I don't like existentialism philosophy, but I liked this lecture series. It allowed me to understand other philosophers through the lens of Existenti..Show More »alism, and I got to understand Kant, Schopenhauer, and learn learn more about Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. I liked the hour and a half he devoted to Heidegger so much, I ended up buying "Being and Time" from Amazon.
I would strongly recommend watching the BBC production of the play "Huis Clos" ("In Camera", or also called "No Exit") freely available on YouTube before or after listening to this lecture. I did and am glad for the understanding it brought. The heart of this lecture series is really Jean-Paul Sartre and a lot of what he thinks is within this highly watchable and freely available play.
Even if you think Existentialism is passe (a word the lecturer uses), and you don't particularly like Existentialism this lecture has more than enough to keep you entertained. As with almost all of these Great Course series, I don't know of anything else where I get as much value for my one credit, and because of this series I'm violating one of my rules and plan on reading a difficult book because this series has piqued my interest that much in Heidegger.
On the whole, I thought this was a worthwhile course. Although I was familiar with most of the philosophers and philosophical movements covered in the..Show More » course, I got introduced to some I had not heard much about before. His summary of Hegel is particularly excellent, since Hegel is notoriously hard to summarize.
However, I admit to being rather disappointed by the lecturer's aside about "Foucault's exploration of sexuality - which he also explored in his personal life, and died of AIDS". I found this unnecessary and subtly homophobic. Furthermore, it had the effect of subtly eroding the potential validity, or objectivity of this theorist's work.
It was a little thing. But when I heard it, it disappointed me and forced me to question the objectivity of many of the lecturer's earlier assertions on philosophers I knew less about.
This is a very comprehensive course on Nietzsche. Not just his works and his thoughts, but there is a rather helpful and contexualizing of his life as..Show More » well.
It's a real pleasure to listen to lecturers who love their subject. A few, though by no means all, of these Courses series are taught by people who have a really selective preference for certain parts of what their teaching, but not all of it, and it shows.
Professors Higgins and Solomon are tremendous fans of Nietzsche's work; it comes through in their passion and enthusiasm for the topic and it makes some of the harder-to-grasp concepts presented much easier to take on board.
I also really appreciated some of the back and forth, dialogic style of the presentation. It made the apologetics more vibrant and fertile.
Professor Kors has an uncanny ability to enter into the spirit and motivations of the creative minds of this period, and to convey the drama and impli..Show More »cations of their discoveries and creations. I am a voracious reader of history, philosophy, and intellectual history, and I have learned so much, and now have so many tempting side trails to explore. This man loves his subject, and would be just my kind of conversation partner: a delight.
This was one of my favorite Great Courses. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. My only real exposure to Voltaire before this was reading C..Show More »andide in high school. The professor has such passion for the topic, and manages to pass it on to the listener. I felt I learned so much about not just Voltaire but the times he lived in, especially about the forces in French society that led to the revolution, and the figures of the Enlightenment that continue to impact us today.
I thought Prof. Kors was one of the best professors in the Great Courses series -- I always looked forward to listening to him.
I also thought this one was perfect on audio. I never had any confusion because this wasn’t in video form. And I find I make much more progress on Great Courses that are in audio since I’m not tethered to the TV. That said, anyone new to the Great Courses should realize that they sound like a professor lecturing (which is what it is) and not like a narrator reading an audiobook. I actually find that more engaging, but I realize some listeners prefer a smooth narration, rather than someone lecturing from a podium.
The title of this course could have been "The Quest for Objective Values". The professor does an excellent job in the first part of the course of surv..Show More »eying the great philosophers and their positions on relative vs objective values and morals. To each great thinker's position, he offers the opposing view of another great thinker, effectively presenting relativism vs objectivism as an engaging debate that spans all of history.
He then spends the rest of the course defining his own position, which is that yes, there is an objective truth, and that humanity is on the cusp of discovering it. Or at least of discovering how to perceive it, which, in his view, seems to have something to do with recognizing that "aspirational" goals are just as real as achievable goals.
This latter part of the course seems outdated; it is set in a time when we (Americans) had more faith in government, less faith in torture, and more openness to working across party lines and religious divides than we do now. Some of the examples and thought experiments fall flat, given the changes in our culture that have come about since then. I would love to hear an updated version of the same material from the same professor. (His lecturing style, by the way, was excellent.)
The most memorable topic in the lectures, to me, was Plato's view of democracy. If Plato could see us now he would be entirely vindicated.
Are you reading this review because of free will or have all the variables that comprise "you" lead you to read this review? Typical scientif..Show More »ic reasoning suggests that if you knew all of the variables contributing to an outcome, then the laws of nature could predict the outcome. Why then do we think that we are the exception to this logic? These lectures tackle these types of questions.
The scope of these lectures is too vast to summarize easily. Indeed, sometimes I felt lost amongst all of the different schools of thought. The content of these lectures is approachable but advanced. It brings together many different philosophical ideas. The later lectures were more accessible as they touched on the application of these philosophical ideas to concepts such as crime and punishment, brain function, and quantum mechanics.
This is not a lecture series I would recommend to someone new to philosophy or to someone that has only a passing interest in philosophy. These lectures require careful listening and some thought. I would, however, recommend them to someone that is very interested in philosophy. I enjoyed them.
I love the Great Courses. This is only the second Professor I haven't been able to stomach. He obviously knows his material, but his delivery is so ..Show More »dry that I can't stay focused. I'm bummed I wasted a credit.
Stunned by the negative review of this wonderful lecture series. I can't imagine anyone halfway versed in metacognition having any problems following ..Show More »this material, supplements or no. Granted, I have done a lot of study in this area and from much more in-depth books than this, but anyone should find this a greatly enlightening book on the process of human thought and logic. I recommend it be read with Novallis' The Deceptive Mind and perhaps Ridgley's Strategic Thinking. Unlike the other reviewer, I have yet to come across a lecture series in The Great Courses that I didn't absolutely love and devour. I wish I could somehow work them into my own classrooms.
Excellent speaker, really interesting material. Addresses various means of attempting to determine what is right and good that have emerged throughou..Show More »t the centuries and their implications with regard to the pursuit of meaning, justice and happiness. Worth listening to more than once!
The course attempts to define conservatism and then track its evolution through the ages in both the U.K. and the U.S.. One learns how the philosophie..Show More »s have evolved and in some cases taken divergent paths based on the impact of the U.S. civil war, the world wars, industrialization, the rise and fall of communism, etc. It's a fascinating journey that attempts to explain why, for example, "conservatives" in the U.S. would be anti-gun control and anti-socialized medicine, while "conservatives" in the U.K. would be supportive of such measures.
This is an excellent survey of the philosophical foundations of Western political thought. It covers not only the foundations of Western political t..Show More »hought (Plato and Aristotle) but also recent developments in western political thought (the animal rights movement and feminism). The explanations are clear, objective, and without a lot of philosophical jargon. At a certain point the standard becomes Liberal Republicanism and it is against this standard that other alternate theories are measured. That privileging of Liberal Republicanism seemed unnecessary to me. Yet when alternate theories are presented their critiques of Liberal Republicanism are presented as well. I will most certainly be listening to this book again. It's worth it.
I liked Professor Gimbel's explanations of the different areas of science. He did a good job explaining how the science came into being. What questi..Show More »ons the science is trying to solve. I found his explanations of relativity and quantum mechanics very good. It helped me understand these areas that fascinate me from a outsiders view a little better.
These lectures start at the lowest quantum levels and go all the way up to cosmic levels. Then the lectures follow the same kind of path of understanding humans going from psychology to sociology. The last lecture talks about big data analytics and how amazingly predictable humans surprisingly are. Interesting stuff. It's long but I am glad I listened.
I get irritated by people who think philosophy is a waste of time. A course like this one shows how profitable it is to learn critical reasoning and ..Show More »why it is so important for understanding our place in the universe. Most of the tough questions asked in the series don't have a cookie cutter answer, but all of them provided a method for approaching the question more profitably.
For example, on the nature of identity, what does it mean to be the same person over time ("ship of Theseus" question), he will show that it's probably more profitable to realize that the categories and labels that we put on the concepts about self identity are convenient fictions, and there just might not be a way to answer the question properly. He'll say perhaps as in the Dr. Who TV show that an episode from season one is different from an episode from last season, but they are connected because they are part of the same series. We aren't episodes, but are the series of events that make us up.
I loved the beginning lectures on the nature of knowledge and how absolute knowledge is best thought of as justified true believe. That series of lectures on knowledge and science (and there were several) helps put "philosophy of science" in perspective for me.
One note, I had listened to his course on Metaphysics. Get this one instead, because most of the lectures from that course seemed to also be on this one, and you get a lot more lectures in this course including most of the ones on the other one thus giving you better value for your money.
[I'll give a warning, if you're certain in your belief systems and have no doubt in your faith based things, this lecture might be a disconnect for you because he'll pretty much state that the soul makes no sense, God might not exist, free will is not what you think it is, and so on. As for me, I love learning things that challenge my world view and can recommend this lecture series for anyone who feels the same].