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Lectures / Disk 9


Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition (Part V, The Age of Ideology) 
Featuring Various Professors

DISK 9.1 
Lecture 49: Introduction/ Staloff
This introductory lecture takes us into the 19th century, an era characterized by transformations in Europe, witnessing growing political unrest and turmoil, economic and technological changes. The first phase of the 19th century European high culture is associated with romanticism which came to reject the rationalism and the scientism of the Enlightenment period.

Lecture 50: Kant’s “Copernican Revolution”
Immanuel Kant was one of the greatest modern philosophers and his influential work “The Critique of Pure Reason” discusses knowledge, reason, science, and metaphysics. In this famous work Kant puts forth two central questions for the modern age: why are modern science and mathematics so successful in giving us reliable and objective knowledge? Why do we find it so hard to get similar knowledge and agreement about the great questions of metaphysics or philosophy --about god, the soul, free will, and ethics?

Lecture 51: Kant’s Moral Theory/Kane
This lecture continues to examine Kant’s works and his views about morality and value which appeared after his “Critique of Pure Reason”. His later work addresses questions about morality and philosophy through practical reason in connection to how we ought to live.

Lecture 52: Burke – The Origins of Conservatism/Shearmur
Edmund Burke was a politician and lecturer who developed his political thought in speeches, writing in the style of a rhetorician rather than an academic. In this lecture Burke’s key elements in his argument against the French Revolution are examined and how this can be squared with his support for the American Revolution.

Lecture 53: Hegel – History and Historicism/Staloff
Hegel is the father of modern historicism and idealism, one of the most profound thinkers about the meaning and the course of history. According to Hegel, history concerns a developmental process which proceeds in necessary phases, allowing us to understand the artistic, scientific, and philosophical outcomes of each phase.

Lecture 54: Marx – Historical Materialism/Staloff
Karl Marx’s historical materialism is an attempt to answer Hegel’s idealist explanation of history. Marx claims that real history begins only when technology has solved the problem of production and makes reference to two fundamental entities: actual historical persons and the forces of production. In this lecture these entities and laws of development are discussed.

DISK 9.2 
Lecture 55: Marx – On Alienation/Dalton
Professor Dalton lectures on Marx’s idea of alienation in his theory. His concept of the self is defined by basic needs of substance, sex, and labor, leading to a state of alienation. This alienated self can only be liberated through communism and after human nature experiences the alienation of capitalism. The lecture ends by answering the question, “is Marx still relevant?”

Lecture 56: Mill’s Utilitarianism/Solomon
John Stuart Mill was an outstanding British philosopher of the 19th century. He was a logician, a social thinker, an economist, and an outspoken defender of individual liberty. He was a defender of women’s right and the author of “On the Subjection of Women”. In moral philosophy he was the classic defender of utilitarianism, a moral philosophy based on the main theories of ethics.

Lecture 57: Kierkegaard and the Leap of Faith/Cary
In this lecture we turn to a Danish Christian philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard. He tried to make Christian faith possible again by making it harder: Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice Isaac, is used as an example. The crucial issue for Kierkegaard is that making belief too easy makes it impossible. So he supports the opposite task: to make belief possible by making it more difficult.

Lecture 58: Schopenhauer – The World as Will and Idea/ Higgins
Schopenhauer, like most of his German contemporaries, was an idealist and one of the major influences on Schopenhauer was the eastern philosophy of Buddhism. The core of his theory examined in this lecture is that reality, ‘the thing in itself’ is not unknowable as Kant had claimed (previous lecture). Instead it is known to us as Will, through our particular activities of willing. However the Will is full of self-conflict. Human life has no hope of satisfaction and only through sainthood can life’s suffering be appeased.

Lecture 59: Nietzsche – Perspectivism and the Will to Power/Solomon
This lecture continues with another German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. In the beginning of his career he was influenced by Schopenhauer (previous lecture) whom he later rejected. This lecture focuses on Nietzsche’s perspectivism, the view that there is no metaphysical ‘thing in itself’ and therefore no one truth or truths about the world.

Lecture 60: Nietzsche – The Death of God, Morality, and Self-Creation/Higgins
Continuing with Nietzsche, this lecture focuses on his infamous attack on Judeo-Christian religion and morality along with the project of self creation. The notion that God is dead serves as a motif for many of Nietzsche’s central issues which employ his perspectivism that there is no single viewpoint or method that serves as the true view of things.

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