The Modern Scholar: Ethics: A History of Moral Thought

Narrated by: Peter Kreeft
Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (422 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This course addresses some of the eternal questions that man has grappled with since the beginning of time. What is good? What is bad? Why is justice important? Why is it better to be good and just than it is to be bad and unjust?

Most human beings have the faculty to discern between right and wrong, good and bad behavior, and to make judgments over what is just and what is unjust. But why are ethics important to us?

This course looks at our history as ethical beings. We'll travel into the very heart of mankind's greatest philosophical dilemmas - to the origins of our moral values and the problem of ethics. Are ethics universal, absolute and unchanging - or are they culturally relative, changing, and man-made? Furthermore, we'll delve into the creation of ethical systems - not just for ourselves, but also for society at large. And we will consider the ongoing process of establishing ethical frameworks for society.

©2004 Peter Kreeft (P)2004 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Modern Scholar: Ethics: A History of Moral Thought

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly Good

I am in love with this author. Even though his voice is almost monotone, he is one of the most interesting authors I've ever read/heard.

Content: I also found the content to be quite stimulating and easy-to-learn. True, the author does attempt to cover Philosophy from Socrates all the way down to the 1900's. This is a daunting task. The author takes you as deep as he's allowed. As an "average joe" who knows next-to-nothing about the history of philosophy, I was utterly enthralled. When I go back to listen/read to everything a second time, I'm definitely going to take it more seriously and check out the recommended readings. (I listened passively and didn't put much effort.)

As far as the author's bais....yes, he is a Christian philosopher. Is this a bad thing? Jesus ISN'T a primary focus-though he did mention that Jesus and Socrates were the two most-influential people who had ever lived-and even Christian philosophers aren't a main focus. The only Christian philosopher-to my knowledge-that got any "talk time" was Thomas Aquinas, who was a very influential philosopher in regards to religion.

Nevertheless, any bias the author might have is shattered in the last lecture about conclusions. Through the last lecture-and even the end of the previous lectures-he starts to wrap up his main idea for the entire series. He doesn't talk about Christianity at all to my knowledge. He merely states the benefits of thinking through life by asking the right questions, and by learning from the great minds that have come before us.

The quality of this audiobook as a whole will lead me to more books by this author and more in the Modern Scholar series.

41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Good Overview of Ethical Thought

I really enjoyed Dr. Kreeft's lectures on Ethics. Though the other review found it over-Christian, I did not. He does prefer Socrates over later philosophers, proposing that Socrates overcomes most of the later ethical viewpoints of other figures. While the bias is present, it's not overwhelming of the material. I found this to be an excellent introduction to the different viewpoints of several of the great thinkers of history.

17 people found this helpful

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A great refresher course

If you could sum up The Modern Scholar in three words, what would they be?

I have a BA in philosophy but it has been years since I have been in a classroom. This wonderful narrative brought all the passion back to me and also brought a lot of old dusty books back off my bookcase. Give it a shot!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

I thought this was an excellent series of lectures on the history of ethics. The lecturer had a very pleasant voice and explained his ideas clearly. Although he recommends reading certain books and classic texts on ethics before each lecture, I didn't do so and I was still able to easily follow along and understand the ideas being discussed.

I'm an atheist and I didn't find a huge religious bias in this like some people apparently did; religion exists and has had a huge role in ethical philosophy, so it would be ridiculous if religious ethicists were not included and discussed.

Recommended absolutely to anyone who is interested in ethical philosophy. I think it would be a great starting point for someone unfamiliar with the subject.

22 people found this helpful

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PHILOSOPHERS OF MORAL THOUGHT

Professor Kreeft, in The Modern Scholar’ lectures, offers stories of interesting philosophers and what they think they know about moral thought. Ethics: A History of Moral Thought is a whirlwind tour of how philosophers define ethics. It begins in antiquity and continues through tomorrow. What one hears in these lectures may be accepted and practiced in life tomorrow or never; if never, one is seemingly confirming belief in free choice, but not much more. As a warning to the curious, the tour is circular. The tour ends as it begins.

Nearing the end of Krefft’s lectures, he addresses the attempts of science to define morality and ethics. Krefft acknowledges the idea of observational analysis, dating back to Machiavelli’s views of history but the scientific movement gains momentum with David Hume (1711-1776), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), and John Stewart Mill (1806-1873). It seems these three users of the scientific method provide little light in their analysis of morality and ethics. Their contribution is in the use of scientific method to understand normative standards of society.

By the end of Professor Krefft’s lectures a listener returns to Socrates suggestion; i.e. “Know thyself” because “The unexamined life is not worth living”. What you believe is what you believe. Krefft suggests we should always seek to understand why we believe what we believe.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wonderful book!

If you could sum up The Modern Scholar in three words, what would they be?

Interesting, engaging, well-writtten

What did you like best about this story?

It felt like I was at the universtiy listening to the professor

What about Peter Kreeft’s performance did you like?

He was very interesting to listen to and offered a chance for you to think deeper about the topics disscussed

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If you were traveling you could, however it takes many hours. Worth the time!

Any additional comments?

I am ordering more of the Modern Scholar audible books as I learned more in this one book than in others I have read or listened to.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Clear, compelling and unbiased

I bought this knowing The Modern Scholar brand but not the author. As an atheist myself, I was worried when he stated which side of the argument about God's existence he fell on, and I was even more worried after I found a book that he authored which seems to be a defense of theism.

I'm glad to report that none of that matters here as he was surprisingly unbiased about the presentation of the subject in spite of that caveat. Furthermore, the way he approaches the subject was very clear and compelling, and he shows great passion about it, which is quite contagious. Even though his voice seemed monotone at first, it grew on me.

All in all, it is now one of those audiobooks that I go back to every so often. It must be my 4th listen by now and it's always a joy.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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teetering on apologetics...

I think it's important to note that I as an individual was looking for answers or thoughts as to if one could reason being moral or ethical without a religion. My review is written with this in mind;

There's not allot of audio books or books in general that can tackle the subject of morality or ethics beyond the history therein. Faith is cited by the religious yet they give no evidence or good reason for their faith, no reason to take their faith seriously. Non-believers tend to cite cause and effect, evolution to a degree and other material sources but find it difficult to cite by who's standard of morality should we use.

The goal of this series of lectures does speak to the history of ethics as viewed through the writings of ancient, modern and every era between, philosophers. The lectures do a wonderful job largely in achieving that goal.

However, the lecturer clearly has a heavy bias towards faith and it shows more and more as the lectures continue on. Perhaps he holds back in earlier lectures but in later ones, the reader will find Kreeft (the lecturer) being very up front with his belief in a god. Indeed Kreeft is quick to attempt refutation towards philosophers that maintain a lack of a god yet find morality but goes mute when one claims their morality is based on faith in a god. Basically if he agrees with the philosopher he has little or nothing to say but if he disagrees (which happens pretty much only towards atheistic philopsophers) he spends a great deal of time and effort attempting to insert why he disagrees. I only wish he was fair in his assessments.

The lectures are a great history lesson but Kreeft should have kept his critiquing to himself if he's incapable of honest consideration of opposing ideas. It's a shame such a potentially enlightening topic can be diluted so heavily by the bias of the speaker.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved it!

I loved this audiobook. Yes, it could be construed as religiously biased, but Professor Kreeft tells you his position from the get go. If you do not believe in metaphysics; i.e., God, The Spirit in the Sky, take what you can from the book. It has much more to offer. I listened to it in preparation for Ethics in college. His chapter on Plato's The Republic is an excellent way to prepare for The Allegory of the Cave.

5 people found this helpful

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The Idea of the Good

This course provides an overview of moral philosophy, with emphasis in greek philosophy (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle). The lectures are organized in order to develop an dialogue between the various philosophers in a way that gives to the listener a better understanding of the diversity of thought. Particularly good is the lecture about Maquiavel. Particularly bad is the omission of pragmatism thought (Pierce, Dewey and James) and its idea of moral philosophy. One has in this course a good introduction in the matter.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-17

Changed my life

I loved entering the great conversation (I never knew there was such a thing until this book) - I also loved learning how to ask better questions. Listening to Peter Kreeft was like chatting to a friend over coffee

1 person found this helpful