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Professor Alan Charles Kors, Ph.D.

Professor Alan Charles Kors
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Harvard University
Voltaire always has the last laugh on us all, which may be by design. Laughter was a weapon for Voltaire, and irony was essential to that laughter.

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.


"Professor Kors is an outstanding lecturer--enthusiastic, well spoken, knowledgeable, and inspiring.  If teachers were like him were more common, we'd be a much better educated society."


"Dr. Kors delivers a masterful presentation that holds your attention. The ideas and concepts proposed are often not easy to understand, but the professor does it in a straightforward way that does not envelope one in a fog of incomprehension."


"Dr. Kors has a way of striking interest for those new to philosophy as well as those with prior exposure to the Enlightenment.  More Kors, please."

3 Courses

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3 Courses

  1. Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment Sale

    Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment

    Alan Charles Kors, Ph.D.
    Save up to $115.00 Starting at $15.95 $19.95 $15.95$19.95
    In Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment, leading intellectual historian and Professor Alan Charles Kors shares with you his view of Voltaire as one of the most intriguing, influential—and elusive—thinkers of the modern world. Focusing on the most enduring aspects of Voltaire's work and thought, Professor Kors sketches a vibrant, thought-provoking vision of Voltaire as "the father of the Enlightenment"...
  2. Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

    Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

    Alan Charles Kors, Ph.D.
    Starting at $349.95 Starting at $349.95 $699.95 $349.95$699.95
    This course brings together 12 professors for 84 lectures on more than 60 of the most important thinkers in history. Enjoy the benefit of learning from the finest scholar-teachers active today while you study the key ideas of influential philosophers from the pre-Socratics to the Postmodernists. The curriculum is comprehensive, incisive, and thought-provoking—in short, an intellectual experience to be...
  3. Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries Sale

    Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries

    Alan Charles Kors, Ph.D.
    Save up to $205.00 Starting at $29.95 $49.95 $29.95$49.95
    Between 1600 and 1800, Europe was seized by an intellectual revolution that challenged previous ways of understanding and sparked radical changes in thought and life. Learn about the age of Newton, Descartes, Pascal, Locke, Rousseau, and more from one of world’s leading intellectual historians.