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The Syntopicon

The Syntopicon

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A Syntopicon: An Index to The Great Ideas (1952) is a two-volume index, published as volumes 1 and 2 of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s collection Great Books of the Western World. Compiled by Mortimer Adler, an American philosopher, under the guidance of Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, the volumes were billed as a collection of the 102 great ideas of the western canon. The term “syntopicon” was coined specifically for this undertaking, meaning “a collection of topics.”[1] The volumes catalogued what Adler and his team deemed to be the fundamental ideas contained in the works of the Great Books of the Western World, which stretched chronologically from Homer to Freud. The Syntopicon lists, under each idea, where every occurrence of the concept can be located in the collection’s famous works.
A Syntopicon: An Index to The Great Ideas (1952) is a two-volume index, published as volumes 1 and 2 of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s collection Great Books of the Western World. Compiled by Mortimer Adler, an American philosopher, under the guidance of Robert Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, the volumes were billed as a collection of the 102 great ideas of the western canon. The term “syntopicon” was coined specifically for this undertaking, meaning “a collection of topics.”[1] The volumes catalogued what Adler and his team deemed to be the fundamental ideas contained in the works of the Great Books of the Western World, which stretched chronologically from Homer to Freud. The Syntopicon lists, under each idea, where every occurrence of the concept can be located in the collection’s famous works.

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I. Angel
1. Inferior deities or demigods in polytheistic religion2. The philosophical consideration of pure intelligences, spiritual substances, suprahuman persons2a. The celestial motors or secondary prime movers: the intelligences attached to the celestial bodies2b. Our knowledge of immaterial beings3. The conception of angels in Judeo-Christian doctrine3a. The first creatures of God: their place in the order of creation3b. The angelic nature3c. The aeviternity and incorruptibility of angels3d. The angelic intellect and angelic knowledge3e The angelic will and angelic love3f. Angelic action: its characteristics in general3g. The angelic hierarchy: the inequality, order, and number of the angels and their relation to one another4. Comparison of angels with men and with disembodied souls: their relation to the blessed in the heavenly choir5. The distinction and comparison of the good and the bad angels5a. The origin of the division between angels and demons: the sin of Lucifer or Satan5b. The society of the demons: the rule of Satan over the powers of darkness6. The role of the angels in the government of the universe6a. The ministry of the good angels in the affairs of men: guardianship6b. The intervention of the demons in the affairs of men: temptation, possession7. God and Satan7a. Warfare between the powers of light and darkness: their struggle for dominion over man7b. Lucifer in the service of God8. Criticism and satire with respect to the belief in angels and demons
II. Animal
1. General theories about the animal nature1a. Characteristics of animal life: the animal soul(1) Animal sensitivity: its degrees and differentiations(2) Animal memory, imagination, and intelligence(3) Animal appetite: desire and emotion in animals(4) Locomotion: degrees of animal motility(5) Sleeping and waking in animals1b. The distinction between plants and animals in faculty and function: cases difficult to classify1c. The distinction between animal and human nature(1) Comparison of brutes and men as animals(2) Comparison of animal with human intelligence1d. The habits or instincts of animals: specifically animal behavior1e. The conception of the animal as a machine or automaton2. The classification of animals2a. General schemes of classification: their principles and major divisions2b. Analogies of structure and function among different classes of animals2c. Continuity and discontinuity in the scale of animal life: gradation from lower to higher forms3. The anatomy of animals3a. Physical elements of the animal body: cellular structure and the formation of tissue3b. The skeletal structure 3c. The visceral organs3d. The utility or adaptation of bodily structures4. Animal movement4a. Comparison of animal movement with other kinds of local motion4b. The cause of animal movement: voluntary and involuntary movements4c. The organs, mechanisms, and characteristics of locomotion5. Local motion within the animal body5a. The ducts, channels, and conduits involved in interior bodily motions5b. The circulatory system: the motions of the heart, blood, and lymph5c. The glandular system: the glands of internal and external secretion5d. The respiratory system: breathing, lungs, gills5e. The alimentary system: the motions of the digestive organs in the nutritive process5f. The excretory system: the motions of elimination5g. The brain and nervous system: the excitation and conduction of nervous impulses6. Animal nutrition6a. The nature of the nutriment6b. The process of nutrition: ingestion, digestion, assimilation7. Animal growth or augmentation: its nature, causes, and limits
 
8. The generation of animals8a. The origin of animals: creation or evolution8b. Diverse theories of animal generation: procreation and spontaneous generation8c. Modes of animal reproduction: sexual and asexual(1) Sexual differentiation: its origins and determinations; primary and secondary characteristics(2) The reproductive organs: their differences in different classes of animals(3) The reproductive cells and secretions: semen and catamenia, sperm and egg(4) The mating of animals: pairing and copulation; the breeding of new varieties(5) Factors affecting fertility and sterility8d. Comparison of human with animal reproduction9. The development of the embryo: birth and infancy9a. Oviparous and viviparous development9b. The nourishment of the embryo or foetus9c. The process of embryogeny: meiosis, fertilization, and mitosis; the stages of foetal growth9d. Multiple pregnancy: superfoetation9e The period of gestation: parturition, delivery, birth9f. The care and feeding of infant offspring: lactation9g. Characteristics of the offspring at birth10. Heredity and environment: the genetic determination of individual differences and similarities; RNA, DNA, genes, chromosomes,cistrons11. The habitat of animals11a. The geographical distribution of animals: their natural habitats 11b. The relation between animals and theirenvironments12. The treatment of animals by men12a. The taming of animals: domestic breeds12b. The use and abuse of animals12c Friendship or love between animals and men13. The attribution of human qualities or virtues to animals: personification in allegory and satire; the transformation of humans intoanimals
III. Aristocracy
1. The general theory and evaluation of aristocracy1a.Aristocracy as a good form of government1b.Criticisms of aristocracy as unrealizable or unjust2. The relation of aristocracy to other forms of government2a.Aristocracy and monarchy2b.Aristocracy and constitutional government: the polity or mixed constitution2c.Aristocracy and democracy2d.Aristocracy and oligarchy2e.Aristocracy and tyranny3. The causes of degeneration or instability in aristocracies: aristocracy and revolution4. Aristocracy and the issue of rule by men as opposed to rule by law5. The training of those fitted for rule: aristocratic theories of education6. The selection of the best men for public office: the aristocratic theory of representation modern constitutional government7. Historic and poetic exemplifications of aristocracy
IV. Art
1. The generic notion of art: skill of mind in making2. Art and nature2a. Causation in art and nature: artistic production compared with natural generation2b. The role of matter and form in artistic and natural production: beauty versus utility2c. The natural and the artificial as respectively the work of God and man3. Art as imitation4. Diverse classifications of the arts: useful and fine, liberal and servile5. The sources of art in experience, imagination, and inspiration6. Art and science6a. The comparison and distinction of art and science6b. The liberal arts as productive of science: means and methods of achieving knowledge6c. Art as the application of science: the productive powers of knowledge7. The enjoyment of the fine arts7a. Art as a source of pleasure or delight7b. The judgment of excellence in art8. Art and emotion: expression, purgation, sublimation9. The useful arts
 
9a. The use of nature by art: agriculture, medicine, teaching9b. The production of wealth: the industrial arts9c. The arts of war9d. The arts of government10. The moral and political significance of the arts10a. The influence of the arts on character and citizenship: the role of the arts in the training of youth10b. The regulation of the arts by the state or by religion: the problem of censorship11. Myths and theories concerning the origin of the arts12. The history of the arts: progress in art as measuring stages of civilization
V.
Astronomy and Cosmology
1. Astronomy as the study of the solar system and the empyrean: its dignity and utility2. The method of astronomy2a. Observation and measurement: instruments and tables2b. The use of hypotheses: the heliocentric and geocentric theories2c. The relation of astronomy to mathematics: the use of mathematics by astronomy3. Causes in astronomy3a. Formal archetypal causes: the number and the music of the spheres3b. Physical efficient causes: gravitation and action-at-a-distance4. Astronomy, cosmology, and theology: astronomy as affecting views of God, creation, the divine plan, and the moral hierarchy5. Astronomy, cosmology, and the measurement of time6. The solar system and the Milky Way6a. The special character of matter in the supra-lunar spheres6b. Soul and intellect in the heavenly bodies6c. Celestial motion: periodicity and the great year(1) The eternity of celestial motion(2) The form of celestial motion: circles, the equant, ellipses(3) The laws of celestial motion: celestial mechanics 6d. The creation of the heavens7. The particular heavenly bodies in the solar system and the Milky Way7a. The sun: its position, distance, size, and mass 7b. The moon: its irregularities7c. The planets: their eccentricities, retrogradations, and stations7d. The earth: its origin, position, shape, and motions7e. The fixed stars: the precession of the equinoxes7f. The comets and meteors8. The influence of the heavenly bodies upon terrestrial phenomena8a. The influence of the heavenly bodies on living matter: generation and corruption 8b. The influence of the heavenlybodies on the tides9. The influence of the stars and planets upon the character and actions of men10. The worship of the earth, sun, moon, and stars11. Astronomy as the study of the universe as a whole: cosmology11a. The special methods of cosmology11b. Cosmological theories concerning the origins and evolution of the universe11c. The size, extent, and expansion of the universe: the receding galaxies; the universe as finite or infinite11d. The principal components of the universe: galaxies and nebulas12. The relation of astronomy to the other liberal arts and sciences: the place of astronomy in the educational curriculum13. The history of astronomy
VI. Beauty
1. The general theory of the beautiful1a. The beautiful and the good: beauty as a kind of fitness or order1b. Beauty and truth: the beautiful as an object of contemplation or adoration1c. The elements of beauty: unity, proportion, clarity1d. The distinction between the beautiful and the sublime2. Beauty in nature and in art3. Beauty in relation to desire and love, as object or cause4. Beauty and ugliness in relation to pleasure and pain or good and evil5. Judgments of beauty: the objective and the subjective in aesthetic judgments or judgments of taste; judgments of style or fashionbased on wealth or honor6. The role of the beautiful in education7. Intelligible beauty7a. The beauty of God7b. The beauty of the universe7c. Beauty in the order of ideas7d. Beauty in the moral order

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