Mark’s #31 – The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World by R.C. Sproul (203 pages)

The Consequences of Ideas is a brief survey of the history of the philosophers and their philosophies that have shaped the world we live in today.

In the introduction R.C. Sproul states, “This book is written not for philosophy scholars but for laypersons — albeit educated laypersons.”   While it is a ‘brief survey’ of philosophy, many of the concepts and ideas are not easily understood or explained.  In short, this was not a lazy Sunday afternoon read.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the review, and in some cases, the introduction to many of the great philosophers and their thoughts on ultimate reality.

Here’s a list of each of the chapters, which will help you get an idea of the direction and content of the book:

The First Philosophers 13
Plato: Realist and Idealist 27
Aristotle: ThePhilosopher 39
Augustine: Doctor of Grace 51
Thomas Aquinas: Angelic Doctor 65
René Descartes: Father of Modern Rationalism 79
John Locke: Father of ModernEmpiricism 91
David Hume: Skeptic 103
Immanuel Kant: Revolutionary Philosopher 117
Karl Marx: Utopian 133
Søren Kierkegaard: Danish Gad?y 147
Friedrich Nietzsche: Atheistic Existentialist 159
Jean-Paul Sartre: Litterateur and Philosopher 173
Darwin and Freud: In?uential Thinkers 187
Conclusion: Gilson’s Choice

We read this book as part of our monthly Apologia discussion group over a period of two months.  In our first session, there were many participants and a lively discussion.  Whereas, by the second month, for whatever reason, most of the participants had dropped out of the discussion.   It’s too bad too, because I felt the most enjoyable and thought provoking chapters of the book came in the second half of the book with the more recent philosophers and their more readily apparent consequences in our world today.

I would recommend this book as an introductory survey of philosophy, though there are some things I wish Sproul would have done a bit differently in the book.   For example, I wish he would have concluded each chapter with a brief discussion of just how the particular philosophies have manifested themselves in the world through history and in our present day world.  To be sure, there was some of this throughout the book, but for the most part, I felt the reader was left to grope for ‘The consequences of ideas’ on their own.

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