I have friends on both sides of the aisle who, given Mr. West's even-handed criticism -- though you certainly get the sense he's more solidly behind his 'Liberal Structuralists' than his 'Conservative Behaviorists' -- could enjoy with minimized feelings of affront, his honest and trenchant analysis of problems we still deal with every day, particularly what he calls the 'nihilistic threat to black America,' a thread which wends through all of his essays.
Nihilism, for Cornell West: "the lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and most important, lovelessness. The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope and love breeds a cold-hearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others." In line with the Structuralists, pathological behavior, he says, didn't create, but results from the response of people "bereft of resources in confronting the workings of US capitalist society."
Though long references to Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, for instance, (I read this 2012) are at worst a historical footnote not evoking the same passion they might have when this was originally published, they are also, at best, indicative of types of psychological entanglements we deal with over and over in America, and West does a fantastic job of - after, understandably, a few remarks regarding the people themselves - laying bare the psychological underpinnings of such absurd and important American hijinks.
If, for instance, you are already a fan of the thought of W.E.B. DuBois and Ralph Ellison, then I dare say you'll love Cornell West -- who, by the way, reads his own work here in a pleasantly cadent baritone that only adds to the enjoyment (my one fine-tuning - and I'm glad Audible makes it available -- was to up the 'narrator speed' to 1.25x).
As usual, Dr. Creasy adds a good deal of useful knowledge and experience from his many years of Biblically-based travel and deep study of the texts and time period. His first-hand knowledge of tactics and warrior psychology opens up the story of David, Jonathan, Saul, King Aikish (sic?) and the warriors who followed them brilliantly, and his passion for the story he calls his "favorite in the whole Bible" is always apparent. Particularly rewarding (as well as funny) is his reading of the witch of Endor -- though I won't spoil it by further description here.
It's always worthwhile to have a map of Israel either in your head or in front of you, as he often refers to a visual we must imagine or find for ourselves. That such doesn't bother me is one indication of the enjoyment I've received from his recordings.
A short, sweet book explicated by a man whose love for the story of Ruth is apparent throughout. Dr. Creasy's deep familiarity with the geography, history and culture of the region, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible is paired with fresh characterizations that bring the people to life. Go, Dr. Creasy, go!
Professor Principe offers 36 well-organized, polished lectures in this course (which I've now heard for the second time).
He weaves common threads of discovery and development with (the part I find most fascinating) the complex motives, personalities and changing needs of the individuals and social structures of the eras considered.
The picture that emerges of household names like Galileo, Archimedes, Kepler, Newton, Copernicus &c. is often in stark contrast to the context-less barnacle-encrusted caricatures that are embedded in modern culture.
I still wish he would record a similar series for developments past the 17th century, but I'm glad to have spent my time and money on this course, and recommend it whole-heartedly to those who are interested in the rest of the story.
Judges is a difficult read. There are some terrible moments recorded here with little comment, either positive or negative, that induce many to find heaven in tacit agreement -- whereas others may be left scratching their heads. Dr. Creasy's ability to keep the context in the picture, and particularly to give a running comparison as to how God acts in other places, what He says and where the people are in the time-frame, was invaluable to my understanding of Judges (Joshua, likewise). I recommend this listen, and his other lectures (I'm on my second listen through) unreservedly.
I would have liked to have more lectures in this course (maybe a round dozen), but even in the short space alotted he makes some powerful points. These are backed up by a vast and easy scholarship and presented in a straightforward, sincere (bordering on colloquial) tone that never got dry. Though he could prove his points more thoroughly at times (again, a length issue), the examples he chooses are convincing and to the point. In fact, Professor Drout crystallized into words many of the feelings that had been bouncing around my brain which might never have reached communicable form. I'm looking forward to seeing what other material he has to offer!
Professor Lerer may rub you the wrong way a little when you first hear his voice; he did me.
I had that reaction, I think, because he enunciates each word with such excruciating clarity and exactness that it becomes at times distracting from the actual content of the lecture.
It was only a little further into the course, however, that this very trouble, that is the shifting of focus between the meaning of the sentences/sections/thoughts and the individual words (free from direct context, highlighted by the intentionality with which he executes them) became a source of joy and reflection that added tremendously to the experience. I'm sure this was one of his goals in constructing these polished lectures.
His apparently deep knowledge of the pronunciation of old and middle English, including the various dialects, makes listening to his readings of Chaucer, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Beowulf, Cadmon and even Shakespeare (reconstructed to sound as it would have if you were hearing it circa 1600) really thrilling.
I'm going to find his other courses after reviewing this one. Highly recommended!
I bought this course to freshen up my knowledge, having spent a while away from the works of Plato (and never having spent much time reading Aristotle, and hoping to use this course to inspire me so to do).
Professor Bartlett lays out a very clear outline of each lecture, and has a definite architecture that he lays out in the first lectures and sums up with in the last. This organization is particularly useful in the latter part of the course, where he presents some very complex, nuanced and occasionally even contradictory arguments from Aristotle's Ethics and Politics (these works are the meat and potatoes of the entire section on Aristotle).
I particularly enjoyed the professor's ability to keep the various characters and frames of reference (vital to understanding what Plato is doing in the dialogues, as Prof. Bartlett makes clear) in the picture. I feel that my understanding of the Apology, Euthyphro, Republic and particularly (if surprisingly) Aristophanes' The Clouds has been deepened considerably.
Note that Aristotle's natural philosophy works and metaphysics are mentioned but not discussed here, the focus being Aristotle's takes on morality, virtue and the good life, which dovetails nicely with the earlier part of the course.
The time spent with Xenophon's Socratic dialogues was a nice surprise, as I hadn't encountered them before and they form a refreshing counterpoint to Plato's far more ironic and subtext-laden dialogues.
This is a course to which I will have to listen again, and possibly a third time, before the plenitude of approaches, responses, and developments to the great questions which Professor Hardy presents here can find firm purchase (not to mention the number of unfamiliar, hard to pronounce and/or similar sounding names).
That may well not be the experience for those who are more familiar with Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages (to name those with which I had the most difficulty), culture and history. I, on the other hand, grew up with a strong grounding in Western Civilization, with little to no attention paid to any other except in very broad strokes - one reason I bought this course.
That said, the histories and ideas he delineates are interwoven into a well thought out tapestry, and though he seems to plow through a dozen names in a few lectures, you get the sense that he's very carefully cherry-picked those he mentions.
Overall, I recommend it, but have a caution if you plan on breezing through this - such an approach may be wasted effort.
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