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The Four Dimensions of Philosophy: Metaphysical, Moral, Objective, Categorical Board book – 6 Jun 1994

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x89cbba14) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ac28abc) out of 5 stars The philosophy of philosophy 21 Dec. 2000
By Kenghis Khan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Board book
There have traditionally been two approaches to works that introduce this amorphorous "philosophy" thing to lay readers. The first is the "topical kind," providing explanations of the various questions and methods of philosophy and the second is the "historical kind" that introduces the main western philosophers and their ideas. Mr. Adler's book, while leaning to the former, is a clever admixture of the two systems. He provides a clear, though at times, as he admits, limited, critique of post-Rennaissance philosophy (indeed, he expounds on this critique elsewhere). However, what is the most valuable element of this work is the discourse on the nature of the philosophical pursuits which Mr. Adler provides. Indeed, in this book are planted the seeds of a "Structure of Philosophical Revolutions." To the ever-so-unanswerable question of what the point of philosophy itself is, Mr. Adler presents a passionate defense of his discipline in light of its criticisms from the rest of the world. Albeit Mr. Adler's view on the importance of Aristotle and the blatant errors of modern philosophers are anything but a settled matter amongst any students of philosophy, for anybody curious to get a fresh, no-nonsense and, best of all, readable insight into the nature of philosophical inquiry itself it is a work I highly recommend. To all other less-lofty readers I recommend it highly as well, though with four stars, as the reviewer disagrees with some of Mr. Adler's conclusions on the importance and correctness of Aristotle.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89efffcc) out of 5 stars The right role and future of philosophy 25 May 2013
By bronx book nerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mortimer Adler was a somewhat prolific writer and popularizer of philosophy. In this book he attempts to raise philosophy's standing vis a vis science, the latter taking a pre-eminent role in people's minds as the only source of truth. Adler says that this is not so, that philosophy must be judged by other standards and that there are questions that science is incapable of answering. Adler details specifically how science and philosophy differ and where each can make a meaningful contribution to knowledge. He goes on to describe how historically philosophy lost it standing, primarily from key philosophical mistakes made by philosophers, beginning with Descartes. It is interesting to read how he takes on all of philosophy that developed from Descartes into the early twentieth century and wonder how a discipline could have gone so wrong (if indeed it had) for so long. The history of philosophy was not all negative, of course, with positive progress made at various times. Adler explains how philosophy has four dimensions - the metaphysical (first order questions about reality), the moral (questions that address how things ought to be, in morals and politics), the objective (questions about so-called second order topics),and the categorical, or what is usually referred to a "the philosophy of this or that", .e.g the philosophy of history.

Overall the book is interesting although challenging to read. Adler's style was not the smoothest. In fairness, he does a very good job of addressing difficult topics. The one rather disappointing chapter was the one that was basically a cut-and-paste of from the The Great Ideas - A Syntopicon - I (Angel To Love) (Vol. 2 of Great Books Of The Western World Collection), a book that was an outline index of sort of the so-called great ideas and their various sub-topics. He does end the book with a good summarizing final chapter, where one can absorb comfortably and confidently the points Adler made earlier.

I was surprised by Adler's espousal of socialism, although to give him the benefit of the doubt, I think he was thinking of some idealized version (although don't all ideologies begin and tantalize with idealistic visions?) Adler also was over-optimistic that philosophy would regain its stature. He, however, could not have anticipated the scientism that developed in parallel with science's increasing knowledge, particularly about the brain, in the last 20 years or so.

Definitely recommended, but this is one book that will require multiple readings for full understanding.
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