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Lectures / Disk 7


Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition (Part III, From the Renaissance to the Age of Reason)  
Featuring Various Professors

DISK 7.1 
Lecture 25: Introduction/ Staloff
In this lecture, Darren Staloff talks about the period from the close of the 15th century to the end of the 17th century. Philosophically speaking, this epoch opens with the Age of the Renaissance, a rebirth of classical learning and art. The 17th century was characterized by a tension between the rational philosophic speculation and the traditional religious beliefs.

Lecture 26: Machiavelli and the Origins of Political Science/Staloff
This lecture explains Machiavelli’s purposes in writing “The Prince” outlining his practical advice for gaining and keeping political power. It is a leading work of political realism which marks the departure from the classical idealist tradition related with Plato.

Lecture 27: Moore’s Utopianism/Staloff
Sir Thomas Moore was a Renaissance man, a Christian saint known for his devotion and integrity; a member of Parliament, a diplomat and an ambassador. Moore’s book “Utopia” reveals a Christian-humorist view on an ideal society stressing its similarities to and differences from Plato’s “Republic”.

Lecture 28: Erasmus Against Enthusiasm/Adams
Adams lectures on Erasmus, the most outstanding Christian humanist of modern Renaissance. He was a model of disciplined scholarship, literacy, elegance, and refined friendship. He spent his life fighting ignorance and superstition.

Lecture 29: Galileo and the New Astronomy/Kors
The state of astronomy in academic thought derived from the ancient world. Among the intellectual movements that arose were the Aristotelian scholastics adapted by the astronomer Ptolemy. This movement was challenged by the neo-Pythagorean thought viewed in terms of mathematics and geometry. Kepler’s work is also examined in this lecture in relation to the previous, along with the quantitative reality of Galileo who openly argued against Aristotle.

Lecture 30: Bacon’s New Organon and the New Science/Kors
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was a philosopher and politician who criticized the western intellectual inheritance and argued against the tradition and traditional philosophies. His work “The New Organon” was a daring challenge to Aristotle’s “Organon” dealing with the New kinds of methods of knowledge.

DISK 7.2 
Lecture 31: Descartes – The Method of the Modern Philosophy/Kors
Descartes like Bacon (previous lecture) sought to reconstruct all human knowledge. His dream was to gain a perfect knowledge of being, to explain why and how things happen. His work “Meditations” was an exploration of non-Aristotelian certainty of the ‘fixed’. Descartes, challenging traditional thinking, also showed that the physical world was matter in motion according to the laws of mechanics.

Lecture 32: Hobbes – Politics and the state of Nature/Dalton
Professor Dalton talks about Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher who lived in a time of turmoil during international and civil war. He based his political philosophy on a theory of human nature declaring that people are ruled by passion and not by reason. Hobbes’s great work of political theory, ‘Leviathan’, is discussed in this lecture.

Lecture 33: Spinoza – Rationalism and the Reverence for Being/Staloff
Spinoza was greatly influenced by Descartes’ philosophy being himself one of the most challenging thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition. His principle works “The Ethics” is an expression of metaphysical monism, meaning that the world is reduced to a single substance rather than two substances (body-mind) as Descartes supported.
Lecture 34: Pascal – Skepticism and Jansenism/Kors
This lecture deals with Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) who abandoned his career in mathematics and physics to devote himself to holiness and religion. He became involved with the heretical division known as Jansenism.

Lecture 35: Bayle – Skepticism and Calvinism/Kors
Like Pascal (previous lecture), Pierre Bayle was an influential author of the 17th century and early 18th century. Philosophical skepticism is the belief that we may know nothing with certainty and Bayle addressed religious issues as a free thinker demonstrating the incompatibility of reason with faith.

Lecture 36: Newton and Enlightened Science/Kors
Isaac Newton played a domineering role in the intellectual and scientific revolutions of the 17th century. Eighteen months after receiving his bachelor’s degree at Cambridge, he formulated the law of gravity, though he forgot about this theory for twenty years. In 1684, nearly twenty years later, he was invited to explain his views to a gathering of great scientific minds that were astonished by his mathematical proof of the law of gravity. This lecture discusses Newton’s work and the Newtonian triumph.

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