Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle : The Great Courses: Ancient Philosophy

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Robert C. Bartlett
  • Series: The Great Courses: Ancient Philosophy
  • 18 hrs and 19 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

For more than two millennia, philosophers have grappled with life's most profound and "eternal" questions. It is easy to forget, however, that these questions about fundamental issues like justice, injustice, virtue, vice, or happiness were not always eternal. They once had to be asked for the first time.
This was a step that could place the inquirer beyond the boundaries of the law. And the Athenian citizen and philosopher who took that courageous step in the 5th century B.C. was Socrates.
In this intellectually vibrant - yet crystal-clear and accessible - series of 36 lectures, an award-winning teacher provides you with a detailed analysis of the golden age of Athenian philosophy and the philosophical consequences of the philosopher's famed "Socratic Turn": his veering away from philosophy's previous concerns with the scientific study of nature and the physical world and toward the scrutiny of moral opinion. After Socrates, philosophy would never be the same. You learn that much of Socrates's philosophy is captured in the writings of his contemporaries and followers, including not just Plato and Aristotle, but also figures like Xenophon, a great thinker and military commander, and the comic playwright Aristophanes. Professor Bartlett takes you through Plato's most important dialogues - where Socrates is the protagonist - and shows how they convey the core of Socrates's philosophy. He then moves on to Aristotle, who did more than anyone to establish a comprehensive system of philosophy in the West, producing work encompassing morality, politics, aesthetics, logic, science, rhetoric, theology, metaphysics, and more.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I bought this course to freshen up my knowledge, having spent a while away from the works of Plato (and never having spent much time reading Aristotle, and hoping to use this course to inspire me so to do).

Professor Bartlett lays out a very clear outline of each lecture, and has a definite architecture that he lays out in the first lectures and sums up with in the last. This organization is particularly useful in the latter part of the course, where he presents some very complex, nuanced and occasionally even contradictory arguments from Aristotle's Ethics and Politics (these works are the meat and potatoes of the entire section on Aristotle).

I particularly enjoyed the professor's ability to keep the various characters and frames of reference (vital to understanding what Plato is doing in the dialogues, as Prof. Bartlett makes clear) in the picture. I feel that my understanding of the Apology, Euthyphro, Republic and particularly (if surprisingly) Aristophanes' The Clouds has been deepened considerably.

Note that Aristotle's natural philosophy works and metaphysics are mentioned but not discussed here, the focus being Aristotle's takes on morality, virtue and the good life, which dovetails nicely with the earlier part of the course.

The time spent with Xenophon's Socratic dialogues was a nice surprise, as I hadn't encountered them before and they form a refreshing counterpoint to Plato's far more ironic and subtext-laden dialogues.

Overall, recommended.
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- Amazon Customer


An excellent introduction to these great men and philosophy in general. Worth a listen even if you have studied philosophy for a while.
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- Marcus A. Harris

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses