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The title of this course could have been "The Quest for Objective Values". The professor does an excellent job in the first part of the course of surveying the great philosophers and their positions on relative vs objective values and morals. To each great thinker's position, he offers the opposing view of another great thinker, effectively presenting relativism vs objectivism as an engaging debate that spans all of history.
He then spends the rest of the course defining his own position, which is that yes, there is an objective truth, and that humanity is on the cusp of discovering it. Or at least of discovering how to perceive it, which, in his view, seems to have something to do with recognizing that "aspirational" goals are just as real as achievable goals.
This latter part of the course seems outdated; it is set in a time when we (Americans) had more faith in government, less faith in torture, and more openness to working across party lines and religious divides than we do now. Some of the examples and thought experiments fall flat, given the changes in our culture that have come about since then. I would love to hear an updated version of the same material from the same professor. (His lecturing style, by the way, was excellent.)
The most memorable topic in the lectures, to me, was Plato's view of democracy. If Plato could see us now he would be entirely vindicated.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
We live in a time where cultures clash. It is no longer suitable to adopt a universal value system and suggest that everyone should follow this. If we try, which system do we choose? This dilemma has led to relativism, which suggests that every ethical/value system is as good as the next. However, this undermines what we know about the world. This course tackles relativism and provides a lot of insight and wisdom.
Lectures in Part 1 (the first 12 lectures) were a little slow for me because they tended to review different philosophical theories from history. I found this section remote and sometimes boring. Lectures in Part 2, however, were much more lively. They focused on what do we do once we know why were are in this situation, i.e., what is our modern approach to pluralism and relativism. I found Part 2 much more practical, thought provoking, and interesting.
The teacher is great and adds a lot of color to the lectures. My only gripe is that he goes from very loud to very soft. On headphones it was a pain to find the right volume setting.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I found this course challenging and rewarding. It's far from the first philosophy that I've read, so what I needed was a framework from which to hang it. This course was brilliant for contextualising some existing knowledge and creating new lines of thought.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I loved this course and found, while sometimes in disagreement with the ideas being presented, I was challenged to review my own ideas. Totally enjoyable.