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Introduction Obert Clark and Grace Adams Tanner endowed the Tanner Lectures on Human Values in 1978. From the first, the Lectures have served as a leading forum for reflection on scientific knowledge and the advancement of philosophical and humanistic thought. They take place annually at nine major universities in the United States and England and occasionally at other centers of learning around the world. Each of the participating universities is given complete autonomy in selecting its Tanner Lecturer for a given year. The list of scholars, writers, artists, and public figures who have delivered Tanner Lectures is especially distinguished, and this high standard continues through the diligent work of the member universities and the Tanner Lectures Board of Trustees, which includes the presidents and vice chancellors of these institutions. Obert Tanner and Grace Adams grew up in the early twentieth century in rural Utah, a society that retained much of its pioneer character. Hard work and dedicated service to others were lived values in their families , and education was a profoundly held ideal. A belief in the dignity and transformative power of learning was nurtured in Obert by his mother, Annie Clark Tanner, who encouraged him to study joyfully, to enter the profession of teaching, and to regard the university as the greatest institutional achievement of humankind. Obert was educated at Utah, Harvard, and Stanford, and he went on to teach religious studies and philosophy at Stanford and Utah for more than thirty years. Somehow during this time he also managed to build the O. C. Tanner Company, the business he began in 1927, into an extraordinary success. Obert’s friend Professor Sterling McMurrin, the first director of the Tanner Lectures, once remarked that not since the sixth century BCE, when Thales cornered the wine market in the eastern Mediterranean, had a philosopher been so successful in business. From the early years of this success to his death in 1993, Obert used the wealth produced by his company to endow innumerable educational institutions and civic projects. Over the course of this lifetime The Tanner Lectures on Human Values The Tanner Lectures on Human Values vi of giving, he came to regard the Tanner Lectures as his most important educational and cultural legacy. The Lectures are thus a product of the values and the vision shared by Obert and Grace. They partake of the spirit of Grace’s brightness, wit, and sense of humor as well as Obert’s passionate devotion to learning as a means of lifting up the human condition. In the context of an unfolding world culture, the continuing role of the Tanner Lectures will be to contribute in constructive and inspiring ways to our collective intellectual and moral life. Reading through an annual volume of the Tanner Lectures is a remarkable intellectual adventure—a word Obert loved—and one can be excused for feeling just a bit of a polymath at the end of it. The founders of the Tanner Lectures would also want the experience to produce a more abundant life for the individual reader and a more informed and greater dedication to the well-being of the human community. Mark Matheson University of Utah ...


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