This is my third of the great courses, the other two being on philosophy and language, and I'm discovering that the great courses are usually a littl..Show More »e too neutral for my tastes. Specifically, this course on Aristotle.
The content was accurate, the teacher was well articulated and communicative, but Aristotle's ethics were presented as floating abstractions, that is, their usefulness or non-usefulness was not made clear other than "this is how Aristotle thought about it."
In a four-year philosophy degree, certainly such neutrality is preferable for a serious student, so that the student may integrate the ideas himself in a neutral fashion, according to his own judgments. But in a 6 hour lecture series, it's hard to effectively use the information without more to hang my hat on.
Aristotle generally writes, in my opinion, with conviction of mind that what he says is true, and speaks with love for his sense of life and the role of man in the world, and that did not come through to me in this course on his ethics.
It's the very best. My audio library contains many books on philosophy with some historical non-fiction and science fiction sprinkled in. The energy w..Show More »ith which Sugrue approaches the subject is without measure. I return to this audio book time and time again. Sugrue penetrates each dialogue and dissects the characters Socrates confronts through Plato's words, and gives a deep and meaningful background on the Sophists and penetrating insight into how the Realm of the Forms runs into trouble. And he has a great time doing it!
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..Show More », 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.