“Not to engage in the pursuit of ideas is to live like ants instead of like men.”
Mortimer J. Adler (1902–2001)
Philosopher and Educator
For much of the twentieth century, as an author, teacher, and editor, Adler propagated the Great Books of Western civilization as a moral and intellectual basis for a well-educated public. He wrote or edited more than fifty books, two of the most influential being How to Read a Book (1940) and How to Think About War and Peace (1944). In 1943, Adler conceived the idea of compiling the Great Books of the Western World, 54 volumes containing 443 works by 74 authors. He served as associate editor of the project, published in 1952 by the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the University of Chicago. He also edited the two-volume Syntopicon, an index of the collection's main ideas.