Segments in this Video

Entrepreneur of Ideas (02:21)


Mortimer Adler continues teaching at age 85. His favorite classes are those dealing with the U.S. Constitution.

Constitutional Debates (02:37)

Even now, after 200 years of the existence of the Constitution, Americans continue to debate it. Mortimer Adler argues that every teacher at St. John's College should teach all the classes, and he outlines how he foresees an ideal curriculum.

Radical Educational Changes (03:36)

Mortimer Adler is a regular visitor at St. John's College. Adler argues that education should be radically changed to include teaching America's foundation documents.

American Interest in Constitution (03:06)

Nearly every high school student today has not read the Constitution. When it is read to them they do not understand the words. Adler notes that education's lack of interest in the testament documents of America is a "frightening failure."

Preamble of Constitution (02:38)

In a seminar at St. John's College, Mortimer Adler leads students through discovering the true value and meaning of the Preamble. It sets out the objectives of the Constitution. The Preamble was written within the 48 hours before the Constitution was given to Americans.

We the People (02:04)

The Constitution, written by the people and for the people, is the only document that all public officials and military officers promise to uphold. The Constitution creates the legislature, and not the other way around.

Tyranny of the Majority (02:40)

Students and Mortimer Adler discuss Article 10 regarding tyranny of the majority.

Judicial Review (03:13)

Seminar students discuss the difficulty of getting a case to the Supreme Court. People are granted the right to redress their grievances. Is it possible for the Supreme Court to be politicized?

Amending Constitutional Injustices (03:37)

Bill Moyers and Mortimer Adler discuss the importance and necessity of making amendments to the Constitution to accommodate cultural changes such as women's suffrage, the Civil War Act, and more.

Amendments vs. Revolution (01:27)

Every amendment to the Constitution has changed the course of human lives. Jefferson's proposition that every third or fourth generation have a revolution is taken care of by the amendments.

Pursuit of Happiness (04:14)

Except for moral virtue, everything else that people need to pursue happiness can be within the power of government to give them. Adler's students agree and disagree with his interpretation of Constitutional rights.

Universal Quality of Conditions (02:23)

Adler's position on the universal quality of conditions is debated by several students. Lincoln believed that government should do for the people only what they can individually or collectively do for themselves.

Property Ownership (02:01)

According to Adler, property is not entirely free or at our disposal. Property taxes are for the purposes of preserving the general economic welfare of the people of this country.

Constitutional Support of Preamble (02:18)

Adler responds to Moyers' question regarding how well the Constitution serves the ideals of the Preamble. Economic rights are not explicitly guaranteed in the Preamble unless it is considered part of the general welfare ideal.

Preamble: Common Defense (03:14)

The framers of the Constitution had no vision about the world as it has become. Do the precautions written in the Constitution prevail in terms of foreign policy, including defense, CIA, National Security Council, and more?

Making Democracy Secure (03:13)

The ideals of democracy and the word itself are not included in the Preamble. Adler suggests that democracy is not working perfectly and that citizens are not prepared to be citizens.

Secure the Blessings of Liberty (04:03)

Mortimer Adler leads a seminar on the last clause of the Preamble. Topics include legislation regarding moral acts, moral or immoral acts vs. acts affecting the common good.

Purpose of Civil Law (03:13)

Civil law can regulate human conduct only insofar as those acts affecting the public interest. Plato asserts that no one can form the moral character of anybody else.

Regulation of Moral Activity (01:01)

The state cannot regulate morality. That falls under the purview of religious institutions or persons. Does the consensus decide what are and are not moral acts?

Citizens: The Ruling Class (02:36)

Most Americans young and old define government as the people occupying offices in Washington D.C. Government consists of the citizens, the rightful ruling class. Office holders are the servants of the people, Lincoln noted.

Credits and Corporate Sponsorship: Mortimer Adler: Teaching the Constitution (01:47)

Credits and Corporate Sponsorship: Mortimer Adler: Teaching the Constitution

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Mortimer Adler: Teaching the Constitution

Part of the Series : In Search of the Constitution
DVD Price: $79.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $119.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $79.95



Students at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, challenge Adler, the noted philosopher, author, and educator, on his views about fundamental ideas in the Constitution and their relevance today. Adler discusses Americans’ lack of familiarity with the Constitution, the checks and balances provided by the Supreme Court, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and the welfare state, foreign policy, and legislating morality. (60 minutes)

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: BVL4908

ISBN: 978-1-4213-9242-4

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

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