The Great Courses: Intellectual History

20 books in series
4.5 out of 5 stars 6,375 ratings

The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition Publisher's Summary

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.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
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    • The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition

    • By: Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
    • Length: 30 hrs and 11 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,746
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,569
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,538

    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.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • A Hard Review to Write

    • By Ark1836 on 11-20-15

    Regular price: $59.95

    • The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions

    • By: Jay L. Garfield, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Jay L. Garfield
    • Length: 18 hrs and 42 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,164
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,044
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 1,030

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Thoughtful, Evenhanded, Precise, and Well Spoken

    • By George on 03-12-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • The Wisdom of History

    • By: J. Rufus Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: J. Rufus Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 18 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 333
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 308
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 304

    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?

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • A great performance on the myth of history

    • By Jason on 04-13-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition

    • By: The Great Courses, Alan Charles Kors, Darren Staloff, and others
    • Narrated by: Alan Charles Kors, Darren Staloff, Dennis Dalton, and others
    • Length: 43 hrs and 41 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 573
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 496
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 481

    For 3,000 years, mankind has grappled with fundamental questions about life. What is real? Who or what is God? When is it legitimate for one person to have power over others? What is justice? Beauty? This 84-lecture, 12-professor tour of Western philosophical tradition covers more than 60 of history's greatest minds and brings you a comprehensive survey of the history of Western philosophy from its origins in classical Greece to the present.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Fantastic overview

    • By Robin on 08-25-13

    Regular price: $59.95

    • A History of Freedom

    • By: Rufus J. Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Rufus J. Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 33 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 128
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 119
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 115

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Fantastic listen

    • By Tom on 02-13-17

    Regular price: $41.95

    • The Soul and the City: Art, Literature, and Urban Living

    • By: Arnold Weinstein, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Arnold Weinstein
    • Length: 6 hrs and 4 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4 out of 5 stars 49
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      4 out of 5 stars 47
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      4 out of 5 stars 46

    These eight lectures are a celebration of humanity and the rich texture of human experience. They are a fascinating focus on the complex artistic representations of city life from the 18th to the 20th century. Join Professor Weinstein as he reveals the portraits of humanity that came from several of the period's greatest artists, writers, and thinkers.

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • Can't do it

    • By Walter on 07-08-17

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Life Lessons from the Great Myths

    • By: J. Rufus Fears, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: J. Rufus Fears
    • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 163
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      4 out of 5 stars 144
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 141

    Change the way you think about some of the greatest stories ever told with this examination of the most important myths from more than 3,000 years of history. The ways in which the human imagination can transform historical events, people, and themes into powerful myths that endure through the ages is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Amaznig series of Lectures

    • By David I. Williams on 04-07-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century

    • By: Lloyd Kramer, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Lloyd Kramer
    • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 88
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 80
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 80

    In the 19th century, Europe was the crucible for most of the ideas, institutions, and "isms" that now shape the life of our entire planet-nationalism, capitalism, democracy, socialism, feminism, and the list goes on and on. But where did these ideas come from? Over the course of 24 sweeping lectures, Professor Kramer invites you to view intellectual history as a series of overlapping, interconnected dialogues....

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Very good summery

    • By Ben on 05-05-15

    Regular price: $34.95

    • European Thought and Culture in the 20th Century

    • By: Lloyd Kramer, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Lloyd Kramer
    • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 112
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 102
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 103

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A brilliant review of 20th-century Euro IH

    • By TIM Talks Cooking on 04-18-15

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Philosophy, Religion, and the Meaning of Life

    • By: Francis J. Ambrosio, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Francis J. Ambrosio
    • Length: 18 hrs and 39 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 74
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 65
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    What is the meaning of life? Is human existence meaningful or absurd? If you've ever pondered these questions, you have an extraordinary adventure in store, as an award-winning teacher presents a boldly revealing inquiry into these most fundamental of human concerns. In this inspiring series of 36 lectures, Professor Ambrosio charts how these questions have been pursued and grasped through the ages, providing you with the understanding and the tools to come to terms with them in a direct, practical way.

    • 2 out of 5 stars
    • Engaged Frustration!

    • By Michael D. Mullen on 01-31-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition

    • By: Grant Hardy, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Grant Hardy
    • Length: 18 hrs and 36 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 679
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 609
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    Western philosophy is a vast intellectual tradition, the product of thousands of years of revolutionary thought built up by a rich collection of brilliant minds. But to understand the Western intellectual tradition is to get only half the story. The Eastern intellectual tradition has made just as important a contribution-and is also the product of thousands of years of cumulative thought by a distinct group of brilliant thinkers. Their ideas demonstrate wholly different ways of approaching and solving the same fundamental issues that concerned the West's greatest thinkers, such as . the existence of God; . the meaning of life; and. the nature of truth and reality.This epic and comprehensive 36-lecture examination of the East's most influential philosophers and thinkers-from a much-honored teacher and scholar-offers a thought-provoking look at the surprising connections and differences between East and West. By introducing you to the people-including The Buddha, Ashoka, Prince Shotoku, Confucius, and Gandhi-responsible for molding Asian philosophy and for giving birth to a wide variety of spiritual and ideological systems, it will strengthen your knowledge of cultures that play increasingly important roles in our globalized 21st-century world.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Among the Best Great Courses = Don't Miss

    • By mc2 on 04-24-14

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Jewish Intellectual History: 16th to 20th Century

    • By: David B. Ruderman, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David B. Ruderman
    • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 55
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 50
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 49

    Over the last four centuries, a small group of thinkers attempted to answer a series of remarkably challenging questions: In a world having a history of untold suffering-especially, it seemed, for Jews-was the existence of an all-powerful and comforting God still tenable? What were the purpose and meaning of Jewish practices and customs? Could Jews still justify the notion of a chosen people in a social climate in which Jewish integration and full participation with the rest of humanity had become the norm?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A Gem! Best treatment of material I've ever read.

    • By Yury on 12-29-13

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Mohammed to Spinoza

    • By: David B. Ruderman, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David B. Ruderman
    • Length: 12 hrs and 5 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 89
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 83
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 81

    Experience the evolution of all of Jewish life during the 10 critical centuries from its rabbinic foundations in late antiquity until the dawn of modernity in the 17th century. During this time, Judaism was forever affected by its encounters with the surrounding social, economic, political, and intellectual environments of both medieval Islam and Christendom. As a result of those encounters, new pathways of philosophical inquiry and religious spirituality would be formed. The Hebrew language would find new ways of artistic expression. And the role of Jews in the life of the surrounding community would be changed forever.

    • 3 out of 5 stars
    • Starts slow and abstract, but improves

    • By Philo on 10-06-14

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Cycles of American Political Thought

    • By: Joseph F. Kobylka, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Joseph F. Kobylka
    • Length: 18 hrs and 14 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 88
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 80
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 82

    American history is often presented as a tale of dynamic movers and shakers who subdued an untamed wilderness on the way to forging a great nation-all the while leaving philosophy for their European counterparts.But this history neglects the philosophical underpinnings of America. As these 36 lectures demonstrate, America has borne the imprint of influential thinkers from its earliest days, from the Reformation theology of John Calvin to the Enlightenment philosophy of John Locke.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Thorough Review and Summary

    • By Chris on 01-19-15

    Regular price: $41.95

    • American Ideals: Founding a 'Republic of Virtue'

    • By: Daniel N. Robinson, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Daniel N. Robinson
    • Length: 6 hrs and 7 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 100
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 95
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 92

    An insightful 12-lecture course that explores the principles that guided the founding of the United States, the conditions that led to the break with Great Britain, and the creation of such founding documents as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.You'll deepen your understanding of fundamental ideas that inspired American independence and that continue to have a profound influence on American thought. You'll also receive insight into what historians call "the long conversation" in American society.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • So much more than anticipated

    • By Claus on 06-29-17

    Regular price: $14.95

    • Tocqueville and the American Experiment

    • By: William R. Cook, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: William R. Cook
    • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 96
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 82
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 83

    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?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great introduction to Tocqueville

    • By Lance on 11-14-13

    Regular price: $34.95

    • The American Mind

    • By: Allen C. Guelzo, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Allen C. Guelzo
    • Length: 18 hrs and 34 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 142
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 130
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 128

    In this course, you will delve deeply into the philosophical underpinnings of the nation, forged by the Puritans and the leaders of the American Revolution. You will also explore many other aspects of the elaborate structure that became modern America, tracing ideas in politics, religion, education, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, literature, social theory, and science - proving that Americans have a much richer intellectual tradition than generally imagined.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Required listening for any American

    • By Amazon Customer on 08-10-18

    Regular price: $41.95

    • Great Minds of the Medieval World

    • By: Dorsey Armstrong, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
    • Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 169
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 155
    • Story
      4.5 out of 5 stars 151

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Prof Armstrong at her best!!!

    • By BVerité on 08-13-14

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Books that Matter: The Prince

    • By: William Landon, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: William Landon
    • Length: 11 hrs and 1 min
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 338
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 304
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 303

    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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Dazzling

    • By 77Tango on 03-21-17

    Regular price: $34.95

    • Books That Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    • By: Leo Damrosch, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Leo Damrosch
    • Length: 12 hrs and 14 mins
    • Original Recording
    • Overall
      4.5 out of 5 stars 189
    • Performance
      4.5 out of 5 stars 168
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 168

    Published in six volumes between 1776 and 1781, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - for all its renown - can be intimidating. It contains one point five million words, an estimated 8,000 footnotes, a cast of 10,000 historical figures, and a timeline of more than 1,000 years. Yet even today, Gibbon's historical chronicle demands to be understood.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Definitely Worth Your Time!

    • By Carol on 03-16-17

    Regular price: $34.95