Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mortimer J. Adler, fully Mortimer Jerome Adler

American Philosopher, Educator and Author

"We also say we love our freedom, which is something we certainly need but do not love."

"We are selfish when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good for ourselves. We are altruistic when we are exclusively or predominantly concerned with the good of others."

"We love even when our love is not requited."

"When children, or adults as well, say that they love pleasant things to eat or drink, or that they love to do this or that, they think they are saying no more than that they like something, that it pleases them, or that they want it."

"We must bear in mind the distinction between fame and honor. A virtuous person is an honorable person, a person who ought to be honored by the community in which he or she lives. But the virtuous person does not seek honor, being secure in his or her own self-respect. Lack of honor does not in any way detract from the efficacy of moral virtue as an indispensable operative means in the pursuit of happiness.... Those totally lacking in virtue may achieve fame as readily as, perhaps even more easily than those who are virtuous. Fame belongs to the great, the outstanding, the exceptional, without regard to virtue or vice. Infamy is fame no less than good repute. The great scoundrel can be as famous as the great hero; there can be famous villains as well as famous saints. Existing in the reputation a person has regardless of his or her accomplishments, fame does not tarnish as honor does when it is unmerited."

"When it becomes necessary to move into the imaginary world without sex, I'll give you notice."

"When one prays to God one believes in God as one does not believe if one affirms God's existence as a philosopher. So one has gone beyond philosophy. The leap of faith is not from less sure grounds for the affirmation of God's existence to more sure grounds, but it's from the affirmation of God's existence to belief in God as benevolent, caring, just, and merciful."

"You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think."

"You may take care of your health by virtuous conduct on your part, but your achievement of a healthy body may also require a healthy environment, which may or may not be your good fortune to enjoy. (In my youth, I went through serious influenza and poliomyelitis epidemics unharmed. Through diligent care by my parents I escaped being ill but, that was still a blessing of good fortune.) In a book in which I have recited the free choices I made to devote myself to teaching and learning, to writing books and editing them, and above all to the vocation of philosophy, it seems fitting that at its close I should briefly recount the incidents of good fortune with which I have been blessed. With the exception of one?s mate, one does not choose one?s family?parents, siblings, offspring, and in-laws. In these respects, I experienced good fortune, but not entirely. My parents came from good stock, as evidenced by their longevity and my own. I am grateful to them not only for the genes they bestowed on me, but also for their wise and benevolent treatment of me as a child, a schoolboy, and a college student."

"Work that is pure toil, done solely for the sake of the money it earns, is also sheer drudgery because it is stultifying rather than self-improving."

"With this background, let us consider the nature of adult conversation. And let's consider the rules which should govern it if such conversation is to develop into good, profitable discussion, profitable as a means of learning."

"When we ask for love, we don't ask others to be fair to us ? but rather to care for us, to be considerate of us."

"When sex comes first, and especially if it remains primary, then the love that is based on it will be fickle and short-lived ? as changeable as sexual interest is."

"When young children say they love their parents, they do not mean that they have any benevolent impulses toward them. On the contrary, they do need their parents for a variety of the goods they acquisitively desire and that they want their parents to get for them."

"With one or two exceptions, all the fundamental philosophical truths that I have learned in more than fifty years, to which I am now firmly committed, I have learned from Aristotle, from Aquinas as a student of Aristotle, and from Jacques Maritain as a student of them both. I have searched my mind thoroughly and I cannot find in it a single truth that I have learned from works in modern philosophy written since the beginning of the 17th century. If anyone is outraged by this judgment about almost four hundred years of philosophical thought, let him recover from it by considering the comparable judgment that almost all modern and contemporary philosophers have made about the two thousand years of philosophical thought that preceded the 17th century."