The Modern Scholar

  • by Fred E. Baumann
  • 8 hrs and 19 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

With the characteristically human abilities to reason and imagine comes, apparently inevitably, the longing for imaginary but plausible places and conditions where everything is exactly as it should be and all our needs and desires are satisfied, including the need not to be jaded by satisfaction.Professor Fred E. Baumann looks at what some philosophers have had to say on this subject, mostly in the form of stories about utopias. Five are written by great philosophers and the last by a challenging, nearly contemporary American scholar. All have exerted great influence on the history of thought or have expressed influential currents of thought. Professor Baumann's lectures not only examine these texts, but also address the results of attempting to put these utopias into practice.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Maybe one day, when I do all his work for him...

What would have made The Modern Scholar better?

I enjoy hearing the actual Discussion and Information on subjects, not simply hearing what conclusions the lecturer has reached themselves after reading the material 'skipped' actually addressing... The course covers lots of books but, by the lecturer's own admission, the course is not meant to actually tell you What is in the books, but to give you lots of conclusions drawn from material you have not yet covered... in the hopes that once you Have read all of the material, it will Finally somehow become coherent and the conclusions listed will Finally be explained sufficiently for you to Begin to think about them... Basically, I'd appreciate presentation of the MATERIAL itsself and not a discussion of what he thought about the material after he read it... which He Knows you have yet to read...

It's just pointless commentary that can only be either taken as read on some sort of 'faith' in his own 'Expertise' on the material, Or left completely hanging untill such time as you get the material, read it seperately, and then return in future to EACH AND EVERY PASSAGE to Then Apply that MISSING INFORMATION to the contemplation of what the lecturer has drawn from it...

I would rather have a lecturer who's intention is to REPRESENT the materials covered in a comprehensive way that allows for understanding and contemplation Without necisitating somehow Seperately Studying material to only Then return to the lecture to glean Any substance at all.

Would you ever listen to anything by Fred E. Baumann again?

No. He seems to think it is not his responsibility to actually Teach or Cover subjects but simply to Grace us with a list of his own opinions on topics, he knows full well, we do not, as yet, understand... Moreover, he insists on 'covering' topics and materials that by his own admission are difficult, dense, and posessing of a multitude of opinions to be drawn By 'skipping' the actual material... like it's not his job to 'bother' to teach it...

How could the performance have been better?

Teach the class! Don't Tell the class what you think they might think if they ever get someone to teach it to them. That's Your Job!

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration. Especially among philosophic and political subjects, giving students the info to judge your own opinions for themselves should be your FIRST priority... Dictating conclusions you just 'expect' your students to come to - especially when you don't even explain enough satisfactorally for them to even completely understand your own basis for the conclusions You draw just seems insulting and kinda completely misses the point of study of these subjects. All philosophy, sociology, and political students are interested in exploring subjects With their Own powers of reasoning and rationalisation. If your class Isn't here to present that material, Why would I bother - if I STILL have to do all the work alone eventually anyway.

Any additional comments?

I've read lots of the Modern Scholars, this speaker just gets lazy and doesn't really want to do the Real Work of Covering Material... chosing instead to just talk about his own opinions - BUT EVEN THEN without giving sufficient material to understand even Those Conclusions! I'd be better off skipping his jabber and just reading the book list...
two hours into it, that's exactly what I decided to do!

Read full review

- Jonathan

Provocative and stimulating, albeit conservative

This is the most engaging and provocative entry in the "Modern Scholar" series. Despite the huge differences that divide my view of politics from Baumann's (I consider myself much more left-leaning), I was challenged by his strong arguments, which are very difficult to refute. He is particularly harsh on Rousseau and Marx, and you can feel a conservative animus driving his critique of Rousseau in particular (his stunning advice about how to read Rousseau at the end of the last lecture about him is much worthier than the critiques that precede it). But it's an animus, not a bias; he's passionate about the material, and communicates his sense of the stakes with piquancy and concision. He gives all the thinkers under consideration their due, without using the occasion as a personal soapbox. He even has some memorable one-liners. And that's everything that one could ask for from a professor.

N.B. You can probably tell from my review that the title of Baumann's course is misleading. This course isn't about the question of human perfectability, let alone about utopian literature. It's about some classic theorists' attempts to eliminate the contingency of politics and the (mostly disastrous) efforts that result.
Read full review

- Len

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-31-2008
  • Publisher: Recorded Books