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Publisher's Summary

We live in a world seemingly dedicated to questions of fact and finance. What should I invest in? What school district is the house in? But the fundamental questions of our lives are actually questions of value: What makes life worth living? Are there values that transcend cultural differences? Is all value subjective?

If you've ever felt the tug of such questions - or if you just want to fine-tune your ability to see how deeper questions of ethics and values apply to the choices that make up our lives - these 24 lectures bring to life the insights of thinkers and artists who have grappled with these questions for thousands of years.

Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." To examine these questions, Professor Grim casts a wide net, drawing from history, theoretical economics, game theory, theoretical biology, and sociobiology - with a few forays into physics, anthropology, and psychology.

But it isn't only scientists and historians who ask us to consider our values. Writers as varied as Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ursula Le Guin, Mark Twain, Anne Rice, and Jorge Luis Borges have also delved into the meaning of life and the values we live by.

In exploring the course's varied sources, Professor Grim takes great care to introduce each concept carefully so that each new concept builds on the last. His presentation - even of the most nuanced material - is consistently clear, even to those with no background in philosophy.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Questions of Value

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  • M. Conneely
  • 16-03-2015

Captivating

Excellent speaker, really interesting material. Addresses various means of attempting to determine what is right and good that have emerged throughout the centuries and their implications with regard to the pursuit of meaning, justice and happiness. Worth listening to more than once!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Apollo
  • 23-04-2018

Comprehensive overview of Ethics

Like this one a lot. There were a few lectures that seemed like they could have been shorter and the time used for other topics but I recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-12-2020

An interesting introduction

A well written introduction to the study of values. The course is brief in some of its assessments of polarizing subjects, but is also overtly clear about the fact that is not an extensive exploration. The critique some reviewers have left about the author not being “neutral” towards the subject matter is laughable since it is stated from the beginning and repeated over and over that one isn’t expected to agree with the author on all questions. This is common practice in introductory textbooks to philosophy, and this is an example of it done well with some serious attempts at taking all the constructed views seriously without sacrificing the books introductory purpose. The course does well in highlighting some of the complexities at work in the subject and provokes the listener to assess the nuances at work in any argument of right vs good. It also makes a strong case for the plurality of values, and a case against many common but extreme views. The course succeeds in showing how we ought to think about values but is somewhat lacking in the more substantial questions of what our values ought to be, or even what some reasonable starting position could look like. The course therefore is not quite as introductory as one could wish, and a reader would do best in gathering at least a basic understanding of the foundations of modern ethical philosophy before reading.

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  • Buddy Thornton
  • 28-03-2019

Gets to the heart of Value

Covers a wide range of value artifacts and is foundational to relationship discourse. A good companion book for ethics.

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  • bp
  • 11-02-2019

Thoughtful

An excellent examination into questions of value. The lecturer gave clear arguments that spawned critical thinking. I will come back to it as I delve deeper into topics discussed as the bibliography is first rate and the nuggets presented are concise and digestible.

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  • Orange Monkey
  • 05-04-2019

Superb!

Reasoned, structured, intelligent. The value you get with these high-quality Great Courses are out of this world. This is one of them. When someone can guide you through fields of [knowledge]; ideas: the seeds planted, why some of them took root, others not, crops that resulted, mutations, 'climate changes', competition between plants, eco-systems evolving, and what's there for us today as a result - and that in 12 hours and 16 min! Most importantly, someone who knows, when taking you into this Amazonian jungle, that could take a lifetime to explore, knows what to show you in what order, in which groupings, we're not just 'standing on the shoulders of giants', but leapfrogging from one to the next. Say 3000 years in 12 hours, and it all falls beautifully into place. Amazing job, Prof Grim. I'm also grateful that these lectures are PRESERVED.

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  • Sarah Byrd
  • 14-09-2018

soooooo gooood

a must if you are into philosophy and love learning about it. just buy this, no regrets

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  • Mark Klaver
  • 13-10-2015

A biased opinion on moral philosophy

This is NOT an impartial analysis of moral philosophy. It is a presentation with an AGENDA: the teacher wants to convince the listeners that his opinion on questions of value is the right one. He seems almost anxious to convince his audience that he is correct - often reducing the credibility of his own arguments. He does not give fair coverage of his opponents. On most issues, he quickly summarizes the debate before spending most of his time presenting his beliefs. But we didn't sign up for 18 hours on the beliefs of a teacher many have never heard of. Listeners are searching for an honest coverage of various perspectives, leaving open the possibility that different arguments warrant respect and consideration rather than rapid dismissal.

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  • J. Mann
  • 18-06-2020

Enjoyable and Challenging

This does cover a lot of philosophy - at the end Patrick Grim notes that although this wasn't designed as a history of philosophy or even a history of ethics course over these series of lectures he covers a lot of the greats. However the course itself is more topic focussed and each lecture takes us through a particular issue related to value, such as whether ethics is a series of rules or it is more about making the right decision based on different outcomes available? It asks whether religion can inform values, whether value can be objective, whether value is all just culturally relative and if there is such a thing as value at all. I think Grim is a good speaker and sets out the ideas he presents clearly. I feel he is a bit too anti-theist and doesn't always present the case for theism fairly, but also perhaps ironically that he raises some genuinely fascinating points about the spiritual/theological issues raised by questions of value but as he is a materialist he really lacks the resources to pursue them further. Anyone who listens to this course would benefit from it and would it would help them think through the issues raised. It is also very informative and regardless of whether you personally discover the values you need to live by it does teach a lot about the topic also. It is also a good length, it covered a lot and was neither overwhelming or left one feeling a topic hadn't been given enough explanation.

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  • Joshua Gerrard
  • 13-09-2019

This audiobook is of value

It provides counter arguments to deterministic views on free will and I particularly liked the comparison of mathematics as a closed system to ethics.

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  • Stephen Lumsden
  • 04-07-2019

Solid set of ethics related lectures

A good set of easy to understand lectures from Grim, who is always accessible and enlightening.

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  • Ras
  • 21-12-2017

Terribly simple and unsophisticated

This course is extremely simple. It only covers very basics, albeit in a convoluted and boring manners. So frustrated.

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