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Publisher's Summary

More than 2,500 years later, the fundamental questions asked by the ancient Greeks continue to challenge, fascinate, and instruct us. Is reality stable and permanent or is it always changing? Are ethical values like justice and courage relative? What is justice? What is happiness? How shall we best live our lives?

In this series of 24 lectures, Professor Roochnik invites you to join this eternal discussion. You'll study the development of Greek philosophy, meet its major thinkers, and explore the issues and ideas that concerned them, from the Pre-Socratic concerns with "Being" to the staggering contributions of Plato and Aristotle.

Alfred North Whitehead, the great 20th-century British philosopher, said, "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." In the Middle Ages, Aristotle was held in such high esteem that he was simply known as "the philosopher."

In this course, you not only learn about Greek philosophy but, to some extent, how to do it. Professor Roochnik emphasizes that Greek philosophy is ultimately not about facts or answers but about the give-and-take of ideas. By joining the conversation, you will come away with a new appreciation for how Greek philosophy still heavily influences our view of life.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

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What listeners say about An Introduction to Greek Philosophy

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This course stands true to it's promise

I just took up this course - as I find Professor David Roochnik very interesting. His style of drafting and delivering the contents are extremely unique and expose and stimulate the listener to thought provocation. Professor's speed of proceeding seems perfect and offers plenty of time for the listener to absorb complex ideas - which come along the way. The examples he has offered seem too far fetched but only bring emphasis to the ideas that he wants to explain. All thanks to the professor! Let me give you contents for reference.
1: A Dialectical Approach to Greek Philosophy
2: From Myth to Philosophy—Hesiod and Thales
3: The Milesians and the Quest for Being
4: The Great Intrusion—Heraclitus
5: Parmenides—The Champion of Being
6: Reconciling Heraclitus and Parmenides
7: The Sophists—Protagoras, the First “Humanist”
8: Socrates
9: An Introduction to Plato’s Dialogues
10: Plato versus the Sophists - 1
11: Plato versus the Sophists - 2
12: Plato’s Forms - 1
13: Plato’s Forms - 2
14: Plato versus the Presocratics
15: The Republic—The Political Implications of the Forms
16: Final Reflections on Plato
17: Aristotle—“The” Philosopher
18: Aristotle’s Physics—What Is Nature?
19: Aristotle’s Physics—The Four Causes
20: Why Plants Have Souls
21: Aristotle’s Hierarchical Cosmos
22: Aristotle’s Teleological Politics
23: Aristotle’s Teleological Ethics
24: The Philosophical Life

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  • A. M.
  • 23-08-14

Prof. Roochnik is a ROCK STAR!

Any additional comments?

I'll listen to any lecture given by Prof. Roochnik. His knowledge is equalled only by his ability to convey the information is simple easy to understand terms. A great teacher!

18 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 22-04-15

Great.

Like many of the courses in this series, it lives up to its name. It is great. The professor is top notch, and even though I have completed graduate work in philosophy I still learned a great deal. The learnings came from putting things in a larger perspective given this professor's immense background, and also learning A bit more about some of the thinkers with which I was already familiar.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Gary
  • 01-07-16

Gave me much needed contrasts and comparison

The Professor does an incredibly good job of making Greek Philosophy understandable. Today as well as during the ancient Greeks there's been the outstanding disagreement for what the nature of Knowledge really entails. Importantly the lecturer covers the comparisons and contrast between the pre-Socratic, the sophists, with Plato and Aristotle.

The being and becoming, the crossing a river or never crossing it, the atom or the void, the essence verse the existence, those are all aspects of nature and were the main concerns of the pre-Socratics. So often, I'll read something and they will refer to Parmenides ('nothing is not possible"), Heraclitus ("we never cross the river"), Democritus ("all is atom"), or another pre-Socratic philosopher and they would expect me the reader to understand the complete context by what was meant by the single name. Now I can understand.

This lecture series will put each of the main thinkers into context and compare them between each other, and tell you how they are similar and where they differ, and also never overly confusing the listener by giving too much to process at once.

There are many great gems within this series. Plato knew his "nature was not to know nature" and he would be better served by focusing on what our 'values' and 'virtues' should be and realized he was best able to work with logos (rational discourse), but always realizing that the sophisticated sophists (non-absolutist or relativist) had a strong argument and could not be defeated on their own terms. By just asking the question, "what is justice" is equivalent to as the Professor says, asking the question "who won the game last night", by the very fact of asking the question presumes there was a game and a winner, just as asking the question "what is justice" can imply things beyond the question itself.

I now know why my heart lies with the pre-Socratics (and sophists), why Plato is always more worth while than I've known and Aristotle with his common sense approach and his belief in reality being knowable is still relevant today, and ultimately the foundation laid down by these great thinkers are still just as relevant today.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Rich
  • 04-03-15

An Excellent Introduction

Any additional comments?

I bought this title after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, to further explore the topics presented in that book.

"An Introduction to Greek Philosophy" is an excellent--if not essential--companion to ZMM. Prof. Roochnik covers a wide body of ancient works clearly and efficiently. He also references numerous other A.D. philosophers throughout his lectures, creating new paths of exploration for you if you enjoyed this title.

Perhaps my largest takeway was Roochnik's urging to take the side of the philosopher before offering your own critique, no matter how ludicrous their writings initially sound. Sound advice outside, as well as inside, the classroom. Other personal takeaways I enjoyed include:
- The Pre-Socratics (more enjoyable than I initially thought they would be)
- Relativism vs. Absolutism
- Plato's Forms
- Aristotle's God: "God does not love, because God does not hate."

The entry/exit of each chapter is laughable--I don't remember attending any college course that opened each lecture with a string quartet and a rousing ovation. Don't let that skew your perception of the quality of the material covered. This title was well worth the cost of an Audible credit (and -way- cheaper than the equivalent university credit).

10 people found this helpful

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  • michael leary
  • 03-11-18

Useful introduction that stimulates

Roochnik's series is a wonderful way to start learning more about life and philosophy. The framework situates major figures in western philosophy. Having no philosophical background the language and terms were well explained and clearly expressed. And through use of examples the points that Roochnik sought to convey were well made. It has been an eye opener and pleasure.

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  • Maple Bourbon
  • 20-04-15

A bit dry, but essential

I have to admit some bias for these lectures. You're basically getting a semester's worth of classroom lectures for under $30 per course. This introduction to Greek philosophy was fantastic and engaging, though the last couple hours were somewhat tedious to get through.

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  • jwhjwh
  • 17-01-21

What a concept!

While I’m enjoying listening to this, it’s maddening to listen to Roochnik circle round and round definition and concept formation without seeming to have a clue what they are. Maybe it will get better with Aristotle which I am quickly approaching.

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  • Jerry
  • 24-04-19

Another great course

This course was wondeful. A very good start to philosophy. Not to much, not too little.

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  • JDP_TN
  • 26-05-15

Well Done

And amazing lecture, perfectly suited for a long commute. The speaker was incredibly easy to listen to.

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  • OptimusAmazonPrime
  • 17-02-21

NOT for beginners!

The majority of this audiobook has gone way over my head. He uses a lot of philosophical jargon without explaining the definition. He only gives the definition to a handful of words. Before you buy this, make sure you have a foundation of knowledge regarding philosophy first!! This is the first time I have studied philosophy so I literally know nothing. I'm going to keep pushing through to finish the book. Make sure you get something easier if you are just starting out. The title is very misleading.

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  • Gerry Lynch
  • 26-03-14

Excellent introduction to Greek philosophy

Where does An Introduction to Greek Philosophy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Ranking it against other great courses as it is not a book. Great introduction to Greek does not go into too much detail, but enough to get on with at the moment. I have to say i have heard it said that the best way to understand philosophy is not to read the books but to have is spoken to you and i would certainly agree with that position

Who was your favorite character and why?

Socrates - constantly asking what is ???

Have you listened to any of Professor David Roochnik’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Liked his enthusiasm

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Socrates death

Any additional comments?

Great intro to a difficult but worthwhile subject

3 people found this helpful

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  • Greg Gauthier
  • 05-10-17

Engaging, coherent, and thought provoking

Dr. Roochnick is a well versed and engaging lecturer on the Greeks. Though his style isn't quite as entertaining as Dr. Robinson, his ability to bind the threads of the presocratics together within the looms of Plato and Aristotle make these lectures well worth the effort.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-07-20

Good Introduction and Overview

A good introduction to some fundamental philosophical movements, thoughts and considerations. The structure and progression is clear and purposeful, and I especially liked how the lecturer approaches a problem from boleros directions to make it clear.

In some respects, some of the points are a little laboured, but otherwise very good.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-12-17

Superb Course

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. The lecturer is a great teacher and explainer. I particularly liked that he made very clear which statements were his opinion or were otherwise open to interpretation.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-21

Great overview

This was a nice, concise, episodic intro to philosophy. I feel like I learnt a lot.

1 person found this helpful