The Foundations of Western Civilization : The Great Courses: Civilization & Culture

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Thomas F. X. Noble
  • Series: The Great Courses: Civilization & Culture
  • 24 hrs and 54 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary


What is Western civilization? According to Professor Noble, it is "much more than human and political geography," encompassing myriad forms of political and institutional structures - from monarchies to participatory republics - and its own traditions of political discourse. It involves choices about who gets to participate in any given society and the ways in which societies have resolved the tension between individual self-interest and the common good.
Within this series of 48 lectures, you'll discover the many ways in which Western civilization has addressed those questions, from its first stirrings in the great river valleys of Iraq and Egypt in 3000 B.C to the beginning of the 17th century and the dawn of the modern world. Your learning will cover vast amounts of territory and thousands of years, beginning in the ancient Near East and moving to Greece and then Rome. You'll explore ancient empires, including those of Persia, Alexander the Great, and Rome.
You'll watch as western Europe gradually expands, both physically and culturally. And you'll examine the globalizations of Western civilization with the Portuguese and Spanish voyages of exploration and discovery.
This broad and panoramic series, ripe with the telling detail on which history can turn, will help you pull an enormous sweep of history together into one coherent - though by no means closed - framework as you watch history develop under the influence of such critical factors as ecology and environment, geography, and climate; government and economics; technology; religion; work and leisure; philosophy; literature; art and architecture; and virtues, values, and aesthetics.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Excellent course!

This is my second, all time favorite history course thus far. I have only been a patron of the Great Courses for about 7 or 8 months when my favorite podcaster mentioned they were now on Audible. I highly recommend this particular course. The professor is very good at what he does, captivating, interesting, and knowledgeable.
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- Tyler "I've been a member here for a few years now. Nothing will ever replace printed books for me, but I do enjoy lots of things Audible has!"

Strong Recomendation With Caution

I give this lecture series five stars even though it has notable deficiencies. It is worth five stars because the author drives straight through a vast corpus of important matterial with single mindedness and with few deviations.

1) As noted in a number of reviews above the speaker is, shall we say, no Grover Gardener. He has a generally discordant manner of exposition not everyone can tolerate. I urge listeners to get used to it because the matterial is worth it.

2) He is either ignorant of the facts or intimidated by the powers that be [unlike Galileo] in stating there is no biological basis in defining race. Not only can DNA identify races it can tell from where an individual Icelander was born in any of nearly a dozen geographical areas in that small island. We have an entire industry that can tell you what percent of your genome was inherited from a Neanderthal. But this is a trivial observation.

3) I am entirely baffled he includes Islam as an inheritor of the Roman legacy. This seems entirely predicated on early Caliphate schollars who showed interest in ancient Helenistic literature and that because of this some of that litterature was passed along with commentary into later ages.It is not clear to me what percentage was actually passed along that otherwise would have been lost. I have tried to find out with but little success. The problem seems to be that these scholars obtained the texts from contemporary Byzantines who never lost them in the first place and lasted another five hundred years.
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- David "Hellicopter Man"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses