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
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

McLuhan on The Great Books

InThe Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, by Herbert Marshall McLuhan, there is a chapter on The Great Books pp.43-45, discussing them in the context of an article by that title in Life [p. 92].
"The services of Dr. Hutchins and Professor Adler to education are justly celebrated. They have by their enthusiasm put education in the news. It is therefore ironic that the present Life feature (January 26, 1948) should have so mortician-like an air—as though Professor Adler and his associates had come to bury and not to praise Plato and other great men.

The ‘great ideas’ whose headstones are alphabetically displayed above the coffin-like filing boxes have been extracted from the great books in order to provide an index tool for manipulating the books themselves. By means of this index the books are made ready for immediate use. May we not ask how this approach to the content and conditions of human thought differs from any other merely verbal and mechanized education in our time? ..."

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