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Publisher's Summary

"Everyone has their own inner philosopher - a voice within that asks, oh so insistently, philosophical questions. Everyone wants to know what the ultimate nature of the world is, what the self is, whether we have free will, how our minds relate to our bodies, whether we can really know anything, where ethical truth comes from, what the meaning of life is, and whether or not there is a God.

"This inner philosopher is related to the inner child, since the child too is prone to asking philosophical questions. But it is much better to have a disciplined guide through philosophy than simply to try to do all the thinking by yourself.

"I will be acting as your guide. I will cover all the main problems of philosophy, from logic to ethics, from the human mind to God, introducing you to how philosophers think and the theories they have come up with. The first four lectures focus on foundational questions that need to be clarified before we engage upon more applied discussions. We need to know what knowledge is, what truth is, and what logical reasoning is before we start discussing ethics, the mind, free will and God. So let's start with the basics, then break into a run only when we have learned how to walk."

Please note: You may obtain the bonus material that accompanies the Modern Scholar course by going to Once that page loads, look to the left for the category "Browse our Imprints". Select Modern Scholar which is the first choice listed. Select the course you are interested in from the drop down course menu.

©2003 Colin McGinn; (P)2003 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
  • Sergio
  • AlmadaPortugal
  • 06-19-09


This is a great book for everyone with an interest in philosophy. I've read many books about many subjects in philosophy and one thing that usually made me give up on them was the fact that most of them are books of history of philosophy. This book was exactly what I was looking for, it tackles the questions themselves and the history, names and quotes are only there to provide the references. It's very well written and narrated, I never had trouble understanding it and I don't even speak English natively, it's never dull, the concepts flow very well and I learned a lot from it.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 08-12-10

Mind Boggling and FUN!

"Fun" is the last word I would have used to describe philosophy had I'd been asked a few months ago. Other adjectives such as "boring," and "unpractical" seemed to fit the matter, or in the very least "I don't pay attention to that stuff."

As McGinn says in the introduction, everyone has an inner-philosopher, and in this relatively short book, he introduces the topics we've all asked yourselves at some point in a thoughtful and illustrative manner. I've enjoyed bringing up the experimental questions from this book with my friends and family, and having fun, meaningful discussions about all the things we've always wondered about. Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? What makes something right or wrong? Do we have free-will?

I wish I had been introduced to philosophy a long time ago, and "The Modern Scholar: Discovering the Philosopher in You" was an incredibly easy way to familiarize myself with the main topics that philosophers have been discussing for thousands of years... questions I've even asked myself without realizing how closely related it was to philosophy. It was like learning about the galaxies for the first time and how wide and expansive the universe of ideas actually is.

I'll never see the world the same way again. My mind has been opened just a little bit more.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jee
  • Seoul, Korea (South)
  • 03-24-10

Solid and Provocative at the Same Time

This is an excellent overview of the basic questions in philosophy. My own interest lies more in political and legal philosophy, but learning about these fundamental problems and particularly the thought processes of working on them helped me become a better teacher and hopefully a better thinker.

Since listening I find that I encourage my students to think for themselves instead of trying to give them the "right" conclusion. I see my role as laying out the questions and making sure they don't confuse themselves on the concepts. It is that spirit of inquiry and independence, on the solid basis of logic and clarity, that lies at the heart of all intellectual endeavor. I have gained a new appreciation of philosophy, which is at base curiosity about the world and ourselves--truly a love of knowledge.

The great content of the lecture series is only enhanced by Professor McGinn's warm narration and beautifully clear intonation. I highly recommend this lecture series.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel
  • MelbourneAustralia
  • 07-15-09


A good introductory guide to the world of philosophy. The Professor is informative and passionate and does his best to remain neutral.

However when it comes to argument on the topic of God and the relationship between Faith and Reason his thoughts should be supplemented by Professor Peter Kreeft's Faith and Reason, also in the Modern Scholar Series.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • SUNNYVALE, CA, United States
  • 08-07-12

Key questions and concepts presented beautifully

Philosophy has a limited number of concepts and questions that animate the field and professor McGinn introduces them all with skill. I appreciated the fact professor McGinn made it clear which arguments are most convincing to him, he is no overly evasive professor that keeps his own view hidden. McGinn is famous for his mysterian arguments, and his book the Mysterious Flame is a very interesting argument attempting to show that the mind cannot be explained in physical terms. However his strong views were not forced upon the reader, rather he showed how a serious person tends to take up a position and that this can actually help illuminate the field. Very enjoyable and interesting to anyone no matter their level of exposure to philosophy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sacrament
  • Denver, CO, United States
  • 11-24-12

Very Enlightening on Most Subjects Undertaken

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It is very enlightening on the big questions for the most part, but it does fall short on the question of God and does not address death as a component with that or any other big issue in philosophy. It does not deal wth life after death which seems to reflect on the total failure of dealing with the question of God.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The author is very adept at being objective and speaking from that point of view for the most part. He is also very knowledgeable and lucid giving information and insight that develops the theme along very logical lines.

What does Colin McGinn bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His presentation carries a perspective that brings an insight into what the narrative delivers. One can discern from his voice and its fluctuations and tone what he means by the words where one might give a heavier interpretation to a different pursuasion if one did not hear him speak them.

If you could give The Modern Scholar a new subtitle, what would it be?

Developing an Understanding of the Fundamental Philosophical Questions of Life.

Any additional comments?

The book was very engaging and easy to follow and it does cover the fundamental questions of life that are not addressed in other forums as they have a philosophical nature. It was very comforting even, to delve into these questions and become informed and enlightened in a way that spawns good logical thinking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Good content, not so good narrator

This is a good introduction to the essential questions of philosophy. Unfortunately the lecturer has a voice which is somewhat soporific. So this comes with a warning not to listen in the car or in other locations where falling asleep might be dangerous.
On the other hand, hearing parts of the lecture more than once does not harm and can even help following the chain of thought.

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Well done!

I gained knowledge of my limits and pleasure in the mystery of our amazing universe! Thank you for taking the time to write this course!

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  • Lowndes
  • Enfield, NH, United States
  • 08-01-13

Enjoyed this as I drove

What did you love best about The Modern Scholar?

I liked the way McGinn coordinated the lectures. The way the topics in this introduction to philosophy groups are grouped, and thus how the chapters are divided made it easier to grasp concepts and see how differing views make sense of age-old questions.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Modern Scholar?

My favorite chapter was Chapter 13 (of 14) "The Existence of God".

What about Colin McGinn’s performance did you like?

His use multiple examples and rephrasing of different points made his points clear and easier to comprehend.

Any additional comments?

I really liked it. I found his views fascinating and plan to read some more of McGinn's work. Too bad there aren't any more audio versions.

  • Overall
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Works on philosophy often let the reader down

What did you like best about The Modern Scholar? What did you like least?

Colin's verbal delivery is probably this work's strongest aspect

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

This book isn't a novel with a surprise ending, its an introduction to philosophy. However, as an introductory work on philosophy it left me feeling wanting.

Which scene was your favorite?

This book doesn't have scenes.

Do you think The Modern Scholar needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

It's an introduction to an academic discipline, so, obviously, and there are many works already in circulation that fill such a role.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful