Redefining Reality : The Great Courses: Modern Philosophy

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Steven Gimbel
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern Philosophy
  • 18 hrs and 6 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

No subject is bigger than reality itself, and nothing is more challenging to understand, since what counts as reality is undergoing continual revision and has been for centuries. For example, the matter that comprises all stars, planets, and living things turns out to be just a fraction of what actually exists. Moreover, we think that we control our actions, but data analytics can predict, with astonishing accuracy, when we will wake up, what we will buy, and even whom we will marry.
The quest to pin down what's real and what's illusory is both philosophical and scientific, a metaphysical search for ultimate reality that goes back to the ancient Greeks. For the last 400 years, this search has been increasingly guided by scientists, who create theories and test them in order to define and redefine reality. And we have developed the power to alter our own reality in major ways - to defeat diseases, compensate for disabilities, and augment our intellect with computers. Where is that trend going?
Experience the thrill of this exciting quest in 36 wide-ranging lectures that touch on many aspects of the ceaseless search for reality. From the birth of the universe to brain science, discover that separating the real from the illusory is an exhilarating intellectual adventure.
Scientists and philosophers are not alone in grappling, at an intellectual level, with reality. Some of the most accessible interpretations are by painters, novelists, filmmakers, and other artists whose works not only draw on the latest discoveries but also sometimes inspire them. Explore examples such as Alice in Wonderland, pointillism, cubism, surrealism, and reality TV.
And since dealing with reality is an experience we all share, this course is designed for people of all backgrounds.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Take this course instead of first year in college

All of the cool parts of all the sciences (and social sciences) are covered in this lecture. The lecture is somewhat equivalent to taking the first year undergraduate course of study where you didn't have to worry about memorizing irrelevant facts or learn the mathematics. He tells you what you need to know about physics, geology, economics, sociology, psychology, and even why deductive systems such as mathematics with it's different orders of infinity is so cool and relevant to understanding the nature of reality.

The lecturer ties each lecture together by linking the growth of each subject by how we first understand the individual item (say a rock), then the relationship between the rocks (say gravity) and then the web for which the rocks live in (say the universe).

The paradigms we use to describe our reality are part of the current understanding and when somebody steps out of that paradigm and sees the world differently we first say they are spouting nonsense, but overtime the new paradigm can take hold. Newton was called crazy (action at a distance, what an absurd concept!), Einstein was challenged until he wasn't then he never accepts the quantum mechanics, and so on.

Always, the lecture educates and entertains. He will tie difficult points to a movie, a book, or a painting and show how it is relevant to the point he is making. "Frankenstein" the book finally makes sense to me.

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- Gary "l'enfer c'est les autres"

Disappointing for Me, Maybe Not for You

I would summarize this course as more of a brief history of science rather than an exploration of reality. A reader reasonably versed in science is going to find the the first half painfully elementary. The second half is a little better but still doesn't delve into what I would expect for a course supposedly designed to redefine my idea of reality. It might make a redefinition for a particular individual with no prior knowledge of scientific advancements of the past 100 years.

But wait. While this course was a disappointment to me, it may be great for you. I expected more mind stumping discussion than a recap of the history of mathematics and the papers of Einstein. I've traveled those roads often. Almost all books on the current state of quantum mechanics will take the reader step by step through the Bohr Einstein debates.

This course starts way before Einstein shook up reality. Newton certainly redefined reality for his time. Even that's not far enough back. Euclid? If I take a course called "redefining reality" I wouldn't expect it to begin with Euclid or Plato.

This course might aptly be called "The History of Reality as Perceived Through the Ages".

It didn't change my reality.

Again, let me say that the course is well presented and many people will enjoy and learn from it. It is very basic, however, and if you have a science background you won't find anything new or thought-provoking in this course.
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- Chris Reich "Business Physicist and Astronomer"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-26-2015
  • Publisher: The Great Courses