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.
Professor Robinson guides you through more than 2,000 years of philosophical thinking and gives you a coherent, comprehensive, and beautifully articulated introduction to the great conversation of philosophy. Every lecture contains substance that can change your view of the world and its history.
You'll journey from the early philosophical ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; chart the origins of Christian philosophy and investigate the Islamic scholars who preserved and extended Greek thought during the Middle Ages; and venture through Enlightenment contributions to philosophy, from Francis Bacon to Locke, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Adam Smith.
Then shift your attention to the modern era, where you see groundbreaking ideas like psychoanalysis, pragmatism, and nihilism, as well as the collision between the inherently social understanding of meaning created by Wittgenstein, the vastly different estimation of human thought developed by the code-breaking genius Alan Turing, and the subtle response to him made by the American philosopher John Searle.
While the lectures cover an enormous range of key thinkers and ideas, they always focus on the most important ideas. The result is a course that gives you everything you need to finally grasp humanity's exciting philosophical history - without years of intense academic study and piles of dense reading.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
I favor history, non-fiction, lectures, and the occasional purely fictitious work. I also listen to many children's books with my family.
I found this to be a thought-provoking and interesting overview of many of the major philosophers and their respective reasonings and arguments. This isn't a scant overview where you get a handful of minutes on profound thinkers, you get a little bit more than - usually at least one full lecture and often more when the philosopher or philosophy is refered back to in later lectures.
The Professor clearly has mastery over his course and it's a pleasure to have had he opportunity to sit in on his classes while in my car, or on my lawn mower.... or layed out on the couch/floor.
I definitely recommend this as a great starting point and believe it will push you to consider or read/listen to more writings/lectures on the subject or, at least, on a particular philosophy or philosopher.
4/5 stars represents something I'd possibly listen to again - and I very well may - probbaly selectively based upon interest in a particular lecture or two. Trying to get away from LOVING everything I hear - but I'm frequently failing. This one slips to just shy of 5 because it didn't have me so 'eager' to continue listening at every breath of my day.
Articulate, nuanced, explanatory
Philosophy is the greatest subject matter to which humans turn their attention, and Professor Robinson pinpoints knowledge, conduct and governance as the three great themes of human history and experience, then explores these in a way that draws the listener in. This man knows and loves his subject.
He is erudite without being pompous, and very easy to listen to. His tone is discursive, with the light and shade generally found in conversation but not in reading -- he doesn't give the impression that he is reading out his lecture notes.
yes - but good luck! 60 lectures. Extraordinary value.
Get this one if it's the only course you buy.
I bought this for leisure and I found it to be thoroughly educational, inspirational and most importantly fun to listen to
There is no doubt that Robinson is extremely learned. He's also a little self-impressed. His style can sometimes catapult you into the stars, or drive you nuts, depending on how well you're paying attention. Now, if your looking for a linear take on the history of philosophy, where the lecturer lays everything out according to a strict chronology and a "cause and effect" approach, you would probably do better with another overview. Yet if you're interested in being pulled through 2,500 years of thought according to an extremely erudite professor, who has, mind you, some eccentricity thrown in for good measure, than you will appreciate this approach. In other words, Robinson likes to go for the big ideas. And he likes to spend a lot of time building up to those big ideas. If you're patient and can follow his near-prose style of speaking, it does pay off. And, to his credit, he's working very hard to set things up so you can have your own epiphany with the ideas, which is what great philosophy professors should do. But then again, sometimes you just want the facts, and you want them laid out clearly and concisely. I sometimes found myself thinking "this is amazing," and other times, I found myself thinking, "ok, yeah, yeah, yeah, think I'll forward to the next lecture now." In all he gave me some great insight, some "great ideas," but I did feel it was a lot of work sometimes, and a lot of highs and lows.
Robinson is smart as hell and passionate, and this comes across in many of the lectures. He seems to do a little bit better with modern philosophy, starting with Bacon.
You're best off finishing a lecture if you happen to start it.
liking the sound
I am fascinated by philosophy and it's history, but this treatment of it was an incredible waist of time. You hear very little interesting substance of philosophy. Also, let it be noted this is all Western Philosophy, which is fine, but philosophically speaking India and China were centuries ahead of the west for most of human history and that's where a lot of the good stuff is. There was also a Christian bent to the lecture which was distracting. It was weird to hear someone teach philosophy, while maintaining a religious circular logic. In fact in his grand conclusion for how to live the best life (as if there is one answer for everyone) he claims that happiness would be to live the life of Mother Teresa. This is a perfect example with the problem with Daniel Robinson. Mother Teresa struggled with horrible lifelong depression and misery (read her letters if you don't believe me.) I'm not sure if Robinson is unaware of this, if he thinks happiness is irrelevant to a good life, or if he simply thinks his listeners aren't aware. Either way, his conclusions are strange and he seems to try to wrap philosophy into a justification for Christianity. I'm not trying to knock his beliefs, but if I had to listen to class on philosophy as a way of justifying Islam or zoroastrianism I would find it pretty useless too. I don't know how this guy got to teach a class in anything.
Generally I love the great courses and look forward to the next one I listen to.
If the professor had stuck with philosophy and kept the theology to himself.
Instead try "Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines" or just do Will Durant
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
With the exception of a single lecture about Islam, this course focuses on European and American philosophy. While it is good and detailed about Western philosophy, I was hoping for an all-encompassing look at global philosophy.
Absolutely not. It started out in Greece and Rome not bad... but then Christianity came along and it became extremely biased and devoted to promoting the author's faith and its supposed genius.
Passionate. Biased. Christian.
I was very disappointed. He's intelligent and he has promise, but he sees the world through a "Christianity is perfect" lens which just does not make sense for a supposed critical-thinking piece of work.
Don't bother unless you're already very devoted to being Christian.
I use Audible books to educate myself on topics I'm interested in.
Yes. It contained a number of ideas worth thinking about more and/or revisiting.
From Socrates to Sartre, by T. Z. Lavine. Both books attempt to cut a large swathe through western philosophical thought; Lavine's work tends to go more in depth, however, since it deals with fewer philosophers.
Great courses: yes. I'll avoid dr Robinson, however. He was difficult to listen to.
The title is misleading. It should be something like: Western European thought leaders.
He was slow and did not hold my attention.
I'm not saying it was awful, it was just not for me. According to this course no one out side of westerns had any thoughts on life worth covering. The 5 min devoted to the Middle East was to say that they were nothing more than stewards of the great ideas of Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Other than that: no contributions.
The lack of attention to other cultures is at least one sided, but could be addressed in a better title. the way the Middle East was covered, however just seemed inappropriate, and insulting.
I enjoy The Great Courses series and this one was great. It is a survey of the world’s top philosophers and their ideas. But be prepared for the long haul - this audio book is over 30 hours long. But the presentation is well prepared and delivered in a style to prevent boredom. This is one that I certainly will listen to several times.
"Well presented introduction to philosophy"
The book covers philosophy from the start of civilisation to modern times - with some thematic discussions at the end. It is largely focused on western ideas, although there were passing references to eastern thought, particularly early on. So a really good overall introduction, best supplemented with supporting reading. It tackles some difficult concepts and does, at times, require work from the listener (ie. full concentration and time to digest ideas): I repeated some parts 2 or 3 times to get the full meaning. Overall very stimulating and largely enjoyable.
The American lecturer had a pleasant and warm tone, clearly and naturally spoken, with a few endearing tics such as saying "do you see?" at the end of some particularly complex example or explanation - or to emphasise a point. As the lectures developed it was interesting to build a picture of his personal perspectives - on some challenging issues, which is not to say that arguments were not presented in the round.
These lectures were stimulating and had the impact of returning me to other books to further develop my understanding.
There was a lot crammed in - most of the major figures of philosophy are touched on. Also a focus on some ideas not normally treated as "philosophical" eg. USA constitution and Freud. An excellent initial overview.
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