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The Great Courses: Philosophy & Intellectual History


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  • Books that Matter: The Prince

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 1 min)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor William Landon
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (111)

    Should leaders be feared or loved? Can dictators give rise to democracy? Should rulers have morals or wear them like a mask? Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince puts forth unsettling questions like these, whose answers redefined centuries of political wisdom. But what does it really mean to be Machiavellian? These 24 lectures are more than just a close reading of one of the great books of Western history.

    Timothy J. Gannon says: "Delightful learning experience"
  • Books That Matter: The Analects of Confucius

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert André LaFleur
    Overall
    (56)
    Performance
    (50)
    Story
    (49)

    With these 24 accessible lectures, enjoy an adventurous exploration of one of the world's most important philosophical texts. Filled with rich historical context, detailed close readings of key passages, expert interpretations of larger cultural trends, and stories of Confucius and his most notable students (and critics), these lectures are required learning for anyone who wants a solid understanding of Eastern philosophy - and the ways a single book can cross cultures and go on to inspire an entire world.

    dean says: "Weak content"
  • The Big Questions of Philosophy

    • ORIGINAL (19 hrs and 1 min)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David K. Johnson
    Overall
    (488)
    Performance
    (436)
    Story
    (427)

    We have all pondered seemingly unanswerably but significant questions about our existence - the biggest of all being, "Why are we here?" Philosophy has developed over millennia to help us grapple with these essential intangibles. There is no better way to study the big questions in philosophy than to compare how the world's greatest minds have analyzed these questions, defined the terms, and then reasoned out potential solutions. Once you've compared the arguments, the final step is always deciding for yourself whether you find an explanation convincing.

    Gary says: "No easy answers, just easy questions"
  • Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Steven Gimbel
    Overall
    (1852)
    Performance
    (1673)
    Story
    (1646)

    No subject is bigger than reality itself, and nothing is more challenging to understand, since what counts as reality is undergoing continual revision and has been for centuries. The quest to pin down what's real and what's illusory is both philosophical and scientific, a metaphysical search for ultimate reality that goes back to the ancient Greeks. For the last 400 years, this search has been increasingly guided by scientists, who create theories and test them in order to define and redefine reality.

    John says: "Good overview of multiple areas of science"
  • Great Minds of the Medieval World

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Dorsey Armstrong
    Overall
    (109)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (97)

    In this gallery of extraordinary minds, you’ll encounter the leading lights of a world-shaping era, including figures such as Maimonides, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, and Francesco Petrarch. Professor Armstrong goes to great lengths to bring these historic figures to life, revealing both the great intellectual contributions and the personal strivings, challenges, and triumphs of some of history’s most remarkable human beings.

    Sean says: "Discovering new heros"
  • The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Lawrence Cahoone
    Overall
    (303)
    Performance
    (270)
    Story
    (268)

    Without even realizing it, we all use the fruits of political philosophy. From liberty to democracy to community, the terms and concepts originated by political philosophers are ingrained in our global consciousness. Yet many of us have an incomplete picture of how these ideas developed and, quite possibly, a skewed perception of their intentions and implications. This highly relevant course sheds light on the labyrinth of Western political and social theory, as well as its influence on modern history.

    Dana Garrett says: "An Excellent Survey of Western Political Thought"
  • Exploring Metaphysics

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, David K. Johnson
    • Narrated By Professor David K. Johnson
    Overall
    (511)
    Performance
    (447)
    Story
    (443)

    This mind-bending tour of metaphysics applies philosophy to the forefront of today's knowledge. Over the course of 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Johnson thinks through the big questions about humans and the universe: The relationship between the mind and the brain, how consciousness emerges from neurochemical processes, the existence of God, human free will, the possibility of time travel, and whether we live in a multiverse or even a computer simulation.

    Gary says: "Quantum physics is weird this lecture is not"
  • The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (30 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Daniel N. Robinson
    Overall
    (765)
    Performance
    (674)
    Story
    (653)

    Grasp the important ideas that have served as the backbone of philosophy across the ages with this extraordinary 60-lecture series. This is your opportunity to explore the enormous range of philosophical perspectives and ponder the most important and enduring of human questions-without spending your life poring over dense philosophical texts.

    W. Morgan says: "Great overview with some degree of detail"
  • The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Jay L. Garfield
    Overall
    (766)
    Performance
    (685)
    Story
    (676)

    What is the meaning of life?It's a question every thoughtful person has pondered at one time or another. Indeed, it may be the biggest question of all-at once profound and universal, but also deeply personal.We want to understand the world in which we live, but we also want to understand how to make our own lives as meaningful as possible; to know not only why we're living, but that we're doing it with intention, purpose, and ethical commitment.

    George says: "Thoughtful, Evenhanded, Precise, and Well Spoken"
  • Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, David Zarefsky
    • Narrated By Professor David Zarefsky
    Overall
    (465)
    Performance
    (391)
    Story
    (386)

    What is effective reasoning? And how can it be done persuasively? These questions have been asked for thousands of years, yet some of the best thinking on reasoning and argumentation is recent and represents a break from the past. These 24 engaging lectures teach you how to reason, how to persuade others that what you think is right, and how to judge and answer the arguments of others - and how they will judge yours.

    liam says: "If you are on the fence, Get it!"
  • Augustine: Philosopher and Saint

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Phillip Cary
    Overall
    (125)
    Performance
    (110)
    Story
    (105)

    These 12 illuminating lectures paint a rich and detailed portrait of the life, works, and ideas of this remarkable figure, whose own search for God has profoundly shaped all of Western Christianity. You'll learn what Augustine taught and why he taught it – and how those teachings and doctrines helped shape the Roman Catholic Church. These lectures are rewarding even if you have no background at all in classical philosophy or Christian theology.

    AlexIndia says: "Core principles"
  • The Wisdom of History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor J. Rufus Fears
    Overall
    (160)
    Performance
    (151)
    Story
    (146)

    Do the lessons passed down to us by history, lessons whose origins may lie hundreds, even thousands of years in the past, still have value for us today? Is Santayana's oft-repeated saying, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," merely a way to offer lip service to history as a teacher-or can we indeed learn from it? And if we can, what is it that we should be learning?

    Ian says: "Best set of lectures in the great courses"
  • The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Lawrence Cahoone
    Overall
    (387)
    Performance
    (338)
    Story
    (334)

    What is reality? Ask yourself whether you can actually know the answer, much less be sure that you can know it, and you've begun to grapple with the metaphysical and epistemological quandaries that have occupied, teased, and tormented modern philosophy's greatest intellects since the dawn of modern science and a century before the Enlightenment.

    Gary says: "Learn to answer the big three questions"
  • No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Robert C. Solomon
    Overall
    (712)
    Performance
    (606)
    Story
    (588)

    What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom, life has continued to exert a profound attraction.

    Gary says: "Good for even a non-existentialist"
  • Tocqueville and the American Experiment

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor William R. Cook
    Overall
    (54)
    Performance
    (46)
    Story
    (47)

    Participate in a spirited exploration of Alexis de Tocqueville and his unique observations of this young nation that resulted in the two volumes of Democracy in America. How is it possible that perhaps the greatest book about U.S. democracy ever written was penned by a Frenchman visiting this country 175 years ago? Why is it still relevant in today's ever-changing political landscape?

    Lance says: "Great introduction to Tocqueville"
  • Natural Law and Human Nature

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Father Joseph Koterski, S.J.
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (35)
    Story
    (35)

    Natural law is the idea that there is an objective moral order, grounded in essential humanity, that holds universal and permanent implications for the ways we should conduct ourselves as free and responsible human beings.These 24 in-depth lectures consider the arguments for natural law, the serious objections that have been raised against it, and the ways, despite all overt criticisms, it remains a vital and even pervasive force in political, moral, and social life today, even while traveling under another name.

    Dan says: "Natural law and human rights"
  • A History of Freedom

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Rufus J. Fears
    Overall
    (60)
    Performance
    (55)
    Story
    (53)

    It can be argued that one simple idea-the concept of freedom-has been the driving force of Western civilization and may be the most influential intellectual force the world has ever known. But what is freedom, exactly? These 36 engaging lectures tell the dramatic story of freedom from ancient Greece to our own day, exploring a concept so close to us we may never have considered it with the thoroughness it deserves.

    Knitting Nerd says: "Outstanding history"
  • Philosophy of Religion

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor James Hall
    Overall
    (57)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (49)

    These 36 intellectually challenging yet remarkably clear lectures take you on an intellectual journey to explore the questions of divine existence, not from the standpoint of theology, but as an issue of epistemology, the classic branch of philosophy that concerns itself with knowledge theory: how we can know things and how we can know we know them.If you enjoy wrapping your mind around questions for which every potential answer triggers a new set of questions and issues, you will find this course particularly enjoyable, regardless of whether you define yourself as a believer, an atheist, or an agnostic.

    Deep Reader says: "A Study on the Philosophy of Religion"
  • The Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Kathleen M. Higgins, Professor Robert C. Solomon
    Overall
    (560)
    Performance
    (494)
    Story
    (478)

    Who was Friedrich Nietzsche? This lonely and chronically ill, yet passionate, daring, and complex man is perhaps the most mysterious and least understood of all contemporary philosophers. Why are his brilliant insights so relevant for today? How did he become the most misinterpreted and unfairly maligned intellectual figure of the last two centuries?

    Catherine Spiller says: "An apology (classical sense) for Nietszche"
  • European Thought and Culture in the 20th Century

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 21 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Lloyd Kramer
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (58)
    Story
    (58)

    As a sequel to European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century, Professor Kramer tackles the major intellectual themes and debates that decisively shaped 20th-century European culture. These 24 lectures cover an amazingly wide range of thinkers and writers, the key historical circumstances and challenges they faced, and the fascinating and subtle ways in which their works relate to one another and to the larger story of modern European culture.

    kpazdetodo says: "A brilliant review of 20th-century Euro IH"
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