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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
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
I bought this course as an introduction to philosophy in general, and that is what I'm basing my review on.
The professor doesn't try very hard to integrate the thoughts of each lecture into a bigger conceptual scheme. I felt very isolated from one lecture to the next. The lectures are good enough in content, and would be great if you just wanted to turn on a lecture here or there to hear some random topic in philosophy talked about by an educated person. But as an intro to philosophy it falls short.
If you're looking for a conceptual scheme dealing with the progression of philosophy and giving a more comprehensive intro, I highly recommend the "Great Minds in the Western Intellectual Tradition" from the Great Courses.
This is one of the hardest reviews I have written. I have struggled with deciding how to judge this course. There are aspects that I really enjoyed. The professor is clearly brilliant and knows the material very well. If anything, the professor's brilliance and knowledge of the material may be too good because many, but not all, of the lessons are taught at higher than a beginner's level. I took this course to fill a gap in my education. During college, Introduction to Philosophy was an elective course that I never managed to work into my schedule. I have enjoyed using the Great Courses to fill in gaps in my education by taking the classes that I simply did not get around to in college. So, I was hoping for Philosophy 101. This course, though, was more like Philosophy 201 or 301. Throughout, the professor used terminology that he did not adequately define or assumed the listener already understood. Despite the professor being highly knowledgeable and a quality presenter, his failure to explain terminology made following portions of the course very difficult. My opinion is not completely negative, and I certainly learned some things from the course. I particularly enjoyed the last ten lessons where he summarized different philosophical approaches to topical areas such as medical ethics, legal theory, justifications for war, aesthetic judgments and the existence of God.
These lectures go from philosopher to philosopher, which is fine, but the purpose of each lecture I felt was lost in the details. Each philosopher has something to add, but I tended to get lost in the fog of considerations, thought experiments, and refutation.
This is a long and interesting course, but has many shortcomings. Here are my thoughts on this course:
1- This is not a traditional course. It is not organized or structured like other Great Courses. I found that many lectures introduced ideas that have nothing to do with the lecture's theme. Also, I struggled to find a theme at all for many of the lectures. This is a discussion, not a course.
2- Despite the above, I found the discussion to be interesting. It was engaging and thought provoking, but to me It just wasn't a good way to learn about the great ideas of philosophy. The ideas were too unstructured and random for me to capture and learn coherently.
3- The professor is eloquent and knowledgeable,but has a tendency to complicate ideas by using unclear language. At times, I felt the ideas to be very simple but the language used to explain them is twisted and exaggerated.
4- The professor, being a Christian, emphasized Christian philosophy. I was hoping for a fair or equal review of all religion philosophies, and those philosophical views that might question religions.
Lots of great information, just too much of his personal biases influence the information. Overall a great course that makes me want to read these works and form my own opinions.
First, I recognize that the professor is extremely knowledgeable and I most often enjoyed his delivery. Unfortunately, some of the lectures go from crystal clear to completely opaque within minutes. I've sometimes gone back to the start of a given lecture to take another go at comprehending what it is he's talking about, which didn't always help.
Prior to this course, I purchased both "Nietzsche" and "The Modern Intellectual Tradition" which I enjoyed very much. Even with these as background, I still found "Great Ideas" tough to fully understand and appreciate.
Again, I have no doubt that he knows his material thoroughly. If you're well-grounded in the material you may already know all this; and if you aren't, you may never understand it as well as you'd like.
I always thought discussions on philosophy were a waist of time but I really enjoyed my first foray into this arena. The lecturer was a very good speaker and kept the subject fresh at the same time keeping most of his thoughts on philosophy till the very end of the book. I will definitely try more books in this series.
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