adler

If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect
the book to give you any insight you do not already possess.
Mortimer Adler

Television, radio, and all the sources of amusement and information that surround us in our
daily lives are also artificial props. They can give us the impression that our minds are active,
because we are required to react to stimuli from the outside. But the power of those external
stimuli to keep us going is limited. They are like drugs. We grow used to them, and we
continuously need more and more of them. Eventually, they have little or no effect.
Mortimer Adler

Is it too much to expect from the schools that they train their students not only to interpret
but to criticize; that is, to discriminate what is sound from error and falsehood, to suspend
judgement if they are not convinced, or to judge with reason if they agree or disagree?
Mortimer Adler

To agree without understanding is inane. To disagree without understanding is impudent.
Mortimer Adler

A good book can teach you about the world and about yourself. You learn more than how to
read better; you also learn more about life. You become wiser. Not just more knowledgeable -
books that provide nothing but information can produce that result. But wiser, in the sense
that you are more deeply aware of the great and enduring truths of human life.
Mortimer Adler

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom in learning from books as well as from nature.
Mortimer Adler

Habits are formed by the repetition of particular acts. They are strengthened by an increase in
the number of repeated acts. Habits are also weakened or broken, and contrary habits are
formed by the repetition of contrary acts.
Mortimer Adler

Reading is a basic tool in the living of the good life.
Mortimer Adler

The tragedy of being both rational and animal seems to consist in having to choose between
duty and desire rather than in making any particular choice.
Mortimer Adler

The ultimate end of education is happiness or a good human life, a life enriched by the
possession of every kind of good, by the enjoyment of every type of satisfaction.
Mortimer Adler

Aristotle uses a mother's love for her child as the prime example of love or friendship.
Mortimer Adler

In English we must use adjectives to distinguish the different kinds of love for which the
ancients had distinct names.
Mortimer Adler

One of the embarrassing problems for the early nineteenth-century champions of the
Christian faith was that not one of the first six Presidents of the United States was an
orthodox Christian.
Mortimer Adler

Ultimately, we wish the joy of perfect union with the person we love.
Mortimer Adler

We are selfish when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good for
ourselves. We are altruistic when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the
good of others.
Mortimer Adler

Conjugal love, or the friendship of spouses, can persist even after sexual desires have
weakened, withered, and disappeared.
Mortimer Adler

You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have
things occur to you, to let your mind think.
Mortimer Adler

The philosopher ought never to try to avoid the duty of making up his mind.
Mortimer Adler

Unless we love and are loved, each of us is alone, each of us is deeply lonely.
Mortimer Adler