The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida

Rated 5 out of 5 by from I appreciate the professors delivery style. It is clear and without mannerisms or artifice.. He has a clear delivery style. I bought this course to try to fill in gaps in my understanding of this period. Some with more knowledge than I may find it too basic.elementary. I
Date published: 2020-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Summary of Modern Philosophy Professor Cahoone is a wonderful lecturer and presents the history of modern philosophy from the audacious foundationalist daring of Descartes to its ultimate exhaustion in Rorty and Postmodernism with consummate skill and deep honesty. The written materials accompanying the course are weak, but the lectures are outstanding.
Date published: 2019-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really impressive I have never come across a mind that understands philosophy that much or explains it the way you do, Prof. Cahoone. That's really impressive.
Date published: 2019-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent History of Modern Philosophy Lawrence Cahoone’s “Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida” is brilliantly done. I wish this series of lectures existed when I was first dabbling in philosophy, because the clarity of the explanation of the philosophical ideas and general discussion is such that a high schooler of modest intelligence could understand the lectures. However, the sophistication of this course is such that, with years of academic training in philosophy and years of self-study, I have taken away a few nuggets from the course that I had not known before. Anyone interested in this lecture series should know that, while title claims that it goes from Descartes to Derrida, this was done for alliteration: the course actually covers many of the postmodern thinkers, as well as a responses to postmodernism. One aspect of the lecture series that I think any viewer will appreciate is that Cahoone understands and explains all philosophers and philosophies sympathetically and generously. In fact, I could not determine his philosophical leanings until I researched some of his papers and books. This level of non-dogmatic and unbiased presentation is very rare. Usually, philosophers can’t present an opposing philosopher’s ideas as the opposing philosopher would; moreover, they typically can’t wait to tell you what they think about any given issue. I will say that the viewer should be cautious on one philosophical presentation –that of Nietzsche and his work. It is clear to me that Cahoone did an honest job of presenting every philosopher, but I would maintain that he is guilty of a creative misunderstanding of Nietzsche’s work. Actually, the rationale behind the misunderstanding of Nietzsche’s thought is such that I’d like to know what the source for his understanding is. It could be that he didn’t read much of Nietzsche’s original work and got his Nietzsche from a professor during his education –or possibly even someone like Schopenhauer, which is a big mistake. At any rate, when watching the lecture on Nietzsche, I would definitely be careful about taking anything as a fact. As I said, the misunderstandings and misinterpretations are interesting enough that I was hoping to find their source, though I have not. Having read everything (including notebooks, etc.) that Nietzsche wrote, as well as many contemporary works on Nietzsche (e.g., by Kaufman, Robert C. Solomon, etc.), I hope I’m not being too presumptuous in thinking that it is Cahoone’s understanding of Nietzsche that is outside of the norm. Whatever their origin, Cahoone has interesting things to say. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone short the graduate level of philosophy, but even philosophy grad-level students will find items of interest in this course. I feel that everyone interested in philosophy should know the content that Cahoone presents in this course. I think the people who will get the most bang for their buck will be those who are outside of academic philosophy study, who are interested in getting their bearings within the subject.
Date published: 2019-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than philosphy courses I had in college Very concise and understandable. Tremendous amount of ground covered in each half-hour lecture. Technical terms carefully explained as they were being used.
Date published: 2019-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from WELL TAUGHT WORTHWHILE It is a well-taught and worthwhile course that outlines and explains the radical revolution in thinking. I don't like the animations and special visual effects. I find that animation mildly distracting in this course. Maybe it is my age, but I think the highlighting and other effects just diminish concentration.
Date published: 2019-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modernity: Enlightenment Reason Critiqued The transition from the ARISTOTELIAN worldview that conditioned the language and thought of Greco-Roman antiquity and the SCHOLASTIC-Christian middle ages was slowly vanishing from the horizon. With the coming of the Humanistic Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the age of Discovery, the rise of Nation-States, the decline of Feudal institutions, the rise of industry and commerce, etc. historical consciousness would culminate into the SCIENTIFIC Revolution -- a Galilean-Copernican worldview. This 17th century Age of Reason brought the philosophers and scientists that professor Lawrence Cahoone engages with in his lectures "The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida" to the center of the debates. Both from inside and outside the universities, this revolution in thought posed critical challenges to its First Philosophy -- metaphysical and epistemological FOUNDATIONAL questions -- were raised that demanded solutions. Approaches to Reality, Knowledge, Methodology, etc. culminated culturally in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment and politically in the French Revolution. Secular in its orientation to the studies of the individual, society, nature, religion, and God, REASON itself believed its new INSTRUMENT could shed its chains from ancient authorities (Aristotle / Ptolemy), from medieval superstition (Clergy / Aristocracy), and from the weight of the authoritarian past itself. This critical reasoning resulted socially and technically in the 19th century Industrial Revolution. With a radical new social infrastructure, the cumulative results of the 17th to the 19th century revolutions brought the MIND of MODERNITY into being. A sample of SCHOOLS from the professor's discussions would include: rationalism, empiricism, idealism, skepticism, pluralism, relativism, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, deconstruction, postmodernism, etc. Today, modernity's big-3 philosophic traditions center around: linguistic analysis, continental philosophy, and pragmatism. Each are explored and found more SPECIALIZED and fragmentary then prior schools of thought. As schools of thought sub-divided into increasingly specialized fields and methods, they each loss communication with the others and turned inward, further specializing in research and DIMINISHING in communication between schools. Its been explained that MATHEMATICS is the QUEEN of the sciences, but infrequently understood that FIRST PHILOSOPHY is the MOTHER of them all. Although modern philosophy is currently practiced without a stated first philosophy, the partially unconscious and fragmentary mind is repressing, and society suppressing, its respect to its mother and her metaphysical and epistemological being. Recall the social critics who open modernity's psychic structure within history and culture beyond the confinements of academic hallways and abstractions. Nietzsche and his God is dead chant, Freud and his civilized discontents portraits, and Weber and his disenchantment of specialists, all address the predicaments of BEING in the world. It seems to me its time once again for philosophy as a WAY OF LIFE and THERAPY to integrate the separate sciences and critique postmodernism. Being in the world notions of objective truth / EXISTENCE, meta-narratives / ORIENTATION, and human nature's search for meaning / DEVOTION are needed to avoid the slide into the abyss, nihilism, and insanity. To quote the professor in closing: " learn how natural science grew out of what was once called natural philosophy, how the seeds of the social sciences were first planted in the soil of philosophical inquiry, and why ... it is philosophy itself that holds the key to reintegrating the divergent fields with which it has a bond." Thanks professor -- very highly recommended!
Date published: 2018-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant AND Invaluable The material the professor presents is extensive, difficult to access in the original and by no means easy to assess - especially for an amateur but fascinated non-philosophe. Here the prof sets all that out in the context of ancient and enlightenment philosophy - and in the process covers such a wealth of different schools, complex & often impossibly badly written books [try reading Heidegger] plus varied historical persona that it would all have befuddled & bemused me - IF - his presentation style hadn't been so clear and easy to understand. Prof Cahoone's material demands a lot of reflection and the transcripts available from Great Courses proved any easy way to refresh my memory of the lectures - as I thought it all through. I could not have come to an understanding of this core material without having access to this most excellent course.
Date published: 2018-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great content Look, anybody who can make Hume and Kant easy deserves a gold star. I have always found them to be tremendously difficult reads. This professor sailed through them and their differences in the clearest way I could imagine. Excellent course.
Date published: 2018-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific primer I've only listened to the first twelve CD lectures so far but it's enough to say that I like Professor Cahoone's organization and presentation, he doesn't cover every single notable philosopher between Descartes to Derrida but the ones he does cover are predominate in their time; I don't know enough to vouch for the total accuracy of the philosopher's positions or if there was an omission that should have been presented but it did seem to be right on for me.
Date published: 2018-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is excellet. As a university student I am often quite dissapointet with my professors. It's rare for somebody to embody a holistic and somewhat "sufficent" perspective on wide ranging subjects such as the history of philosophy and also being able to teach it. What this professor does is quite amazing, he really gives you a throughout understanding of the modern philosophy tradition. The videos are just 30 minutes each, but this is no problem here. His lectures are extremely "compressed" so to speak. He picks out the important the "keyterms" and gives a accurate map of the landscape which you later can use to help you navigate the works which you want to study further. This proffessor managed, in 30 minutes, to teach me more about Heideggers philosophy than my proffessor managed to do in a whole semester due to his strict focus on keyterms, ideas and their structure.
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SUPER! Cahoone is riveting! Taken many courses absolutely non better than this.
Date published: 2017-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Descartes to Derrida by Lawrence Cahoone Professor Cahoone's course is outstanding. The material has been carefully prepared. The depth of coverage is just right. Dr. Cahoone's lectures are clear, concise and thought provoking. His delivery style is inviting and enjoyable. I look forward to each session.
Date published: 2017-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very clear & thorough Material covered is a good survey, Cahoone speaks clearly and understandably, the series is well organized, each lecture is well organized. There were a few moments when he was talking about something I was pretty familiar with and I felt he was missing or skipping issues, but this is a survey, so that was reasonable. Quite, quite good. I will probably at some point re-listen to the entire thing.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very helpful introduction to philosophy Having never studied philosophy before, I purchased this course as supplementary material for a university class. I listened to the lectures in my car, and I was very pleased. The professor was very well organized, his speaking style was pleasant and engaging, and he concluded each lecture with a comprehensible "take away" idea. I appreciated his balanced presentation; he was quick to say that these philosophers are noteworthy because they brought new ways of looking at the world, but that doesn't mean we have to accept their ideas. My only complaint (and it is a small one) is that the professor would sometimes introduce a technical term, explain it once, and expect the listener to remember it from then on. That didn't always work for me; I sometimes found myself saying, "He keeps using that word! What does it mean, again?"
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If this course were a restaurant, it would get a very high review. As a Great Courses course, it also gets a high review, for many of the same reasons....namely this is a very clear survey of major thinkers since Descartes. After listening to the Descartes lecture, I was overcome with Cartesian doubt, so severe that I started to question whether or not I was overcome with Cartesian doubt. Maybe it was some other kind of doubt. Or maybe I was just hungry since I skipped breakfast. I don't know. I got over it and listened to this entire course. Here's the thing: I've listened to a lot of philosophy courses from "The Great Courses", but even if the lecturers cover some of the same figures (e.g. Kant, Hegel, Marx), I never feel that things are getting redundant. Instead, things get clearer and clearer as I hear yet another angle or explanation. There is another course by Cahoone -- something about politics. After hearing this course, I'll probably listen to that one, too. If these episodes are the main course, maybe the politics course will be like the dessert. But maybe not....I think I'll watch some of the cooking courses so that I can keep my food metaphors straight.
Date published: 2016-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT REVIEW !!!!! This is probably one of the best reviews of a difficult subject that is done in a manner of presentation, ,that even the least knowledgeable person of philosophy can easily understand.
Date published: 2016-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent intro...but... This course provided an awesome overview to philosophy. The professor explained complex concepts clearly and in a way that they were digestible to someone without a philosophy background. The only issue is that there are clearly lights or something directing the prof to change where he is looking and thus the camera angles, etc. As a result, I felt like the professor wasn't able to be natural, which made the teaching more robotic than I think he would normally be in a classroom setting. More room for flexibility for the professors would have improved this program. I don't want to be aware that he is being directed while I am trying to understand Hegel.
Date published: 2016-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intellectually stimulating course I have completed 23 of the lectures on DVD so far and my opinion is that this is an excellent course in every way. The course content, the professors' presentation and knowledge of the subject matter and the course guide book are all outstanding. The content can be rather abstract at times but Dr. Cahoone always provides very helpful examples of the concepts he is talking about.
Date published: 2016-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern Intellectual Tradition This is not an easy series of philosophical concepts to grasp in one listening but the effort is very stimulating and eventually rewarding. A real intellectual adventure for a non-philosopher. The lecturer is excellent.
Date published: 2016-06-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from lacklustre presentation The material covered was much of the most important in Western thought since Decartes. The professor, though, was monotonous in delivery and often stumbled over his words. His abstract concepts--expected in philosophy--often needed more and clearer exemplification.
Date published: 2016-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this is the essence "teaching", not lecturing A long time ago, I majored in Philosophy in undergrad school. I completely blew an honors paper on The mind body problem of Descartes . Now I know why, thanks to Professor Cahoone.I was fortunate to have a successful career in spite of the Philosphy B.A., but, for all these years since school I have continued to study and enjoy philosophy. This course has increased my understanding beyond measure. Dr. Cahoone says frequently "in other words" or, "look at it this way" or " in simpler terms". He speaks slowly and precisely and thereby deconstructs the most complicated ideas into pieces more easily understood. Just brilliant teaching.
Date published: 2016-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from magnificent as a medical doctor and non-english native Speaker from europe, I am amazed about the ability of the Professor to formulate his ideas in such an erudite yet easy to grasp way, I have never come across such a densely formulated "great course"; for example Professor Robinson in "the great ideas of philosophy" time and again strays off course,here not a single word is superfluos. highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A patient and surprisingly complete survey I probably should have taken more time to compose this review. This will be much too short. But, after my third listen, I had to go on record. I love intellectual history and there are a certain few areas that I know fairly well. I like to consult a survey from time to time to help me place what interests me most in perspective. This is one of the best lecture series for that purpose. Professor Cahoone is, above all, patient. He takes his time and makes each step of this intellectual journey clearly understood. He does such a good job at it that, unlike other lecturers, it is quite difficult to pin-point where his own sympathies might lie. I have purchased many lecture series form The Great Courses. This is one of the best.
Date published: 2015-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear, competent and engaging Amazingly, this professor managed to narrate 300+ years of the history of philosophy coherently and with a narrative line that made sense. Nearly all the philosophers were described comprehensibly, except for Husserl, Kant and Hegel, who of course are not all that easy to understand anyway. I recommend this course if you're interested in catching up on the field of philosophy. I enjoyed it even though I had previously studied many of the ideas and figures discussed.
Date published: 2015-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course and needs script download Phiiosophy courses such as this one, needs to be read in order to understand the large concepts and the detailed thinking of the various thinkers. It would be very helpful to have the script available for download for those of us who want to study the material more thoughtfully.
Date published: 2015-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best One of the best of many Teaching Company courses I have taken. Professor Cahoone's lectures are clear and focused. The subject matter is of course not simple and one must expect to put in some time and effort above just listening to the lectures once or twice. For me this required some background reading outside of the course guidebook which only gives a cursory overview of the lectures. The included glossary is very helpful however. Having enjoyed the lecturer as much as I did, I have his series of lectures entitled The Modern Political Tradition in my queue of Great Courses.
Date published: 2015-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant Presentation I have no problem with a professor reading from a teleprompter as Dr. Cahoone does. It's way better than fumbling with notes. That said, Dr. Cahoone has jaw-dropping intellect. I am staggered by the breath of material with which he is fluent. The Teaching Company has many first-rate lecturers, and Dr. Cahoone is among them. His lecture technique is the best in that it feels as if he's telling stories, no small feat for what otherwise could be the driest of subjects.
Date published: 2015-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Bargain This was my first audio lecture purchase, and I couldn't be happier. What a great way to spend time in traffic. The lectures were very informative, comprehensive, and thought provoking.
Date published: 2015-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from really concise and clear addresses historical evolution of philosophical issues in clear analytic terms, no "hand-waving"
Date published: 2015-06-18
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The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida
Course Trailer
Philosophy and the Modern Age
1: Philosophy and the Modern Age

Preview the course, beginning with the scientific and social changes of the 17th through 19th centuries that forced all major philosophers to develop dramatically new views. Then see how the 20th century unleashed three diverging pathways for Western philosophers, each producing its own wave of this radically new thought....

31 min
Scholasticism and the Scientific Revolution
2: Scholasticism and the Scientific Revolution

Grasp how the Scientific Revolution arrived in a world already reeling from religious and social upheaval, fragmenting the medieval Aristotelian-Christian view of the cosmos. Can philosophers discover a way to follow God and the new science at the same time?...

33 min
The Rationalism and Dualism of Descartes
3: The Rationalism and Dualism of Descartes

Learn how Descartes forged the first and most influential solution. He posited a private self-consciousness, with its own innate ideas, as the foundation of knowledge, with reality fundamentally divided into both matter and mind (or soul). The former is the realm of science; the latter is that of religion, psychology, and ethics....

31 min
Locke's Empiricism, Berkeley's Idealism
4: Locke's Empiricism, Berkeley's Idealism

See how Locke's denial of innate ideas created the modern empiricist view of knowledge as based solely on experience, instigating centuries of empiricist-rationalist debate. Later, Berkeley inaugurated modern idealism with his conclusion that empiricism must deny matter's very existence; there are only minds, with experiences programmed by God....

33 min
Neo-Aristotelians-Spinoza and Leibniz
5: Neo-Aristotelians-Spinoza and Leibniz

Follow the attempts of two thinkers to integrate religion, philosophy, and science without straying from Aristotelian foundations. For Spinoza, everything is one substance-God. For Leibniz, every substance has its own mental properties and "view" of the universe, with God binding all together....

33 min
The Enlightenment and Rousseau
6: The Enlightenment and Rousseau

Watch the Enlightenment's self-conscious heralding of modernity, where science, freedom, and cosmopolitan education will mean progress in the face of superstition, authority, and tradition. The greatest dissenter is Rousseau, who argued that progress in art, science, and the economy yields no progress in morality or happiness....

32 min
The Radical Skepticism of Hume
7: The Radical Skepticism of Hume

Watch Hume drive empiricism to the extreme of radical skepticism, dismissing all metaphysics as nonsense. If we only know through experience, all we know is experience, so science cannot rationally say that the sun will rise tomorrow or even that it probably will....

31 min
Kant's Copernican Revolution
8: Kant's Copernican Revolution

Learn how Kant tried to find an answer to Hume, without which neither science nor philosophy can claim general knowledge of reality. His reasoning changed philosophy forever as he argued that the human mind does not passively receive our experience of the world but actively constructs it from sensation....

30 min
Kant and the Religion of Reason
9: Kant and the Religion of Reason

Kant's saving of science came at a price-the ability to know things as they appear but never "things in themselves." Reason, he argues, cannot prove-nor can science disprove-God, the soul, or free will. Kant protected faith from contradiction and created a different path for the German Enlightenment....

31 min
The French Revolution and German Idealism
10: The French Revolution and German Idealism

See how the French Revolution and Kant inspired German idealists like Fichte and Schelling to invent a new kind of philosophy, with spirit-hence, freedom-as the basis of nature, not the other way around....

31 min
Hegel-The Last Great System
11: Hegel-The Last Great System

Grasp Hegel's synthesis of Fichte's idealism and Schelling's panentheism with world history as the story of God's coming to self-consciousness. We can follow the "dialectic" of partial, incomplete historical perspectives up to the perspective of the Whole, that is, of God....

32 min
Hegel and the English Century
12: Hegel and the English Century

Watch how the Industrial Revolution, the rise of European imperialism, and the philosophy of Hegel inspired other thinkers-including Comte, Spencer, Bentham, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and, especially, Darwin and Marx-to create historical explanations for the development of mind and society....

30 min
The Economic Revolution and Its Critic-Marx
13: The Economic Revolution and Its Critic-Marx

The socially wrenching birth of industrial capitalism, with its massive human costs, provoked many critics, but the most influential was a young German follower of Hegel, Karl Marx. See how his ideas became the 20th century's greatest challenge to Western liberalism....

31 min
Kierkegaard's Critique of Reason
14: Kierkegaard's Critique of Reason

Kierkegaard remains the most radical philosophical critic of reason itself. Follow his rejection of Hegel and any attempt to "rationalize" the human condition. For Kierkegaard, the human spirit is subjected to fundamental choices that cannot be reconciled, particularly religious faith, which is intrinsically irrational and higher than reason....

32 min
Nietzsche's Critique of Morality and Truth
15: Nietzsche's Critique of Morality and Truth

Meet the most violent critic of the Judeo-Christian and, to some extent, Greek values of Western civilization. Nietzsche declared that morality makes the individual sick. The modern decline of religion leaves only the "will to power" and the need for a new set of values. His deepest concern was what those values would be....

33 min
Freud, Weber, and the Mind of Modernity
16: Freud, Weber, and the Mind of Modernity

Besides Hegel, Marx, and possibly Nietzsche, two other German-speaking authors created much of the background for analyzing the unique form of life evolving in the 20th century. Listen as Freud's and Weber's arguments that modern society will generate increasing discontent were taken up by later philosophers....

32 min
Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Pragmatism
17: Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Pragmatism

Watch as late 19th-century philosophy begins to fragment into the three subcultures that would characterize philosophy's next century: analytic, continental, and pragmatic. The last would become the indigenous American tradition, exemplified by its two major contributors, Charles Peirce and William James....

31 min
Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Analysis
18: Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Analysis

Grasp how Frege's invention of the first new logic since Aristotle, combined with Russell's and Moore's attack on the dominant idealism of the age, led to a new approach, "analytic" or "Anglo-American" philosophy. It would become the dominant philosophical approach in all English-speaking countries....

32 min
Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Phenomenology
19: Rise of 20th-Century Philosophy-Phenomenology

Watch as Husserl tried to formulate a new ideal philosophy of meaning on the basis of a nonempiricist, holistic analysis of human experience. His solution changed all subsequent European philosophy, liberating the investigation of lived experience from empiricism, psychology, and natural science....

32 min
Physics, Positivism, and Early Wittgenstein
20: Physics, Positivism, and Early Wittgenstein

Witness the logical positivists' reaction to the new physical view of the world offered by special and general relativity, quantum mechanics, and Hubble's discovery of the universe's expansion. They declared that reality is knowable only by science's "verifiable" constructions of sense data. As the young Wittgenstein wrote, beyond those limits we should be "silent."...

31 min
Emergence and Whitehead
21: Emergence and Whitehead

Learn about both British Emergentism, which argued for a nonreductive metaphysics of science, and the work of Alfred North Whitehead, the one 20th-century philosopher to take up the 17th-century goal of a metaphysical system consistent with physics to explain the place of mind, values, and God....

31 min
Dewey's American Naturalism
22: Dewey's American Naturalism

Encounter the work of the most prominent American philosopher of the 20th century. Most famous as a philosopher of education, John Dewey called for a transformation of philosophy on pragmatic and naturalist principles and wrote in virtually every area of philosophy. To many Americans, Dewey was philosophy....

32 min
Heidegger's Being and Time
23: Heidegger's Being and Time

Learn how one of the most important philosophical books of the 20th century created the basis for modern existentialism, as Martin Heidegger put Husserl together with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche to forge a new kind of phenomenology that seeks the meaning of human existence....

31 min
Existentialism and the Frankfurt School
24: Existentialism and the Frankfurt School

Witness European philosophers exploring individual alienation in mass culture as the modern Western world swirls in the turmoil of World War II. The German Frankfurt school merged Marx with Freud to find domination in reason itself. The French combined existentialism with Marxism. And Heidegger-without apology then or later-joined the Nazi Party....

30 min
Heidegger's Turn against Humanism
25: Heidegger's Turn against Humanism

Watch Heidegger's later work take a new, decidedly anti-humanist direction. He called for a rejection of Western metaphysics-which expressed the triumph of technology and individualism dictating to Being-and instead asked that humans patiently "listen" to the call of Being....

31 min
Culture, Hermeneutics, and Structuralism
26: Culture, Hermeneutics, and Structuralism

See culture and language seize a prime position in philosophical thought with Ernst Cassirer's neo-Kantian view of culture, Hans-Georg Gadamer's hermeneutics (amplifying Heidegger's claim that language is the "house of Being"), and Ferdinand de Saussure's and Claude Levi-Strauss's creation of structuralism....

31 min
Wittgenstein's Turn to Ordinary Language
27: Wittgenstein's Turn to Ordinary Language

Plunge into perhaps the most influential work of 20th-century philosophy as Ludwig Witt-genstein rejected his own earlier positivism to declare that linguistic meaning is dictated by its use, not by logic but by the contextual social activities in which sentences operate. Philosophical problems are caused by ripping terms out of their practical context....

31 min
Quine and the End of Positivism
28: Quine and the End of Positivism

See how Willard Van Orman Quine, who studied with the logical positivists, undermined their view. He showed that their distinction between truths of reason and truths of experience, borrowed from Kant, was a mistake....

32 min
New Philosophies of Science
29: New Philosophies of Science

With the decline of positivism, see the appearance of new interpretations of scientific knowledge. Learn about Popper's rejection of the idea that science seeks to confirm its theories, Davidson's formulation of an alternative to reductionism, and Kuhn's provocative view of scientific revolutions....

31 min
Derrida's Deconstruction of Philosophy
30: Derrida's Deconstruction of Philosophy

Learn about the most famous of the French postmodernists and his "deconstruction" of the history of Western philosophy. All writing (or sign-use, in general), Jacques Derrida asserted, must involve the pretense that the meanings of signs can be controlled, a pretense he vigorously denied....

32 min
The Challenge of Postmodernism
31: The Challenge of Postmodernism

Derrida's work and that of kindred French thinkers Michel Foucault and Jean-François Lyotard created postmodernism. This movement's radical rejection of modern philosophy's central notions-and perhaps even philosophy itself-joined with a view of postmodern society as no longer requiring a "metanarrative" or foundational philosophy....

30 min
Rorty and the End of Philosophy
32: Rorty and the End of Philosophy

Sample the thinking of the most famous American contributor to philosophical postmodernism. Richard Rorty argued that the search for the foundations of "knowledge" -little more than whatever the verification procedures of society say it is-is a bankrupt enterprise. Traditional philosophy, according to Rorty, is well forgotten....

32 min
Rediscovering the Premodern
33: Rediscovering the Premodern

Learn how a series of 20th-century philosophers-including Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, and Alasdair MacIntyre-called for reincorporating premodern notions to supplement modernity. For if modern philosophy is indeed at a dead end, might not its departure from premodern thought be responsible?...

32 min
Pragmatic Realism-Reforming the Modern
34: Pragmatic Realism-Reforming the Modern

See how pragmatism enjoyed a resurgence as a means of preserving the philosophical search for realist truth in the absence of foundationalism. Encounter a variety of attempts at nonfoundational epistemology, as thinkers like Habermas, Putnam, Margolis, and Campbell demonstrated this pragmatic renaissance....

30 min
The Reemergence of Emergence
35: The Reemergence of Emergence

While various applications of pragmatism resurfaced in the theory of knowledge, there was also a noticeable return of the metaphysical doctrine of emergence. Witness this return not only in the work of philosophers of science but also in science itself, exemplified by the late 20th-century interest in "complexity."...

31 min
Philosophy's Death Greatly Exaggerated
36: Philosophy's Death Greatly Exaggerated

After the unprecedented philosophical radicalism of the 20th century, the question of philosophy's future still remains. Sample some of the most likely approaches by which philosophy might successfully integrate-and find common ground among-an increasingly complex array of human activities....

32 min
Lawrence Cahoone

The Great Courses deeply challenged my skills in teaching philosophy, while making it fun too.


Stony Brook University


College of the Holy Cross

About Lawrence Cahoone

Dr. Lawrence Cahoone is Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 2000. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A two-time winner of the Undergraduate Philosophy Association Teaching Award at Boston University who has taught more than 50 different philosophy courses, Professor Cahoone is not only a skilled teacher, but also an author. With a background in recent European, American, and social and political philosophy, as well as interests in postmodernism, metaphysics, and the latter's relation to the natural sciences, he has written:

  • The Orders of Nature
  • Cultural Revolutions: Reason versus Culture in Philosophy, Politics, and Jihad
  • Civil Society: The Conservative Meaning of Liberal Politics
  • The Ends of Philosophy: Pragmatism, Foundationalism, and Postmodernism
  • The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture, and Anti-Culture

He edited From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology and his play, Wise Guys: A Philosophical Comedy, is available at

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