By Alex Beam

Today the classics of the western canon, written by way of the proverbial “dead white men,” are cannon fodder within the tradition wars. yet within the Fifties and Sixties, they have been a popular culture phenomenon. the nice Books of Western Civilization, fifty-four volumes selected through intellectuals on the collage of Chicago, started as an instructional flow, and developed right into a winning advertising concept. Why did 1000000 American families purchase books via Hippocrates and Nicomachus from door-to-door salesmen? and the way and why did the good books fall out of style?

In A nice inspiration on the Time Alex Beam explores the nice Books mania, in an enjoyable and unusually poignant portrait of yank pop culture at the threshold of the tv age. Populated with memorable characters, A nice notion on the Time will depart readers asking themselves: Have I learn Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura in recent times? If now not, why not?

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Extra resources for A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books

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Here is part of a letter that Adler slipped under Dewey’s door after a lecture, taking his professor to task for “completely avoid[ing] any suggestion of a duality of subject and object, or of experience-of-the-thing and the-thingexperienced”: 29 1586484873_beam 30 8/22/08 9:26 AM Page 30 A G REAT I D EA AT T H E T I ME BUT from the standpoint of the absolute monism of naïve realism and immediate experience, as you presented it, there is the following dilemma: Either the immediately existent diagram of the staircase changes-in-existence from moment to moment, or immediate experience is solipsistic, for the evidence of two observers reporting different things to be immediately present to them at the same point and at the same time cannot be accepted by either one of the two.

Adler explained to the roomful of men who had probably never been exposed to the Scholastics’ vision of particle physics before. ” 1586484873_beam 8/22/08 9:26 AM Page 43 T h e G re a t B o o ks i n th e G ra y C i ty from the educational ideology of the Middle Ages, Hutchins divided learning into four arts: natural, useful, liberal, and fine arts. ). ” Facts are the enemy, Hutchins railed, in several highly publicized university speeches of the early 1930s. “Facts are the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum.

Not so at all! ” Hutchins politely fumbled with a judicious answer, but Adler—who knew no foreign languages—went on the attack. “The argument grew heated,” he recalled. “Gertrude rose from her chair, came around the table to where I was sitting, and tapping me on the head with a resounding thwack, said, ‘I am not going to argue with you any further, young man. ” Stein dismissed the servant with an imperious wave. It emerged that she had arranged a nighttime ridealong with the Chicago police department.

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