The Great Courses: Modern Philosophy

21 books in series
4.5 out of 5 stars 159 ratings

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life Publisher's Summary

What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom has continued to exert a profound attraction.

Now, in a series of 24 probing and thoughtful lectures, you can enrich your own understanding of this unique philosophical wave, the visionary thinkers it brought together to ponder and debate these questions, and the prominent role it still plays in contemporary thought.

"Existentialism is, in my view, the most exciting and important philosophical movement of the past century and a half," says Professor Solomon. "Fifty years after the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre gave it its identity and 150 years after the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard gave it its initial impetus, it continues to win new enthusiasts and, in keeping with its still exciting and revolutionary message, vehement critics." Plumbing both sides of the debate, these lectures examine a wide range of Existentialist thought. You'll be exposed to the religious approach of Kierkegaard; the bold fiction of Camus; the warrior rhetoric and often-shocking claims about religion and morality posed by Nietzsche; the radical and uncompromising notion of freedom championed by Sartre; and the searching analysis of human historicity and finitude offered by Martin Heidegger. And you'll encounter the reluctance - often angrily expressed - of many of Existentialism's major figures to be thought of as part of any philosophical movement or even as intellectual allies!

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses
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    • No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

    • Written by: Robert C. Solomon, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Robert C. Solomon
    • Length: 12 hrs and 7 mins
    • Original Recording
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    What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom, life has continued to exert a profound attraction.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida

    • Written by: Lawrence Cahoone, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Lawrence Cahoone
    • Length: 18 hrs and 46 mins
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    What is reality? Ask yourself whether you can actually know the answer, much less be sure that you can know it, and you've begun to grapple with the metaphysical and epistemological quandaries that have occupied, teased, and tormented modern philosophy's greatest intellects since the dawn of modern science and a century before the Enlightenment.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Superficial discourse on deep ideas

    • By Amazon Customer on 2018-07-02

    Price: CDN$ 56.38

    • Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, 2nd Edition

    • Written by: David Zarefsky, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David Zarefsky
    • Length: 12 hrs and 15 mins
    • Original Recording
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    What is effective reasoning? And how can it be done persuasively? These questions have been asked for thousands of years, yet some of the best thinking on reasoning and argumentation is recent and represents a break from the past. These 24 engaging lectures teach you how to reason, how to persuade others that what you think is right, and how to judge and answer the arguments of others - and how they will judge yours.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Real thinking stuff in this course!

    • By Amazon Customer on 2018-12-29

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

    • Written by: The Great Courses, Kathleen M. Higgins, Robert C. Solomon
    • Narrated by: Kathleen M. Higgins, Robert C. Solomon
    • Length: 12 hrs and 17 mins
    • Original Recording
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    Who was Friedrich Nietzsche? This lonely and chronically ill, yet passionate, daring, and complex man is perhaps the most mysterious and least understood of all contemporary philosophers. Why are his brilliant insights so relevant for today? How did he become the most misinterpreted and unfairly maligned intellectual figure of the last two centuries?

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • A Will to Listen

    • By Anonymous User on 2018-09-25

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • Power over People: Classical and Modern Political Theory

    • Written by: Dennis Dalton, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Dennis Dalton
    • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
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    What is the connection between individual freedom and social and political authority? Are human beings fundamentally equal or unequal? In 16 in-depth lectures, Professor Dalton puts the key theories of power formulated by several of history's greatest minds within your reach. These lectures trace two distinct schools of political theory, idealism and realism, from their roots in ancient India and Greece through history and, ultimately, to their impact on the 20th century.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • engaging and enlightening.

    • By Mark Harcourt on 2019-02-05

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries

    • Written by: Alan Charles Kors, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Alan Charles Kors
    • Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
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    Revolutions in thought (as opposed to those in politics or science) are in many ways the most far-reaching of all. They affect how we grant legitimacy to authority, define what is possible, create standards of right and wrong, and even view the potential of human life. Between 1600 and 1800, such a revolution of the intellect seized Europe, shaking the minds of the continent as few things before or since. What we now know as the Enlightenment challenged previously accepted ways of understanding reality, bringing about modern science, representative democracy, and a wave of wars, sparking what Professor Kors calls "perhaps the most profound transformation of European, if not human, life." In this series of 24 insightful lectures, you'll explore the astonishing conceptual and cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. You'll witness in its tumultuous history the birth of modern thought in the dilemmas, debates, and extraordinary works of the 17th- and 18th-century mind, as wielded by the likes of thinkers like Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Pascal, Newton, Locke, Hume, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau.And you'll understand why educated Europeans came to believe that they had a new understanding-of thought and the human mind, of method, of nature, and of the uses of knowledge-with which they could come to know the world correctly for the first time in human history, and with which they could rewrite the possibilities of human life.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • Freedom: The Philosophy of Liberation

    • Written by: The Great Courses, Dennis Dalton
    • Narrated by: Dennis Dalton
    • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
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    Professor Dalton explores the meaning of freedom and examines the progress of both personal and political freedom. These eight lectures are a guided tour along the byways of the philosophy of liberation, beginning with its ancient roots and ending in 20th-century America.Throughout these lectures, you'll follow the progress toward personal liberation and spiritual freedom found in the lives of those who were often consumed by fierce and difficult struggles for political freedom....

    Price: CDN$ 19.78

    • Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment

    • Written by: Alan Charles Kors, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Alan Charles Kors
    • Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
    • Original Recording
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    Discover why intellectuals and historians alike consider Voltaire to be one of the most intriguing, influential, and elusive thinkers of the modern world. Focusing on the deepest, most enduring aspects of Voltaire's work and thought, but never losing sight of the colorful, fascinating man himself, these 12 lectures sketch for you a vibrant, thought-provoking vision of Voltaire as "the father of the Enlightenment" and one of the great literary personalities of all time.

    • 4 out of 5 stars
    • Want More

    • By Peter on 2018-12-11

    Price: CDN$ 20.09

    • Quest for Meaning: Values, Ethics, and the Modern Experience

    • Written by: The Great Courses, Robert H. Kane
    • Narrated by: Robert H. Kane
    • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
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    Is there an ethics that we can all agree on without stifling pluralism and freedom? What would such an ethics look like? Most important, how should you, as a thoughtful person, find your way among the moral puzzles of the modern world and its cacophony of voices and opinions? These are just some of the engaging and perplexing questions you'll tackle as you join Professor Kane for this thought-provoking, 24-lecture examination of the problems surrounding ethics in the modern world.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Enlightenment Invention of the Modern Self

    • Written by: Leo Damrosch, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Leo Damrosch
    • Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
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    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.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism

    • Written by: Shaun Nichols, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Shaun Nichols
    • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
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    Do you make your own choices or have circumstances beyond your control already decided your destiny? For thousands of years, this question has intrigued and perplexed philosophers, scientists, and everyone who thinks deliberately about how they choose to live and act. For if free will makes us accountable for our choices, does the opposite hold true, that determinism absolves us of responsibility?

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Rights of Man: Great Thinkers and Great Movements

    • Written by: Paul Gordon Lauren, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Paul Gordon Lauren
    • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
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    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." These stirring words from the Declaration of Independence are a powerful statement of the importance of human rights in Western civilization. But many of the freedoms we enjoy today were not so "self-evident" to lawmakers throughout much of our history.

    Price: CDN$ 46.25

    • Philosophy as a Guide to Living

    • Written by: Stephen A. Erickson, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Stephen A. Erickson
    • Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
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    We've all asked ourselves whether there is any meaning in human life. But for philosophers, this is just the first question of many: Is such a question even answerable by philosophy? And if so, can the practice of philosophy itself pursue a positive answer? Can philosophy prove life has any meaning? These 24 accessible lectures offer a thoughtful and stimulating discussion of how some of the greatest minds in the past three centuries have pondered why we are here and what journey we might be on.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • Machiavelli in Context

    • Written by: William R. Cook, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: William R. Cook
    • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
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    Mention the name Niccolò Machiavelli and you might unleash a powerful response-even among people who have never read a word of his writing. The word "Machiavellian" conjures up images of an indistinct figure quietly making his way through the darkest corridors of power; a cold-blooded political liar; or a coolly practical leader - amoral at best - willing to do whatever is necessary in a world governed not by ideas of right or wrong, but by solutions dictated by realpolitik.

    Price: CDN$ 46.25

    • Tools of Thinking: Understanding the World Through Experience and Reason

    • Written by: James Hall, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: James Hall
    • Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins
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    Everyone has to think in order to function in the world, but what is the best way to reason effectively in your pursuit of reliable beliefs and useful knowledge? What is the best way to prove a case, create a rule, solve a problem, justify an idea, invent a hypothesis, or evaluate an argument? In short, what is the best way to think? Professor Hall helps you cut through deception and faulty reasoning in these 24 humorous, clear, and interesting lectures, offering a friendly but intellectually rigorous approach to the problem of thinking.

    Price: CDN$ 46.25

    • Questions of Value

    • Written by: Patrick Grim, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Patrick Grim
    • Length: 12 hrs and 16 mins
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    We live in a world seemingly dedicated to questions of fact and finance. What should I invest in? What school district is the house in? But the fundamental questions of our lives are actually questions of value: What makes life worth living? Are there values that transcend cultural differences? Is all value subjective?

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • The Conservative Tradition

    • Written by: Patrick N. Allitt, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Patrick N. Allitt
    • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
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    A thorough understanding of Conservatism's lineage, principles, and impact on history is essential to making sense of the 21st-century political dialogue-a dialogue that consumes the television you watch, the newspapers you read, and the radio you listen to.No matter where you place yourself on the ideological spectrum, these 36 lectures will intrigue you, engage you, and maybe even provoke you to think about this political philosophy in an entirely new way.

    Price: CDN$ 56.38

    • The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas

    • Written by: Lawrence Cahoone, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Lawrence Cahoone
    • Length: 18 hrs and 24 mins
    • Original Recording
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    Without even realizing it, we all use the fruits of political philosophy. From liberty to democracy to community, the terms and concepts originated by political philosophers are ingrained in our global consciousness. Yet many of us have an incomplete picture of how these ideas developed and, quite possibly, a skewed perception of their intentions and implications. This highly relevant course sheds light on the labyrinth of Western political and social theory, as well as its influence on modern history.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Digestible Politics

    • By Mark Harcourt on 2019-03-19

    Price: CDN$ 55.51

    • Exploring Metaphysics

    • Written by: David K. Johnson, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: David K. Johnson
    • Length: 11 hrs and 24 mins
    • Original Recording
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    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.

    Price: CDN$ 46.98

    • Redefining Reality

    • The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science
    • Written by: Steven Gimbel, The Great Courses
    • Narrated by: Steven Gimbel
    • Length: 18 hrs and 6 mins
    • Original Recording
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      4.5 out of 5 stars 33
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    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. 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.

    • 5 out of 5 stars
    • Great

    • By Mitchell Burns on 2019-01-14

    Price: CDN$ 80.58

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