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Publisher's Summary

Revolutions in thought (as opposed to those in politics or science) are in many ways the most far-reaching of all. They affect how we grant legitimacy to authority, define what is possible, create standards of right and wrong, and even view the potential of human life. Between 1600 and 1800, such a revolution of the intellect seized Europe, shaking the minds of the continent as few things before or since. What we now know as the Enlightenment challenged previously accepted ways of understanding reality, bringing about modern science, representative democracy, and a wave of wars, sparking what Professor Kors calls, "perhaps the most profound transformation of European, if not human, life."
In this series of 24 insightful lectures, you'll explore the astonishing conceptual and cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. You'll witness in its tumultuous history the birth of modern thought in the dilemmas, debates, and extraordinary works of the 17th and 18th-century mind, as wielded by the likes of thinkers like Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Pascal, Newton, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau.
And you'll understand why educated Europeans came to believe that they had a new understanding - of thought and the human mind, of method, of nature, and of the uses of knowledge - with which they could come to know the world correctly for the first time in human history, and with which they could rewrite the possibilities of human life.
©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Maura on 01-28-16

Astonishingly engaging

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 implications 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.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

By Ann Hearn on 09-15-15

Fascinating Period, Brilliantly Explained

I purchased "The Birth of the Modern Mind" after being captivated by Professor Kors lectures on Voltaire. There is a little overlap with Voltaire of course, but even more helpful was the clear and fascinating description of what came before and what evolved in the 17th and 18th Centuries. Development of ideas, thought, science, big questions of religion and philosophy of the times are accessible through the professor's enthusiastic and knowledgeable presentation.

As in his Great Courses book on Voltaire, each half-hour lecture is dense with information, but easy to understand. Each lecture is an excellent companion to a walk on a nice day. And as I mentioned in my review of the Voltaire, Prof. Kors has a distinctive style of talking and accent, so much at first you might go, "oh, I'm not sure I can listen to this" - but that enthusiasm, passion, and humor makes him come alive as if you were sitting in a favorite professor's classroom. Give him a chance if you are at all interested in the history of thought, ideas, and many of the issues that still fuel our modern day discussions of truth, faith, intellect and science.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Andrea Zuvich on 04-28-15

Absorbing and enlightening

What made the experience of listening to The Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries the most enjoyable?

The amount of information included in this course was excellent - even though I study all these things, I still found it fascinating and I came away thinking about the philosophical topics in a better way.

Who was your favorite character and why?


What does Professor Alan Charles Kors bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Some other reviewers have been overly harsh about Professor Kors’s delivery and pronunciation. It’s a lecture series and he has a regional accent. Get over it. Honestly, some of the negative reviews nearly made me refrain from purchasing the series altogether and I’m glad I didn’t do that. I would have missed out. I actually find the professor’s pronunciation quite endearing really. And anyway, it’s supposed to be about the content – and that is great. Professor Kors obviously has a lifelong passion for the intellectual history of the 17th and 18th centuries and his enthusiasm is wonderful to listen to.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By anonymous aussie on 04-09-17

Helped with my study

Would you consider the audio edition of The Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries to be better than the print version?

They compliment each other.
So no - both equally valuable for obvious reasons.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Kors delivers in a slower pace - which I believe is to allow the listening student to absorb/note points of interest or relevance.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I like how Kors unfolds the information to you.
It's digestible and easy to follow.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Repeat plays for this one.

Any additional comments?

Great buy.
I'm really glad I chose it, as it gave me an alternative perspective on the period I am studying, from an expert in that particular field.
Kors loves his topic and easily relays the important stuff to you as the listener but in an informal, relaxed form.

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