Produced in 1998 (eleven years before his death), these lectures were his “summa philosophica,” a mixture of his “last lecture” and a summation of his understanding of Mormon philosophy. So expect to be blown away.
He hits all of the key philosophic questions that one would get from a Philosophy 101 class, and provides an LDS perspective on these nagging questions.
And there is a pressing need for these lectures. Atheism is resurfacing—“The God Delusion,” “The End of Faith,” “god [sic] is not Great,” “God, No!”—and Madsen's concise, and down-to-earth approach clears the field for planting the seed of faith.
Are there prerequisites? I'm not sure. Reading his “Five Classics” would be helpful (especially “Eternal Man), but not necessary. But I would recommend these lecture before tackling Orson Pratt and B. H. Roberts—especially “The Truth, The Way, The Life.”
There is only one mistake. Madsen tells a joke, that Augustine told people that before He created the world, God was preparing a hell for people who asked such questions. Not so. In “Confessions” Book XI, chapter XII, Agustine wrote, “How, then, shall I respond to him who asks, “What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?” I do not answer, as a certain one is reported to have done facetiously (shrugging off the force of the question). 'He was preparing hell,' he said, 'for those who pry too deep.' It is one thing to see the answer; it is another to laugh at the questioner--and for myself I do not answer these things thus. More willingly would I have answered, “I do not know what I do not know,” than cause one who asked a deep question to be ridiculed--and by such tactics gain praise for a worthless answer. ”
That is the only mistake in the tape. Except for the other oversight of not having these lectures in print form, with footnotes for us to find the original quotes. Considering the menacing New Atheism, there is a pressing need for university students, local leadership, and Sunday School and seminary teachers to master these lectures.