Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader

Excerpt

One of the encouraging developments in contemporary adult education in America has been the increased emphasis on the use of classical sources of western thought as material for adult study groups. Adult educators stress the importance of studying the original works of the great thinkers and philosophers from ancient times to the present as sources urgently needed in the modern world.

Experiments in the group reading of the classic books of mankind began at Columbia University soon after the First World War. The radio program "Invitation to Learning" in the 1930's, the "Great Books" groups conducted by Robert Hutchins and Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago, and the launching of the Great Books Foundation in 1946 are all attempts to implement this idea. This use of great books in adult education is based on the conviction that through contact with the great minds of the past, we can find the knowledge and the wisdom to cope with the problems of our troubled world. These books, it is held, lead us to other books and give us a standard by which to judge them. They also furnish insights from other cultures into the art of living.

This approach has also found its advocates among Jewish educational theorists. Martin Buber in one of his essays stresses the idea that Jews are a "community based on memory" and that there is a great danger to Jewish survival in the loss of the "passion for handing down" the treasures of the past which once . . .

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