"[Reading the great books] is a means toward living a decent human life, the life of a free man and a free citizen. This should be our ultimate objective. It is the ultimate theme of this book. . . . Where men lack the arts of communication, intelligent discussion must languish. Where there is no mastery of the medium for exchanging ideas, ideas cease to play a part in human life. When that happens, men are little better than the brutes they dominate by force or cunning, and they will soon try to dominate each other in the same way. The loss of freedom follows."