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What Would Socrates Do?: History of Moral Thoughts and Ethics (Portable Professor Series)
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What Would Socrates Do?: History of Moral Thoughts and Ethics (Portable Professor Series)

4.3 23
by Peter Kreeft
PORTABLE PROFESSOR™ is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each course introduces listeners to fascinating, and sometimes startling, insights into the intellectual forces that shape our understanding of the world. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures presented by


PORTABLE PROFESSOR™ is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each course introduces listeners to fascinating, and sometimes startling, insights into the intellectual forces that shape our understanding of the world. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures presented by notable professors as well as a book-length course guide.

The act of distinguishing between right and wrong, and to act accordingly—that is, the pursuit of a thoughtful life, well-lived-is a core component of the human experience. "The unavoidability of ethics," as Professor Peter Kreeft puts it, forms the basis of this intriguing set of lectures, which explores the history of moral thought and ethics by examining millennia of relevant philosophical and religious texts.


  1. Being Good and Everything Else: An Introduction
  2. Being Good and Being Traditional: Why Do We Call It "Ancient Wisdom"?
  3. Being Good and Being Wise: Can Virtue Be Taught?
  4. Being Good and Being Pious: Plato's Euthyphro
  5. Being Good and Being Happy: Plato's Republic
  6. Aristotle's Ethics
  7. Being Good and Being Successful: Aquinas on What Is the Meaning of Life?
  8. Being Good and Being Successful According to Machiavelli: Is It Either/Or?
  9. Being Good and Being Evil: Is Humanity Naturally Good? (Hobbes vs. Rousseau)
  10. Being Good and Being Scientific: Can Morality Be a Science? (Descartes,Hume, Mill)
  11. Being Good and Being Fair: The Ethics of Kant
  12. Being Good and Being Secular: Can an Atheist Be Ethical? The Ethics of Jean-Paul Sartre
  13. Being Good in Eastern Ethics
  14. Final Questions: Who's to Say Who's Right?

Peter Kreeft is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. He has degrees from both Calvin College and Fordham University, where he also earned his Ph.D. He has taught a broad range of courses covering scores of topics related to philosophy and religion and has written numerous books on similar topics, including Socrates Meets Jesus: History's Greatest Questioner Confronts the Claims of Christ.

Product Details

Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
Portable Professor Series
Edition description:
Unabridged, 8 CD's, Book-length Course G
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.07(d)

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What Would Socrates Do?: History of Moral Thoughts and Ethics (Portable Professor Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best ways to study philosophy is to study its history -- this way, we can avoid becoming what Chesterton calls 'slaves of our own age.' Kreeft's approach to ethics is therefore very welcomed and commendable. Perhaps the sharpest distinction he draws throughout the course is the one between premodern and modern thought. Premodern philosophers understood ethics as being about the good, virtue, the summum bonum, happiness. We moderns tend to think of ethics as right actions, rights, law, proscriptions. Familiarity with this fact alone is worth the price of the lectures. I think the highlight of the course is Kreeft's lecture on Machiavelli. With Machiavelli, the ideal is jettisoned and the merely practical embraced. To paraphrase Kreeft: ask any premodern potentate about wisdom and justice and he would likely have an answer. He would have been reflective. In contrast, ask any modern ruler about wisdom and justice and he will likely babble about economics and the issue du jour. 'Wisdom? Justice? Bollocks. Let's get down to what matters: science, technology, programs, funding, the practical stuff.' Indeed, our politics are Machiavellian. Things were not always this way -- bravo to Kreeft for highlighting the difference. Kreeft's voice does change in the middle of the course -- it seems to speed up and attain a higher pitch.... The reader of this review also need not be afraid of the professor's conclusions -- he only asks that listeners ask good questions and be intellectually honest. In fact, he opens himself up to criticism by taking clear stands, and for this he ought to be admired. Do you want to be happy? Professor Kreeft is not a bad place to start. By all means, jump in and join 'the great conversation.' Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Sartre, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Hume, Descartes, Sartre, and the Buddha have gathered around the fireplace, and you are warmly invited.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This self-contained study covers a wide range of topics in moral philosophy. It also is ideal for establishing a solid foundation for further study in the area. The accompanying book is VERY good. It outlines the entire course, again in a very down-to-earth and readable format. Good questions are provided to spark interest & critical thinking.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prof. Kreeft shows himself to be a truly great historian of philosophy. Although he holds very clearly traditional, Christian beliefs, as other reviewers have stated, he gives a fair and impartial exposition of each philosopher before giving his own critique. I learned so much from this course.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A good friend of mine took Kreefts' class at Boston College years ago and said it was the best class he ever had. Now, I know for myself, this is a great course. I've read a fair amount of books on philosophy but nothing can replace having someone walk you through some of the greatest minds in history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Kreeft's series for me was enlightening and eloquent; he presents ideas clearly and thoroughly, reciting definitions of technical terms many times so to ensure he explains precisely what he means when going on to make a further point. Having been obtained a philosophy degree at the undergraduate level before pursuing advanced work in science, I thought it important to review ethical standards for myself, but also in explaining them to kids. Dr. Kreeft has a manner that invites one to consider things seriously, but not in such a way that requires one to readily define metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, and the host of jargon found in the literature. I didn't care much for the series host, but he's short-spoken. I would recommend this to anyone who was interested in understanding our current American society and the ones that proceeded ours in Western civilisation. As a Catholic, I take interest in understanding reason and intention leading up to the end products of the morality produced by those reasons and intentions, and Dr. Kreeft clearly defines the influential thoughts which account for most of the perspectives you hear on the street today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best part about this course is that it is taught by Professor Kreeft, who is not afraid to say and write what he thinks. So many people accept that the ¿right¿ thing to do is to create as much happiness for as many people as possible, also known as ¿utilitarianism.¿ With his firm grounding in conservative Catholicism, Kreeft notes that producing happiness for as many people as possible is ¿obviously wrong¿ and that no good person would want this. I also strongly recommend Prof. Kreeft¿s book How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis. He emphasizes that contraception is a clear and obvious sin, just like prostitution. And he has the courage to say that the Protestant Reformation was a particularly successful attack by Satan. Too few today are willing to speak their minds with such clarity and vigor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have listened to 10 or 11 courses of the Portable Professor Series and this is the best to date. Excellent history of ethics, well paced, very entertaining, thought provoking. Great lecture for a small investment. I wish all in the series were as good as this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kreeft's work is a highly engaging and palatable 'tour-de-force'. If this seems a contradiction in terms, check it for yourself. The content is highly extensive, still Kreeft weaves it with great insights into practical aspects of everyone's life. The format is also great for a commute ride. The book that comes with the CDs, is also a gem. Kudos to B&N for including Kreeft's work in the series. This set is an awesome introduction to Ethics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this PP series, Kreeft critiques the classic ethical texts with an objective, honest approach, unafraid to challenge each theory, and always making it relevant by applying modern day examples. Kreeft, a Thomistic Catholic, takes ethics very seriously and examines lifes biggest questions in a direct, easy to understand style. This series will challenge and provoke you to think for yourself about life's most important questions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to this series of essays, as I've been reading the 'Nicomachean Ethics' of Aristotle, and had enjoyed the PP series by Colin McGinn and Tim Shutt. But if I can contrast this series with that of the other professors, this is more an act of apologetics than a full discussion of multiple points of view. Professor Kreeft has a hard time staying on topic. After about 5 or 10 minutes he drifts off and starts discussing Jesus, or what Jesus would do, or perhaps Dostoevski.. he's hard pressed when forced to talk about any topic on other than spiritual terms. Further, he's very much a Thomistic Catholic. By the third lecture or so he has criticized science, modernism, Lutherans, Calvinists, and fundamentalists. Very little escapes Professor Kreeft's criticism. So, in conclusion, it's a disappointing series to listen to. If he could fully expound on an opposing view and then critique, I'd be happier with the result. But I don't think his style, which is deeply felt and personal, allows him to discuss views he doesn't believe in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've loved the lectures and have listened to them over and again. I have even applied them to my philosophy discussions when responding to my college course arguments and work-related ethical analogies. This series has been so enjoyable that I've bought it for several of my friends as gifts who've listened with me, and have continued buying different educational lectures concurrent to my higher educational pursuits to become an attorney!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderfully rich review of the intriguing history of ethical and moral thought. Kreeft does a fantastic job. Definitely worth you time & money!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found these CDs wonderfully rich. Listening to the CDs has given me a broad expansive view of some of the most important thought in Western Civ. Dr Kreeft focuses on 'the summum bonum', what is it that gives life meaning. Indeed, why think about anything else? I very appreciate his summaries and viewpoints. He asks you to talk back -- so start already.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a tremendously insightful overview of the history of ethics. Without being longwinded, Professor Kreeft does a fantastic job in bringing the study of ethics to life. I highly recommend this series to both students of philosophy and students of the grand game of life, of which we are all obviously players...Simply wonderful - soooo interesting and thought-provoking!!! Bravo Prof. Kreeft & Thank you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to understand the history of classic philosophy. Kreeft does a superb job historically relating classical thought to post modernism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD collection is an excellent review of Ethical teachings for the amateur philosopher, or a good refresher for someone who hasn't studied in a while. It's fascinating material to delve into.
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Awesome....! Awful..!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Professor's Keeft's history lectures are interesting and useful, but he dilutes this with his obvious (and preachy) support of religion and God. Whenever he interjected his own views, I had to roll my eyes because the fallacies where clearly identifiable (God of the gaps fallacy, appeal to tradition, etc). His arguments essentially boiled down to the following: Without God or deity, human experience/life has no goals or process to work towards and therefore no need for ethics. Humans ARE in fact ethical and behave as though working towards some purpose, so therefore that purpose must exist and therefore god exists. This is obviously fallacious. Evolutionary theory easily explains how humans could have ethics without the existence of God or higher purpose and meaning in life (morally acting humans have a greater fitness, and therefore are selected for). He doesn't even begin to address this at all. I understand that most of the history he covers is well before evolution was even postulated, but if he's going to insist on inserting his own, modern opinions, he should be considering modern science and knowledge (rather than simply decrying how modern man has become unethical time wasters... give me a break!). Kreeft seems to be stuck in an age where belief and conjecture was treated as certainty, but data from observation and rationality was treated skeptically. His personal feelings about ethics made it difficult to take the rest of lecture seriously. Why can't we be rational about ethics?
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent, I do not think more be said. But as to Mr. Clay's response to this series as being 'too preachy,' THIS IS A HISTORY OF ETHICS. So if you are not curious about or simply do not care about the history of MORAL THOUGHT, then stay away. That being said, this series is awesome, and Kreeft shows numerous sides to all arguments presented.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you¿re Christian, enjoy listening to Sunday preaching, and enjoy self-help books and videos, I think you¿ll be very comfortable with this lecture series. I say that because I found ¿What Would Socrates Do¿ to be very preach. A good deal of the lecture didn¿t seem to be about giving me knowledge about the philosophy of ethics, but instead seemed to be encouraging me to do good. I found that annoying, but many others may not. The lecture reminded me of those 1950¿s self-help books with breezy antidotes used to support the author¿s opinions. There are at least ten very strong opinions in favor of this lecture, but I found it very difficult to listen to and disappointing in the amount that I actually learned.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've just finished listening to 'What Would Socrates Do?' and greatly appreciate Peter Kreeft's organization and pleasant delivery. His use of stories makes the presentation all the more fun to listen to. At first I was disappointed with his lack of objectivity and his sweeping generalizations. He would say things like: 'Most people today feel that...' when I for one didn't feel that way at all! At first I was also annoyed by his preachiness (which he probably felt he had disguised). But in time his lack of objectivity became an endearing quality and I regarded him as a friend accompanying me on my trips around town. (I'm so grateful that my car has a CD player, even though I at first considered it a wasteful luxury). The audio quality was clear, although sometimes the voice would get unexpectedly loud, as if the sound engineer had fallen asleep. Also, halfway through the course, his voice radically changes. He doesn't sound like the same person, but rather like somebody 20 years younger. Different microphone? Sound engineer fell asleep again? In short, I learned quite a bit from this entertaining course and I feel much richer for the experience.
Guest More than 1 year ago
See Kreeft in Person as you view the history of Ethics.