©1999 Edward G. Rozycki

The Educational Theory of Mortimer Adler

Page citations from Mortimer Adler, Reforming Education (NY:Westview, 1971)


edited 4/30/14

I. Theory of Value: What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education?

30:Moral values are transcendent. 67:The three R's. 86 Liberal Arts-skills of inquiry & learning, habits of critical judgment, habits of creative production. 32:not "religion of science." 66:Liberal arts vs. Classicism. 42: certain truth,cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. 96:Vocational vs. liberal arts=for leisure. 60:intellectual virtues, ultimate end is happiness.

II. Theory of Knowledge: What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? A lie?

xxvi:principle of contradiction. 18:independent metaphysics. 37:Philosophy and religion above science. 72:philosophical knowledge is not contingent. 67: wisdom does not change. 72:relevant experience is always the same. 15:self-evident first principles. 73:mere opinion. 61:habits of error, privation of knowledge.

III. Theory of Human Nature: What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

58:HN always and everywhere the same. HN "whatever it is that..." All members of a species have the same nature. 67:HN= the powers and needs of men. 129:all humans are, as persons, equal; as individuals, unique. 71:HN=native abilities and organic needs which constitute the same animal, man. 51:intellect not free to affirm falsehood. 74:different from brutes. 77:human destiny. 61:Adler's "proof."

IV. Theory of Learning: What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

17:Education (ED) is the process where good habits develop powers of human nature. 59:ED= process of human betterment. 67 ED invokes our humanity, it is not to develop our individuality. 95:ED betters men in their similarities. 88:leisure = learning & creativity. 75 Liberal arts are not scientifically cumulative knoledge, i.e. Great Books problems are not progressive.

V. Theory of Transmission: Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

169:teaching is a cooperative art. 121: those specially trained in the liberal arts; LA are the arts of teaching and learning. 86:LA the skills of inquiry and learning, habits of critical judgment and creative production. xxx,75:the Great Books. xx:dialectical style of reading. xxvi. aim to teach students how to think and how to pursue the truth.

VI. Theory of Society: What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process? 

42:cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. 44:Fascism bad; uses ED to make men into political puppets. 46:Democratic citizens disciplined by authority of reason. 45:ED must make men free. 50:Civil liberty is justified only by justice.

VII. Theory of Opportunity: Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

xxiv:Bloom is elitist. 130:All humans by nature equal. 131:Undifferentiated basic schooling.

VIII. Theory of Consensus: Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

38:understanding-the communication of minds through shared meanings in a single universe of discourse...rooted in the same cultural soil. 39:a common heritage of learning. 61.Habits of error, ignorance.

Further information relating to Mortimer Adler can be found at Cloning Student Voice .