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Publisher's Summary

Grasp the important ideas that have served as the backbone of philosophy across the ages with this extraordinary 60-lecture series. This is your opportunity to explore the enormous range of philosophical perspectives and ponder the most important and enduring of human questions - without spending your life poring over dense philosophical texts.
Professor Robinson guides you through more than 2,000 years of philosophical thinking and gives you a coherent, comprehensive, and beautifully articulated introduction to the great conversation of philosophy. Every lecture contains substance that can change your view of the world and its history.
You'll journey from the early philosophical ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; chart the origins of Christian philosophy and investigate the Islamic scholars who preserved and extended Greek thought during the Middle Ages; and venture through Enlightenment contributions to philosophy, from Francis Bacon to Locke, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Adam Smith.
Then shift your attention to the modern era, where you see groundbreaking ideas like psychoanalysis, pragmatism, and nihilism, as well as the collision between the inherently social understanding of meaning created by Wittgenstein, the vastly different estimation of human thought developed by the code-breaking genius Alan Turing, and the subtle response to him made by the American philosopher John Searle.
While the lectures cover an enormous range of key thinkers and ideas, they always focus on the most important ideas. The result is a course that gives you everything you need to finally grasp humanity's exciting philosophical history - without years of intense academic study and piles of dense reading.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By W. Morgan on 09-24-13

Great overview with some degree of detail

I found this to be a thought-provoking and interesting overview of many of the major philosophers and their respective reasonings and arguments. This isn't a scant overview where you get a handful of minutes on profound thinkers, you get a little bit more than - usually at least one full lecture and often more when the philosopher or philosophy is refered back to in later lectures.

The Professor clearly has mastery over his course and it's a pleasure to have had he opportunity to sit in on his classes while in my car, or on my lawn mower.... or layed out on the couch/floor.

I definitely recommend this as a great starting point and believe it will push you to consider or read/listen to more writings/lectures on the subject or, at least, on a particular philosophy or philosopher.

4/5 stars represents something I'd possibly listen to again - and I very well may - probbaly selectively based upon interest in a particular lecture or two. Trying to get away from LOVING everything I hear - but I'm frequently failing. This one slips to just shy of 5 because it didn't have me so 'eager' to continue listening at every breath of my day.

Thanks,
Will

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41 of 43 people found this review helpful


By Ark1836 on 11-20-15

A Hard Review to Write

This is one of the hardest reviews I have written. I have struggled with deciding how to judge this course. There are aspects that I really enjoyed. The professor is clearly brilliant and knows the material very well. If anything, the professor's brilliance and knowledge of the material may be too good because many, but not all, of the lessons are taught at higher than a beginner's level. I took this course to fill a gap in my education. During college, Introduction to Philosophy was an elective course that I never managed to work into my schedule. I have enjoyed using the Great Courses to fill in gaps in my education by taking the classes that I simply did not get around to in college. So, I was hoping for Philosophy 101. This course, though, was more like Philosophy 201 or 301. Throughout, the professor used terminology that he did not adequately define or assumed the listener already understood. Despite the professor being highly knowledgeable and a quality presenter, his failure to explain terminology made following portions of the course very difficult. My opinion is not completely negative, and I certainly learned some things from the course. I particularly enjoyed the last ten lessons where he summarized different philosophical approaches to topical areas such as medical ethics, legal theory, justifications for war, aesthetic judgments and the existence of God.

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54 of 57 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Andrew on 12-02-13

Well presented introduction to philosophy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The book covers philosophy from the start of civilisation to modern times - with some thematic discussions at the end. It is largely focused on western ideas, although there were passing references to eastern thought, particularly early on. So a really good overall introduction, best supplemented with supporting reading. It tackles some difficult concepts and does, at times, require work from the listener (ie. full concentration and time to digest ideas): I repeated some parts 2 or 3 times to get the full meaning. Overall very stimulating and largely enjoyable.

What about Professor Daniel N. Robinson’s performance did you like?

The American lecturer had a pleasant and warm tone, clearly and naturally spoken, with a few endearing tics such as saying "do you see?" at the end of some particularly complex example or explanation - or to emphasise a point. As the lectures developed it was interesting to build a picture of his personal perspectives - on some challenging issues, which is not to say that arguments were not presented in the round.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

These lectures were stimulating and had the impact of returning me to other books to further develop my understanding.

Any additional comments?

There was a lot crammed in - most of the major figures of philosophy are touched on. Also a focus on some ideas not normally treated as "philosophical" eg. USA constitution and Freud. An excellent initial overview.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful


By John on 01-19-15

What a great idea!

Fabulous romp through history and it's formative ideas. The reader is interesting to listen to, has a great grasp of the subject and witty to boot.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Linda Branson on 08-19-17

Great overview of philosophy and noted figures

What did you like most about The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition?

A great intro to philosophy for people who haven't studied it before (like me). Goes through a lot of history and how it relates to present day thinkers, which is very enlightening.<br/><br/>Narrator is excellent; very thoughtful explanations and demonstrates different sides of philosophical arguments.<br/><br/>Really enjoyable reading.

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By Lewis on 01-28-17

Wordy, hard to follow, lots of fluff

What disappointed you about The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition?

The lecturer's language was unnecessarily complex and he spent a lot of time discussing 'fluff'. So the lectures were difficult to follow and in the end he didn't communicate very much of substance. Unfortunately, I found them to be low-yield.

Has The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition put you off other books in this genre?

No, but it has put me off other books by this lecturer.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Daniel N. Robinson?

Definitely Professor David K. Johnson. I've listened to a lot of philosophy lectures by the Great Courses and he is the best by FAR - excellent communicator, philosopher and teacher.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition?

There was so much 'fluff' in each lecture. He spent so much time telling stories, discussing dramas and characters, digressing from the core issues. I would have preferred a much more detailed discussion of the actual philosophical ideas, arguments for and against each idea, whether there is any modern expert consensus regarding the ideas and how the ideas have developed over time.

Any additional comments?

Please get Professor David K. Johnson to do a similar lecture series. I would purchase anything written and narrated by him!

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