The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great professor! I know nothing about philosophy. But figured that in the time of Covid, it might be a good idea. The professor is a brilliant mixture of information insight, and humor, which is perfect for this type of course. Well done.
Date published: 2020-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A brilliant and insightful course For me, this course alone justifies the whole enterprise of The Great Courses. Professor Robinson is a very insightful, eloquent and knowledgeable teacher. The courses are rich with the kind of anecdotes and side stories the really give the the big picture of, not just the Great Ideas, but the context of the person and cultures from which they sprouted. I had a minor in philosophy, so some background. But, this course added such depth to that knowledge. I really cant recommend it enough. The professor has a background in psychology, history and philosophy. He treats his subjects with both with and reverence and manages to reveals the insight and beauty inherent in the ideas that shaped history. I have only had the audio version and did not feel that I had missed anything. If you only ever buy one course from the Great Courses (and I have had over 50) this would be the one.
Date published: 2020-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great teacher Very well done, The professor is erudite, articulate and thoroughly knows his subject matter. His enthusiasm for the curriculum makes for a very enjoyable experience and leads one to want to learn more about philosophy. Much different experience then the one i had at school, wish he would have been my professor back then.
Date published: 2020-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The intro I wish had I have seen the description for Daniel Robinson's The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, nearly since it came out in 2004. I have long hesitated because my introduction to philosophy in the 1983-1984 school year was something short of incompetent. My first impression from the first 12 lectures: This is the introduction that I wish my undergraduate education had included. Professor Robinson obviously loves his subject and has honed his lectures over a 30+ year career. I have probably found another course that deserves extensive followup reading. One small quirk (that does not interfere with his lectures): he rarely looks at the camera. The course does remind me of one of the limitations of the video class format: it is not possible to ask a question.
Date published: 2020-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another favorite! So full of insightful and educational information that I will be watching it for a third time and possibly again after that. I have taken notes like almost all the other courses that have taught me so much about the world and life. The quotes I have from this Professor, I continually refer to over the years as valuable tools that inspire me to think for myself AND also to remember that I am human and should be thoughtful and careful - not only for my own sake, but for others as well... "The Philosopher doesn't enter the arena of philosophy as one devoid of belief, values, hopes and aspiration - No - all of that is in place for it goes with the territory. But, there are those rare moments when we say this... No matter how much this means to me, no matter how centered my being is on this pattern of beliefs - no matter how close I am personally and emotionally and even romantically to those who hold such convictions, I must reserve the right to question and to doubt. I will retain this skeptical bias as an obligation owed to my own rationality, my own integrity. I am prepared to follow the golden cord leading me out of the labyrinth, no matter how many twists and turns there are. Because once I let go of that my intellectual life is not my own." AND... "So we are always quite confident in our science, in our religion, and in our philosophy... When your confidence has reached a really high level in these regards, particularly everything that can be learned experimentally, by reason, by direct observation, by analytical, by linguistic analysis, by consultation with cultural historians and anthropologist, so that you are absolutely certain that you've got the thing nailed down. Then what I would urge as a therapy, is to move in front of a mirror and say... I may be wrong... I may be gravely wrong.... I may be hopelessly, irretrievably wrong... And in that... you may very well be right." This is but a minute sampling of the insightful and thoughtful lessons contained in this course by a Professor who is most assuredly a philosopher in his own right. Who at the very end, the very last of this series astounded me with a view point in which I could not agree, nor ever shall, though many years ago he might have tempted me to believe. Yet, the education contained here I would not trade for anything and will watch again and again.
Date published: 2020-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Ideas of Philosophy Ever since I bought it I have not been able to stop listening to the lectures. These lectures are very challenging and provoke a new manner of viewing every day life in a different light. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth re-watching! Professor Robinson is an incredibly wise and erudite man and it was a great pleasure and honor to have the chance to listen to his views on the nature of philosophy. Thoroughly recommended!
Date published: 2020-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought the first courses for my son, who is a student, but after I listened to them I became addicted, and I bought seven more courses for myself, and I will keep doing that. I am an ex-professor from an art university in Eastern Europe, and finding these courses brings me back to my university years. The lectures are exceptional. Everyday I spend at least one hour listening to The Great Courses while walking my dog. This is one of the highlights of my day. Thank you Great Courses!
Date published: 2020-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Daniel N. Robinson Daniel N. Robinson is a scholar of immense proportions. His lectures are packed solid, his interest in the subject is intense, and his presentation is the best. Getting the transcript book is worth the price.
Date published: 2020-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from ...A 5-star intellectual journey of the Mind! I bought this course in 1995 as a vhs set, which I still have. I now bought the instant download...Ahh, how technology moves forward! ...If your mind craves to travel through the big ideas, than this course and professor Daniel N. Robinson is a clear and articulate tour guide through this fascinating landscape!
Date published: 2019-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Collection of Ideas I owned the dvd version, which I never finished. Our house flooded and we lost the dvd. I like it because it follows the historical timeline regarding the development of philosophical thought. It covers every age and most of the themes of each period development. I like professor Daniel N Robinson. He is entertaining and knows his material.
Date published: 2019-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear and concise Although I have only completed about a quarter of the lectures in this course I would recommend it without reservation. It is a beautiful and logical presentation of many approaches to the fundamental questions of human experience.
Date published: 2019-07-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Dry I took this course hoping to learn more about philosophy since I never took a course in college. The course was comprehensive, and may be interesting to those with more interest in philosophy. I completed the 5 volume set, but struggled to keep my interest. I am not sure if it is the topic, or the presentation.
Date published: 2019-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great material. Great overview. Great material. Easy to understand.
Date published: 2019-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and practical overview of philosophy I wish I could have had this in high school or college, but I was in science. Should be required for juniors in public high schools.
Date published: 2019-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from UNBELIEVABLY thorough I cannot add anything new to the praise that other listeners have already heaped on Daniel N. Robinson. He lectures brilliantly, imparting us his compendious knowledge of philosophy across 30 hours of recorded material. The course guidebook weighs in at a whopping 329 pages and is worth your time to read. Reading this book on long airplane flights solidified in my mind everything that Robinson taught in the audio portion of the course. I’m especially glad that TTC/TGC makes its lecturers provide bibliographies for the course guidebooks, as I am hopeful to track down some of the listed resources for further study.
Date published: 2019-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Teacher Daniel Robinson is my hero. I've listened to his lectures on consciousness, the great ideas of Psych, and now been enjoying his lectures in philosophy. Contrary to what some other reviewers said about his being Catholic, I actually corresponded with him online a number of times and he was agnostic about God. When I asked him if he believed he said: "I don't know if this universe has a God, I just work here." He was however a substance dualist! Which is might brave for an agnostic philosophy professor. I hold him in as much esteem as any contemporary philosopher. He was a manifestation of genius, gentleness, and wittingly understated things like no other. It's a loss for the world that he passed away in September of 2018. Bless your mind with these lectures. These are the sorts of teachings one could listen to numerous times and continue to learn.
Date published: 2019-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heavy-duty but authoritative and well done This is a pretty heavy-duty course—more in-depth discussions of the history and concepts of philosophy than I’ve encountered before, either in college or elsewhere—taught by one of the most articulate presenters I’ve ever heard. Robinson uses the English language more widely, and I think more effectively, than any other Teaching Company professor so far (Arnold Weinstein would be my second choice). He was criticized in a couple of the on-line reviews for using highfalutin words—that is, deliberately embellishing his lectures with unnecessarily arcane, obscure words—but I disagree. Probably 10 times in the course of the 60 lectures I went to the dictionary to look up or confirm the meaning of a word he had used, and every time its usage was perfect—that is, the unfamiliar word was not simply a substitute for something more familiar, but more specifically applicable in some way. I must admit that philosophy is no stronger a subject for me now than it was in college (where I got 2 C’s in 4 quarters of philosophy courses), and there was a fair amount that was too abstract or theoretical for me to fully grasp, but it went down easier than it did 50 years ago. The 6 lectures on the 10th and final disk (on morality, medicine, law, justice, aesthetics, and God) are pretty impressive and would be well worth revisiting.
Date published: 2018-12-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Daniel Robinson failed us...Ego>Education I’ve listened to these lectures numerous times trying to glean the IDEAS....but Robinson doesn’t present ideas like he the course description...instead it’s a bloviated historical narrative with interesting unrememorable tidbits thrown in to prove just how knowledgeable Robinson is. He’s very knowledgeable about the history of Philosophy....but he doesn’t teach the ideas just all of the surrounding facts. I come away from all of these lectures asking myself...”What did I learn?” What’s frustrating is the guy could just teach the ideas but he tries to be sophisticated and give us this historical narrative of ideas....that doesn’t teach the IDEA. These lectures annoy me so much because they could have been sooooo good if Robinson wasn’t trying to be sooo smart and just chose to explain ideas and secondarily the history of those ideas.
Date published: 2018-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite Lecturer I have listened to the series twice now, and I continue to find it interesting and informative. I had wonderful courses in philosophy as an undergraduate, and these lectures are a fascinating extension of those. Dr. Robinson takes a potentially arcane subject and brings it to life such that I look forward to every new lecture.
Date published: 2018-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Robinson is very good at his craft Professor Robinson is very good at his craft. He is articulate but not pompous. He strives to make the lectures easy to understand. I believe only those with absolutely no knowledge of philosophy would have difficult understanding him. Those who have taken a basic course in philosophy would benefit greatly. The lectures provide information that is very pertinent to everyday life. There is no ivory tower here.
Date published: 2018-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent lectures, enjoyed each lecture. I plan to enjoy listening to these lectures again in the near future. There is so much information in each one and the lectures are very well presented. Great course! Looking to the next one on archaeology when it arrives. I have seven courses and each has been excellent.
Date published: 2018-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great ideas of philosophy I have read over a dozen so far and have learned something useful in every one of them. Looking forward to the rest!
Date published: 2018-01-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Context and Presentation It would be desirable to illustrate the " terms" and "high light" of phrases in the back ground in Video Format for clear and unequivocal understanding of listeners. This is only reason, not giving five stars. Please, re-edit and update for the previous buyers. This teaching includes all levels of intelligence who are interested in.
Date published: 2017-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I, for one, love Daniel Robinson I can't imagine too many people feeling that there is not enough material covered in this course. I can understand why one might quibble with D.R.'s diction. He uses English in a way perhaps more fundamental than is common today. You may find yourself getting schooled in vocabulary but it seems to me that conversation is the art D.R. loves most, atop neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy... topics well within the sphere of this polymath. I found it an honor to spend time with him. My ex, conversely, couldn't hack him and gave up. Bring both hemispheres of your brain to his lectures for you will need them. P.S. He is the sort of affable chap that you might enjoy taking a pipe and brandy with in front of a fire.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite engaging I am a mechanical engineer. I was about to shoot myself in the head when I started this class. How boring!! I stuck it out for the first six lessons, and I have to say it has become quite engaging. I am in lesson 47, and regularly listen to a lecture every couple of days on my way into work. The lecturer is very knowledgeable, personable, and has no qualms about subtly stabbing history along the way. Bottom line, do not give up on this class. It is a winner.
Date published: 2017-08-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course I bought this course last month and am about a quarter way through and have enjoyed every lesson. Dr. Robinson makes the subject of philosophy understandable and accessible to anyone. There is no knowledge more valuable than self knowledge and this course leads the student to reflect on what it means to be a human.
Date published: 2017-08-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Religion tainted Not really a true historical study of philosophy but a biased and highly limited selection to promote Christian religion and the belief in a God.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The worst course on the Great Courses catalog I started this course with a lot of enthusiasm to learn more about philosophy. But I became disappointed very quickly. It all started when I heard Professor Robinson refer, repeatedly, to right angle triangles as "rectilinear triangles". Professor Robison regularly tries to show us his linguistic erudition by giving us the Greek and Latin etymology of words and phrases, as well as often quoting in Greek, Latin, French and German. Given this, he should be well aware that the word "rectilinear" comes from the Latin "rectus" (straight) and "linea" (line), that is, "in a straight line". In addition, a decent high school student in a geometry class knows that a triangle is that figure bounded by the line segments connecting three NONCOLINEAR vertices. Thus, the expression "rectilinear triangle" is complete nonsense. Hardly something I would have expected from someone who appears to have excellent academic credentials. The next thing I encounter is that he says that a^2 + b^2 = c^2 (a squared plus b squared equals c squared) is Pythagoras' theorem. High school students know that for an expression like a^2 + b^2 = c^2 to be a theorem one should be able to replace the symbols a, b and c with any set of number and find out the the equation is satisfied. This, of course, is not true; just set the values to be a = 1, b = 1 and c = 1, and one quickly finds out that we get 2 on the left side of the equals sign but 1 on the right side. Thus, a^2 + b^2 = c^2 is not Pythagoras' theorem but it is not a theorem at all. In fact, one version of Pythagoras' theorem states that "in a right angle triangle, the sum of the squares of the lengths of the sides adjacent to the right angle is equal to the square of the length of the opposite side". The formula a^2 + b^2 = c^2 can only be said to give an expression to Pythagoras' theorem if, and only if, we stipulate that a and b are the lengths of the sides adjacent to the right angle and c is the length of the opposite side. So much for Professor Robinson's erudition in geometry. Professor Robinson often makes side remarks about science and mathematicas that are, at best, ancillary to his arguments, perhaps because he wants us to know how much he knows about science and mathematics, in addition to philosophy. For example, in a lecture on David Hume, pointing out that Hume was a strong critic of induction, he brings up frequentist probability to argue that it is consisitent with Hume's discussion on inference. Although Professor Robinson does not say this in his lecture, the frequentist version of probability can be summarized as saying that in a set of trials with different, potential outcomes, the probability of one of the potential outcomes is, for the limit where we have made an extremely large number of trials, equal to the ratio of the number of trials in which we observe the desired outcome divided by the total number of trials. To get back to Hume's arguments about induction, suppose we take two possible outcomes: (1) the sun rises in the morning, (2) the sun does not rise in the morning. If we look at a series of observations over the last 10 days, we find that the sun has risen every one of those days. Thus, we can tentatively conclude that the probability of the sun rising in the morning is one or close to one. If we extend this set of observations to 100 or 1000 days we also find out that the sun has risen in the morning every one of those days. In fact, if we go back in the historical record, we find out that the sun has risen every morning for as long as we have evidence. Thus, the probability for the sun rising in the morning is one with as much accuracy as we care to request. Now, from basic probability theory we know that a probability of one for a given event is equivalent to complete certainty. In other words, the frequentist theory of probability tells us that, on the basis of previous observations, there is a certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow. However, this is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what Hume argued for. So much for Professor Robinson's knowledge of probability theory. I could go on with similar comments. However, I would like to conclude by suggesting that the title of this course should be, more appropriately, Professor Robinson's Ideas About the Great ideas of Philosophy. This points to one of the most frustrating things about this course. It was often very hard to distinguish between Professor Robinson's own opinions and those of the people he was talking about in the lectures. I recognize that by just choosing the silabus of the course the professor is necessarily using his or her idiosyncracies, knowledge, background and tastes. This perfectly acceptable. But in a course in philosophy, I also expect that the professor make a clear distinction between what he or she opines and the subject matter of the lectures. I found this often hard to separate.
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quintessential humanites professor This prof. is erudite, witty, funny, and loves humanistic learning and study. He is what a professor should be. I have all the courses he does for the Teaching Company and cherish them all. I could listen to the good doctor lecture on the mating habits of Oak Trees; he's that good. It goes without saying that he knows his stuff, but he makes a potentially dull subject come to life with his style and enthusiasm. If Dr. Robinson had taught at my alma mater, I would have majored in whatever it was he was teaching and double majored in the other thing he was teaching. These lectures along with others he has given reward repeated listenings.
Date published: 2017-06-25
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The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition
Course Trailer
From the Upanishads to Homer
1: From the Upanishads to Homer

Before ancient Greek civilization, the world hosted deep insights into the human condition but offered little critical reflection. Homer planted the seeds of this reflection....

31 min
Philosophy-Did the Greeks Invent It?
2: Philosophy-Did the Greeks Invent It?

The ancient Greeks were the first to objectify the products of their own thought and feeling and be willing to subject both to critical scrutiny. Why?...

31 min
Pythagoras and the Divinity of Number
3: Pythagoras and the Divinity of Number

How can we comprehend the very integrity of the universe and our place within it, if not by way of the most abstract relations?...

30 min
What Is There?
4: What Is There?

How many kinds of stuff make up the cosmos? Might everything, in fact, be reducible to one kind of thing?...

31 min
The Greek Tragedians on Man's Fate
5: The Greek Tragedians on Man's Fate

The ancient philosophers were only part of the rich community of thought and wonder that surrounded the world's first great dramatists and their landmark depth psychologies....

29 min
Herodotus and the Lamp of History
6: Herodotus and the Lamp of History

Can history actually teach us? Herodotus looked at what he took to be certain universal human aspirations and deficiencies and concluded that indeed history could....

30 min
Socrates on the Examined Life
7: Socrates on the Examined Life

Rhetoric wins arguments, but it is philosophy that shows us the way to our humanity....

31 min
Plato's Search For Truth
8: Plato's Search For Truth

If one knows what one is looking for, why is a search necessary? And if one doesn't know, how is that search even possible? Socrates versus the Sophists....

31 min
Can Virtue Be Taught?
9: Can Virtue Be Taught?

If virtue can be taught, whose virtue will it be? A look at the Socratic recognition of multiculturalism and moral relativism....

31 min
Plato's Republic-Man Writ Large
10: Plato's Republic-Man Writ Large

This most famous of Plato's dialogues begins with the metaphor-or perhaps the reality-of the polis (community) as the expanded version of the person, with the fate of each inextricably bound to that of the other....

31 min
Hippocrates and the Science of Life
11: Hippocrates and the Science of Life

Hippocratic medicine did much to demystify the human condition and the natural factors that affect it....

29 min
Aristotle on the Knowable
12: Aristotle on the Knowable

Smith knows that a particular triangle contains 180 degrees because he has measured it, while Jones knows it by definition. But do they know the same thing?...

31 min
Aristotle on Friendship
13: Aristotle on Friendship

If true friendship is possible only between equals, how equal must they be-and with respect to what?...

30 min
Aristotle on the Perfect Life
14: Aristotle on the Perfect Life

What sort of life is right for humankind, and what is it about us that makes this so?...

31 min
Rome, the Stoics, and the Rule of Law
15: Rome, the Stoics, and the Rule of Law

The Stoics found in language something that would separate humanity from the animate realm, and that gave Rome a philosophy to civilize the world....

31 min
The Stoic Bridge to Christianity
16: The Stoic Bridge to Christianity

The Jewish Christians, Hellenized or Orthodox, defended a monotheistic source of law....

29 min
Roman Law-Making a City of the Once-Wide World
17: Roman Law-Making a City of the Once-Wide World

Roman development of law based on a conception of nature, and of human nature, is one of the signal achievements in the history of civilization....

29 min
The Light Within-Augustine on Human Nature
18: The Light Within-Augustine on Human Nature

Thoughts and ideas from the fathers of the early Christian Church culminated in St. Augustine, who explores humanity's capacity for good and evil....

30 min
19: Islam

What did the Prophet teach that so moved the masses? And how did the Western world come to understand the threat embodied in these Eastern "heresies"?...

31 min
Secular Knowledge-The Idea of University
20: Secular Knowledge-The Idea of University

Apart from trade schools devoted to medicine and law, the university as we know it did not come into being until 12th-century Paris....

31 min
The Reappearance of Experimental Science
21: The Reappearance of Experimental Science

There were really two great renaissances. The first occurred at Oxford in the 13th century: the recovery of experimental inquiry by Roger Bacon and others....

30 min
Scholasticism and the Theory of Natural Law
22: Scholasticism and the Theory of Natural Law

Thomas Aquinas's treatises on law would stand for centuries as the foundation of critical inquiry in jurisprudence....

30 min
The Renaissance-Was There One?
23: The Renaissance-Was There One?

From Petrarch in the south to Erasmus in the north, Humanistic thought collided with those seeking to defend faith....

30 min
Let Us Burn the Witches to Save Them
24: Let Us Burn the Witches to Save Them

Even in the time we honor with the title of Renaissance ran an undercurrent of a heady and ominous mixture of natural magic, natural science, and cruel superstition....

31 min
Francis Bacon and the Authority of Experience
25: Francis Bacon and the Authority of Experience

Francis Bacon would come to be regarded as the prophet of Newton and originator of modern experimental science....

30 min
Descartes and the Authority of Reason
26: Descartes and the Authority of Reason

Descartes is remembered for "I think, therefore I am." With his work, the authority of revelation, history, and title was replaced by the weight of reason itself....

30 min
Newton-The Saint of Science
27: Newton-The Saint of Science

In the century after Newton's death, the Enlightenment's major architects of reform and revolution defended their ideas in terms of Newtonian science and its implications....

30 min
Hobbes and the Social Machine
28: Hobbes and the Social Machine

As the idea of social science gained force, Hobbes's controversial treatise helped to naturalize the civil realm, readying it for scientific explanation....

30 min
Locke's Newtonian Science of the Mind
29: Locke's Newtonian Science of the Mind

If all of physical reality can be reduced to elementary corpuscular entities, is the mind nothing more than comparable elements held together by something akin to gravity?...

30 min
No matter? The Challenge of Materialism
30: No matter? The Challenge of Materialism

When Berkeley reacted to Locke with an extravagant critique of materialism, he unwittingly reinforced claims of skeptics he meant to defeat....

30 min
Hume and the Pursuit of Happiness
31: Hume and the Pursuit of Happiness

David Hume was perhaps the most influential philosopher to write in English, carrying empiricism to its logical end and thus grounding morality, truth, causation, and governance in experience....

31 min
Thomas Reid and the Scottish School
32: Thomas Reid and the Scottish School

Thomas Reid was Hume's most successful and influential critic, with a common sense psychology that was both naturalistic and compatible with religious teaching and which reached America's founders....

30 min
France and the Philosophes
33: France and the Philosophes

The leading French thinkers of the 18th century-Voltaire, Rousseau, Condorcet, and Diderot-appealed directly to the ordinary citizen, encouraging skepticism toward traditional authority....

31 min
The Federalist Papers and the Great Experiment
34: The Federalist Papers and the Great Experiment

The extraordinary documents written in support of the proposed constitution represent a profound legacy in political philosophy....

30 min
What Is Enlightenment? Kant on Freedom
35: What Is Enlightenment? Kant on Freedom

Here the limits of reason and the very framework of thought complete-and in another respect undermine-the very project of the Enlightenment....

30 min
Moral Science and the Natural World
36: Moral Science and the Natural World

Kant traced the implications of a human life as lived in both the natural world of causality and the intelligible world of reason (where morality arises)....

30 min
Phrenology-A Science of the Mind
37: Phrenology-A Science of the Mind

In founding the now-discredited theory of phrenology, Franz Gall nevertheless helped define today's brain sciences....

31 min
The Idea of Freedom
38: The Idea of Freedom

The idea of freedom developed by Goethe, Schiller, and other romantic idealists forms a central chapter in the Long Debate over whether or not science has overstepped its bounds....

31 min
The Hegelians and History
39: The Hegelians and History

Hegel's Reason in History and other works inspired a transcendentalist movement that spanned Europe, Great Britain, and the United States....

31 min
The Aesthetic Movement-Genius
40: The Aesthetic Movement-Genius

By the second half of the 19th century, the House of Intellect was divided between two competing perspectives: the growing aesthetic concept of reality and the narrowing scientific view....

30 min
Nietzsche at the Twilight
41: Nietzsche at the Twilight

A student of the classics, Nietzsche came to regard the human condition as fatally tied to needs and motives that operate at the most powerful levels of existence....

29 min
The Liberal Tradition-J. S. Mill
42: The Liberal Tradition-J. S. Mill

When can the state or the majority legitimately exercise power over the actions of individuals? The modern liberal answer is set forth in the work of Mill, an almost unchallenged authority for more than a century....

30 min
Darwin and Nature's "Purposes"
43: Darwin and Nature's "Purposes"

From social Darwinism to sociobiology, the evolutionary science of the late 18th and 19th centuries dominates social thought and political initiatives....

30 min
Marxism-Dead But Not Forgotten
44: Marxism-Dead But Not Forgotten

After years of influence, the Marxist critique of society is now more a subtext than a guiding bible of reform....

31 min
The Freudian World
45: The Freudian World

Marx, Darwin, and Freud are the chief 19th-century architects of modern thought about society and self-each was nominally "scientific" in approach and believed their theories to be grounded in the realm of observable facts....

31 min
The Radical William James
46: The Radical William James

Mortally opposed to all "block universes" of certainty and theoretical hubris, James offered a quintessentially home-grown psychology of experience....

30 min
William James's Pragmatism
47: William James's Pragmatism

Working in the realm of common sense, James directed the attention of philosophy and science to that ultimate arena of confirmation in which our deepest and most enduring interests are found....

30 min
Wittgenstein and the Discursive Turn
48: Wittgenstein and the Discursive Turn

Meaning arises from conventions that presuppose not only a social world but a world in which we share the interests and aspirations of others....

29 min
Alan Turing in the Forest of Wisdom
49: Alan Turing in the Forest of Wisdom

Turing is famous for breaking Germany's famed World War II Enigma code, but, as a founder of modern computational science, he also wrote influentially about the possibilities of breaking the mind's code....

31 min
Four Theories of the Good Life
50: Four Theories of the Good Life

The contemplative. The active. The fatalistic. The hedonistic. There are good but limited arguments for each of these....

32 min
Ontology-What There "Really" Is
51: Ontology-What There "Really" Is

From the Greek ontos, there is a branch of metaphysics referred to as ontology, devoted to the question of "real being." Ontological controversies have broad ethical and social implications....

28 min
Philosophy of Science-The Last Word?
52: Philosophy of Science-The Last Word?

Should fundamental questions, if they are to be answered with precision and objectivity, be answered by science? We consider Thomas Kuhn's influential treatise on scientific revolutions....

30 min
Philosophy of Psychology and Related Confusions
53: Philosophy of Psychology and Related Confusions

Psychology is a subject of many and varied interests but narrow modes of inquiry. Today cognitive neuroscience is the dominant approach, but other schools have reappeared....

31 min
Philosophy of Mind, If There Is One
54: Philosophy of Mind, If There Is One

The principal grounds of disagreement within the wide-ranging subject of philosophy of mind center on whether the right framework for considering issues is provided by developed sciences or humanistic frameworks....

29 min
What makes a Problem "Moral"
55: What makes a Problem "Moral"

Is there a "moral reality"? We examine especially David Hume's rejection of the idea that there is anything "moral" in the external world....

29 min
Medicine and the Value of Life
56: Medicine and the Value of Life

What guidance does moral philosophy provide in the domain of medicine, where life-and-death decisions are made daily?...

30 min
On the Nature of Law
57: On the Nature of Law

Philosophy of law is an ancient subject, developed by Aristotle and elaborated by Cicero. We see how natural law theory has evolved through the Enlightenment and the writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin....

30 min
Justice and Just Wars
58: Justice and Just Wars

Theories of the "just war," beginning with St. Augustine and including St. Thomas Aquinas, Francisco de Vittoria, and Francisco Suarez, set forth principles by which engaging in and conducting war are justified....

30 min
Aesthetics-Beauty Without Observers
59: Aesthetics-Beauty Without Observers

The subject of beauty is among the oldest in philosophy, treated at length in several of the dialogues of Plato and in his Symposium, and redefined through history. What is beauty? Is there anything "rational" about it?...

30 min
60: God-Really?

We consider various theological arguments for and against belief in God, including those of Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Reid, and William James....

30 min
Daniel N. Robinson

Developments in philosophy are chiefly in the form of greater clarity, an ever more refined sense of just what makes the problem problematic. If ignorance is not thereby totally overcome, at least it is exposed.


City University of New York


Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University; Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Georgetown University

About Daniel N. Robinson

Dr. Daniel N. Robinson (1937–2018) was a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he lectured annually since 1991. He was also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University.

Professor Robinson earned his PhD in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. He was president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association: the Division of History of Psychology, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, from which he received the Distinguished Contribution Award.

Professor Robinson was the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present, An Intellectual History of Psychology, The Mind: An Oxford Reader, and Aristotle's Psychology. He was the editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He also published widely on the constitutional history of the US and its philosophical foundations, with original research appearing in the International Journal of Constitutional Law and The American Journal of Jurisprudence. He was coeditor of The American Founding: Its Intellectual and Moral Framework (London: Continuum, 2012).

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