Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola.
"An Intriguing Lens on the Renaissance"
During his lifetime, Jean-Paul Sartre enjoyed unprecedented popularity for a philosopher, due partly to his role as a spokesman for existentialism at the opportune moment, when this set of ideas filled the spiritual gap left amidst the ruins of World War II. Existentialism was a philosophy of action and showed the ultimate freedom of the individual. In Sartre's hands, it became a revolt against European bourgeois values.
"In 90 Minutes Series overview"
Death in Florence illuminates one of the defining moments in Western history - the bloody and dramatic story of the battle for the soul of Renaissance Florence. By the end of the fifteenth century, Florence was well established as the home of the Renaissance. In an exhilaratingly rich and deeply researched story, Paul Strathern reveals the paradoxes, self-doubts, and political compromises that made the battle for the soul of the Renaissance city one of the most complex and important moments in Western history.
"Extravagant rich peacocks and true believers"
One of the two major philosophical traditions of the twentieth century was linguistic analysis, derived largely from Wittgenstein. The other, diametrically opposed, came from Heidegger, and its fundamental question was, "What is the meaning of existence?" For Heidegger, this question could not simply be "analyzed away". It was beyond the reach of logic or reason. It was the primary "given" of every individual life. To confront it, Heidegger needed to develop an entire new form of philosophy.
"Less isn't more"
Latin American literature was never primitive; yet, from its beginnings, it was suffused with a fresh, often childish lyricism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez stands on the shoulders of a great Latin American literary heritage, but he is a modern rarity: a writer with aspirations to high art who also remains hugely popular. For those who fall under his spell, his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the richest literary dreams ever written.
"Very good introduction to Marquez"
Aristotle wrote on everything from the shape of seashells to sterility, from speculations on the nature of the soul to meteorology, poetry, art, and even the interpretation of dreams. Apart from mathematics, he transformed every field of knowledge that he touched. Above all, Aristotle is credited with the founding of logic. When he first divided human knowledge into separate categories, he enabled our understanding of the world to develop in a systematic fashion.
"Trying to be a novelist"
The Republic of Venice was the first great economic, cultural, and naval power of the modern Western world. After winning the struggle for ascendency in the late 13th century, the Republic enjoyed centuries of unprecedented glory and built a trading empire which at its apogee reached as far afield as China, Syria, and West Africa. This golden period only drew to an end with the Republic's eventual surrender to Napoleon. The Venetians illuminates the character of the Republic during these illustrious years by shining a light on some of the most celebrated personalities of European history.
Spinoza's brilliant metaphysical system was derived neither from reality nor experience. Starting from basic assumptions, with a series of geometric proofs he built a universe which was also God, one and the same thing, the classic example of pantheism. Although his system seems an oddity today, Spinoza's conclusions are deeply in accord with modern thought, from science (the holistic ethics of today's ecologists) to politics (the idea that the state exists to protect the individual).
"Very Useful for the Beginner"
Kierkegaard wasn't really a philosopher in the academic sense. Yet he produced what many people expect of philosophy. His subject was the individual and his or her existence, the "existing being." In Kierkegaard's view, this purely subjective entity lay beyond the reach of reason, logic, philosophical systems, theology, or even "the pretenses of psychology." Nonetheless, it was the source of all these subjects. The branch of philosophy to which Kierkegaard gave birth has come to be known as existentialism.
Philosophy for busy people. Listen to a succinct account of the philosophy of Foucault in just one hour. The French philosopher Michel Foucault set about his task rather like a historian. After painstaking research, he concluded that knowledge and power were intimately related throughout history.
Philosophy for busy people. Listen to a succinct account of the philosophy of Russell in just one hour. Bertrand Russell claimed to be driven by three great passions that drove his personal as well as his intellectual life: a longing for love, a quest for knowledge and a heart-rending pity for human suffering. His philosophical outlook, which took deep account of the science of his time, was nonetheless rooted in logic and empiricism.
After narrowly avoiding a firing squad when he was just twenty-eight years old, Dostoevsky never took things lightly. His great novels burst upon the European literary scene like a succession of thunderbolts. His understanding of the darker and more extreme recesses of the human mind cast a forceful light into these areas of experience. The raw psychology and passionate involvement of his books galvanized writers and thinkers as disparate as Nietzsche and Kafka.
Just a century after it had begun, philosophy entered its greatest age with the appearance of Socrates, who spent so much of his time talking about philosophy on the streets of Athens that he never got around to writing anything down. His method of aggressive questioning, called dialectic, was the forerunner of logic; he used it to cut through the twaddle of his adversaries and arrive at the truth. Rather than questioning the world, he believed, we would be better off questioning ourselves.
"I thought it was OK"
David Hume reduced philosophy to ruins: he denied the existence of everything, except our actual perceptions themselves. I alone exist, he argued, and the world is nothing more than part of my consciousness. Yet we know that the world remains, and we go on as before. What Hume expressed was the status of our knowledge about the world, a world in which neither religion nor science is certain.
Karl Marx's devastating critique of capitalism, and his proposal of communism as the answer to the failings of the capitalist system, bore their greatest fruits in the twentieth century with the formation of the communist state in the Soviet Union. This great venture has now all but completely failed. Yet the force of the communist belief offered the prospect of "justice on this earth" to countless numbers. And Marx's critique has influenced generations of thinkers who call themselves Marxists.
"Save your 90 minutes"
With Friedrich Nietzsche, philosophy was dangerous not only for philosophers but for everyone. His ideas presaged a collective madness that had horrific consequences in Europe in the early 1900s. Though his philosophy is more one of aphorisms than a system, it is brilliant, persuasive, and incisive. His major concept is the will to power, which he saw as the basic impulse for all our acts. Christianity he saw as a subtle perversion of this concept, thus Nietzsche's famous pronouncement, "God is dead."
"A short biography"
A highly sensitive and intelligent child, Virginia Woolf grew up in a large family prone to psychological instability. Throughout her life, she was subject to periods of mental breakdown, yet when she was lucid she was capable of a uniquely perceptive and frank introspection. Under the influence of the Bloomsbury Group and their progressive social attitudes, she became experimental in her life and art, breaking with convention to produce some of the finest and most unique literary works of the 20th century.
Immanuel Kant taught and wrote prolifically about physical geography yet never traveled further than forty miles from his home in Kvnigsberg. How appropriate it is then that in his philosophy he should deny that all knowledge was derived from experience. He insisted that all experience must conform to knowledge. According to Kant, space and time are subjective; along with various "categories," they help us to see the phenomena of the world, though never its true reality.
Philosophy for busy people. Read a succinct account of the philosophy of Spinoza in just one hour.Spinoza’s brilliant metaphysical system was derived neither from reality nor experience. Starting from basic axioms (assumptions), by means of a series of geometric proofs he built a universe which was also God – one and the same thing, the classic example of pantheism.
Philosophy for busy people. Listen to this succinct account of the philosophy of Wittgenstein in just one hour. Ludwig Wittgenstein saw himself as ‘the last philosopher’. In his view, philosophy in the traditional sense was finished. A superb logician, Wittgenstein distrusted language and sought to solve the problems of philosophy by reducing them to the purest form of logic. Everything else - metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, finally even philosophy itself - was excluded.