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

EVERYONE should listen to this

This is great coupled with Plato's readings. I have ONLY read Plato's Republic (and it was years ago) but this audiobook reminded me of how Socrates has so thoroughly shaped the philosophy I follow. I have a great loyalty to 'justice'. It has also motivated me to look at Plato's other works and revealed to me so much more about Socrates than I expected.

I listen while I go about chores or other jobs that don't require my 100% attention (like at work while making gels, making solutions, purifying proteins, etc [I work in a lab]). I've found that it GREATLY settles my mind. After listening, I feel enthralled but so much more stable and satisfied. If you care about Justice, this is an informative and fulfilling listen.
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- DaemonZeiro

Wake-up! and listen to lectures like this one

The professor is very good at making these philosophers relevant to today and explaining what their dialogs (in Socrates' case) or books (in Aristotle's case) mean. He did such a good job it took me a month to finish this course because I would often end up listening to the play, dialog or book he was talking about for free through LibriVox (why does Audible overcharge for those things?).

Here's a mnemonic I use: think of three Greeks in their togas in a SPA, therefore you'll know the order that they come in (S)corates, (P)lato, and (A)ristotle.

The professor really seemed to focus on Plato's dialogs that involved Socrates and therefore I would say the Plato part of the lecture was really about Socrates.

The professor does something I really liked. He demystifies Socrates and puts him back down to earth. He'll say, for example, that the Republic is not really about a utopian state but is about how to understand what justice is within an individual and even as Socrates clearly states it's just a way to magnify the pieces that make up the whole within the individual the same way a sign written in bigger letters allows one to see better. Even the allegory of the cave is not strictly speaking about philosophy, but is more about our political understanding of the world (I think the professor says it that way, but he is a Political Scientist and sees the world that way).

The professor gives a very good contrast between Socrates and Aristotle. Socrates would say that The Good (Virtue) is depended on our Knowledge and The Bad (Vice) is done because of the ignorance we have. Incontinence (the lack of control we have over ourselves or thoughts) is due only because of our ignorance, and therefore we never can knowingly do bad. Aristotle would say that we can knowingly do bad things to ourselves and we do that in spite of our knowledge.

I really loved what the professor had to say on Aristotle's ethics, and I ended up listening to that with LibriVox. I never would have been able to follow that book without this lecture telling me what he was really saying (Aristotle is a miserably poor writer, but is always worth while wading through because he sees the world unlike anybody else). In brief, don't let the world distract you from what is unimportant and focus on the contemplative instead and wake-up!
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- Gary "l'enfer c'est les autres"

Book Details

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