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Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

Taught By Multiple Professors

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Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

Taught By Multiple Professors
Course No.  470
Course No.  470
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Course Overview

About This Course

84 lectures  |  31 minutes per lecture

For 3,000 years, mankind has grappled with fundamental questions about life. Crucial questions about our existence and being have been pondered by thoughtful men and women since civilization began. The most brilliant minds in history focused on these questions—and their search for answers has left us an intellectual legacy of unsurpassed depth and richness. Questions like:

  • What is real?
  • What should be the purpose of my life, and how should I lead it?
  • Who or what is God?
  • How can there be freedom in a world determined by causal laws?
  • When is it legitimate for one person to have power over others?
  • What is justice? Beauty?
The Intellectual Adventure of a Lifetime
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For 3,000 years, mankind has grappled with fundamental questions about life. Crucial questions about our existence and being have been pondered by thoughtful men and women since civilization began. The most brilliant minds in history focused on these questions—and their search for answers has left us an intellectual legacy of unsurpassed depth and richness. Questions like:

  • What is real?
  • What should be the purpose of my life, and how should I lead it?
  • Who or what is God?
  • How can there be freedom in a world determined by causal laws?
  • When is it legitimate for one person to have power over others?
  • What is justice? Beauty?
The Intellectual Adventure of a Lifetime

Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition is a comprehensive survey of the history of Western philosophy from its origins in classical Greece to the present. The course is an 84-lecture, 12-professor tour of Western philosophical tradition and covers more than 60 of history's greatest minds.

This panoramic course is carefully designed and taught. Each lecture is given by a university scholar who is not only an expert in the topic but a gifted teacher, with classroom talents certified by teaching awards and top rankings from students.

It took 3,000 years for the debate chronicled in these lectures to reach maturity. With this course, you can encompass it by the end of next month.

Two Cities and the World They Created

The Western tradition is a blend of two outlooks that are characteristic of the ancient cities that generated them: Athens and Jerusalem.

Western monotheism and its philosophical entailments—faith as an alternative to reason, mystic ecstasy, dogmatic scripturalism, and the assumed equality of all souls in the sight of God—ultimately derive from Jerusalem.

Athens is the city of inquiry, hubris, and emancipation. The rationalism of Western culture, with its unprecedented control over nature, is a perennial element in Western philosophy, and it originates in Greece.

Jerusalem supplies the mythos of the West and its holy text; Athens supplies the critical and self-critical spirit, which animates the Promethean and perhaps Faustian history of Western thought.

In this course, you see the synthesis and tension between these two traditions over hundreds of years.

Two Sets of Issues—Three Millennia of Debate

Philosophy in the West has centered on two basic sets of issues.

One: What is the world and what can we truly know about it (metaphysics and epistemology)?

Two: How should we live (ethics, social and political theory, and existentialism)?

You learn how different thinkers address these issues in dramatically different ways. Yet you also see that this variation is not random; entire philosophical epochs can be defined by shared approaches to these basic questions, despite a plethora of different solutions.

The course is in seven parts. Each part covers a specific period in the history of philosophy. Each of the seven parts begins with an introductory lecture to orient you to the period and the philosophers and ideas you study in that part.

PART I: Classical Origins (Lectures 1 to 12)

Part I introduces the entire series and the enduring problems of philosophy.

These lectures acquaint you with the Greek Pre-Socratics (the world's first scientific thinkers) and the Sophists (traveling teachers of rhetoric most widely seen through the works of their leading enemy).

You then examine in detail the insights of three towering figures: Socrates, his student Plato, and Plato's student, Aristotle. Much of the rest of philosophy and Western thought is a response to these three.

You study the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics of the late Hellenistic and Roman worlds, as well as the Greek commentator Polybius and the Roman statesman-philosopher Cicero.

This first part of the series is truly foundational. It furnishes you with a solid ground on which you can build up and extend your own understanding of the developments that occur over millennia of philosophic debate. The aim of this course is to show these developments to you as passages in a narrative that records much disagreement but that contains substantial coherence beneath its contending voices.

PART II: The Christian Age (Lectures 13 to 24)

In the introductory lecture to Part II, you learn how we still stand on and are moved by the Greek and biblical traditions, often not something of which we are fully conscious.

This meeting of Athens and Jerusalem is exemplified first by the influence of the neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus on Saint Augustine. The symbiosis of Athens and Jerusalem continues during the High Middle Ages with Saint Thomas Aquinas's synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology and then branches off into different directions represented by the mysticism of Meister Eckhart and the Protestantism of Martin Luther and John Calvin.

PART III: From the Renaissance to the Age of Reason (Lectures 25 to 36)

Part III marks the critical schism that developed between the claims of faith and those of science. You begin with the bold work of Machiavelli, who opened up new ways of thinking about moral and political life. This is contrasted to the work of statesman-saint Sir Thomas More and his Utopia.

You examine the foundations of scientific thought in the work of Galileo, Sir Francis Bacon, and René Descartes.

You return from science to political life, specifically the era of the English Civil War and its echoes in the absolutist political thought of Thomas Hobbes, who championed a coldly scientific view of human nature.

You study the detached reverence toward being of Baruch Spinoza, the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, and the skepticism of the influential Pierre Bayle.

The concluding lecture is a summation of the career and significance of Isaac Newton, whose pathbreaking Principia Mathematica gave the new science authoritative expression.

PART IV: The Enlightenment and Its Critics (Lectures 37 to 48)

Part IV covers the 17th and 18th centuries, capturing the sense of breathless discovery found in the Enlightenment, which reveled in the new freedom of human potential and scientific expansion. This was also when the new bourgeoisie found its voice in a demand for free markets, free speech, and more political power.

This period marks the intellectual flowering that led to the American Revolution.

This segment of the course, like the others, stresses the inevitable linkage between a thinker's theory of knowledge and theory of morality: what we can know determines what we can know to be the right way to act. The lectures on John Locke and David Hume develop this point with special cogency. Others covered here include Vico, Mandeville, Bishop Berkeley, and Adam Smith.

The Enlightenment stirred critics who feared its larger moral, spiritual, and political effects. Of these doubters, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was among the most influential, making him a fitting subject for the compelling lecture that concludes this segment.

PART V: The Age of Ideology (Lectures 49 to 60)

Part V continues to explore the meaning of the scientific revolution in our understanding of ourselves and the many problems that it raises.

Is science the only source of true knowledge? If we have no control over our actions because causal laws determine them, then what is left of freedom? Choice? Right and wrong?

You study philosophers asking how far the scientific method might be applied. Immanuel Kant responds to the challenges raised by the new scientific consciousness in the metaphysical and the moral arenas.

You study Edmund Burke, the Anglo-Irish philosopher-statesman whose eloquent critiques of the French Revolution made him an architect of modern conservatism, as well as the giant of the liberal tradition, John Stuart Mill.

Lectures follow on G. W. F. Hegel's philosophy of history, and Karl Marx's appropriation of a materialist version of Hegelianism as part of his effort to develop scientific laws of progress potent enough to overcome all human alienation.

Because causal determinism undermines the possibility of freedom, choice, and virtue, this is a period of spiritual turmoil as well as of material advance.

The final four lectures, on Søren Kierkegaard, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Friedrich Nietzsche, discuss three brilliant exponents of this period's striving toward a new ground for the human self and its aspirations.

PART VI: Modernism and the Age of Analysis (Lectures 61 to 72)

Part VI introduces you to the philosophical struggles of our own day.

Psychologists William James and Sigmund Freud still affect us. James's philosophy of pragmatism seems characteristically American, yet bears a striking resemblance to many of Nietzsche's ideas. Freud applied the tools of science to the philosopher's sanctum sanctorum—the mind itself.

Different 20th-century attempts to claim a new ground for the understanding of self and society are explored. You study the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl, the existentialism of Martin Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School's efforts to use the ideas of Marx and Freud as a basis for rational moral and political engagement, the structuralism of the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure and the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.

You conclude Part VI by studying Max Weber's sociology, the ideas of A. J. Ayer, and the giant of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

PART VII: The Crisis of Modernity (Lectures 73 to 84)

Part VII covers the work of late 20th-century philosophers and theorists, beginning with Friedrich Hayek's critique of the idea of central authority.

You examine Karl Popper's argument that scientific hypotheses must remain "falsifiable," and the related but distinct imperative for whole societies to remain "open."

You then analyze Thomas Kuhn's contribution in showing how scientific knowledge works in "the real world."

You see how the communication-based theories of Jurgen Habermas open up a new dimension in our understanding of the human world.

You study Alvin Gouldner's ironic class-based critique of Marxism.

Postmodernism and the work of the French philosopher and literary theorist Jacques Derrida—a much-discussed ideology of our own day—is explored sympathetically yet critically.

You conclude the series by studying the work of several widely influential American philosophers—Willard Quine, Richard Rorty, John Rawls, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Robert Nozick.

View Less
84 Lectures
  • 1
    Introduction
    Philosophy can be described as a historical discipline subject to change over time. The pre-Socratic epoch represents the birth of Western philosophical speculation in the greater Greek diaspora. Classical Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle drew on the pre-Socratic traditions, as well as on one another's teachings, to construct the first full-blown philosophical systems. The Hellenic and Roman worlds inherited these classical doctrines and incorporated them into their own philosophic perspectives. x
  • 2
    The Pre-Socratics—Physics and Metaphysics
    In this lecture, we witness the birth of philosophy in the speculations and systems of the pre-Socratics. We explore how these philosophical forerunners shifted the focus of learned thought from religious questions of "who" and "why" to scientific questions of "what" and "how" and started a dialogue that continues to this day. Milesian physicists and Pythagoreans attempt to locate the primal origin of all things. Heraclitus and the Eleatics argue, respectively, that the true nature of reality is endless change (pluralism) or unchanging being (monism). x
  • 3
    The Sophists and Social Science
    This lecture discusses the impact of the Sophists on public policy and private morality in 4th century B.C.E. Some see Sophistic analysis of conventional law based on premises about nature as a forerunner to political science. This lecture considers Sophist attitudes about power, morality, and religion, and concludes with a case study: the Melian dialogue, a famous passage from Thucydides, the Sophist-influenced 5th-century historian whose book on the Peloponnesian War is hailed as the first work of social science. x
  • 4
    Plato—Metaphysics
    Plato is the most influential philosopher in the West mostly because he invented what came to be called metaphysics, the study of true being. He aligns himself with Socrates, who drew people into critical dialogue on issues such as "What is virtue?" The Platonic theory of forms is the basis for Plato's picture of the ascent of the soul to a vision of the world above. x
  • 5
    Plato—Politics
    This lecture begins with the question that Plato poses throughout The Republic: What is the meaning of justice? Socrates asserts that for a just society or Republic to be attained, reforms or "waves" of social and political change must first occur. Plato's theories of justice, power, and leadership are expressed in his "Allegory of the Cave." This vision asserts that the just state or polis cannot emerge until philosophers rule and, thus, political power is wielded wisely. x
  • 6
    Plato—Psychology
    Connected with the metaphysical notion of a deep truth about being is the psychological notion of a deep truth about ourselves. In the Phaedo, he argued that the soul is immortal because it is akin to the forms and will return to be with them if it is pure when it separates from the body at death. Thus, Plato is the source of the "otherworldly" spirituality that is so important in the Western tradition. x
  • 7
    Aristotle—Metaphysics
    Aristotle, the second most influential philosopher after Plato, was also Plato's student. Aristotle modified Plato's notion of form to create a science of nature or physics. His key idea was to explain the nature of change by reference to four types of causes: form, matter, goal, and cause of motion. x
  • 8
    Aristotle—Politics
    The most significant critique of Plato's Republic comes from Aristotle, who focused his criticisms on the three great reforms, or "waves" of change, discussed in Lecture 5. Aristotle argued against the desirability of the proposed reforms with the logic characteristic of his philosophy of moderation. x
  • 9
    Aristotle—Ethics
    Aristotle's ethics are an attempt to discover: "What is the good or ultimate goal of human life?" His answer is that happiness is the life lived by a certain person: the virtuous person. Virtue is to the soul as good health is to the body. Among the human excellences Aristotle discusses are the four cardinal virtues: courage, temperance, justice, and practical wisdom. x
  • 10
    Stoicism and Epicureanism
    Two philosophical traditions emerged from the legacy of Plato and Aristotle in a time of cultural, political, and military change. Epicureanism was the more elite of the two; Stoicism was more readily adaptable to the needs of ordinary people and to traditional Roman values. We encounter Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, and four later Roman Stoics: among them the philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius, who ruled with resolute virtue as emperor for 14 difficult years. x
  • 11
    Roman Eclecticism—Cicero and Polybius
    This lecture addresses the distinctive Roman style of philosophizing: the combination of several schools' traditions into a new blend. The most successful synthesizer and the most influential Roman thinker was Cicero, evident in his ethical and his political thought. Until the 20th century, Cicero's influence was never eclipsed by any other Roman—and perhaps by any Greek—philosopher. x
  • 12
    Roman Skepticism—Sextus Empiricus
    This lecture discusses Skepticism, a tradition, like Epicureanism and Stoicism, that arose in Greece in the 4th century B.C.E., spread throughout the Hellenistic world, and survived to influence post-Renaissance Western thought. In the modern lexicon of thoughtful terminology, it is very good to be empirical in method, skeptical in mental reflex. x
  • 13
    Introduction
    Two major strands of the Western tradition are from the classical Greek and Roman world of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero and from the Biblical world of Moses and Jesus. They blended in the writings of Church Fathers such as Augustine, and in the medieval period was a flowering of their synthesis. Scholastics such as St. Thomas Aquinas, and mystics such as Johannes Eckhart, were heirs of this union of Athens and Jerusalem. Modernity represented a fundamentally new relation to both these sources of Western thought. x
  • 14
    Job and the Problem of Suffering
    There is nothing like the Book of Job; it is one of the greatest poems ever written. A good man who suffers incomprehensibly pours out his heart to God, but afraid to complain; wishing for death, yet longing to bring his case before God; and increasingly impatient with friends who offer him "good advice" that misses the point. If you expect God to answer or explain, you will be disappointed. Oddly, Job does not seem disappointed. This book is about a very unusual relationship, one that the biblical people of Israel understood well because they lived it. x
  • 15
    The Hebrew Bible and Covenantal History
    The Hebrew Bible, which Christians call the Old Testament, can be read as the story of a relationship between two main characters: God and his people Israel. The relationship is defined by a covenant that binds them. Throughout the text, the covenant relationship is threatened by Israel's disobedience and God's punishment: exile and destruction of the Temple. Yet the relationship is never broken, and there is always the expectation of a restored peace. x
  • 16
    The Synoptic Gospels—The Historical Jesus and the Kingdom of God
    In the New Testament, the synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) are key sources for research on "the historical Jesus." Scholars disagree on what the historical Jesus was like, but nearly all agree that the proclamation of something called "the kingdom of God" was central to his work, along with the telling of parables and "miraculous" healings. Most scholars would say the key to who Jesus was, and who he thought he was, is to understand what he meant by "the kingdom of God." x
  • 17
    Paul—Justification by Faith
    Paul, author of the earliest writings in the New Testament, is called the "apostle to the Gentiles" because his mission was to preach about Christ to non-Jews. He formulated a doctrine of justification in terms of a contrast between living "under the Law" as Jews did, and living under grace as believers in Christ did. This formulation affected Western Christian thought from Augustine onward where the key issue was the status of the individual soul before God. x
  • 18
    Plotinus and Neo-Platonism
    Plotinus was the last great philosopher of pagan antiquity, a systematizer of the heritage of Plato, founder of Neo-Platonism, and theorist of a form of otherworldly spirituality that was profoundly influential in the Western Christian tradition through Augustine. Most influential of all, he sketched a spiritual ascent of the soul's turning inward to discover unity not only with the one Soul and the divine Mind, but with the One itself. x
  • 19
    Augustine—Grace and Free Will
    Augustine was a Church Father, a Christian thinker who helped formulate the basic doctrines of ancient Christianity. He formulated a Christian Platonist spirituality that was immensely influential for the Western tradition. But Augustine's doctrine of grace includes a frightening implication that God chooses in advance to give his help and delight to some but not all—raising troubling questions about predestination. x
  • 20
    Aquinas and Christian Aristotelianism
    This lecture discusses how Thomas Aquinas adapted Aristotelian thought and philosophical method to the needs of the Christian philosophy and theology of his time. It presents six aspects of the Aristotelian legacy that Aquinas integrated into his system: logic, epistemology, teleology, motion, politics, and legal thinking. An understanding of Thomas's social background and institutional context—the Dominican Order and the discourse of the university—helps us grasp Aquinas's significance for his time and ours. x
  • 21
    Universals in Medieval Thought
    This lecture discusses the vexing problem of "universals"—the relationships of names to things, and of both names and things to standard categories of the Western analysis of phenomena (individual, species, genus) as explored and temporarily resolved in medieval Western thought. Since the 14th century, major thinkers have tended to fall into the realist, the nominalist, or the conceptualist camp. x
  • 22
    Mysticism and Meister Eckhart
    A coherent tradition of mystical thought in the Christian Middle Ages can be described in terms taken from the Bible, Augustine, and the Eastern Christian neoplatonist known to the West as Denys. Augustine sought an intellectual vision of God, but the medieval tradition wanted to go beyond vision to "ecstasy" or "the darkness above the light" or "passing into God." Meister Eckhart in the 14th century reintroduced the Plotinian theme of a deep inner unity between God and the soul that is higher than intellectual vision as well as the ultimate reality in the depth of the soul. x
  • 23
    Luther—Law and Gospel
    Using concepts taken from Paul and Augustine, Martin Luther taught that we are justified by faith alone; we can receive the grace of God only by believing the Gospel of Christ and not by doing good works. Luther started a debate among local scholars that blew up into a huge controversy involving the pope. He concluded that the pope wanted to take the Gospel away from Christians; the break between the Roman Catholic Church and those who saw things Luther's way was inevitable. x
  • 24
    Calvin and Protestantism
    John Calvin wrote a compendium of theology that made his Reformed variety of Protestantism more exportable than Lutheranism and spawned familiar forms of Protestantism such as Presbyterianism. He departed from both Luther and the Catholics by teaching that justification happens only once in life, part of Calvin's doctrine of predestination. x
  • 25
    Introduction
    From the close of the 15th to the end of the 17th century, Latin Christendom was transformed. Philosophically, the epoch is opened by the age of the Renaissance, a rebirth of classical learning and art. The 17th-century Age of Reason was characterized by a rejection of authorities and an awareness of tensions between rational philosophic speculation and traditional religious beliefs. The seminal work of Sir Isaac Newton brings the Age of Reason to a close and marks the onset of the Age of Enlightenment. x
  • 26
    Machiavelli and the Origins of Political Science
    As a work of political realism, Machiavelli's The Prince marked a sharp departure from the classical idealist tradition associated with Plato. This lecture will explain Machiavelli's purposes in writing The Prince and outline his practical advice for gaining and keeping political power. x
  • 27
    More's Utopianism
    Thomas More's Utopia is a Christian-humanist view of an ideal society. This lecture will review the features and significance of More's ideal system, highlighting its similarities to, and divergences from, Plato's Republic. x
  • 28
    Erasmus Against Enthusiasm
    This lecture examines the commitment of the Christian humanist Erasmus to oppose excessive enthusiasm in any religious or intellectual matter. Generally rejected by most parties to the ferocious religious controversies of the next century and more, Erasmus has emerged again as a compelling voice of reasoned culture. x
  • 29
    Galileo and the New Astronomy
    Galileo Galilei promoted the theory of heliocentric astronomy and a quantitative rather than qualitative view of nature. His demanding methodology in the sciences and his struggle against Aristotelians who controlled offices of censorship and philosophical conformity in the church became emblems of the attempt at a free natural philosophy. x
  • 30
    Bacon's New Organon and the New Science
    Francis Bacon, politician and philosopher, undertook to criticize the Western intellectual inheritance and transform the human quest for knowledge. His work The New Organon argued that an inductive, experimental science would yield a new knowledge that would be dynamic, cumulative, and useful. x
  • 31
    Descartes—The Method of Modern Philosophy
    Rene Descartes sought to demonstrate that we could establish a criterion of truth and, with it, know with certainty the real nature and the real causes of things. His thinking challenged Scholasticism at its core and altered the nature and problems of Western philosophy and science. It bequeathed a categorical dualism: the world divided into mind or body, mental, or physical domains. x
  • 32
    Hobbes—Politics and the State of Nature
    Thomas Hobbes asserted that people are ruled not by reason but by passions, especially the desire for power and the fear of death. The remedy for this natural inclination to violent, aggressive behavior is to establish a powerful state called the Leviathan that would be ruled by an absolute sovereign who would guarantee the peace and protection of each subject. x
  • 33
    Spinoza—Rationalism and the Reverence for Being
    One of the most brilliant and challenging thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition was Baruch Spinoza. His principal work, The Ethics, offers a brilliant expression of his metaphysical monism. Spinoza asserts that nature is not the creation of a supernatural God; rather, he identifies nature as God. x
  • 34
    Pascal—Skepticism and Jansenism
    Blaise Pascal was a member of the Jansenist movement, which argued for the need for salvation by faith alone, a state achievable only by God's grace. Pascal's Pensees became one of the publishing sensations of the 17th century. It stressed the misery and absurdity of man and human life without God, the insufficiency of intellectual knowledge of God, and the role of grace and the heart in faith. x
  • 35
    Bayle—Skepticism and Calvinism
    Pierre Bayle was one of the most influential authors of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The arrogance of reason and the avoidance of a simple, peaceful faith, Bayle believes, lead to superstition, intolerance, and cruelty. The irony of Bayle's work is that he was increasingly read as irreligious because his fideism confronted a learned world that was ever more naturalistic and committed to reason. x
  • 36
    Newton and Enlightened Science
    Shortly after receiving his bachelor's degree at Cambridge, Isaac Newton, in one stretch of 18 months, formulated the law of gravity, laid the foundations of modern physics in his laws of motion, transformed the entire science of optics, and created the calculus. Newton also believed that natural philosophy proved God from the order and contingency of the world. The Newtonian synthesis gave to the culture a great confidence in inductive science. x
  • 37
    Introduction
    The generation of readers and authors from 1680 to 1715 was one of the most revolutionary in European history because of its fundamental change in attitudes toward knowledge and nature. This generation increasingly believed induction from data, not deduction from inherited premises, to be the path of truth, and it made the systematic inquiry into experience the heart of natural philosophy. x
  • 38
    Locke—Politics
    Among all the European political theorists, John Locke most influenced early American ideas about government. Locke envisaged a social contract among reasonable men, in the state of nature, to legitimize a moderate government ruled not by an authoritarian sovereign, but by a majority of propertied citizens. x
  • 39
    Locke—The Revolution in Knowledge
    John Locke's influence on the late 17th and the entire 18th century can scarcely be overestimated because he changed the culture's sense of the nature and limits of knowledge. The implications of his thinking are dramatic: We learn our ethical ideas from experience, and we are products of our environment, which, if changed, would change the kinds of human beings it produces. x
  • 40
    Vico and the New Science of History
    Giambattista Vico's philosophy of history had an immense influence on 19th- and 20th-century thought. Vico replaced the premise of Cartesian epistemology with his own principle of verum factum, which states that we know the truth about matters that we have cognitively constructed. Vico's work has interesting implications for the study of the past, and yet, he uses modern scientific methods to demonstrate the potential dangers of using those methods. x
  • 41
    Montesquieu and Political Thought
    Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu's contribution to Enlightenment political thought was his effort to systematize an understanding, through natural inquiry, of the order and the instabilities of human political and social forms. His perspective and his moral agenda had a deep influence on the American Revolution. x
  • 42
    The Worldly Philosophy of Bernard Mandeville
    Bernard Mandeville's career and thought exemplify central themes of the Enlightenment. His most famous work, The Fable of the Bees, presented his central paradox in moral theory, namely that private vices make public benefits. Mandeville's rigorism and focus on consequences revealed the tensions between Judeo-Christian and classical virtues versus modern commercial and secular society. x
  • 43
    Bishop Berkeley—Idealism and Critique of the Enlightenment
    George Berkeley's most important philosophical work, "A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge," established his reputation as an empiricist alongside Locke and Hume. His subjectivist idealism was cogently stated as: esse est percipi: "To exist is to be perceived." x
  • 44
    Hume's Epistemology
    This lecture examines the empiricist philosophy of David Hume, who, along with Locke and Berkeley, held that all our mental representations arise from sense experience. We will examine aspects of Hume's epistemology and his efforts to reconcile necessity with liberty. x
  • 45
    Hume's Theory of Morality
    Just as Hume located the origins of causation in the constant conjunction of sensed phenomena, he located the origin of our moral judgments in their constant conjunction with a sentiment of approbation or disapprobation. Hume assesses the morality of behavior in terms of its consequences, especially in terms of its advancement of social utility. x
  • 46
    Hume's Natural Religion
    With Hume, we see a growing skepticism about the relationship of natural philosophy and religious belief, a skepticism that explains in part the increasing tendency of intellectuals to turn away from problems of theology to problems of secular society. x
  • 47
    Adam Smith and the Origins of Political Economy
    This lecture explains the ideas and significance of Adam Smith's views, in his Wealth of Nations, about division of labor. We will also examine Smith's social philosophy, which suggests that a market-based society allows social cooperation to take place as an unintended consequence of individuals' pursuits of economic self-interests. x
  • 48
    Rousseau's Dissent
    The ideas of Jean-Jacque Rousseau shared much with Enlightenment thought—above all, his Lockeanism, his deism, and his commitment to religious tolerance. However, for Rousseau, cultural "progress" invariably led to moral decadence, creating artificial needs and artificial inequalities. The problem, then, is to recognize the depredations of artificial social life and to seek to redeem those to the greatest extent possible. The legacy of Rousseauist themes is influential and profound, extending to counterculture movements of a "return to nature." x
  • 49
    Introduction
    The first phase of 19th-century European high culture is associated with Romanticism. Romantics rejected the arid rationalism and scientism of the Enlightenment. A reaction against Romanticism, known as positivism, had set in by mid-century. The final phase of 19th-century thought witnessed the rise of Existential themes and issues. x
  • 50
    Kant's "Copernican Revolution"
    This lecture examines the views of Immanuel Kant on the limits of knowledge, reason, science, and metaphysics, as expressed in his seminal work, The Critique of Pure Reason. Kant's "Copernican Revolution" in philosophy inverted the order of knowledge as Copernicus had inverted the positions of the Sun and Earth. x
  • 51
    Kant's Moral Theory
    This lecture examines Kant's views about morality and value. We examine Kant's derivation of his famous categorical imperative: "Act only by that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law." We will also consider the meaning and significance of alternative formulations of the categorical imperative, including Kant's "principle of humanity." x
  • 52
    Burke—The Origins of Conservatism
    In this lecture, we examine elements in Edmund Burke's argument against the French Revolution. We will also explore how his support for the American Revolution can be squared with his denunciation of the French Revolution. This, in turn, leads us to conclude with the difficult problem of the overall character of Burke's views. x
  • 53
    Hegel—History and Historicism
    For Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, history represents the necessary and rational unfolding of absolute Spirit becoming conscious of itself and discovering its own nature. Hegel's historicism—the notion that the artistic products and accepted truths of a given era are relative to that era—profoundly influenced Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida. x
  • 54
    Marx—Historical Materialism
    Karl Marx's historical materialism is an attempt to answer Hegel's idealist explanation of history in purely naturalistic or scientific terms. Marx's historical materialism posits two fundamental entities: actual historical persons and the forces of production. For Marx, real history begins only when technology has solved the problem of production. x
  • 55
    Marx—On Alienation
    The hallmark of Marx's idea of alienation is his theory of work, especially of alienated labor in the capitalist system. Marx blames this economic system for the dissatisfaction that many people find in their work. Marx contends that such unhappiness is unnecessary and demands that it be changed so that we may experience fulfillment in our various forms of work. x
  • 56
    Mill's Utilitarianism
    John Stuart Mill was a thoroughgoing empiricist in the footsteps of Hume. In moral philosophy, he has become the classic defender of one of the main theories of ethics, which is known as utilitarianism. x
  • 57
    Kierkegaard and the Leap of Faith
    Sören Kierkegaard is the Danish Christian philosopher who became the founding figure of Existentialism by thinking in a new way about how faith is possible in Christendom, in the era we now call Victorian. x
  • 58
    Schopenhauer—The World as Will and Idea
    Arthur Schopenhauer is most notorious for his philosophical pessimism, but he was one of the most ingenious and influential thinkers of the 19th century. The core of his theory is that reality is known to us as Will, which is full of self-conflict, so the world is not a harmonious place and human life has no hope of satisfaction. Only aesthetic experience and sainthood promise some escape from the torment of life's sufferings. x
  • 59
    Nietzsche—Perspectivism and the Will to Power
    This lecture will focus on Friedrich Nietzsche's so-called perspectivism: the view that there is no metaphysical "thing-in-itself" and, therefore, no singular truth or truths about the world. Nevertheless, Nietzsche does present what would seem to be a singular thesis about the world, the "Will to Power." The point of the lecture is to clarify both of these central theses. x
  • 60
    Nietzsche—The Death of God, Morality, and Self-Creation
    This lecture concerns Nietzsche's infamous attack on Judeo-Christian religion and morality and the project of self-creation with which he seeks to replace them. Again, we see an apparent contradiction or tension in Nietzsche's thought. He is, on the one hand, very much a naturalist. He does not believe in free will. And he believes that each of us is largely determined by our biology. x
  • 61
    Introduction
    The first half of the 20th century has been aptly described as an "age of extremes." The Western industrialized nations underwent dramatic changes and traumatic crises. In this context of tumult and change, philosophers sought to reconceptualize the role and function of their discipline. The result was the development of three competing conceptions of philosophic practice: philosophy as regulative, philosophy as therapeutic, and philosophy as edification. x
  • 62
    James's Pragmatism
    Influenced by the work of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James created a theory of pragmatism, which held that the meaning of any idea can be found only in experience. James melded Nietzschean perspectivalism with the American thought of Emerson. James's project was a philosophical "Protestant reformation," with the individual rebelling against the authority of accepted truths and absolutes. The world is not fixed, James argued, but is constantly remade by us. Therefore, independent analysis of the world from a priori assumptions is impossible. x
  • 63
    Freud's Psychology of Human Nature
    Sigmund Freud's immensely influential theory rests squarely on his analysis of human nature. We seek to cope with inner turmoil through sublimation of our instincts, but as he says, our coping mechanisms are inadequate, and unhappiness is much easier to attain than happiness. Freud's conclusions are unquestionably pessimistic and powerfully expressed in his classic text, Civilization and Its Discontents. x
  • 64
    Freud's Discontents
    According to Marx and Freud, we are suffering from a common malady termed "the alienated split self." They say we can confront the problem of alienation constructively by raising our consciousness. Freud, in particular, perceives society as the collective expression of individual aggression. x
  • 65
    A.J. Ayer and Logical Positivism
    A. J. Ayer was one of the leading logical positivists. In Language, Truth, and Logic, he argued that philosophy should abandon the study of metaphysics and take up a detailed analysis of language. He argues that assertions that cannot be verified in empirical experience are "nonsense." Philosophy was to be the handmaiden of science, and the job of the philosopher would be to explain the meaning of scientific terms and logic. x
  • 66
    Max Weber and Legitimate Authority
    Max Weber is thought to be the founder of modern sociology. He studied power relations in societies as part of his effort to "demystify the world." His greatest insights were into the varieties of authority, and he offered a profound diagnosis of the ways power is legitimated and administered in modern bureaucratic societies. x
  • 67
    Husserl and Phenomenology
    This lecture focuses on Husserlian phenomenology as a response to positivism and historicism. Edmund Husserl was opposed to relativism, skepticism, historicism, and positivism because they attempted to explain mind in terms of nature rather than nature by way of consciousness. x
  • 68
    Dewey's Critique of Traditional Philosophy
    John Dewey's version of pragmatism represented the American values of democracy, progressivism, and optimism. Dewey was skeptical of truth, believing that what we call "truth" is simply what works best for us at the time. Man's moral ends are not eternal truths but are formed through customs and habits that change over time. x
  • 69
    Heidegger—Dasein and Existenz
    This lecture focuses on Martin Heidegger's early philosophy in Being and Time; his focus was on our place in the world, what he called Dasein, or simply, "being-there." From this seemingly simple starting point, Heidegger weaves a refreshing new way of thinking about knowledge, of ourselves, and our place in the world. x
  • 70
    Wittgenstein and Language Analysis
    Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that traditional metaphysics was flawed because it was based on mistakes in the use of language. The solution was to focus on those uses of language that cause confusion, using philosophy as a therapy against, in his own words, "the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language." x
  • 71
    The Frankfurt School
    Members of the Frankfurt School developed provocative and original perspectives on contemporary society and culture, including analyses of Fascism and the high-tech and consumer society that exists now. Drawing on Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Weber, the Frankfurt School synthesized philosophy and social theory to develop a critical theory of contemporary society. x
  • 72
    Structuralism—Saussure and Lévi-Strauss
    In this lecture, we consider the modern school of structuralism, an interdisciplinary approach to all branches of human knowledge that rejects all ontological and epistemological sources of meaning in favor of an antimetaphysical approach. This approach posits that all humanistic pursuits are the products of deep structures that predate human consciousness. x
  • 73
    Introduction
    Philosophy in the latter half of the 20th century was written in the context of accelerating and often disturbing changes in Western society, politics, and culture. Philosophers focused on two critical features of modernity, both inherited from the Enlightenment. One issue focused on modern political theory and practice, the other on the ideal of objective scientific rationality and progress. x
  • 74
    Hayek and the Critique of Central Planning
    Hayek was an economist and political philosopher. He is also well known for his critique of the ideal of "social justice." We will explore this and some of Hayek's other key ideas in social philosophy, including his interpretation of the rule of law, and conclude by discussing some continuing lessons that his ideas offer for societies such as our own. x
  • 75
    Popper—The Open Society and the Philosophy of Science
    Karl Popper wrote extensively on scientific issues and the history of ideas and was the author of The Open Society and Its Enemies, an impressive work in political philosophy. In this lecture, we will explore Popper's ideas about knowledge and politics and their connections. x
  • 76
    Kuhn's Paradigm Paradigm
    In this lecture, we will look at Thomas Kuhn's views, his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and his controversial ideas about the character of science. We will examine how he was led to refine his idea of a "paradigm" in light of criticism that he had used the term too loosely. Finally, we will look at the research to which Kuhn's ideas have led. x
  • 77
    Quine—Ontological Relativism
    Willard Van Orman Quine made major contributions to ontology, epistemology, and mathematical logic. His philosophy came at a time when logical positivism suffered setbacks in its attempts to reduce mathematics to logic. He attacked positivism's attempt to create a foundational first philosophy that would establish the meaning of language. x
  • 78
    Habermas—Critical Theory and Communicative Action
    Jürgen Habermas first major book on the origins, genesis, and decline of the public sphere showed how democracy was made possible by the rise of newspapers, literary journals, and public spaces where ideas critical of the existing order could be discussed and debated. Habermas made many contributions to philosophy and social theory and is today one of the most highly respected thinkers of our time. x
  • 79
    Rawls's Theory of Justice
    John Rawls's A Theory of Justice draws on the theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau to argue that the best society would be founded on principles chosen by rational citizens who would choose a system granting the most extensive liberties to its citizens while ensuring the maximum justice. The text has served as a philosophical defense of the modern welfare state. x
  • 80
    Derrida and Deconstruction
    In this lecture, we will consider the origins of deconstruction in the theories of Derrida, particularly as they were first presented to America in his (in)famous lecture, "Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" (1966). We shall see how Derrida, rather than work within the binaries of traditional metaphysics (or logocentrism), attempted to break down (or deconstruct) all such binaries. We shall contrast deconstruction from both Platonic and Christian thought and seek to understand the main terminology associated with deconstruction. x
  • 81
    Rorty's Neo-Pragmatism
    Richard Rorty argues that philosophers have traditionally sought to escape from history by searching for "truth." Rorty believes that truth can never be found imbedded in language but is merely a statement that we approve of. His pragmatism is the basis of his defense of the postmodern bourgeois liberalism of the West. x
  • 82
    Gouldner—Ideology and the "New" Class
    In the trilogy The Dark Side of the Dialectic, Alvin Gouldner presented a Marxist critique of Marxism itself. His analysis of the "new class" of intellectuals and others who earn their living from their education, not their ownership of capital, provides a necessary corrective to the Marxist idea of class struggle and helps explain why so many Marxists and radicals were not proletarians, but intellectuals. x
  • 83
    MacIntyre—The Rationality of Traditions
    Alasdair MacIntyre articulates a form of right-wing postmodernism, affirming the importance of traditions in contrast to the modern rejection of tradition and authority. He contends in After Virtue that modern moral reasoning is incoherent because it consists of ill-understood fragments of previous and more coherent traditions of moral reasoning. x
  • 84
    Nozick's Defense of Libertarianism
    In Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Robert Nozick asks us to consider that individuals have rights to their person and to their justly acquired property—and then asks us to take these ideas seriously. He offers several striking lines of criticism, including some reflections on democracy, redistribution, and justice, and a critique of the leading American political philosopher, John Rawls. x

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12 Professors
Dennis Dalton Alan Charles Kors Robert H. Kane Phillip Cary Louis Markos Darren Staloff Robert C. Solomon Jeremy Adams Jeremy Shearmur Kathleen M. Higgins Mark Risjord Douglas Kellner
Ph.D. Dennis Dalton
Barnard College, Columbia University

Dr. Dennis Dalton is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. He earned his B.A. from Rutgers University, his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Political Theory from the University of London.

Professor Dalton has edited and contributed to more than a dozen publications and has written numerous articles. He is the author of Indian Idea of Freedom and Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action. His fields of interests include classical and modern, Western, and Asian political theory; politics of South Asia, particularly the Indian nationalist movement; nonviolence and violence in society; and ideologies of modern political movements in Europe, India, China, and Africa.

Dr. Dalton served as a review editor for the Journal of Developmental Studies (London) and as a U.S. correspondent for the South Asian Review (London). He is a member of both the American Political Science Association and the Association for Asian Studies.

Professor Dalton has been honored with numerous teaching awards, scholarships, and grants, including the Barnard College Margaret Mead Award 2009 for Distinguished Teaching, the 2008 Barnard Commendation for Excellence in Teaching, a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a senior fellowship with the American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Gandhi Peace Foundation Grant.

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Ph.D. Alan Charles Kors
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Alan Charles Kors is Henry Charles Lea Professor of European History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching since 1968. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. He received postdoctoral fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Professor Kors won two awards for distinguished college teaching and the Engalitcheff Award for defense of academic freedom. He is president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Professor Kors is the author and editor of several books on European intellectual history, including D’Holbach’s Coterie: An Enlightenment in Paris; Atheism in France, 1660-1729: The Orthodox Sources of Disbelief; and Anticipations of the Enlightenment in England, France, and Germany. He is editor-in-chief of the four-volume Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. With Harvey A. Silverglate, he is coauthor of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses.

Professor Kors has served as a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities and on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals.

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Ph.D. Robert H. Kane
The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Robert H. Kane is University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his B.A. from Holy Cross College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University. In his three decades on the UT faculty, Professor Kane won no fewer than 15 major teaching awards. These include the Friar Society Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the President's Excellence Award, the Liberal Arts Council Teaching Award, and the Delta Epsilon Sigma Award for teaching introductory classes. In 1995, he was named an inaugural member of the university's Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Dr. Kane is one of the world's leading defenders of an anti-determinist conception of free will. He is internationally known for his efforts to reconcile such a notion with modern science. His writings comprised more than 60 articles and reviews and four books, including Free Will and Values (1985) and Through the Moral Maze: Searching for Absolute Values in a Pluralistic World (1994). Professor Kane's work, The Significance of Free Will (1996) won the Robert W. Hamilton Faculty Book Award and was the subject of symposia in major journals in Europe and the United States and a conference in the United States.

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Ph.D. Phillip Cary
Eastern University

Dr. Phillip Cary is Professor of Philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, where he is also Scholar-in-Residence at the Templeton Honors College. After receiving his B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, Professor Cary earned his M.A. in Philosophy and Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Yale University. Professor Cary is a recent winner of the Lindback Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching at Eastern University. He has also taught at Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Hartford. As the Arthur J. Ennis Post-Doctoral Fellow at Villanova University, he taught the nationally recognized undergraduate Core Humanities seminars on ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern thought. As a scholar, Professor Cary's specialty is the thought of Augustine, but he has also published scholarly articles on Luther, the doctrine of the Trinity, and personal knowledge. His most recent books include two on Augustine, Inner Grace and Outward Signs, both published by Oxford University Press in 2008, as well as a commentary on the book of Jonah, also in 2008, published by Brazos Press.

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Ph.D. Louis Markos
Houston Baptist University

Dr. Louis Markos is Professor in English at Houston Baptist University, where he also holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities. He earned his B.A. in English and History from Colgate University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Michigan. Professor Markos specializes in British romantic poetry, literary theory, and the classics and teaches courses in all three of these areas, as well as in Victorian poetry and prose, 17th-century poetry and prose, mythology, epic, and film. He received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the University of Michigan and was named the Opal Goolsby Teacher of the Year at Houston Baptist. Dr. Markos has published several articles and is the author of How C. S. Lewis Can Train Us to Wrestle With The Modern and Postmodern World.

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Ph.D. Darren Staloff
City College of New York

Dr. Darren Staloff is Professor of History at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He earned his B.A. from Columbia College and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Prior to taking his position at City College, Staloff served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia. He also spent three years as a preceptor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University. Professor Staloff is the recipient of a National Endowment of Humanities Fellowship, the President's Fellowship at Columbia University, and the Harry J. Carman Scholar at Columbia University. Professor Staloff has published numerous papers and reviews on the subject of early American history and is the author of The Making of an American Thinking Class: Intellectuals and Intelligentsia in Puritan Massachusetts (1998) and Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding (2005).

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Ph.D. Robert C. Solomon
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Robert C. Solomon was the Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for more than 30 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania and his master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Michigan. He held visiting appointments at the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Auckland, New Zealand; UCLA; Princeton University; and Mount Holyoke College. Professor Solomon won many teaching honors, including the Standard Oil Outstanding Teaching Award; the President's Associates Teaching Award (twice); and the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award. In addition, he was a member of Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UT, which is devoted to providing leadership in improving the quality and depth of undergraduate instruction. Professor Solomon wrote or edited more than 45 books, including The Passions, About Love, Ethics and Excellence, A Short History of Philosophy with Professor Kathleen Higgins, A Better Way to Think about Business, The Joy of Philosophy, Spirituality for the Skeptic, Not Passion's Slave, and In Defense of Sentimentality. He also designed and provided programs for corporations and organizations around the world. Professor Solomon passed away in early 2007.
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Ph.D. Jeremy Adams
Southern Methodist University

Dr. Jeremy Adams is Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Southern Methodist University. He earned his A.B., A.M., and Ph.D. in History at Harvard University. Prior to taking his post at SMU, Professor Adams taught medieval European history and served in the interdisciplinary History, Arts, and Letters program at Yale University. He has taught frequently in SMU programs in Europe at Madrid, Toledo, and Paris, as well as at University College, Oxford. For his teaching and scholarship, Professor Adams received the DeVane Medal from the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter of Yale, the Perrine Prize from the Phi Beta Kappa Chapter of SMU, and the Danforth Foundation's E. Harris Harbison Award. The student body of SMU has several times honored him as one of the Outstanding Professors on campus. Dr. Adams has published on a wide range of topics, including pre-modern European landscape history. His publications include Patterns of Medieval Society and The Populus of Augustine and Jerome: A Study in the Patristic Sense of Community, winner of the National Catholic Book Award for Scholarship in 1972.

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Ph.D. Jeremy Shearmur
Australian National University

Dr. Jeremy Shearmur is a Reader in Political Theory in the Faculty of Arts at The Australian National University. Professor Shearmur was educated at the London School of Economics (University of London), where he also worked for eight years as assistant to Professor Sir Karl Popper. Professor Shearmur's Ph.D. thesis on F. A. Hayek was a joint winner of the British Political Studies Association's Sir Ernest Barker prize in political theory. Prior to taking his position in Australia, Professor Shearmur taught philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and political theory at the University of Manchester. He also served as Director of Studies of the Center for Policy Studies and worked as a research associate professor for the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University. Professor Shearmur has published The Political Thought of Karl Popper (1966) and Hayek and After (1996) and was joint editor of H. B. Acton's The Morals of Markets and Related Essays (1993). He has also published numerous papers in philosophy and political thought.

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Ph.D. Kathleen M. Higgins
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Kathleen Higgins is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin, where she has been teaching for over 20 years. She earned her B.A. in Music from the University of Missouri at Kansas City and her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University. Professor Higgins taught at the University of California, Riverside, and she is a regular visiting professor at the University of Auckland. Her academic honors include appointments as Resident Scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center (1993) and Visiting Fellow of the Australian National University Philosophy Department and the Canberra School of Music (1997). She also received an Alumni Achievement Award from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1999). A prolific writer and recognized Nietzsche scholar, her books include The Music of Our Lives (Temple University Press) and Nietzsche's Zarathustra (Temple University Press), which was named one of the Outstanding Academic Books of 1988-1989 by Choice. She coedited numerous books with her husband, Professor Robert Solomon, including Reading Nietzsche, A Short History of Philosophy and the Routledge History of Philosophy, Volume IV: The Age of German Idealism.
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Ph.D. Mark Risjord
Emory University
Dr. Mark Risjord is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. He earned his B.A. in Philosophy and Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in Philosophy at The University of North Carolina. Prior to taking his position at Emory, Professor Risjord taught at Michigan State University. In 1997, Dr. Risjord was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by the Emory University Center for Teaching and Curriculum. He is the author of Woodcutters and Witchcraft: Rationality and Interpretive Change in the Social Sciences (2000). His articles and essays have been published in American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Psychology, and Perspectives on Science. In addition to his interest in the philosophy of anthropology, Dr. Risjord studies the philosophy of language and the philosophy of science.
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Ph.D. Douglas Kellner
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Douglas Kellner holds the George F. Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He earned his B.A. from Doane College, studied in Copenhagen, Tubingen, and Paris, and earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University. Before taking his position at UCLA, Professor Kellner taught philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin for more than 20 years. He also taught in Canada, Taiwan, Sweden, and Finland, where he received a Fulbright Fellowship. A popular lecturer, Professor Kellner has spoken in many American universities as well as in London, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Seoul, Tokyo, and other cities throughout the world. Professor Kellner is the author of many books on social theory, politics, history, and culture, including Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism and Camera Politica: The Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film. He coauthored with Michael Ryan, Critical Theory, Marxism, and Modernity and Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond; with Steven Best, Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations, Television and the Crisis of Democracy, The Persian Gulf TV War, Media Culture, and The Postmodern Turn.
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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by 68 reviewers.
Rated 3 out of 5 by Buy the CD and listen on a long trip This subject fascinates me. There was much valuable content. I wish, however, that I had gotten the CD rather than the DVD. The scholars know their subject matter, but often the lecture styles and personal presentation quirks distracted from the content. The best of the lecturers was Dr. Higgins. She was terrific. She not only knows her material, but presents it in a way, which grips attention. My only other complaint is the emphasis on religion rather than philosophy. I have noticed that the T.C. has a heavily Christian flavor to many of its courses. If listeners aren't built that way, it may be hard to listen to this course and others as well. November 6, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by A resource that I return to again and again This is an invaluable resource in helping the student to produce the "Grand unifying theory", or the Theory of Everything. It encompasses all the great ideas of Western Civilization and is an excellent companion to Bertrand Russell's "History of Western Philosophy". The pair together, and perhaps a simple textbook on Philosophy to group the ideas together (as both the book and series are chronological rather than grouped by subject) would complete the students understanding of the roots and trunk and branches of the Tree of Knowledge. Every listening brings fresh understanding. October 10, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by Disapointed in New Jersey I am a retired engineer who was educated in the late 1950s and at an institute where it was all engineering all the time. There was zero liberal arts content but I earned a degree in electrical engineering. Now in my third retirement I want to enrich my life by studying music, art, drama, literature, religion, and philosophy. I have purchased numerous courses and have been very pleased. Before starting my critique, let me first say that I applaud the Teaching Company for attempting to cram so much into 42 hours of instruction on philosophy. It would be a wonderful value if it only lived up to the promise in the course description. In my view it is simply a “bridge too far” and I have reluctantly returned the course. The course is far too large and I believe should have been organized a bit differently. I liked the notion of beginning at the beginning of philosophical thought but perhaps one might consider what man was thinking even before the pre-Socratics. This is definitely not a course for philosophical neophytes like me. 1. I don’t know how well these 12 professors collaborated but the presentations did not flow smoothly from one to the next. 2. Some were just boring and mostly read from notes and spoke in the language of professors trying to impress other professors and not from the perspective of the student. 3. Even though I have a computer system with two large screen monitors, and had the PDF version on one screen and the lecture on the other, read the course guide material before taking a lecture, I still had to pause most of the lectures and go to the Internet to get an explanation of terms in order to try to understand the topic at hand. 30 minute lectures took up to 75 minutes to complete. I finally had to resort to a philosophy textbook “Questions that Matter”. Now the question – how would I fix it! 1. Break the course into 3 or 4 courses covering the major epochs in societal development to include an introduction to philosophy. 2. Package the individual epoch courses to include a well-defined introduction going as basic as “what is philosophy” followed by detailed explanation of all the various schools of thought, i.e., form, idealism, materialism, etc. to be covered in the course. 3. While the course guide is somewhat helpful, a course of this magnitude should include the entire transcript of the lectures so that one trying to get a serious introduction to philosophy. 4. Provide for feedback during the development cycle of any course by allowing certain customers to preview and actual course and comment before releasing the course. In closing, again I applaud The Teaching Company for its great selection of material and plan to keep on buying courses as my retirement allows. July 24, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by Somewhat disappointing and Difficult to stay with! This is going to be the lowest rating of the 90+ courses I have purchased. It was very difficult to complete the 84 lectures as professors who handled a majority of the content were DRY, just read their notes, and at times seemed unprepared. Staloff, Cary, and Kane had me just wanting to return the course; something I cannot imagine doing. If you can get through the professor's presentation style there is good content. I greatly enjoyed Kors, Solomon, Markos, Higgins, and Kellner, as they displayed a natural flow of theory and information. Markos passion is wonderful and addictive; Kors, Solomon and Higgins lectures were like being at a fireside chat with and philosophical luminary. I did recommend the course as there is good content. May 31, 2014
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