The Angels and Us

The Angels and Us

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From the Back Cover

Mortimer Adler has always been ahead of his time. In 1982, before the current revival of interest in angels, Dr. Adler published “The Angels and Us”, an engaging look at the various images and hierarchies of angels (including guardian angels). Dr. Adler, the bestselling author of “Ten Philosophical Mistakes”, “Aristotle for Everybody”, and “The Great Ideas”, speculates on the existence of angels; why Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in angels, and the ways angels have been viewed as objects of religious belief and philosophical thought. This is a wonderfully enlightening work on the affinities between angels and human beings.

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Mortimer Adler has always been ahead of his time. In 1982, before the current revival of interest in angels, Dr. Adler published “The Angels and Us”, an engaging look at the various images and hierarchies of angels (including guardian angels). Dr. Adler, the bestselling author of “Ten Philosophical Mistakes”, “Aristotle for Everybody”, and “The Great Ideas”, speculates on the existence of angels; why Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe in angels, and the ways angels have been viewed as objects of religious belief and philosophical thought. This is a wonderfully enlightening work on the affinities between angels and human beings.

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An Amazon Review by

By Lindsay on March 13, 2002

Format: Paperback

Mortimer Adler was one of the most prolific and outstanding twentieth century realist philosophers of the Aristotelian school. He wrote on subjects as diverse as the existence of God, the idea of freedom, the nature of man, capitalism, war and peace, poverty, education, language, and the nature of philosophy itself.
In this book he speculates on the existence and nature of angels; beings he defines as minds without bodies. Knowing that his peers consider such a topic quaint at best, Ader nonetheless gives serious thought to the idea of angels. He realizes that for most scoffers the question never rises much above the level of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Yet there is a great deal more to be gained from this inquiry than mere mental exercise. The answers one gives to the possibility and nature of angels has ramifications on one’s understanding of the relationship of the mind to the brain, the immortality of the soul, even the nature-nurture debate over human behavior.
Adler admits that the actual existence of angels cannot be rationally demonstrated in the same manner as God’s existence since angels are not logically necessary beings. But given philosophical evidence for the existence of God the theological possibility of angels becomes tenable. If God exists He could create such beings as angels.
Christians, Jews and Muslims claim revelation affirms their existence. In the Great Chain of Being, that moves from inanimate to animate objects, from the universe of the purely physical to that of the purely spiritual, their existence seems fitting. Adler deals with angels as objects of religious belief (i.e. the reason God might have created angels, the hierarchy or ‘choir’ of angels, the mission of angels, fallen angels, etc.) and as objects of philosophical thought (i.e. materialist arguments against spiritual realities, the plurality of angelic species, their relationship to space and time, how they love, how they communicate). Finally Adler deals with angelic fallacies implicit in modern thought (for example the two extremes of the Platonic and materialist concept of man).
Overall this book makes an illuminating and intelligent read. Its major drawback is the same as with most of Adler’s books — his dry style of writing. I suspect he wants explanation and argument to convince not finesse or style. In this he follows the lead of Aristotle and Aquinas. This makes for a clear and seemingly dispassionate presentation but also a somewhat dull read. For those with an interest in the idea of angels this book illuminates with reason a topic where warm feelings and fuzzy thinking generally prevail.
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