Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
In association with the The Adler-Aquinas Institute and Aquinas School of Leadership
Member of the Alliance for Liberal Learning

Monday, March 12, 2018

“What are the Great Ideas: Why & Where Do They Really Matter?”

That's the disputed question for the 43rd Annual Philosophy/Theology Symposium at Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio. All events are free and open to the public, and will be held in Betzler Auditorium. No registration is required. The 2018 Visiting Scholar is William Cathers, an Aspen Institute Moderator, Philosopher, Educator, and Mortimer J. Adler Protégé.

Program Schedule

Tuesday, March 13, 7:30 p.m. “Great Ideas We Judge By:”
- Truth – Dr. Joe Vincenzo
- Goodness – Dr. Brad Beach
- Beauty – Dr. John G. Trapani, Jr.

Wednesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m. “Great Ideas We Live By:”
- Liberty – Dr. Will Cooley
- Equality – Dr. Koop Berry
- Justice – Dr. Joe Torma

Thursday, March 15, 7:30 p.m. Art Form: “Great Ideas in the Arts:”
- Literature – Dr. Matt Akers
- Painting – Dr. Katey Brown
- Music – Dr. Britt Cooper

Friday, March 16, 7:30 p.m. Visiting Scholar: Lecture #1
- Will Cathers: “The Great Ideas: Objects of Understanding”
- Will Cathers: “A Socratic Seminar with Walsh Students; Teaching the Great Ideas the Way Mortimer Adler Would Have Taught Them”

Saturday, March 17, 9:00 a.m.* Visiting Scholar: Lecture #2
- Walsh Seminar Students: Anne Monnin & Andy Zmecek: “Mortimer Adler and the Biographical History of the Great Ideas”
- Will Cathers: Disputed Question #43: “What Are the Great Ideas; Why & Where Do They Really Matter?
*Special recognition to Dr. John G. Trapani Jr. given by President Richard Jusseaume

(via Charita Goshay at The Canton Repository.)

#idea #truth #good #beauty #liberty #equality #justice #art #education #MortimerAdler

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A single atom is visible to the naked eye in this stunning photo

"An image of a single atom of the metal strontium suspended in electric fields has won the 2018 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council science photography competition.

'David Nadlinger‘s photo, Single Atom In An Ion Trap, was captured through the window of a vacuum chamber in an Oxford University laboratory, using an ordinary digital camera on a long exposure shot."
reported New Scientist.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Aquinas Leadership International Update - Late February/March 2018

Peter A. Redpaht writes "to update you about some developments related to the Aquinas Leadership International (ALI), affiliate organizations, and other groups interested in ALI’s work. ..."

● Dr. Curtis L. Hancock to Deliver Inaugural Lecture on 01 March in Paradise Valley, AZ

The Aquinas School of Leadership announces that Freeman Chair of Philosophy at Rockhurst Jesuit University, Curtis L. Hancock, will deliver the inaugural lecture for the newly-formed “Aquinas School of Leadership Lecture Series” as part of Paradise Valley Community College (PVCC) Public Philosophy series sponsored by the PVCC Philosophical Society

Day/Date: Thursday, 01 March 2018

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 PM on

Topic: “Perennial Lessons about Happiness from Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas”

For more details about the talk, contact Prof. Kelly Fitzsimmons-Burton at: or Peter A. Redpath at:

● Fifth Annual Aquinas Leadership International World Congress Topic

The chief topic for the ALI 20 to 22 July 2018, 5th annual Aquinas Leadership International Conference at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island, NY, USA, will be:

“Artificial Intelligence and the Futures of Philosophy, Global Leadership, and World Peace”

If you would like to co-sponsor this meeting, prepare a paper, participate in, or organize, a panel related to this topic, contact the Congress Chair, Peter Redpath, at:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Adler On: The Great Books

How to Read a Book: A Guide to Reading the Great Books, Chapter Sixteen, at Cyberspace incognita

(via Wikipedia)


Thursday, February 22, 2018

"The Firmament Sheweth His Handiwork"

'Re-awakening a Religious Sense of the Natural Order' by Harry Oldmeadow at Religio Perennis

#nature #religion

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Welter reviews Redpath's 'Moral Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas'

Brian Welter reviewed The Moral Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas: An Introduction to Ragamuffin Ethics, by Peter A. Redpath, at Studia Gilsoniana.

"The author connects organizational psychology with moral psychology, highlighting how both feature whole-part relationships. When indifferent to the principles put forth by Aristotle and St. Thomas, the reason that orders these relationships 'inclines to become anarchic' (22). Redpath links this back to the West’s philosophical problems. The decline and anarchy we see around us stem from the fact that 'centuries ago, Western civilization lost its understanding of the nature of philosophy as an organizational psychology' (22). By this he specifically means the lost 'understanding of the natures of metaphysics, ethics, and science as habits of leadership excellence of the human soul' (22)."

#metaphysics #virtue

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Reading and Renewal of the Mind

Fr. Dwight Longenecker with a "Benedict Option" at National Catholic Register.

"During the six weeks of Lent I have been blogging about the six aspects of the Benedictine life. First we considered the three vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life. Now, for the second half of Lent we’ll look at the three practical ways that the three vows are lived out day by day.
"The first of the three aspects of Benedictine life is reading. This does not simply mean the casual curling up with a good book. Certainly, reading for entertainment and diversion is a useful aspect to the life of study, but the Benedictine approach is deeper than that. ..."

#education #religion

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Conflict Continues

John Farrell reviews On Faith and Science, by Edward J. Larson and Michael Ruse, at Commonweal.

"The laws of nature in the heavens were one thing, but applying such laws to human beings was something else. And in the third chapter the authors deal with the impact of Newtonian mechanics on the concepts of the mind and soul. Descartes’ separation of an immaterial mind from the mechanics of the human body can be viewed in this light as a sort of pre-emptive strike to protect the unique status of the soul. If so, it was short-lived, as the advent of Darwinian evolution threatened to place everything human under the power of natural selection.

"Here is where the real conflict with faith remains."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Substance and Dynamics:

'Two Elements of Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy of Nature in the Foundation of Mathematics in Physics' by Fr. Rudolf Larenz at Studia Gilsoniana

#mathematics #physics

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Little Errors in the Beginning

Mortimer J. Adler at The Thomist (January 1974)

"... I would like to call attention to the two ways in which little errors in the beginning occur. In some cases, they are made because something that needs to be known or understood has not yet been discovered or learned. Such mistakes are, of course, excusable, however regrettable they may be. In other cases, the errors are made as a result of culpable ignorance--ignorance of an essential point, an insight or distinction, that has already been discovered and expounded.

"It is mainly in this second way that modern philosophers have made their little errors in the beginning. When they are made in this way and then perpetuated by the same ignorance that accounts for their origin, they are ugly monuments to failures in education--failures that have one or both of the following sources: on the one hand, corruptions in the tradition of learning, like the corrupt and decadent scholasticism of the 15th and 16th centuries, the effects of which are so evident in the writings of Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke;1 on the other hand, an attitude of antagonism toward or even contempt for the past--for the achievements of those who have come before. Both of these causes are operative today. ...

"1 Though the 15th and 16th centuries were the centuries of Cajetan and Jean Poinsot, their work exercised little influence on current scholastic thought, and none outside it."

#truth #MortimerAdler

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Famous Philosopher: 10 Books EVERYONE Should Read

Martin Cothran on how 'In a speech, Peter Kreeft recommended these ten books as essential for everyone's intellectual formation", at Intellectual Takeout. That's obviously not Prof. Kreeft pictured in the article; see the About page of his website.


(via Jay Gold, a Senior Fellow of the Center)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Founders in Full

Vincent Phillip Munoz reviews The Political Theory of the American Founding: Natural Rights, Public Policy, and the Moral Conditions of Freedom, by Thomas G. West, at The Claremont Review of Books.

#equality #liberty #virtue

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Aquinas Leadership International Update - January 2018

Peter A. Redpath emails "about some developments related to the Aquinas Leadership International (ALI), affiliate organizations, and other groups interested in ALI’s work."

● Fifth Annual Aquinas Leadership International World Congress Topic

The chief topic for the ALI 20 to 22 July 2018, 5th annual Aquinas Leadership International Conference at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, Long Island, NY, USA, will be:

“Artificial Intelligence and the Futures of Philosophy, Global Leadership, and World Peace”

If you would like to co-sponsor this meeting, prepare a paper, participate in, or organize, a panel related to this topic, contact the Congress Chair, Peter Redpath, at:

They're Made Out of Meat

Terry Bisson's famous science fiction short story, at his website, and a copy of it as originally published in Omni Science Fiction 151, April 1991, posted at William Flew.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Secret Life of Time

'It may seem slippery and maddeningly abstract, but it’s also deeply intimate, infusing our every word and gesture.'

Alan Burdick at The New Yorker


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Kant & The Human Subject

'Brian Morris compares the ways Kant’s question “What is the human being?” has been answered by philosophers and anthropologists' at Philosophy Now.

#man #philosophy #science

Friday, January 12, 2018

Whither nationalism?

'Nationalism is not fading away. But it is not clear where it is heading.' Essay at The Economist.
"Nationalism is an abiding legacy of the Enlightenment. It has embedded itself in global politics more completely and more successfully than any of the Enlightenment’s more celebrated legacies, including Marxism, classical liberalism and even industrial capitalism. It is not an aberration. It is here to stay. Putting aside the concerns of a cosmopolitan elite, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Like religion, nationalism is capable of bringing out the best in people as well as the worst. It can inspire them to bind together freely in pursuit of the common good. But it can also fill them with a terrifying, righteous certainty, breeding strife and injustice."

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Metaphysics Test

Twenty required questions, one point for each correct answer, and eighteen optional questions, here.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

John Deely on 'How to Think about God' by Mortimer Adler

"Mortimer Adler came to the University of Dubuque sometime in the 1970s as part of a lecture tour on 'How To Think about God'. Subsequently he published a book on the subject in which the first part claimed to be based on Anselm and the second part (which someone failed to proofread) based on Aquinas. Overall the book was actually not all that great, but the point of the first part captured the situation exactly. If we are to think clearly about God, we must indeed think of God as existing actually and not merely in thought. But clear thinking on our part is not sufficient to prove, even in the unique case of God, that God actually exists. For that, appeal must be made to the nature of actual existence, whence, if at all, some proof or other might be derived.

"Descartes, as mentioned above, later would compare the situation to that of a triangle. Existence is to God as having three sides and three angles is to a triangle. As we cannot think of a triangle unless we think of it as having three sides and three angles, so we cannot think of God unless we think of God as actually existing. But this argument makes the point of Adler and Aquinas, not the one Descartes or Anselm before him hoped to make.

Four Ages of Understanding: The First Postmodern Survey of Philosophy from Ancient Times to the Turn of the Twenty-first Century (2001), by John Deely, p. 241

#being #god #MortimerAdler

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Literature as Counterculture

Allen Mendenhall interviews Robert P. Waxler. author of The Risk of Reading and most recently coauthor with Martha Pennington of Why Reading Books Still Matters, at The University Bookman.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Adler Goes From `How To Read` To `How To Learn`

John Blades on A Guidebook to Learning: For the Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom (1986), by Mortimer J. Adler, and the author's writing process, at The Chicago Tribune. [link fixed -ed.]

"Having just published [book] No. 39, Adler seems to have refined the art of writing books to a mathematical science. As he explains his working method:

"'I go to Aspen every summer and write one in 14 or 15 days. I deliver it to the publisher on Sept. 1, and it comes out the next March.'

"The 84-year-old author/philosopher doesn`t want the process to sound too mechanical, however.

"'You have to understand,' he says, 'that I`ve been working on the book all year before I sit down to write it. I`ve got my notes organized in folders for each chapter, and the writing goes very quickly. It`s much the best way to write a book.'"

#education #MortimerAdler

Friday, December 22, 2017

Reading 'War and Peace'

Lucie Taylor interviewed Brian E. Denton at OUP Blog.
"Maybe you’ve read War and Peace; maybe you haven’t. Maybe you got part of the way through its 1,392 pages and lost the will to continue. (It happens to the best of us!) If you’re in one of the latter two camps, Brian E. Denton is here to change your mind. A freelance writer based in Queens, New York, Brian has read War and Peace seven times already and has no plans to stop there. I talked to Brian to find out what makes War and Peace so special, and why you might want to join him in making reading the book a New Year’s Resolution for this year."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Aquinas Leadership International December 2017 Update

Peter A. Redpath emailed about some developments related to the Aquinas Leadership International (ALI), affiliate organizations, and other groups interested in ALI’s work:

Why Intellectual Work Matters

This essay by Zena Hitz appears in the symposium 'Assault on Higher Education: Reports from the Front,' in the Summer 2017 issue of Modern Age.

"It was not long ago widely taken for granted that intellectual activity benefited ordinary people. A. G. Sertillanges's classic handbook The Intellectual Life (1921) offered to nonacademics with intellectual interests, people with day jobs, a wealth of practical advice for their intellectual work along with soaring rhetoric to inspire and encourage them. It seems he thought the benefit of intellectual work too obvious to dwell much upon. Sertillanges wrote as publishers brought forth a great flood of inexpensive classics for the ordinary reader. The early twentieth century had its powerful, hard-nosed advocates of practice over theory and its fantasy-driven evangelists of technology. Still, it seems evident that, in the age of Everyman’s Library and reading clubs at the Mechanics Institute, publishers, academics, and grassroots organizers built and defended forms of intellectual life that went deep to the bottom of things and reached out to the broadest of audiences. Even the activists of the early twentieth century did homage to the democracy of serious inquiry: Marxists went to the poorest areas and taught anyone who would listen intricacies of Hegel and Feuerbach that a modern-day professor would tremble to assign to undergraduates."

A scanned pdf version of Sertillanges's book is posted at Portal Conservador.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

How to write proofs: a quick guide

Eugenia Cheng, Department of Mathematics, University of Chicago, posted this at the University of Sheffield.

"Writing a good proof is not supposed to be something we can just sit down and do. It’s like writing a poem in a foreign language. ...

"Even when you know how to do it, writing a proof takes planning, effort and inspiration. ..."


Sunday, December 10, 2017

What Is "Blockchain" Anyway?

Peter Van Valkenburgh at the Foundation for Economic Education.

"All blockchain technologies should have three constituent parts: peer-to-peer networking, consensus mechanisms, and (yes) blockchains, A.K.A. hash-linked data structures."

Friday, December 8, 2017