The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World, R.C. Sproul

Ever since reading Total TruthHow Should We Then Live, and Saving Leonardo, I’ve had an interest into Philosophy. “Consequences of Ideas” is a look through history at the dominant philosophical notions that have come to shape our modern world. This is similar to Francis Schaefer’s attempt in “How Then,” but Dr. Sproul does not approach philosophy through art as Schaefer does; the two are very similar and I look forward to reading more in the future.

Sproul was inspired to write this book after not only majoring in Philosophy in college, but from a conversation he had with a foreign born immigrant while holding down a summer job. He recounts the conversation they had, with him asking what he was studying. Sproul came to find out that this man had his PhD in Philosophy and was born in Germany. He lived through the rise of the Nazi regime and fled for Britain before coming to the United States. Dr. Sproul tells how we in America have a tendency to look down upon Philosophy, but he rightly says that Adolf Hitler understood something about philosophy that we don’t: mainly that ideas have consequences. Hitler’s point was to crush all who disagreed with him and he succeeded.

Thus begins the grand narrative of the history of philosophical thought. I don’t want to go through everything, but this book is a great introduction for the layman who is interested in learning more about philosophy. I find sometimes that the concepts are sometimes hard to grasp. For example, Plato and his followers saw the world as universals and particulars in regards to “realism”: universals are things like math and geometry. Particulars are, for example, an apple that receives it’s “realness” from a copy of “applewood.” Already I’ve lost some of you and therefore you see my point.

But while I have more study to do, I do think this is a worthy thing to study. Understanding where we came from and how we got to where we are will help us, through a Christian worldview, understand where we need to go from here. The dominant philosophical system today is Post-Modernism or existentialism; this, I believe, needs to be fought against at every turn.

I highly recommend this if you are just getting, or have an interest in, philosophy.

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