Understanding the Dark Side of Human Nature [TTC Video]
04 August 2019, 23:13
Course No 4189 | MP4, AVC, 1370 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 126 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.79GB
You don’t consider yourself evil, do you? Of course not! No one does. And yet, the world is full of violence and suffering. We hear the stories in the news. We see the images online. We know too well how bad things can be, but if we’re sure of anything, we’re sure that we’re not like those who do evil. But what makes us so sure? It’s an uncomfortable question, but how different are we, really? Is it possible that we actually share something in common with those who’ve done the worst humanity has to offer? After all, we’re all human. Aren’t we?
In the 24 lectures of Understanding the Dark Side of Human Nature, Professor Daniel Breyer takes you on a fascinating philosophical journey into some of the deepest—and darkest—questions that have haunted humanity for millennia. In exploring the dark side of human nature, you won’t just explore what it means to be evil; you’ll explore humanity’s fragile underbelly by investigating such topics as our thirst for vengeance, our tendency toward anger, our inability to do what we know is right, and much more. These are difficult topics, to be sure, and at least for some people, it would be easier to look away, rather than investigate them. But the truth is that unless we honestly confront who we are in all its sordid glory, we’ll never fully understand ourselves. We’ll never fully appreciate who we really are—or who we might ultimately become.
A Cross-Cultural Approach
Thinkers from across the world and in many different eras have considered the dark side of human nature, and that’s why this course will adopt a cross-cultural approach, investigating perspectives from many different traditions—from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Buddhist Way of the Bodhisattva to the Christian Bible and the scholarship of contemporary philosophers and psychologists. In this course, you won’t just find yourself seeking answers to some of life’s biggest questions—you’ll also discover entirely new ideas from traditions you’ve not yet encountered.
This multi-cultural approach will help you see humanity from many perspectives, providing a wider opportunity for you to find your own answers. With Professor Breyer’s expert guidance, you will engage with a wide range of great thinkers, including:
- Confucian philosopher Mencius;
- Doaist thinker Zhuangzi;
- Stoic philosopher Seneca;
- Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo;
- Buddhist monk and scholar Shantideva (or Œāntideva);
- Existentialist thinker Albert Camus;
- English philosopher Miranda Fricker;
- American psychologist Paul Bloom; and many more.
This course is fueled by the power of questions, one of philosophy’s most potent tools. Some are questions we have all asked ourselves: Why are people violent? Is anyone just born evil? Why is there so much suffering in the world? We might ask these questions with a certain level of cynicism, or perhaps sadness, not even expecting a real answer, but philosophers have taken these fundamental questions seriously for thousands of years. Mining insights from many different philosophical traditions, Professor Breyer provides some fascinating responses to these and many other dark questions, while offering guidance on how to build flourishing and meaningful lives in the face of darkness.
As you’ll discover, confronting the dark side of human nature is sometimes messy. You won’t find every point of view completely satisfying, and sometimes you won’t even know which arguments to believe, but you will be constantly engaged in an ongoing conversation with an expert guide whose goal is to help you think for yourself and reach your own answers to difficult questions like these:
- If someone does something evil, does that mean they’re an evil person?
- What does it say about us if we do something awful in our dreams?
- Is it rational to fear death?
- Do we live in a just world, where victims are to blame for their own suffering?
- Can anything good come from painful emotions like anger and grief?
- Is there something wired into human nature that drives us to kill others?
- Is anyone ever beyond redemption or forgiveness?
- With so much suffering in the world, how can we create meaningful lives?
Exploring the Dark Side through Stories and Thought Experiments
Stories and thought experiments are powerful, and that’s why thinkers from many different traditions have used them to explore difficult questions. In Understanding the Dark Side of Human Nature, you will encounter fascinating thought experiments and stories—some fictional, some drawn from the headlines—that concretize abstract ideas and help us find meaning in our own lives.
Among many others, you will explore:
- Gyges’ Ring. Plato tells of Gyges, a man who found a ring that could make him invisible. With help from this newfound power, he seduced the king’s wife, killed the king, and took over the entire kingdom. If we had a mechanism for escaping punishment, would we honestly live a just life, or one that took us to the dark side?
- Zen Parable of the Two Brothers. Two brothers were shopping when they noticed an aging woman who needed help. The older brother carried her and her bags to her car. The younger brother was upset the woman hadn’t said, “Thank you,” and he brought that up again and again later in the day. The older brother responded, “Little brother, I set that woman down hours ago. Why are you still carrying her?” Why do we have a craving for things to go a particular way and allow ourselves to be distraught when they don’t?
- A Mother’s Grief. In a famous Buddhist story, a woman loses her baby and becomes overcome with grief, looking for medicine that could bring him back to life. The Buddha says he will help if she can find a pinch of mustard seed from a household untouched by the suffering of death. She finds the spice easily enough, but every household shares a story about a loved one lost. Is it possible that grief, one of our darkest emotions, is valuable to us, as we learn positive lessons about life and the need for community?
- The Luck of the Two Partygoers. Two people attend a party, drink beyond the point of legal intoxication, get in their separate cars to drive home, lose control of their cars, and swerve onto the sidewalk. In one case, a man standing on that sidewalk is killed. In the other, the sidewalk was empty. Both partygoers broke the law by driving while intoxicated. Should we judge them the same, or differently? How can we take responsibility for our actions, but recognize the role that luck plays in our lives?
These memorable thought experiments and stories, along with many others, will help you wrestle with big ideas and dark questions by grounding them in everyday experience and making them vividly real.
If we really want to understand ourselves and the world around us, we must confront humanity’s dark side. In Understanding the Dark Side of Human Nature, you’ll do just that, while being guided by thinkers from across the world, with whom you’ll engage in a great conversation, as you attempt to find your own answers to life’s biggest—and darkest—questions. What will you do to confront your own dark side? How will you choose to live in this troubled world?
Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400 [TTC Video]
27 July 2019, 20:38
Course No 3815 | .MP4, AVC, 1250 kbps, 854x480 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.96GB
Throughout history, women have played integral roles in family, society, religion, government, war—in short, in all aspects of human civilization. Powerful women have shaped laws, led rebellions, and played key roles in dynastic struggles. Some were caught up in forces beyond their control, while others manipulated and murdered their way to the top. However, unearthing their stories from the historical record has been a challenge, with the ordinary difficulties of preserving information across the generations increased by centuries of historical bias and gendered expectations. Women, when they were mentioned at all, often filled the role of virtuous maiden, self-effacing mother, or seductive villain. Imagine what you are missing when only half the story is being told.
In Warriors, Queens, and Intellectuals: 36 Great Women before 1400, taught by Professor Emerita of Humanistic Studies Joyce E. Salisbury, you will experience another side of history, one that has often been overlooked. In these 36 lectures, women step out from the footnotes and sidebars of traditional history and into the spotlight, illuminating the dark corners of the pre-modern world along the way. From thwarted daughters and ambitious wives to fearless revolutionaries and brilliant philosophers, you will see how women have played diverse roles throughout history and why their influence is so vital to a fuller understanding of the world we live in today. Beginning at the start of the Roman Empire and carrying you through to the end of the Middle Ages, Professor Salisbury will introduce you to dozens of influential women from all across the globe.
As you will see, there are many ways to wield power. Some women worked within the rules and expectations that bound them, using their unique influence as wives and mothers to shape politics, religion, and more. Meanwhile, others defied restrictions imposed on them, occupying places of leadership and power that changed the world. With this course, you will get the unique opportunity to explore their contributions to our history, and see major turning points and ideas through new perspectives.
Rebels and Rulers
From Rome and China to Persia and Byzantium, the world before 1400 saw the foundation and expansion of immense imperial powers. These powers were often hierarchical and rigidly patriarchal, and their presence imposed new systems of religion, tradition, and governance that forever altered the places they touched, often to the detriment of women who had held a certain level of power and respect within tribal communities before their arrival.
Striving to survive under these new conditions, some women took on the mantle of warrior and revolutionary, fighting for the good of their people in times of crisis. Their rebellions often failed in the face of insurmountable odds, yet their power as symbols of freedom (and cautionary tales) has lived on. In the case of the Trung sisters of Vietnam, their unsuccessful attempt to wrest their homeland from the hands of imperial invaders made them symbols of patriotism and resistance that survive in Vietnamese culture to this very day. Another famous rebel leader, the Celtic warrior queen, Boudicca, also ultimately failed in her attempt to defeat Rome. Her legend lives on, however, thanks to a revival led by one of the most powerful female leaders of the modern era, Queen Victoria.
There were those who fought against imperial powers, and then there were those who wielded power within those sprawling empires. Though few have heard her name, some modern scholars believe Sorkhakhtani was one of the most influential women in history, wielding immense authority in the Mongol empire at the height of its power. Plotina, Julia Maesa, Pulcheria, Wu Zetian, and Razia are just a few of the women you will encounter from all over the globe who achieved power, either through their own rule or that of their families. Some were benevolent and some were ruthless—often many of them were both—but they all left a mark on the world.
Saints and Sinners
Everyone loves a hero, but history is not painted in stark contrasts of black and white—and neither are the women whose stories you will uncover. As Professor Salisbury demonstrates, for every Vibia Perpetua or Joan of Arc who was martyred for a cause greater than themselves, there are many others who could certainly be considered selfish, amoral, or even villainous. (And many who were painted as weak or nefarious by historians with their own agendas.) This is one of the many important reasons historians work so hard to uncover the stories of overlooked and forgotten women: to reveal their many complex dimensions as people who were important to history, for both good and ill.
While many women throughout history were driven to act by a desire to protect themselves or their families, or to achieve greater freedom and control over their own lives, others had less laudable—but no less human—desires, such as:
- Ambition. While Victorian-era artists and poets immortalized the death of John the Baptist as the cold-hearted request of the teenaged Salome, it was in fact her ambitious mother Herodias who requested the preacher’s head. Her unending hunger for status and wealth eventually led to exile—and dragged her daughter’s name through the historical mud in the process.
- Power. In the quest for power, women have often proved themselves to be as ruthless as men. Some sources suggest that Zenobia, the queen of Palmyra, had her husband and step-son assassinated so she could rule as regent for her young son. Though she is remembered as a dynamic leader in the struggle against Roman rule and a mighty would-be empress, her path was fraught with moral compromise.
- Vengeance. Freydis, the sister of Leif Eriksson, was a formidable Viking woman with a nasty temper. When she felt her claim to her brother’s property in the New World was under threat, she wasn’t afraid to manipulate those around her—and commit a few murders—to avenge an insult and protect what she believed was rightfully hers.
And some women gained fame not because they chose to rebel or seek great fortune, but because they were lucky—or unlucky—enough to be caught in the right place at the right time. Whether swept up in a tide of religious persecution or kidnapped by an invading army, you will meet many women who found ways to make their own mark on history and turn misfortune to their advantage.
Power isn’t always about wealth and political clout. Sometimes, it can come from something as simple as the ability to read and write. For centuries of human history, women were often denied access to literacy and education. Since most would live out their lives as the keepers of hearth and home, education for women was often considered unnecessary—or even morally dangerous. Despite these fears and the limitations they imposed, we know that some women were able to pursue knowledge and deeply influence fields such as:
- Religion: The writings of Christian martyr Perpetua became so influential after her death that church leaders warned others not to treat them as scripture.
- History: Byzantine princess Anna Comnena is credited with writing one of history’s greatest chronicles of the First Crusade.
- Mathematics: Lubna of Córdoba was an astonishing mathematician who became an intellectual leader in a time and place where women were rarely accepted as public figures.
- Literature: Lady Murasaki of Japan wrote what is now considered to be the first prose novel, hundreds of years before the novel would become a definitive literary form in Europe.
- Philosophy: Perhaps best remembered for her love affair with Abelard, Heloise made her own mark on the world through her writings on philosophy and religion.
- Medicine: The German Benedictine abbess Hildegard revolutionized the medical field with her writings that blended the science of the day with more traditionally feminine knowledge of herbs and food.
The contributions of women to intellectual fields like literature and science, as well as the power they wielded through religion, rebellions, and dynasties, have been invaluable. But even those who left only personal writings like diaries and letters, or whose stories became footnotes in larger struggles, have given us astonishing resources to understand the world they lived in and how history is made every day. With her great passion for these stories and their importance in our collective history, Professor Salisbury will show you contributions great and small, ordinary and astonishing. You will see how many of these women never intended to do more than live their lives in peaceful obscurity, while others wanted to—and often did—change the world.
In unearthing these stories, we are not only able to rediscover the contributions of women— often lost to time and whose stories were written to fit prevailing prejudices—but we are also able to see our own history in new, more nuanced ways. Beyond battles and dates and the names of great men, there are other stories that can give us a richer understanding of the past and how it has shaped the world we live in today.
Understanding the Misconceptions of Science [TTC Video]
26 June 2019, 11:46
Course No 1397 | MP4, AVC, 1370 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 7.81GB
Evolution. Relativity. The Big Bang. These and other scientific ideas have come to define our understanding of the modern world and how it works. But here’s a secret: What you learned about them in school isn’t necessarily the whole truth.
Science is, undeniably, a truly incredible field of human endeavor. In the last five centuries alone, we’ve been able to make startling advancements in human progress thanks to discoveries like electricity and magnetism, the germ theory of diseases, and the inner workings of atomic particles.
But for all its importance to our everyday lives, most of us who aren’t scientists don’t think too deeply about science. We settle for what we were taught in high school—and for the most part, that education was sound. Still, compromises had to be made, leaving most of us with conceptions of science that weren’t wrong, but also were just a piece of a larger, much more complex story. Misconceptions are even taught in fairly advanced science classes—and are still believed by people with quite respectable scientific educations.
Consider these commonly held scientific beliefs:
- Planetary orbits are fixed ellipses.
- We only use 10 percent of our brains.
- Nothing travels faster than light.
- A thrown object’s trajectory is a parabola.
They seem correct on the face of it, but they’re all misconceptions that aren’t entirely accurate. There’s much more to the story than you think. And Professor Don Lincoln, a Senior Scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, has crafted a magnificent 24-lecture course devoted to busting myths, clearing up confusion, and giving you scientific epiphanies that could change how you think about your everyday world. In Understanding the Misconceptions of Science, you’ll explore shocking truths about some of science’s most well-known—and often controversial—concepts, including the physics of flight, black holes, quantum mechanics, and even the possibility of extraterrestrial life. Ultimately, Professor Lincoln’s research-backed lectures offer newer, better, and more correct ways to understand what you were once taught.
Explore Misconceptions in Biology, Chemistry, and Beyond
“Science,” Professor Lincoln says, “is built on facts, sure. But it’s also a methodology for determining and accepting—or rejecting—those facts. And inherent in science is a perpetual level of uncertainty and ignorance. Science has to be prepared to change and grow.”
This ever-evolving nature of scientific knowledge and understanding is at the heart of Understanding the Misconceptions of Science. Professor Lincoln has structured this course as a broad survey that assumes little prior knowledge of the fields being covered, which includes chemistry, physics, biology, quantum mechanics, astronomy, mathematics, and more.
Almost every lecture is devoted to a single major scientific concept or discovery that is often misunderstood or over-simplified. At the start of the lecture, Professor Lincoln highlights how that particular misconception is commonly taught to students. Then, he takes you on a deep dive into how the science really works, and how recent discoveries and advances have reframed—and in some instances, shattered—commonly held ideas.The result is a course that not only opens your eyes to just how large and mind-bending science is, but that can also spark a curiosity to investigate further.
Discover a Host of Scientific Epiphanies
What makes Understanding the Misconceptions of Science such an entertaining and engaging learning experience are the “aha!” moments packed into every lecture. Delivered with insight, clarity, and a dash of humor, these and other of Professor Lincoln’s scientific epiphanies will have you rethinking what you know—or thought you knew—about the world of science.
- A (Less Than) Ideal Gas Law. The ideal gas law describes the relationship between pressure, volume, temperature, and the number of moles of molecules for an ideal gas. There’s just one problem: gases aren’t ideal. That’s where the helpful—and slightly more complex—van der Waals equation comes in.
- Portrait of an Electron. We tend to think of electrons in an atom orbiting the nucleus like planets around a star. The scientific reality, however, is that electrons are simultaneously everywhere the laws of quantum mechanics allow. The truth is that most matter is just empty space, and what you’re made of aren’t simple spheres—but force fields.
- Think outside the Punnett Square. Most human characteristics aren’t governed by a single gene. Take eye color, for example. As it happens, there are two important genes dealing with eye color, along with 10 other genes that play a minor role. Plus, the idea that dominant traits will be the most common (and recessive traits the rarest) is wrong.
- Less Bomb, More Balloon. During the Big Bang, all the energy and matter of the universe wasn’t just sitting somewhere in space and then blew up. Rather, because matter and energy and space and time are interlinked, there was a tiny volume that wasn’t a singularity that expanded into our visible universe more like an expanding balloon.
- Use Your (Whole) Brain. No, we don’t use just 10 percent of our brain, and a big reason is evolution. The brain uses about 20 percent of the energy consumed by metabolism, in spite of being only about 2 percent of the body’s mass. If 90 percent of the brain were not used, there would be a huge evolutionary pressure to reduce the size of brains and skulls.
- Floating or Falling in Space. While you may see video clips of astronauts in the International Space Station doing flips and all sorts of things, the truth is that they’re not floating in zero gravity. The correct word we should be using to describe the state in which these astronauts are working and playing in is, rather, “free fall,” and the difference is more significant than you may think.
Along the way, you’ll develop a sharper understanding of some of the most fundamental concepts, equations, theories, and issues in contemporary science, including:
- Faraday cages, metal shapes that help protect what’s inside from electrical charges and which are used to understand what happens when lightning strikes a car;
- The Bernoulli equation, developed to better understand the laws of motion of fluids and also used (incorrectly) to explain how planes fly;
- The twin paradox, the most famous paradox in special relativity that bundles together a pair of twins to study space travel, time dilation, aging, and movement;
- Carbon-14 dating, a scientific method for piecing together how long ago something happened that’s actually a more complex process than it might seem; and
- The Drake equation, which can provide an estimate of the number of civilizations in our galaxy that we could detect—but which also neglects important parameters.
Gain an Awareness for the Immensity of Science
As with many of our other science courses, Understanding the Misconceptions of Science takes a welcoming, introductory approach to topics and issues that might seem intimidating to the average non-scientist.
Professor Lincoln goes to great lengths to make his expertise accessible to everyone willing to open their mind to the possibility that what they think they know about science isn’t the whole truth. To that end, he’s crafted these lectures to include helpful graphics, animations, images, equations, and scientific terms that help you make better sense of what’s being discussed.
But what will keep you engaged, above all, is the energy and excitement of Professor Lincoln’s lectures. He’s an expert public speaker, dedicated to scientific outreach and education—efforts which have earned him the 2017 Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics.
Understanding the Misconceptions of Science is about awareness and respect for what an immense undertaking scientific inquiry and experimentation is. “The real message here is just how little we know,” he says. “Science popularizations are entirely misleading on where we are in this effort. This isn’t to minimize our accomplishments. We’ve come a long way. But we have even further to go.”
Regardless of where you are in your own scientific adventures, this course will empower you with not just good science—but better science.