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

514B25U-ikL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Once again, Audible delivered the goods. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this excellent lecture series by Professor Alan Charles Kors. For those of you who study philosophy, the content may not bring anything new to the table, but for the rest of us I found it immensely enlightening.

Some other reviewers have been overly harsh about Professor Kors’s delivery and pronunciation. It’s a lecture series and he has a regional accent. Get over it. Honestly, some of the negative reviews nearly made me refrain from purchasing the series altogether and I’m glad I didn’t do that. I would have missed out. I actually find the professor’s pronunciation quite endearing really. And anyway, it’s supposed to be about the content – and that is great. Professor Kors obviously has a lifelong passion for the intellectual history of the 17th and 18th centuries and his enthusiasm is wonderful to listen to.

The chapters were as follows:
Intellectual History and Conceptual Change
The Dawn of the 17th Century Aristotelian Scholasticism
The New Vision of Francis Bacon
The New Astronomy and Cosmology
Descartes’s Dream of Perfect Knowledge
The Specter of Thomas Hobbes
Skepticism and Jansenism Blaise Pascal
Newton’s Discovery
The Newtonian Revolution
John Locke The Revolution in Knowledge
The Lockean Moment
Skepticism and Calvinism Pierre Bayle
The Moderns The Generation of 1680-1715
Introduction to Deism
The Conflict Between Deism and Christianity
Montesquieu and the Problem of Relativism
Voltaire Bringing England To France
Bishop Joseph Butler and God’s Providence
The Skeptical Challenge to Optimism David Hume
The Assault upon Philosophical Optimism Voltaire
The Philosophes The Triumph of the French Enlightenment
Beccaria and Enlightened Reform
Rousseau’s Dissent
Materialism & Naturalism The Boundaries of the Enlightenment

As I have a lot on my plate at the moment, I only listened to the topics relevant to the 17th-century, so that meant everything up to the Introduction to Deism. These lectures have resulted in making me more interested in reading more of the philosophical works from the 17th-century, including Descartes, Pascal, and Locke. I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series because it filled gaps in my knowledge and made me think about certain aspects of intellectual history that I had not properly thought about. It’s for that reason that I do recommend this to anyone who has an interest in philosophy and history.447---packaging_flat_4.1416858975

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