Exploring Metaphysics : The Great Courses: Modern Philosophy

  • by The Great Courses, David K. Johnson
  • Narrated by Professor David K. Johnson
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern Philosophy
  • 11 hrs and 24 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

This mind-bending tour of metaphysics applies philosophy to the forefront of today's knowledge. Over the course of 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Johnson thinks through the big questions about humans and the universe: The relationship between the mind and the brain, how consciousness emerges from neurochemical processes, the existence of God, human free will, the possibility of time travel, and whether we live in a multiverse or even a computer simulation.
Drawing from the realms of psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and philosophy, the first half of the course examines the defining traits of being human. You'll explore the connection between brains and minds, as well as the nature of the self, time, and human free will.
The second half of the course shifts from the nature of the individual to the nature of the universe. Here metaphysics, science, and theology all intersect as you consider the existence of God, the science behind relativity, and the bizarre-even spooky-world of quantum mechanics.
Although the subject has ancient roots, the metaphysics you study in this course is far from an esoteric system of thought. Indeed, this material is very much alive today-at the forefront of philosophy, physics, and medical technology. When you complete this course, you will have a much richer perspective on the world around you. Virtually every lecture will challenge some of your bedrock beliefs about yourself and the universe.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Quantum physics is weird this lecture is not

This was an extraordinarily good lecture series. The science that explains the best way of thinking about the problem was always at the center of the lecture. I had not realize that most of my readings about science and philosophy had met at the intersection of metaphysics so nicely until I listened to this series. I will end up getting a book on metaphysics because I can't find any more on this topic at audible. For me, I hate reading and it's a real compliment to this lecturer because I'm even willing to read a book on the topic because of this lecture. I wish the author had more lectures or even a book out there but I can't seem to find any at Amazon.

There wasn't a single topic that he talked about that I didn't find exciting. He starts off by talking about the mind body dichotomy and what this means for the soul. He doesn't mince words. The soul comes about mostly from just silly propositions (and is not fundamental to Christianity until after 300 A.D.), but he says repeatedly in the series just because it is a silly argument doesn't necessarily mean the proposition is faulty. He doesn't miss a single argument on what consciousness is and gives all reasonable hypotheses their due.

He looks at all the classic proofs for the existence of God (ontological, design, morality, first cause) and pretty much shows why they are silly. Now days, instead of 'by design', because Darwin has completely eviscerated those arguments, they talk about 'fine tuning' instead. The fine tuning arguments are the hardest to refute because they are the hardest to explain without understanding a bunch of physics. He does a fairly nice job.

After looking at the mind he delves into the nature of the physical reality. Why Einstein is so important for our understanding about space and time and what does free will really mean and is time fundamental or an emergent property? Einstein takes time out of the universe (with his block universe) and space has no substance (unlike Newton and his bucket of water) and all is relational.

The best way to look at this lecture series is not as a pointless set of discussions about esoteric matters on reality, but as a summary of the best thoughts on how multiple experts understand the world. He really got into quantum physics and discusses why it is so weird (measurement problem, entanglement, double split experiment, ...), and he gives the best summary on Bell's experiment I've heard and tells why there are no hidden variables explaining 'spooky action as a distance' and what entanglement is.

Make no mistake about it. There is some references to long ago dead philosopher's, but this lecture is at the cutting edge of science and it would be a rare listener who would not learn some science that they did not already know from this lecture.
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- Gary

Fascinating.

Any additional comments?

These lectures really got me thinking, which is exactly what metaphysics should do. Professor David K. Johnson, (although he has sort of a nerdy voice), does an amazing job of leading the listener by the hand through each lecture. The lectures are structured and organized in a way that each one leads into the next topic.

I HIGHLY recommend these lectures for anyone looking to broaden their mind or enjoy thinking outside of the box.

9.1 / 10.0

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- Niels J. Rasmussen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-02-2014
  • Publisher: The Great Courses