This engaging course of lectures begins by providing a detailed and accurate overview of Plato's philosophy and it's central idea - the idea of a transcendent reality that has popularly become known as the theory of the Forms. Professor Kreeft then takes us on a concise journey through Western Philosophical history to show how that central idea - the theory of forms - has either been built upon or reacted to by philosophers ever since. We explore not only the work of Plato, but also that of several other great voices in the Western Philosophical tradition - Aristotle, Plotinus, and Augustine - each of whom gave the forms a new metaphysical address. Later lectures explore both Christian Platonists and philosophical movements such as Positivism and Nihilism which have been anti-Platonist in their outlook. In the end we are left with a richer appreciation for Plato's work and its enduring legacy.
©2012 Crescite Group (P)2012 Recorded Books
There are great philosophers and then there are great teachers of philosophy. Kreeft is the latter. He is a great teacher, and this is a prime example of it. He makes a very compelling case for the Platonic Tradition and it's centrality, not just as a given of Western culture, but as THE correct approach to truth. Kreeft, taking up Whitehead's oft-quoted aphorism about all Western philosophy being a footnote to Plato, demonstrates why this is so. He demonstrates how most of the rest of ancient and medieval philosophy has been an attempt to add to and/or incorporate Plato into a larger milieu. He also demonstrates how all modern philosophy, beginning with Occam (pre-Descartes even) until today consists of various attempts to subtract from Plato with disastrous results. I found it so utterly convincing that, once I had finished, I restarted it. To me it was that good.
If you decide you cannot agree with Kreeft's view point, you would still benefit greatly from arguing with his case.
The one downside is that Recorded books has not provided a guidebook and their website does not even have the course listed, which means no final exam. That's sad.
This is a clear, insightful and sometimes even inspiring presentation of the Platonic tradition. I would certainly recommend listening to this lecture series. I listened to these lectures twiice and plan to listen again. However, please be aware that Professor Kreeft is a conservative Roman Catholic. Augustine as well as Socrates and Plato are the heroes here. There is no focus on Plato's Pythagorianism, sacred geometry, or the Platonic solids; not a word about Iamblichus or Proclus or Ficino. Having said that, Professor Kreeft does make a compelling case against the anti-Platonic view (both in ancient times and in modern times), a view stating there is no objective truth and even if there were an objective truth we couldn't know it or communicate it to others. Thank you, Professor Kreeft!
I may regret this hasty review, since I am only halfway through the book. But considering the enthusiastic review preceding (by which I was lured), I felt others should be warned. There is nothing wrong with this heartfelt, humane view of Plato, provided you are studying for a Jesuit ministry.
Christianity has been described as Plato for the masses, and in this lecture series Platonism is massively proto-Catholic. The strangeness of Greek thought is entirely sanitized. There is almost nothing about Plato's relationship to the Pythagoreans, the so-called pre-Socratics, the Sophists, the mystery cults, or the dramatists. Little about Whitehead or the Platonic strain in modern mathematics and physics. Indeed, little of what I would call philosophy.
The heroes of the story are Augustine, Saint Paul, C.S. Lewis, et al., the implied villains are the "modern" skeptics, relativists, reductionists, empiricist, nihilists, etc., who are dismissed with avuncular appeals to common sense and humanity. Behind the alluring humanism is deeply conservative, intolerant agenda, in my view. Buckley, Gingrich, Scalia, and the Straussians, would be on familiar intellectual terrain here.
Still, this is in some ways, a perfectly good introduction to the conservative, Christian line of Plato interpretation. I do not mean to sneer. But sometimes true believers are not the best teachers. Jaspers notwithstanding, Christ, Buddha, and Socrates had less in common than many seekers of inner stability would like to believe.
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