The most recent idea of Equality

So I just picked up a copy of Mortimer Adler’s Magnum Opus, The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought at the local library (what he calls endearingly The Syntopicon), a behemoth book nearly 1000 pages that is a compilation of 102 ideas that have constituted the 25 centuries of Western thought under perennial discourse among the most influential thinkers from from Plato to Marx.

I am familiar with Adler with his most well known book, How to Read a Book which would seem superfluous to many, but reading is a complex activity that takes skill to master as he said is akin to a person pitching a baseball and the other catching, and the end of the book has a compilation of the great books which he recommends to read, so consider The Great Ideas, the synthesis of his writing career condensed into a single work.

I am only at the beginning of this undertaking, I have finished reading the foreward and he mentions his justification for having 102 topics where all other topics not included are branched out into sub-topics. He mentions that although half a century has passed since he wrote his book, there has been no significant change in major ideas in Western Civilizations except the idea of EQUALITY.

Let me give a few illustrations of how this works, using terms in the Inventory that name matters of current interest, matters that are of great significance today. This has not been the case in prior centuries and so that is why the terms in question were not considered great ideas, for they only have had great significance in all of the twenty-five preceding centuries.3

3. This explains the omission of equality; but equality and inequality appear in the Inventory of Terms, and refer to topics 9 {Chance} of the 102 great ideas.

Since I have a Reactionary/Traditional (Pre-Modernity) view of the world, the bell was ringing in my head synthesizing previous readings of mine with his stating that the desire for equality paralleled in sync with the degeneration of civilizations.

Now Adler in this book professes absolute impartiality (which I will dwell more upon later), but I wonder if he connected the dots with this sudden desire for equality which did not exist previously for the majority of the West’s existence where today, it seems as if it is a characteristic of the West to believe in Equality as its flagship ideal.

The connection seems even more glaring when the first chapter (idea) in his book is Angels and he mentions Thomas Aquina’s theology on angels and the desire to be God manifesting itself in equality;

The theologians try to define precisely the nature of Satan’s pride in wishing to be God. “To be as God” Aquinas explains, “can be un- derstood in two ways: first, by equality; secondly, by likeness. An angel could not seek to be as God in the first way, because by natural knowledge he knew that this was impossible . . . And even supposing it were possible, it would be against natural desire, because there exists in everything the natural desire to preserve its own nature which would not be preserved were it to be changed into another nature. Consequently, no creature of a lower nature can ever covet the grade of a higher nature, just as an ass does not desire to be a horse.

The idea of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity which people mistake for Western values instead of the deviations that they are are merely recent phenomenon culminating in the French and American Revolutions where its Enlightenment values are being played out right now as we speak.

The idea of Equality is an anomaly in Western thought, a cancerous spot not congenial to the body, and as Aristotle stated, there can can only be Equality among equals, inequality among unequals.