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The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts That Shaped Our World

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,093 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Sproul's survey of the ongoing impact of history's most influential philosophies urges readers to take prevailing cultural mind-sets seriously... because ideas do have consequences.

The greatest thinkers of all time are impacting us still. From public-policy decisions and current laws to world events, theology, the arts, education, and even conversations between friends, hi
Paperback, 203 pages
Published June 8th 2009 by Crossway Books (first published June 20th 2000)
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Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
August 2012
May 2013

Dr. Sproul does an excellent job of laying out the philosophies, and in many cases the epistemologies of some of the most influential thinkers of modern civilization. From Socrates to Plato, Descartes to Freud, Dr. Sproul uses enough layman's terms to be understandable, but enough of the philosophical terms so that one can learn what they mean and how to use them. Though Sproul does not come from a Presuppositional mindset, I appreciate the newfound appreciation of philo
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This book falls in a weird spot. It is too complicated for beginners but too simplistic for those with some philosophical background. He assumes knowledge that the layman might not have, but doesn't elevate his discussion to a level that will interest the learned reader. Some of his assumptions make the book jumpy--he'll switch gears or topics with little warning or explanation, let alone logical connection. I really wanted to like this book more, considering its author, but I can't see who it w ...more
Quinn Jenkins
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super interesting. It taught me to think in different ways I guess but philosophy as a whole is pretty dumb to me. It's just a fancy word for how we view the world and that kinda stuff comes naturally to me I guess. These old geezers think too much about it in my opinion.
I wanted this book to be Philosophy 101 but I failed to realize that it was written by a Christian creationist clergyman. I like the idea of discussing how philosophers' ideas through time have shaped our understanding of the world and our values, but I feel that reducing the conversation to Western philosophers and Christian ideas and values is limiting and biased. Sproul does a pretty good job of describing the philosophical concepts in lay terms, but he does assume you have some prior knowled ...more
Laurent Dv
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, thomism
An easy to read and concise history of philosophy from the Greeks to Freud written by a reformed thomist. As the length is limited, it deals only with the main figures including all the Greeks, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Darwin, Freud.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, theology
Good brief history of philosophy
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Good for a junior high / high school student studying a basic history of philosophy. There’s a couple spots where it’s easy to get tangled up in his explanations of logic, but it’s a good overall introduction. Still, I wish Sproul would have included a few more explicitly Christian philosophers, and therefore used his time for more direct comparisons between atheist thinking and Christian theology.
Lydia Redwine
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this for school. It is excellent if you want to learn more about philosophy.
Susan Weiner
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice introduction to Western philosophy from Aristotle and Plato to Freud.
A good general overview of the major philosophical ideas in the West from the ancient Greeks to the 20th century. Sproul explains philosophical concepts simply and succinctly, so that I think I have a fairly good grasp on most of these concepts - at least, good enough to build upon with other books.

My main complaint with this book is that it's not enough. I wish Sproul had gone into more of the consequences of these ideas, not only in philosophy but also in society as a whole. I also wanted more
Wendy Rabe
We watched this video series with another homeschool family and it has provided a startlingly clear foundation for understanding our culture. The set includes 36 lectures by R.C. Sproul tracing the history of philosophy from Thales to the modern thinkers. Sproul delivers his messages without notes and without clutter outlining the lives of the philosophers and the ideas that have shaped Western civilization. History reveals the gradual shift in thinking from the assumption that God exists to Kan ...more
Luke Miller
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
This books provides an accessible and selective overview of the history of philosophical thought (specifically Western thought). Of course, as a Christian pastor, Sproul is particularly interested in how these ideologies line up with the Scriptures, so there is a definite theological focus throughout the book.

On this second read-through, I noticed some definite departures from a presuppositional approach to apologetics. This led to the discovery that Sproul is indeed aligned with classical apolo
Listened to 35 lectures on CD. Wonderful overview of philosophical movements from the pre-Socratics forward. Sproul is a such a good teacher—one of my favorites. So I benefited from his rhetorical skill, as well as his intellectual mine. Finished again Oct. 24, 2012.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good (brief) overview of the history of philosophy and philosophical thought.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology, philosophy
R. C. Sproul was a rare thinker and writer. Reading through his books, The Consequences of Ideas included, the reader realizes that Sproul had all the knowledge and ability to write dense treatises and extended histories of thought, but chose instead to write for the layman. I think the amount of humility, and even love for his fellow man, that this desire to make the complex understandable requires is underestimated, and in short supply.

The chapters in this book are mostly named after a single
Dec 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, apologetics
In the late 1990s, R.C. Sproul taped 35 episodes of about 25 minutes each on the history of western philosophy. This book is essentially a book version of those lectures with slight modifications.

The book is only 14 chapters, so many of the thinkers are lumped together and summarized briefly. He does spend time on the bigger thinkers, and his summaries of their ideas are helpful.

I have two primary problems with the book. First, for a book (and this goes along with the videos) called "The Consequ
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, ethics
A good primer on the major themes and persons in philosophy. A basic knowledge of philosophy vocabulary would be helpful. I would have enjoyed for direct references in how these themes manifest in society but that’s just me wanting Sproul to do my thinking for me. 🤣
Matthew Huff
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

And I must use that word carefully after reading this book. :) Thanks, Kant.

Sproul is incredible (and dearly missed). This survey of Western philosophy was clear enough to be engaging and accessible while deep enough to require contemplation and pacing. Highly recommended.
Josh Bauder
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A word of clarification: although Sproul’s title is an overt reference to Richard Weaver’s 1948 Ideas Have Consequences, the two books are doing markedly different things. Weaver offers cultural criticism, a specific diagnosis of the ills of the modern world—namely, the triumph of philosophical nominalism over metaphysical realism in the 14th century and the subsequent loss of value in the West evident in contemporary fragmentation.

Sproul, by way of contrast, is not pursuing a central thesis, no
Todd Luallen
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a requirement for a History of Philosophy and Worldviews class in Seminary. The book was one of a few that were required reading, but it was probably my favorite. I've read a few books on philosophy over the years, and Sproul does an exceptional job of working through the incredibly difficult to grasp topics with the manner and words of a gentle teacher. An author can't make all philosophical ideas simple, but they can talk about them in a manner that is approachable to the i ...more
Anna Molder
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great overview of many of the philosophical theories that have influenced culture. Sproul doesn’t do much refuting. This is mostly just informational.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in an overview of philosophy
Shelves: theology
In The Consequences of Ideas, R.C. Sproul presents a brief history of philosophical thought, examined from a biblical perspective. Although the breadth of the subject matter does not permit much time to be devoted to any particular school of thought, on the whole the book provides an excellent introduction to the ways in which philosophy as a science has developed over time, as well as beginning to outline some of the more important implications of each new (or not-so-new) way of thinking.

Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Does anything begin without first being an idea? A thought? How have ideas shaped the world we know today? That’s what R. C. Sproul sets out to explain in this book.

Going back to the days of Pythagoras, Sproul gives us an introduction to the ideas and theories of many of the greatest thinkers, including Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, and others. We watch as a world where theology and philosophy are the chief sciences gives way to thinkers who seek to remove theolog
Adam Calvert
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
I was a little disappointed with this book. I was told that Sproul was famous for taking hard concepts and putting them into easy-to-read/easy-to-understand words. So, after reading the description and especially after reading through the table of contents, I was expecting this to be a pretty decent work on the history of philosophy.

Instead, I got more of an introduction to 'some' of the 'names' in the history of philosophy, but barely an adequate concept of what they contributed to western know
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent primer on philosophers through the ages and their effects on Western thinking. As a Christian, I appreciate how RC Sproul has reviewed each philosopher’s philosophical view from a high level and then rounded it back to how it relates to Christian thought on God and/or the existence of God. If you are not a Christian, it is a basic treatise on the real difficulties inherent in embracing a philosophy devoid of God through examination of the logical fallacies and weaknesses of each phi ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've ever heard names like Plato, Aristotle, Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche or Jean-Paul Sarte and kind of known their contributions to society but not exactly known the ins and outs of their arguments or how they shaped western thought, this book does a good job explaining not only their ground-breaking works but also how it shaped society and philisophical thought. For each philosopher, Sproul provides a helpful philisophical critique/endorsement from a Christian perspective.
Good work that presents a historical survey of western philosophy beginning with the Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers all the way up to the Deconstructionists of the 20th Century. R.C. Sproul does a good job overall. This work is largely an exposition of the various philosophies rather than a Christian refutation of them per se. The author's Evangelical perspective does come out though in the book (not a bad thing). It might be a little known fact but Sproul considers among the top five influenti ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very solid introduction to the basics of Western philosophy, with clear and concise explanations of complex theories, analysis of thinkers’ underlying worldviews, and great, approximately 10-page-each summaries of the philosophers who changed the world (there are 14 chapters titled after the philosopher explored most deeply in that chapter, but several other thinkers are briefly summarized and often unfairly passed over). In all, maybe not the greatest text for an in-depth philosophy course, b ...more
Matt Crawford
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great for what it is. It offers 14 chapters on the most noted names in philosophy. Each chapter begins with the context in which the named philosopher would be writing in, a small bio of that philosopher, and a brief exposition of thier major works and ideas that they are most known for. It is a great survey or accompaniment to anyone studying post -Enlightenment or modernity thinking. Though mostly known for his devotional writings, Sproul puts the philosophy in its own. A few time ...more
Larry Thacker Jr.
If you never had to take a philosophy course or would just like a review from a Christian perspective, this is an excellent book. It is helpful in establishing the sources of Western thought and will lay a basic foundation from which other works may be better understood. What is lacking is a clear summation that would justify the title of the book. One can certainly read and understand the consequences of ideas by reading this book, but it might be expected to have a more coherent message based ...more
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Dr. R.C. Sproul (1939–2017) was founder of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was founding pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

Ligonier Ministries began in 1971 as the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Ligonier, Pa. In an effort t


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“The concept of divine revelation was central to Augustine's epistemology, or theory of knowledge.

The metaphor of light is instructive. In our present earthly state we are equipped with the faculty of sight. We have eyes, optic nerves, and so forth- all the equipment needed for sight. But a man with the keenest eyesight can see nothing if he is locked in a totally dark room. So just as an external source of light is needed for seeing, so an external revelation from God is needed for knowing.

When Augustine speaks of revelation, he is not speaking of Biblical revelation alone. He is also concerned with "general" or "natural" revelation. Not only are the truths in Scripture dependent on God's revelation, but all truth, including scientific truth, is dependent on divine revelation. This is why Augustine encouraged students to learn as much as possible about as many things as possible. For him, all truth is God's truth, and when one encounters truth, one encounters the God whose truth it is.”
“We take comfort, however, that mystery is not a synonym for contradiction.” 7 likes
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