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Summary

It's easy to forget that philosophy means "love of wisdom," not "love of thinking." In addition to philosophy that tells you how to think well, the field also provides guidance on how to live well - solid advice on how to be a good father or friend, or how to grow old gracefully, or to know what true happiness is.

Greek and Roman thinkers such as Marcus Tullius Cicero, Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Dio Chrysostom, and Plutarch of Chaeronea devoted their lives not to metaphysics and epistemology but to the appreciation and practice of morality and virtue, values, and character. They give us - in plain, straightforward language - rules designed to help us progress as people.

These 24 inspiring lectures introduce you to the sages who, as a group, represent the "missing page" of the history of philosophy. Although their names are sometimes familiar to us, as in the case of Cicero and Plutarch, their philosophy is not. Studying these thinkers offers some surprising ways to think about philosophy.

For example, they believed the heart of philosophy is the question of how to live well as a human being. It is how you act, not what you think, that is most important. Virtue and morality are the keys to living a good life. And philosophers should practice what they preach (although, as you'll discover, the Greco-Roman moral philosophers certainly had flaws).

From Cicero's deep sense of civic duty to Marcus Aurelius's pursuit of wisdom and dedication to the common good, this course offers ample opportunity to hear, in their own words, the philosophers' prescriptions for healthier living.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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

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Eureka!

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

I would! It puts one in awe of the incredible wisdom that's been amassed by the ancients that is sadly forgotten in this day and age, but should be shouted from the rooftops! The Greco-Roman moralists should be known to every high school student.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists?

I couldn't name one particular moment - but there's so many things that are said by the thinkers that make perfect sense while at the same time are also said in a simple, yet elegant way - something that is very lacking in modern academia.

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed it so much I came re-listened some of the chapters right after finishing the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not to be taken too seriously

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes, it was well-spent - though perhaps not for the reasons that it was produced. It was plausible, well set out, and articulately delivered .. which make it a great boone to the student and listener.

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses and Luke Timothy Johnson ’s story?

There was little of disappointment, only a sense of mistake - making the past 'relevant' to today (by forcing comparisons).

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The Post-Modern aspect of Modernism's self-centred-ness - as an agenda by which to measure all else - could have been cut, or at least treated much more critically.

Did Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists inspire you to do anything?

Not especially, but it has helped to expose some of the assumptions presented as a given by lecturers.

Any additional comments?

A good course to follow, if taken with a handy pinch of salt. The basic tenet of the presentation, that of philosophy as a context for understanding wisdom not merely of disputing ideas of knowledge, is a helpful starting place. Simply try to get past the Lesson For Us psycho-babble, and you'll have a fine window through which to view the subjects.

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  • Joshua
  • 29-03-15

Philosophy As Self-Improvement

It's refreshing to hear of Philosophy As Seeking Wisdom as opposed to Philosophy As Endless Semantic Quibbling. Johnson's lectures outline the moral thinking of several important philosophers while putting them in the context of their time and place. His reading is excellent.

The only complaint I have is that most of the individuals covered are Stoics. I would've liked to hear Johnson spend a lecture or two on Epicurus, or perhaps a famous Cynic like Diogenes.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • James S
  • 10-01-15

Broad and deep on The Stoics

I have listened to nearly all of Professor Johnson's Great Courses lectures

He will leave you with a deep understanding of the The Stoics. Your appetite will be whetted so that you can most into the practice of this ancient philosophy to live a life of wisdom and not just knowledge.

And then to experience the correctly understood Happiness these phi slippers strived for.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Curdy
  • 24-12-13

Wonderful introduction to practical philosophy

If you could sum up Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists in three words, what would they be?

Character, Practice, Habits

What does Professor Luke Timothy Johnson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Very passionate reader, really enjoyed his style.

Any additional comments?

I would have loved this course to be twice as long as it was. The content is a great mix between historical context, philosophical ideas and practical tips. I found the book to be both inspiring and challenging. Although I was already familiar with the topic, I learned a lot. Highly recommended.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Gregory
  • 02-12-17

Excellent beyond what I could have expected

Five stars, well-earned. I did not know this stretch of history; in my mind, the history skipped from Aristotle to Alcinous to Plotinus.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-09-17

Interesting, informative and original

I really enjoyed these lectures. As a person schooled in theoretical philosophy I found the practical and ethical focus both interesting and stimulating. The lectures point out aspects of the thinkers discussed that seem to have been largely ignored by recent history of ideas. Great overview, certainly made me want to turn to the full original texts discussed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • FrEd1956
  • 27-04-17

Practical Philosophy Corrects Mistaken Assumption

The often heard claim that philosophy is just a lot of bull is corrected by this clean overview of what has been forgotten or ignored in so many philosophy departments, thereby giving seeming credence to the bs claim. Thanks LTJ!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • 24-07-15

Outstanding. An Overview of Things Overlooked

Professor Johnson is an amazing and compelling teacher. He takes a subject which is often marginalized in the world of "ideas" and shows its relevance. He shows how these ancient individuals have much to offer our daily lives.

Personally, I've been greatly interested in Epictetus for quite sometime. The people who list him as an influence is long. For me that was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Professor Johnson does such incredible justice to him, and I learned a great deal that I didn't know before.

If you are looking for something thoughtful, or for something to help you through an especially difficult time or transition, than these authors have much to offer. This is a great starting place to get to know them.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Bill LaFever
  • 21-06-18

Great Book!

I really like this teacher. Concise, fair, and good voice. I really wish the book hadn’t ended. I learned a lot.

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  • Jolene
  • 10-05-18

A Solid Presentation

Although brief, the class does an acceptable job of discussing the major points of interest for anyone wanting to obtain a solid foundation of Greco-Roman moral philosophy.

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  • PorterC
  • 23-03-18

Excellent course!

I was very happy with this course. The teacher was great and the content was broad and deep. Thanks to the teacher’s enthusiasm and insight, I plan to read many of the texts I haven’t already read, and will certainly listen to the course again. Looking forward to rereading the Stoics, epicureans, and cynics, and reading the satirists and Plutarch after these enlightening lectures. The point of the Greco-Roman moralists is self-improvement, and this teacher got that point across brilliantly. Now to practice, practice, practice!