Mortimer Adler: A Guidebook to Learning

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Adler, Mortimer J. A Guidebook to Learning: For the Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom (New York: Macmillan, 1986)

Mortimer Adler's A Guidebook to Learning: For the Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom surveys taxonomic systems of knowledge, from the alphabetical (as in encyclopedias) to the topical (the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress systems as used in libraries). Adler aims here at encouraging the autodidact, observing at the outset that "One's education can be begun in institutions but it can never be completed there." (p. 1) As one of an exceedingly rare breed--a holder of a PhD who did not attain a high school diploma--Adler was personally involved in two large-scale information organization systems:

One is the construction of the Propaedia, or Outline of Knowledge, published along with the fifteenth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1974, and improved in the 1985 edition. The other is the Syntopicon, which was an index of the great ideas, published along with the Great Ideas of the Western World in 1952. (p. 81)

As expected, he directs the reader toward several tried-and-true resources in Appendix III ("Some Books That May Be Helpful to Autodidacts"), a pared-down selection of books from his Great Books of the Western World set, along with the Syntopicon and several of his more recent writings. A Guidebook to Learning is useful for Adler's perspective, but strikes me as a product of haste rather than one of deep consideration.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on April 1, 2010 7:42 PM.

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