"While conducting research for my book, The Dream of Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea, I found that the great books idea could be untethered from the conservative tradition. Adler — a philosopher and educator who dedicated much of his life’s energy to promoting ‘great books’ for all — was definitely no conservative. During the late 1960’s, he used classic and modern texts — especially Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Kant, Mill, and other canonical texts — to advocate for a kind of vital center liberalism. However, his full exposition of an ideal world society contained many positions that look, in our current climate, like weaker forms of socialism. It is of small importance whether Adler’s vision of a socialist community corresponds with what would be best in 2017 and beyond. What is relevant is how he arrived at his conclusions — thinking philosophically and historically about great books and the ideas they contained."
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