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American Mind

Course No. 4880
Professor Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Gettysburg College
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4.3 out of 5
66 Reviews
63% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 4880
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  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, featuring around 100 photographs and portraits. These photographs and portraits are of prominent American politicians and thinkers, ranging from Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln to John Dewey and Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Course Overview

Americans pride themselves on being doers rather than thinkers. Ideas are naturally suspect to such a people. But ideas are at the root of what it means to be American, and today's habits of thought practiced by citizens throughout the United States are the lineal descendants of a powerful body of ideas that traces back to the first European settlers and that was enriched by later generations of American thinkers.

Behind this nation's diverse views on religion, education, social equality, democracy, and other vital issues is a long-running intellectual debate about the right ordering of the human, natural, and divine worlds.

In their own times such great thinkers as Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, William James, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others engaged in lively and often contentious debate that helped mold America's institutions and attitudes. Their approach was frequently honed by ideas from abroad—from Locke, Hume, Kant, Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Gandhi, among others.

This immensely stimulating conversation that made the U.S. what it is today is the subject of The American Mind, a series of 36 lectures that offers you a broad survey of American intellectual history.

Politics, Religion, Education, Philosophy

In this course you will delve deeply into the philosophical underpinnings of the nation, forged by the Puritans and the leaders of the American Revolution. You will also explore many other aspects of the elaborate structure that became modern America, tracing ideas in politics, religion, education, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, literature, social theory, and science—proving that Americans have a much richer intellectual tradition than generally imagined.

Your teacher is the distinguished historian Allen C. Guelzo, an unprecedented two-time winner of both the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize for his successive books on Abraham Lincoln, one of America's most underrated but influential intellectuals.

The Washington Post noted themes in Professor Guelzo's work that are especially relevant to this course: "In his book on Lincoln as a man of ideas, Guelzo argues that Americans have failed to recognize what an intellectually vibrant country this was in the first half of the 19th century."

America: A Hotbed of Ideas

As it was in Lincoln's day, so it has been throughout U.S. history: America is an enduring hotbed of ideas. For example:

  • The Transcendentalists: In 1834, Ralph Waldo Emerson moved to Concord, Massachusetts, where he began work on the brief book that would become his manifesto, Nature. With its publication, Kantian epistemology and romantic sensibility arrived in America with a bang. Emerson's later lecture entitled "The Transcendentalist"provided a name for this influential new movement.
  • Pragmatism: William James codified a characteristically American philosophy in his book Pragmatism: A New Name For Some Old Ways of Thinking. The term came from Kant, and the concept grew out of a short-lived philosophical club that James had attended in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the early 1870s. The club included Chauncey Wright, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and a bafflingly eccentric mathematician-turned-philosopher named Charles Sanders Peirce.
  • Conservatism: The origin of a distinctively American brand of conservatism is linked to the arrival of émigré European intellectuals after World War II. These thinkers found allies among former American communists, who had turned away from socialism; traditionalist Roman Catholics; and Southern agrarians.

An Entirely Different Map of the American Mind

Professor Guelzo's goal in this course is to lay out an entirely different map of the American mind from that taught in traditional presentations of American intellectual history. The usual approach underrates the Puritan contributions, marginalizes 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards, embellishes the influence of Benjamin Franklin, oversimplifies pragmatism, and slights the rich contributions of a wide range of 20th-century thinkers.

In these 36 lectures, Dr. Guelzo remedies these shortcomings by covering the large stretches of intellectual territory that are ignored in the traditional survey. You begin with the Puritans, exploring their participation in a larger, transatlantic realm of philosophical work. Next you study Jonathan Edwards as the creative fusion of two seemingly opposed trends: the spiritual revival of the Great Awakening and the passion for reason sparked by the Enlightenment.

After examining the intellectual currents underlying the American Revolution, you focus on the backlash against Enlightenment values that spawned American Romanticism. Then you study the surprising diversity of American pragmatism and discover that it cannot account for such 20th-century intellectual developments as the Old Left, the New Left, and Neo-Conservatism.

Throughout the course, Dr. Guelzo stresses the persistence of six fundamental themes that developed as the nation matured. These are at the center of our lives today and will doubtless be the principal preoccupations of American minds for a long time to come:

  • Intellect versus will: From the Puritans to Lincoln to the behaviorist B. F. Skinner, no question has shown up more often in American culture than the struggle between intellect and will—whether it is more important to think or to act.
  • The persistence of religion: Religious ideas have defied every prediction of their demise and have remained a living part of American intellectual life.
  • Religion versus the Enlightenment: From the colonial era until today, religion and the Enlightenment have formed the two souls of the American consciousness.
  • The power of liberal capitalism: American history has been marked by the struggle between liberty and power; a contest exemplified by the liberal capitalism of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln matched against the agrarian populism of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
  • Pragmatism: In the post-Civil War decades, American thinking made a dramatic shift away from traditional philosophical and social thinking toward pragmatism and secularism.
  • The rise to world power: America's ascent to world power through two world wars has created entirely new dilemmas and responsibilities for the nation and its thinkers.

An Intellectual Feast

One of the fascinating aspects of this course is that you trace the origin and evolution of America's colleges, which have served as a battleground of ideas, sometimes in an almost literal sense. In 1732, a leader of the Great Awakening held a bonfire of doctrinally suspect books at Yale College, expressing the hope that "the Authors of those Books, those of them that are dead, are roasting in the Flames of Hell…."

Many of the adherents of the Great Awakening turned their backs on America's venerable Puritan colleges, Harvard and Yale, to found alternative institutions such as Princeton, Rhode Island College (which became Brown), Queen's College (which became Rutgers), and Dartmouth. Two others, the future University of Pennsylvania and Columbia College, also bore the imprint of the Awakening.

A century later, higher education's religious calling was all but forgotten as American colleges embraced the secular mission of providing human capital to industry in the aftermath of the Civil War. And in the 1950s and '60s, the pendulum swung back to a more communal orientation under the influence of the radical New Left.

You will also learn about books that left their stamp on American intellectual life, such as Jonathan Edwards's Freedom of the Will in the 1700s, Frances Wayland's Elements of Political Economy and William James's Principles of Psychology in the 1800s, W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk and Henry Adams's The Education of Henry Adams in the early 20th century, along with works by Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, B. F. Skinner, Reinhold Niebuhr, Leo Strauss, and others in more recent times.

Professor Guelzo has laid out an intellectual feast made up almost entirely of homegrown American ingredients, with a dash of inspiration from abroad. You will find an abundance of food for thought, and after the first helping, you will definitely be back for more.

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36 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Intellectual Geography of America
    Is there an American mind? The view of Americans as doers rather than thinkers has been reinforced by the way American intellectual history is traditionally taught. However, this approach is suspect because it ignores large parts of the national debate over ideas. x
  • 2
    The Technology of Puritan Thinking
    As colonizers, the Puritans brought with them a vibrant intellectual life, born partly of the Calvinist Reformation and partly of medieval scholasticism. But they also brought with them unresolved problems over the intellect and the will. x
  • 3
    The Enlightenment in America
    The Enlightenment made its first beachheads in America in the colonial colleges, beginning at Harvard and including the College of William and Mary, the Academy of Philadelphia, and Yale. The attraction of Enlightenment thinking was both intellectual and cultural. x
  • 4
    Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening
    Jonathan Edwards was influenced by the immaterialism of British philosopher Bishop George Berkeley, using that philosophical base to criticize compromisers among the ranks of New England Puritanism. Ultimately, immaterialism became linked to Edwards's role in the spiritual revival known as the Great Awakening. x
  • 5
    The Colonial Colleges
    The Great Awakening was a major force in establishing new colleges in colonial America, as angry Awakeners turned their backs on institutions such as Yale and Harvard and founded alternative colleges. But these colleges were quickly absorbed into the intellectual life of the Enlightenment. x
  • 6
    Republican Fundamentals
    As the American colonies prospered, the British government took steps to regulate that prosperity. The colonies resented this intrusion and found in the classical liberalism of English Whig political theorists a ready explanation for the legitimacy of their own governments. x
  • 7
    Nature’s God and the American Revolution
    Long in gestation, the ideas that made the American Revolution trace back to the Enlightenment resistance to authority, the colonists' religious radicalism, and the example of the English Whigs. All that was needed to set off revolt was the British government's attempt to override the colonies' own assemblies. x
  • 8
    Deism, Science, and Revolution
    If America was the darling of the Enlightenment, then the Enlightenment's favorite location in America was Philadelphia, thanks to its extraordinary collection of thinkers and institutions, and to its commitment to reconciling science and religion in the spirit of Scottish "common sense" philosophy. x
  • 9
    Hamilton and His Money
    Only when America's Whigs had a republic on their hands did they realize that there was no agreement on what shape a republic should take—whether it should follow the example of Jefferson and classical republicanism or the commercial liberal republicanism of Alexander Hamilton. x
  • 10
    Jefferson and His Debts
    Jefferson is revered as the author of the Declaration of Independence and a paragon of reason. However, his experience of debt drove him to romanticize the glories of independent farming and promote policies that broke the old revolutionary coalition into Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties. x
  • 11
    The Edwardseans—From Hopkins to Finney
    The Revolution was a disappointment to religious leaders who hoped to ride its victories to new levels of moral and cultural authority. But the disciples of Jonathan Edwards soon learned how to restart the energies of revival and reverse the fall of the republic into Enlightenment secularism. x
  • 12
    The Moral Philosophers
    Scottish "common sense" philosophy became a vehicle by which religious thinkers reintroduced religious morality into public life by cloaking it in "natural law." These moral philosophers would have enjoyed even greater influence had they not failed to solve the knottiest of American problems in public ethics: slavery. x
  • 13
    Whigs and Democrats
    Although Republican political theory deplored political parties, both Jefferson and Hamilton emerged as the heads of parties in the 1790s. Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans dominated Hamilton's Federalists, but the Jeffersonians themselves split in the 1830s, spawning the Whigs, led by Henry Clay. x
  • 14
    American Romanticism
    The Enlightenment's glorification of reason eventually fostered a backlash in the form of Romanticism. The influence of religious revivalism and the distaste for democratic politics combined to breed an American Romanticism, with New England Transcendentalism as its most talented manifestation. x
  • 15
    Faith and Reason at Princeton
    The challenge offered to religion by Enlightenment reason was never as stark as it seemed. Many Enlightenment figures continued to experiment in religion, and many religious thinkers assimilated the principles of reason into more persuasive forms of belief, notably at the Princeton Theological Seminary. x
  • 16
    Romanticism in Mercersburg
    American Romanticism often manifested itself as a rebellion against past authority. However, some conservative forms of Romanticism embraced the past and glorified tradition and history as a different way of questioning the supremacy of reason. x
  • 17
    Slaveholders and Abolitionists
    The use of slave labor was the one blot on the record of American liberty, made all the more disgraceful by the way it defined slaves as chattel property. Most embarrassing of all, slavery was attacked not on the basis of Enlightenment reason but by radical religious Romantics. x
  • 18
    Lincoln and Liberal Democracy
    Lincoln's election as president finally delivered the nation's political initiative into the hands of an opponent of slavery. The ensuing Civil War allowed him both to destroy slavery and to install the Whig economic and political agenda as the reigning American ideology. x
  • 19
    The Failure of the Genteel Elite
    Despite its success at preserving the Union, the Civil War and the corruption that followed in its wake disillusioned many American thinkers with religious orthodoxy and democratic society. The postwar decades became the "Gilded Age," dominated by corporate models of organization and cynical social critics. x
  • 20
    Darwin in America
    Published in 1859, Darwin's Origin of Species had a delayed impact in America because of the Civil War. But in the postwar decades, Darwin's ideas undermined support of a public role for religion and spawned social philosophies that lauded unrestrained economic competition. x
  • 21
    Liberalism and the Social Gospel
    Evolution posed a moral problem to thinkers who embraced a Darwinian account of human origins but shrank from applying the logic of natural selection to human society. The result was a struggle to accommodate religion to Darwinism, which flowered into religious liberalism and the Social Gospel. x
  • 22
    The Agony of William James
    No family in America followed an intellectual path as tortured as that of William James, whose own life was a struggle to reconcile Darwin, materialism, and science with religion. It was only in pragmatism that James found room for hope and peace of mind. x
  • 23
    Josiah Royce—The Idealist Dissenter
    If pragmatism suited James as a replacement for absolutes, it left Josiah Royce unsatisfied. Royce represents both the last serious effort by an American philosopher to build a workable notion of idealism, as well as the last American philosopher to command an important public audience for philosophy. x
  • 24
    John Dewey and Social Pragmatism
    Influenced by the postwar battles of capital and labor, John Dewey translated James's pragmatism into an optimistic but morally relativistic social policy, in which social democracy rather than the assuagement of personal doubt was the ultimate objective. x
  • 25
    Socialism in America
    The postwar wave of corporate industrial organization was met by an opposing wave of working-class resistance, and that resistance was frequently attracted by the promise of socialism. Socialism as an ideology, however, had few takers in America. x
  • 26
    Populists, Progressives, and War
    In the 1880s, widespread grievances of farmers crystallized in the Populist Movement, while the most important reform ideology among the middle class was Progressivism, where the main concern was not about redistribution or revolution but about efficiency. x
  • 27
    Decade of the Disenchanted
    The idealism with which Woodrow Wilson led America into World War I and the disappointments that followed produced a deeply jaded rejection of all idealisms, moral and political. The great voices of the 1920s were its skeptics, cynics, and mockers. x
  • 28
    The Social Science Revolution
    The idea that human societies could be reduced to scientific analysis was another byproduct of the Enlightenment, which saw no reason why the discovery of physical law should not be matched by the discovery of social law. x
  • 29
    The New South versus the New Negro
    The post-Civil War South was torn between a romantic attachment to the "Lost Cause" myth and submission to the industrial system of the victorious North. Two backward-looking trends that emerged were the New Agrarians of the 1930s and the Jim Crow legislation imposed on American blacks. x
  • 30
    FDR and the Intellectuals
    The Great Depression traumatized the American psyche and, with the election of Franklin Roosevelt, brought about a dramatic realignment of American political life. The Depression also turned American intellectuals decisively against industrial capitalism and even drove many to embrace Communism. x
  • 31
    Science under the Cloud
    The development of the atomic bomb was both a tremendous public achievement for American scientists and the origin of a serious moral dilemma—all the more so since the culture of American science was built around the conviction that moral dilemmas were unscientific. x
  • 32
    Ironic Judgments
    Considered the greatest American theologian of his day, Reinhold Niebuhr exposed the facile underpinnings of liberal optimism. His skepticism came mixed with an urgency to separate ethics from perfectionism so that it could function in the real-world struggle against totalitarianism. x
  • 33
    Mass Culture and Mass Consumption
    The rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe in the 1930s propelled a wave of intellectual immigration to America. But many émigrés were shocked by the grip of commercial culture on American thinking. The American response in the 1950s was to glorify mass culture and turn it into an art form, pop art. x
  • 34
    Integration and Separation
    The persistence of segregation left black intellectuals looking for radical solutions. It was a mainstream religious figure, Martin Luther King, Jr., who guided the black struggle for civil rights back onto the path of integration into American society and culture. x
  • 35
    The Rebellion of the Privileged
    World War II was a triumph over fascism, but not necessarily in favor of liberal democracy. The Vietnam War radicalized both American intellectuals and a new generation of college students into a New Left—a movement that eventually wilted in the face of government hostility and public indifference. x
  • 36
    The Neo-Conservatives
    Erected by émigré intellectuals after World War II, American conservatism was a composite movement, combining elements of religious dissent and secular liberalism. It also offered a viable intellectual alternative for Americans who remained fundamentally loyal to the liberalism of the Founders. x

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Your professor

Allen C. Guelzo

About Your Professor

Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Gettysburg College
Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is...
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Reviews

American Mind is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 66.
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great content but annoying presentation The content of this course is informative, in keeping with the great quality of Great Courses offerings. However, Professor Guelzo has an overly - and overtly - sardonic delivery that borders on snarky. Irony is fine in its place, but when it overwhelms the material, as it does here, one gets the impression that the presenter is more fascinated by hearing his voice than he is in what he is presenting.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Guelzo is a masterful lecturer! This was a highly enjoyable course. Prof. Guelzo is outstanding: clear, erudite, thoughtful, and clearly a master of his material. Be sure and check out all of his courses, especially his lectures in the History of the US.
Date published: 2017-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fine course and excellent Professor This course was most interesting and Professor Guelzo could not have been more enthusiastic about the material covered. His delivery is smooth and very engaging. Both my wife and I were sorry to see the course end.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from American Mind Wow! I will not write an extensive review of this course, so I will use only one word: Excellent. It is not only the content, and breath of information but also Professor Guelzo's superior presentation.. I hope he follows on his promise at the end of the course and gives us the pleasure to listen him on the Second Part of the American Mind
Date published: 2016-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling Detail I enjoy all of the courses I have purchased from The Great Courses. This one stands out for the extraordinary insights that Professor Guelzo offers about the origin of some of the polarizing viewpoints that we see in contemporary American society. While this is not a course in sociology, economics or politics, Professor Guelzo offers many fascinating perspectives on the key ideas that have come to define the "American" Narrative and the belief systems that influence contemporary social, economic and government policy. Far from being an esoteric journey through American Philosophy, his course touches on the essential debates of our past as we reconciled scientific, enlightenment thinking with religious faith throughout our history. And he helps make sense of how these ideas have had very real economic, social and political consequences as people have grappled with the extraordinary events of the last two centuries of American history. I was listening to this course during the 2016 election cycle. What an interesting backdrop to the rhetoric of a modern political campaign. How might our civic discourse be different if more people understood how we came to believe what we do and why we still struggle to reconcile our competing conservative and liberal, religious and secular narratives. I would recommend this course to anyone with an interest in the origins of the belief systems which influence the most important decisions in public life today.
Date published: 2016-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Broad and insightful survey of American thought This course deals with the intellectual history of the United States, more or less from the first colonies to present day. As BGZRedux stated in his review from 2012, I also found the Professor’s attitude to be highly ironic, even sardonic when discussing some of the topics. One of first statements in introducing the course is how much is there really to consider when thinking about American intellectual history? One is much more accustomed to looking to Europe for that… Contrary to BGZRedux, however, I did not find this irritating or detrimental – in fact I found it quite entertaining and think it could be easily counter balanced if one is aware of this bias. I have to admit that I struggled through some of the lectures. I have heard many courses in the TGC on intellectual history and I always had a harder time staying attentive in relation to narrative or analytical history courses, so this course follows this rule. It was always important for me to understand the evolution of thought primarily in order to see how this affected and interacted with other aspects of history. In this course too, the intellectual paradigm shifts interact significantly with political history, military history, economics and science. Some of the contexts are explained, but this is not the main theme of the course. It is therefore a good idea to have a firm grasp of general US history prior to hearing the course. I found some of the lectures to give profound new insight and be outstandingly interesting; among them was the lecture on Mass Art, the development of the Social Sciences, the effect of the brain drain from Europe preceding WWII, and Herbert Marcuse and the new left. As in all of his courses that I have heard in the TGC, I found Professor Guelzo to be a talented, entertaining, provocative and insightful presenter. As I have said, I struggled through some of the lectures, but I think this has much more to do with my own capacity for the subject than to any fault of Professor Guelzo’s.
Date published: 2016-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Enlightening AUDIO DOWNLOAD I like Professor Allen Guelzo’s clear, straight-forward lecture delivery. My experience with his TC course on Lincoln led me to seek out his other TC courses. ‘The American Mind’ did not disappoint; the thirty-six lectures seemed to go too quickly. There is a lot here about the Christian religion and its impact on American thought and development. Professor Guelzo drills deep early on with a lot of religious folks, well beyond the usual Mathers and Jonathan Edwards. It is sometimes a challenge to follow the twists and turns as Professor Guelzo traces the interplay of Puritan and Enlightenment influences through American history. This is a much-needed approach to better round out our understanding of the past. I took courses in American intellectual history several decades ago, and have a continuing interest in it, so there is a good deal familiar for me in ‘The American Mind’. Professor Guelzo goes far beyond the conventional treatment that I am accustomed to, however, which, as he notes, grossly simplifies the subject. For me, this course provides a new and quite interesting perspective, and I think many others would greatly benefit from this course as well. For purposes of this review it is especially important to keep in mind Professor Guelzo’s six themes in ‘The American Mind’ (which are also listed in the current online TC course promotional information): “The fundamental struggle for importance between intellect and will—in other words, whether it is more important for us to think or to act. The persistence of religious ideas as a living part of American intellectual life. The formation of two souls in the American consciousness, one the product of Puritan religion and the other the product of America’s embrace of the Enlightenment. The struggle between liberty and power in a democratic society, as seen in the liberal capitalism of Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, and the fierce suspicion of commercial societies seen in Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. The dramatic shift in categories of American thinking that occurred in the post-Civil War decades, which turned Americans away from traditional philosophical and social thinking and toward pragmatism and secularism. The dilemmas posed by the American ascent to world power through two world wars and the responsibilities that have come with it.” (Course Guidebook, Page 1) While a general familiarity with American history and philosophy is not required for this course, it would help. Professor Guelzo makes things a bit easier by treating the subject in a storyteller fashion that is quite engaging as he carefully explains how matters fit together. There is plenty of historical context here. I especially enjoyed the treatment of the Whigs and Jacksonians from a religious perspective; Lincoln as a determinist (starting out as president seeming in the Enlightenment camp, but ending as a Pilgrim/Edwardsean theologically); William James, John Dewey and many others and the development and impact of Pragmatism; the significant influence of European emigres on post World War II American intellectuals on both the left and the right; Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam; the New Left as modern-day Puritans; and the rise of Neo-Conservatives. There is a lot more; this is but a personal sample. A good deal is left out of the course. As Professor Guelzo admits, due to length constraints, other topics, such as feminism, are not treated. Some might have been accommodated in a thirty-six lecture course, except for Professor Guelzo’s devoting so many lectures to how religious ideas constitute a living part of American intellectual history. For me, that is a big plus for this course, expanding my outlook. For others with a dogmatically secular bent and limited view of the role of religion, much in this course, especially in the early lectures, will likely seem thin and/or irrelevant. That would be a shame. This is a great course, taught by an exceptionally well-qualified scholar. Do not miss this course!
Date published: 2016-06-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Good Enough to Spend Your Time I struggled with whether to give Prof. Guelzo a high rating or a low one, because I learned some interesting things from him. But the bottom line is: I did not enjoy the course. His delivery was sometimes annoying, and I felt that several hours of the 18-hour course were a waste of time. Delivery: Prof. Guelzo speaks clearly, though his pronunciation of foreign words is usually off. But he has a brash manner that can annoy. Think Thurston Howell from Gilligan’s Island, or Foghorn Leghorn. Content: I liked Prof. Guelzo on politics. I loved his lecture on Thomas Jefferson, even though it detracts from my hero Jefferson. I did not like him on religion. I knew that Prof. Guelzo was Calvinist before I bought the course, and I wanted to hear from someone who does not see Jonathon Edwards as a villain. But Prof. Guelzo spends hours on 18th and 19th century disputes that interest me as little as whether angels waltz or line dance on the heads of pins. Prof. Guelzo does not like John Dewey; fine. He is inaccurate about Dewey: less fine. Concerning his odd statement that men like Dewey are not loved or eulogized, here is Alfred North Whitehead: “wherever the influence of Dewey is explicitly felt, his personality is remembered with gratitude and affection.” If that’s not what you’re looking for, read Max Otto's funeral oration for Dewey. And it’s strange to call Josiah Royce “the last American philosopher who commanded an important public audience for philosophy” when Hilda Neatby called Dewey, who came after, “what Aristotle was to the later Middle Ages, not A philosopher, but THE philosopher”. With so many enjoyable Great Courses to try, I can’t recommend this one.
Date published: 2016-05-27
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