How To Think About the Great Ideas Project

I’ve been having some wonderfully deep conversations with friends lately about life, but have been frustrated because I’ve felt that I’ve lacked the depth of understanding to communicate certain ideas and insights to them.  Pablo Neruda says in one of his love poems:  “Between the lips and the voice something goes dying,” and I’ve felt very much this way.  Somehow inside I know what I want to say, only when I attempt to articulate it, I’m left with a discouraging feeling of the inadequacy of my communication.  So with these experiences in mind, I’ve decided to resurrect a project that I’ve had on the back-burner for some time now.

Drawing from Mortimer J. Adler’s classic TV series, How to Think About the Great Ideas takes 52 great ideas —- ideas that stem from the ancient world —- and examines them from a philosophical viewpoint.  Adler, a philosopher and educator, taught that we are all philosophers and to ignore that which stimulates our minds, diminishes us to the level of ants; ants do not require the medium of choice but humans do, and, therefore, it is important to always choose “in terms of ideas.”  In the world of ideas there are always new frontiers to explore and I think I’m ready to take that journey.

There are 52 ideas in all, so I’m thinking of posting one idea each week for one year. The first idea is “How To Think of Truth”.  Yikes, not a light topic to start with but here I go, adding another project to my set of unfinished ones.  Wish me luck and please feel free to join me if the impulse so moves you!!

0 thoughts on “How To Think About the Great Ideas Project

  1. I have the same problem. I often feel as if I'm missing some information (I need to read more or learn more words) in order to develop a deeper sense of understanding and be able to articulate what I want to say better.
    I like this project you're starting. I don't think I'll be able to commit to doing it but I'll look out for what you post.

  2. Well, it's nice to know that I'm not alone in my inarticulateness! 🙂 I hope you can learn something from my posts. I've read part of the first idea chapter and it's a little dense. It will be helpful to train my mind to think in a logical manner … ha, ha! 😉

  3. I am a news junkie…but have no people around me who like to talk about what is going on in the world. I will read this book with you and others….and the weekly topic will then be reflected in my mind in realtion to the news. That means I can veer off 'Six Degrees of Separation' onto other subjects if my mind takes me there. This will be something out of my comfort zone to be sure. A weekly post….? I'll do my best! Books are meant to connect people and ideas!

  4. I want to modify my comment….after looking at the book by Mortimer it doesn't seem to be something I would like. I'm sorry. As soon as I see you post…on the weekly subject, I will buckle down and think about it an write a post about the same item. I think the important thing is that we ….think…. and the references used are a personal choice. I will join your weekly discussion!

  5. That's fine, Nancy. I really like your concept of linking the topic with what is happening in the world. Great idea! I'll look forward to your posts. Hopefully we can have some interesting discussions.

  6. Just let me know what the topics will be…. I expect truth to be the first one. But the second?
    It will be interesting to see if the USA electorate will hear the truth from candidates tonight during the debate.

  7. I feel as if you've described me. What's in my mind does not come out of my mouth anywhere near as well as I'd like. Isn't that what the "Rhetoric" stage in the Trivium is supposed to help with?

    I'd never heard of this book or the TV series by Adler! (I'm going to see if I can find any episodes on YOuTube.) When are you going to start this project? You've got me excited and I'm SOOOO tempted to join you, but I'm inclined to begin in January (seeing as I'm taking a hiatus from blogging until then anyway) and making it a 2017 project.

    How fun!!

  8. I think part of our problem might be that while we're connected by technology, we hardly every talk to each other. It can be difficult to articulate verbally if the bulk of our communications are non-verbal. So I'm also going to make an effort to talk about these topics with people I meet. Ha ha! We'll see how that goes ….. 😉

    His whole TV series is purchasable but it's about $300-400. I bought his How To Read A Book tv series and it's excellent and, I think only around $30.

    Yes, please join, even if you're a little late. With my good intentions that often go awry, we might end up on the same topic at some point! :-Z

  9. truth. i'm thinking about nouns: for instance, a log. what about the bark? how long has it been laying there? what kind of tree? etc. the point being that language, in general, is approximation; if you described a log right down to every last little detail that the senses could detect, it would take up a whole book, and even then it wouldn't be comprehensive… and the same with other facets of language. they say truth is relative, but i don't think it's even that; but more like opinion comprised of limited observations that fit into our particular brain patterns… i can tell i'm going to have fun with this project… tx for the idea…

  10. Oh ho, you're off and away! 😉 I'm reading about the difference between what is truth and what is true; the first is easy to define, the second very difficult. Adler seems to go through the different viewpoints in history and categorizes them, then examines truth and true. I haven't read further yet. He doesn't seem to be positing that one theory is better than another ….. yet. We'll see how it goes.

    I'm very happy that I've provided you with some fun! At least all our brains will get a workout!

  11. I think that too many people are looking at screens rather than someone's eyes when they are conversing. It is however difficult to do on the internet, so we have to accept the next best thing. At least we can exchange our thoughts via the keyboards. I totally agree that truth & politicians are completely incompatible, "never the twain shall meet".

  12. That's a great point ….. all this technology is really making us non-verbal so when we have to be, our abilities in this area have been diminished. Typing and speaking are really two different modes of communication.

  13. "Typing and speaking are really two different modes of communication."

    I 100% agree. But like Keith said, we have to accept the next best thing. Although…I am part of a local Philosophy Meetup group and I have found it an excellent opportunity to practice expressing myself verbally. I'm self-aware enough when I hear myself speak to know that I have a long way to go. There are some others in the group who obviously have had much practice and I'm striving to be more like them.

  14. It's so wonderful when you have people who are more accomplished than you whom you can try to emulate. I need to put myself in places where I'm forced to speak more. I'm very envious of your Philosophy group. 😉

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you and have you join in the discussion!