In 24 lectures that let you see the world through the eyes of the Enlightenment's greatest writers, follow the origin of new ways of thinking-ideas we today take for granted but are startlingly recent-about the individual and society. You'll discover how these notions emerged in an era of transition from a world dominated by classical thought, institutional religion, and the aristocracy to one that was increasingly secular, scientific, skeptical, and middle class.
These lectures are essentially about ideas and about books-how great ideas are alive and powerful in the pages of significant written works. The guiding premise is that the best way to appreciate the thinking of a given period is to explore its literature. You'll note or discuss at length a range of novels, autobiographies, and biographies from the 1670s to the 1790s, including The Pilgrim's Progress, Candide, The London Journal, The Social Contract, Confessions, and Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
If you haven't already done so, this is your opportunity to familiarize yourself with this remarkable collection of works. What was, after all, the modern self that the Enlightenment invented? This engaging lecture series suggests that it was a new human insight, one that rejected absolute or easily generalized explanations and embraced the conflict, confusion, and paradox of life. It was a new and dynamic account of human life-one that continues to both benefit and afflict us. And in the company of a master educator, you can finally discover why our everyday lives in the modern world are indebted to the writings of the Enlightenment thinkers.
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