Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle [TTC Video]

Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle [TTC Video]
Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle [TTC Video] by Robert C Bartlett
Course No 4460 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.56GB

For more than two millennia, philosophers have grappled with life's most profound issues. It is easy to forget, however, that these "eternal" questions are not eternal at all; rather, they once had to be asked for the first time. It was the Athenian citizen and philosopher Socrates who first asked these questions in the 5th century B.C. "Socrates," notes award-winning Professor Robert C. Bartlett, "was responsible for a fundamentally new way of philosophizing": trying to understand the world by reason.

Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, a 36-lecture course taught by Professor Bartlett, provides you with a detailed analysis of the golden age of Athenian philosophy and the philosophical consequences that occurred when Socrates—followed first by his student Plato and then by Plato's own student Aristotle—permanently altered our approach to the most important questions humanity can pose.

What Was the "Socratic Turn"?

The Socratic break with earlier philosophy was a shift in thought that led to some of the most important and intellectually exciting concepts in all of philosophy. Socrates' influence on a new generation of philosophers, most importantly, Plato and Aristotle, ensured that his ideas would change the face of philosophy.

Prior to Socrates' new approach, philosophy was concerned primarily with the project of "natural philosophy": a prescientific study of nature and the physical world. Professor Bartlett begins the course with a discussion of how Socrates came to the "Socratic turn" that veered away from the study of natural science and toward the scrutiny of moral opinion. You recognize how crucial this turn was because it became the fulcrum around which a new era of philosophy turne. Never again could philosophers return to their ancient role of merely attempting to grasp the natural order of a world previously ascribed to the planning or whimsy of the gods.

The new arguments that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle posed were intended not for other philosophers but for anyone seeking to live a thoughtful and attentive life. Throughout the course, you come to see how their inquiries about the fundamental meanings and implications of ideas like justice, virtue, and happiness pushed their fellow citizens to ponder the roles such ideas played in their daily lives and in society. They even asked their peers to consider whether these and other questions were ones that anyone could hope to answer.

See Socrates through Plato's Eyes

Unfortunately, the thinker who forever altered the course of philosophy never actually wrote down his words. So how can we hope to know what Socrates, whom many believe to be the foundational thinker of Western philosophy, really believed?

The answer, Professor Bartlett shows, lies in the fact that much of Socrates' philosophy is captured in the writings of his contemporaries and followers. As a means of leading you to a sharper picture of the real Socrates, the course introduces you to the writings of three key figures:

  • Xenophon: the great thinker and military commander who wrote a series of Socratic sayings that survives to this day
  • Aristophanes: whose comic play Clouds is both a send-up and a thoughtful critique of Socrates that is crucial to understanding his philosophical evolution
  • Plato: a brilliant young man from a wealthy and politically active family who became Socrates' best student and whose works, written in the form of dialogues between two or more persons, feature Socrates as the protagonist

Plato, in particular, is an essential source of information about Socrates. Over the course of a dozen lectures, you explore the wide variety of Plato's brilliant dialogues and how they reflect the core of Socrates' philosophy of morality and justice:

  • Alcibiades I, which depicts Socrates' reasoning why the young Alcibiades needs him
  • Symposium, in which seven partiers discuss the nature of love
  • Republic, perhaps Plato's best-known work, which focuses on the definition and nature of justice
  • Protagoras, in which Socrates and Protagoras argue whether virtue can be taught
  • Gorgias, which depicts an argument over who is more important, the philosopher or the rhetorician
  • Meno, which seeks to come to a general definition of virtue

Professor Bartlett then turns the discussion to those Platonic dialogues that cover the well-known trial and execution of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian state. By examining Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, and Crito as a whole, you develop a deeper understanding of the defense strategy Socrates chose, why he chose it, and how it ultimately failed him. You also review whether Plato's sympathetic defense of his teacher was successful in the long run.

Aristotle's Philosophy of Human Affairs

Throughout Masters of Greek Thought, Professor Bartlett guides you deep into nuanced philosophical discussions while keeping the thread of the arguments both clear and exhilarating. This becomes especially important when you focus on the third iconic philosopher this course covers: Aristotle.

A student of Plato's famed Academy, Aristotle did more than anyone to establish a comprehensive system of philosophy in the West. His work encompassed the fields of morality, politics, aesthetics, logic, science, rhetoric, theology, metaphysics, and more. Scholars today believe that only about a third of his work survives.

In keeping with the theme of the course, Professor Bartlett, who has translated selected works by Xenophon and Plato from the original Greek, focuses your attention on Aristotle's work on the philosophy of human affairs. You delve into two of the philosopher's major writings:

  • Nicomachean Ethics, which is a stunning approach to questions of virtue and moral character
  • Politics, which continues the ideas of individual and interpersonal ethics first developed in Nichomachean Ethics and discusses their logical extension into the governance of the city-state

Learn from Socrates and His Heirs

A distinguished teacher and translator and the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including an award for excellence in teaching in the social sciences from Emory University's Center for Teaching and Curriculum, Professor Bartlett keeps his presentation of these three great thinkers not only clear but also accessible, unintimidating, and relevant to each of us today.

The insights Masters of Greek Thought offers into the minds of these three foundational figures of Western philosophy and the care with which Professor Bartlett unpacks their words bring the ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle into sharp focus for you. More than 2,000 years later, you find their questions on the nature of justice, virtue, and happiness pushing you to ponder the roles such ideas play in your daily life and in the life of your society.

Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle [TTC Video]

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life [TTC Video]

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life [TTC Video]
No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life [TTC Video] by Robert C Solomon
Course No 437| AVI, DivX, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.12GB

The message of Existentialism, unlike that of many more obscure and academic philosophical movements, is about as simple as can be. It is that every one of us, as an individual, is responsible—responsible for what we do, responsible for who we are, responsible for the way we face and deal with the world, responsible, ultimately, for the way the world is.

It is, in a very short phrase, the philosophy of 'No excuses!' We cannot shift that burden onto God, or nature, or the ways of the world."
—Professor Robert Solomon

If you believe that life should be a quest for values, reasons, and purpose—filled with passion and governed by individual responsibility—then yours is the sort of mind to which the Existentialist philosophers were speaking.

More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene, Existentialism has continued to exert a profound attraction for individuals driven to re-examine life's most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom.

  • What is life?
  • What is my place in it?
  • What choices does this obligate me to make?

If you want to enrich your own understanding of this unique philosophical movement, the visionary thinkers it brought together to ponder these questions, and the prominent role it still plays in contemporary thought, you now have an opportunity to do so with this 24-lecture course.

Professor Solomon is Quincy Lee Centennial Professor of Business and Philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin. He has written several books on a variety of philosophical topics that have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

He is the recipient of teaching awards and honors, including the Standard Oil Outstanding Teaching Award, The University of Texas Presidential Associates' Teaching Award (twice), a Fulbright Lecture Award, University Research and National Endowment for the Humanities grants, and the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award. He is also a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

What is Existentialism?

Existentialism is a movement, a "sensibility" that can be traced throughout the history of Western philosophy. Its central themes are:

  • Significance of the individual
  • Importance of passion
  • Irrational aspects of life
  • Importance of human freedom.

"Existentialism is, in my view, the most exciting and important philosophical movement of the past century and a half," states 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, Existentialism continues to win new enthusiasts and, in keeping with its still exciting and revolutionary message, vehement critics."

In this series you:

  • Explore the religious Existentialism of Kierkegaard
  • Hear the warrior rhetoric and often-shocking claims about religion and morality of Nietzsche
  • Absorb the bold and profound fiction of Camus
  • Comprehend the radical and uncompromising notion of freedom championed by Sartre
  • Consider the searching analysis of human historicity and finitude offered by Martin Heidegger.

You see how these thinkers relate to one another and to the larger tradition of philosophy itself.

Beyond Its Basic Message, Nothing Straightforward About It

To say that the basic message of Existentialism is quite simple and straightforward is not to say that the philosophers or the philosophies that make up the movement are simple and straightforward.

The movement itself is something of a fabrication. None of the major Existentialist figures—only excepting Sartre—would recognize themselves as part of a "movement" at all. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche were both ferocious individualists who vehemently rejected all movements.

Heidegger was deeply offended when he was linked with Sartre as one of the Existentialists, and he publicly denounced the association. Camus and Sartre once were friends, but they quarreled over politics and Camus publicly rejected the association.

The Existentialists' writings, too, are by no means simple and straightforward. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche write well but in challenging, often disjointed exhortations.

Heidegger is among the most difficult writers in the entire history of philosophy, and even Sartre—a lucid literary writer when he wants to be—imitates some of the worst elements of Heidegger's notorious style.

Much of the challenge of this course of lectures, accordingly, is to free the exciting and revolutionary message of Existentialism from its often formidable textual enclosures.

The Great Existentialist Writers

Albert Camus, Lectures 1–6. After an introduction to Existentialism, the course begins with a discussion of the 20th-century writer and philosopher Camus (1913-60). Chronologically, Camus is late in the game (you trace Existentialist ideas as far back as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in the mid-19th century).

You start with his most famous novel, The Stranger, published in the early 1940s. You also examine The Myth of Sisyphus, in which he introduces his infamous concept of "The Absurd"; The Plague; and The Fall.

Professor Solomon's aim in opening with Camus is to "set a certain mood for the rest of the course, a rebellious, restless, yet thoroughly conscientious mood, which I believe Camus exemplifies both in his writings and in his life."

Søren Kierkegaard, Lectures 7–9. Danish philosopher Kierkegaard (1813-55) was a deeply religious philosopher—a pious Christian—and his Existentialist thought was devoted to the question, "What does it mean to be—or rather, what does it mean to become—a Christian?"

"We should thus be advised that, contrary to some popular misunderstandings, Existentialism is by no means an antireligious or unspiritual philosophy. It can and often does embrace God, as well as a host of visions of the world that we can, without apology, call spiritual," notes Dr. Solomon.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Lectures 10–13 . Nietzsche (1844–1900) is perhaps best known for his bold declaration "God is dead." He is also well known as a self-proclaimed "immoralist."

In fact, both of these phrases are misleading, argues Dr. Solomon. Nietzsche was by no means the first person to say that God is dead (Martin Luther had said it three centuries before), and Nietzsche himself was anything but an immoral person.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Franz Kafka, Hermann Hesse, Lecture 14. Professor Solomon turns briefly to three diverse figures from literature who display Existentialist themes and temperaments in their works: Dostoevsky (1821–81), the great Russian novelist; Kafka (1883–1924), the brilliant Czech novelist and story writer; and Hermann Hesse (1877–1962), a 20th-century Swiss writer who combined a fascination with Asian philosophy with a profoundly Nietzschean interest and temperament.

Edmund Husserl, Lecture 15. The German-Czech philosopher Husserl (1859–1938) invented a philosophical technique called "phenomenology." Husserl is not an Existentialist, but you study him because of his influence on Heidegger and Sartre, both of whom, at the beginning of their careers, considered themselves phenomenologists.

Jean-Paul Sartre, Lectures 18–23. Professor Solomon suggests that much of what is best in Postmodernism is taken more or less directly from Sartre (1905–80), despite the fact that he is typically attacked as the very antithesis of Postmodernism.

Existentialism, Dr. Solomon argues, was and is not just another French intellectual fashion but a timely antidote to some of the worst self-(mis)understandings of the end of the century.

The series concludes with a comparison and contrast with French philosophy since Sartre's time.

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life [TTC Video]

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]
Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video] by Peter M Vishton
Course No 1670 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 80 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.12GB

What if you aren’t as in control of your actions as you think you are? What if your subconscious is driving your decisions without your approval? Is there a way to “hack” your brain to perform better, live healthier, and break your bad habits? We all can think of things about ourselves we’d like to change, but as neuroscientists are coming to realize, changing our behaviors isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Many of our everyday decisions are rooted in the subconscious, which means we have to “outsmart” our own brains to see results.

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You will give you insights into how your mind works and the tools you need to make lasting change. Taught by Professor Peter M. Vishton, Associate Professor of Psychology at William & Mary, these 24 exciting lectures give you a wealth of practical strategies for enhancing your thinking and improving your well-being. You’ll see how the subconscious guides much of our behavior, leading to a kind of autopilot through much of life, including when it comes to making important decisions.

The brain is an amazing instrument, and neuroscientists today have more information than ever about how it works—as well as strategies for helping us live better every day. The surprising thing is just how counterintuitive some of these strategies can be. For instance, the best way to combat procrastination is often to…do nothing for 20 minutes. By forcing yourself to do nothing, you won’t get caught up in time-sucking avoidance behaviors like checking email. After 20 minutes, you’ll find yourself focused and ready to get to work.

Neuroscientists have stumbled onto countless insights for living better, many of which go against the grain of what you might think you know. Examine why exercise is less helpful for weight-loss than we had previously believed (but is valuable in other ways), why talent is an overrated predictor of success, how the effects of mindfulness meditation have benefited us since our hunter-gatherer days, what procrastination can do for your creativity, and more.

Whether we’re distracted by too many tasks, being influenced by crafty marketers, or simply living in a rut of bad habits, our conscious brains aren’t always guiding us toward the best actions. Fortunately, Professor Vishton offers the latest in scientific research to outsmart the automatic workings of your brain. Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You empowers you take charge of your life and harness your brain’s full potential.

Uncover Evidence-Based ‘Hacks’ For Your Brain

One common misconception is that we only use 10 percent of our brains. In fact, Professor Vishton explains, it’s clear that we use much more than that, but we may only understand 10 percent of our brains. The good news is that recent years have seen an explosion of knowledge about the brain, and with that knowledge comes new opportunities to perform better. One key theme running through Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You is that a few simple practices really can offer dramatic results in our performance, creativity, physical health, and mental well-being.

From the myth of multitasking to the mechanisms behind falling—and staying—in love, Professor Vishton shows you what is happening inside your brain, which will help you achieve your goals like never before.

  • Improve Your Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health: Curb your unhealthy snacking, unlearn your phobias, improve mindfulness, and combat depression. These things are easier said than done, but brain-based strategies for living healthfully offer immeasurable dividends.
  • Master the Mental Game: Researchers have discovered that simply imagining yourself performing an exercise can make as big an impact on your strength as physical practice. From how language shapes your brain to the practice of “monotasking,” encounter ways to improve your performance.
  • Hone the Subtle Art of Persuasion: Learn the tricks of the salesperson’s trade, from after-dinner mints at a restaurant to the pricing strategy at your local watering hole. Researching the art of persuasion will empower you in your negotiations and make you a savvier consumer.
  • Uncover the Key to Happiness: If money doesn’t buy happiness, where do you turn for a fulfilling life? Based on longevity studies, see why valuing your time and deepening your friendships might be the most important thing you can do for yourself.

Build a Toolkit of Strategies for Better Living

When you complete this course, you will have an abundant list of practical, everyday ways to strengthen your creativity, improve your problem-solving, enhance your health, and generally operate on a higher level:

  • Examine why keeping a notebook might be the easiest way to shake bad habits such as biting your fingernails.
  • Delve into the psychology of anger and emotional mirroring, which will help you better diffuse interpersonal tensions.
  • Perform a bit of time travel to outsmart your “present self” to make life better for your “future self.”
  • Consider eating fermented foods next time you feel the blues and need an emotional pick-me-up.
  • If you want to boost your creativity, try taking a walk—preferably in a nice outdoor green space.

These are just a few of the many tips and strategies Professor Vishton offers to help you overcome your brain’s hardwiring.

In each lecture, he backs up each of his strategies with evidence from psychological studies and the recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience. You’ll explore some of the classic experiments in psychology, from John Watson’s behaviorism to Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Thanks to research with EEGs, fMRIs, and other technologies, you’ll go inside the brain to find out how our neurochemistry drives our behaviors—and what we can do about it.

Participate in Each Lecture

One thing that makes this course so unique is that not only do you walk away with practical tips, you also get the chance to put these tips into practice during the lectures. How do you use a five-gallon and a three-gallon jug to measure out exactly four gallons? How do you connect two ropes hanging from the ceiling if they’re more than an arm’s width apart? Professor Vishton gives you ample opportunities to test your creativity and problem-solving skills with engaging puzzles, brainteasers, word games, and more. These mental calisthenics are sure to get your neurons fired up.

Whether you are looking for a mental stimulus or want increased clarity for the challenges of everyday life, Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You offers a satisfying blend of theoretical knowledge and practical know-how to help you jumpstart a more productive and fulfilling life.

Outsmart Yourself: Brain-Based Strategies to a Better You [TTC Video]

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