The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas [TTC Video]

The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas [TTC Video]
The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas [TTC Video] by Lawrence Cahoone
Course No 4750 | MKV, AVC, 1024x576 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.04GB

Liberty. Democracy. Rights. Community. The terms and concepts originated by political philosophers have become so ingrained in our global consciousness that politicians and ordinary citizens reference them with frequency and a sense of assuredness. Without even realizing it, we all use the fruits of political philosophy. The question is, are we using them well?

Many of us have an incomplete picture of how the ideas of political philosophy developed or their intentions and implications, despite their ubiquity. Complicating the matter, the meaning of many words in the political lexicon has evolved over time; “freedom,” “equality,” “liberal,” “conservative,” “neoconservative,” “libertarian,” “progressive,” “socialist,” “democratic,” and “republican” have each been used in a variety of ways.

Practically speaking, if we can grasp these concepts and understand their history, we are in a far better position to follow and evaluate political discussions in the media and among our social circles with discernment, so we can understand the terms as well as—if not better than—those who casually bandy them about.

In addition, tracing the origin of political thought and its execution on a grand scale allows us to develop big-picture awareness of political philosophy’s enormous influence throughout modern history, adding historical and philosophical depth to our understanding of both past and current events.

The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas is your opportunity to navigate the labyrinth of Western political and social theory. Guided by award-winning Professor Lawrence Cahoone of the College of the Holy Cross, these 36 eye-opening lectures reveal how political philosophers, in responding to the societal problems and changing conditions of their day in revolutionary ways, created virtual blueprints of action for leaders to implement—for good or ill. You’ll gain not only the tools necessary to comprehend and evaluate the omnipresent language of politics, but also a thorough understanding of the wellspring of thought that has emerged over centuries of political philosophy.

You’ll also gain knowledge of the intellectual origins of monumental historical events and developments from the Renaissance through the 21st century, such as

  • the creation of America’s political system, which was crucially influenced by John Locke and Montesquieu;
  • the French Revolution, which was influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau;
  • the formation of most capitalist contemporary societies, which have been guided by the theories of Adam Smith;
  • the invention of communist regimes, which is largely attributable to Karl Marx; and
  • the numerous reforms of progressivism, which include the eight-hour workday, minimum wage laws, worker’s compensation, voting rights for women, and social insurance for the elderly, disabled, and unemployed.

This ambitious course is a highly relevant exploration, with a third of it focusing on the very recent past and a great many lectures concerning events and ideas of the last century. By course end, you will have acquired the context necessary to appreciate how political ideas have developed over time, including many of the hot-button topics of today, from libertarianism and neoconservatism to feminism, multiculturalism, and environmentalism.

Connect Centuries of Western Political Thought

Offering impressive breadth and depth, The Modern Political Tradition has a scope you’re unlikely to find in a traditional university course. Here, you’ll trace the rise of movements including capitalism, liberalism, conservatism, nationalism, socialism, and communism; you’ll look at various incarnations of the social contract theory; and you’ll learn how disagreements between Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison influenced America’s Constitution and system of government.

As you immerse yourself in the politics of events such as World War II and the invasion of Afghanistan, as well as movements such as for civil rights and environmentalism, you’ll consider a range of fascinating topics:

  • Fundamental notions of freedom and rights
  • Moral realism versus moral relativism
  • Dangers and advantages of the free-market model of economics
  • Questions of distributive justice and the welfare state
  • “Just war” theory, which is currently being tested by the war on terror
  • The inequality of a policy of “color blindness”
  • Whether democracy or “liberal republicanism” is applicable to every civilization

You will also see how the French Revolution and its aftermath, the Napoleonic Wars, set up the international spectrum of conservatism on the right, some brand of socialism on the left, and a mix of liberal and civic republicanism in the middle—in addition to giving us the very terms “right” and “left.”

In Professor Cahoone’s treatment of everything from totalitarianism to postmodern critique, he provides a clear analysis of the defenses philosophers have used to support their ideas, critics’ arguments against those ideas, and how the two relate.

A major focus of this course is liberal republicanism, which you will come to realize is not only a unique and experimental concept in history, but a highly complex one. With several political, social, and economic principles and institutions woven into its fabric, liberal republicanism remains subject to a host of criticisms and questions that political philosophers are still attempting to address.

However, modern thought—and this course—are by no means limited to liberal republicanism. You’ll see other ways of imagining a free and equal society, as well as those of philosophers like Vladimir Lenin and Carl Schmitt, who reject the very idea.

Discover Philosophy for the Real World

Compared with more metaphysical realms of philosophy, political philosophy is the discipline’s most influential and tangible area. Broadly speaking, it attempts to answer the question of how human beings should live together in society. On a more granular level, it asks such questions as these:

  • What is justice?
  • What is the chief good of political society?
  • What kind of government is best?
  • What is a just distribution of goods, services, and income?

In The Modern Political Tradition, you’ll study individuals with clear vision in addressing these and other fundamental problems. Among the earliest is Niccolò Machiavelli, from whom we get the notion of “the ends justify the means” and his assertion that political actors will inevitably behave immorally, what later writers have called “dirty hands.”

You’ll also delve into the deontological ethics of Immanuel Kant and the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill—ideas so influential that they are commonly referenced (albeit without attribution) during ethical controversies to this day.

In every lecture, you’ll meet revolutionary figures who have left an indelible mark on history and, in many cases, continue to influence political debate.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft: Responsible for the first feminist political theory in 1792, she called for a “revolution in female matters” from the “tyranny of man.”
  • Leonard Hobhouse: He was an Englishman whose arguments for a “new” liberalism reappeared throughout the 20th century as part of American progressivism, the Square Deal, the New Deal, and the Great Society.
  • Alexandre Kojève: He argued that Henry Ford was the greatest Marxist of the 20th century because he paid his workers enough to buy the Model T cars they produced.
  • Ayn Rand: The famous writer’s theory of “objectivism” and defense of laissez-faire has been cited as influential by a vice-presidential candidate and the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, among others.
  • John Rawls: A late 20th-century progressive, he reinvigorated the theory of distributive justice by arguing for an American form of European social democracy.

Join a Respected Philosopher and Author

Having penned several books on issues presented in this course, Professor Cahoone—a philosopher in his own right—delivers these lectures with remarkable insight, accessibility, and authority. His engaging teaching style, even-handedness, and ability to distill an array of multifaceted concepts have garnered raves from Great Courses learners and university students alike.

To enhance your understanding of the material, Professor Cahoone has created detailed diagrams, many of which have been animated, specifically for this course. Along with a variety of other on-screen graphics, these visuals illustrate complex points that arise throughout the lectures for those who choose video.

After completing The Modern Political Tradition, politics will come into focus like never before. Even America’s seemingly hopelessly stalemated politics will suddenly be viewed in an entirely new light.

The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas [TTC Video]

Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds [TTC Video]

Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds [TTC Video]
Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds [TTC Video] by Robert Garland
Course No 3843 | M4V, AVC, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 11.35GB

Macedonia, 336 B.C.E. King Philip II is murdered under mysterious circumstances amid a cloud of intrigue.

Constantinople, 532 C.E. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian nearly abandons the city to an angry mob until his wife, Theodora, persuades him to stay.

France, 1095 C.E. Pope Urban II gives a speech that inspires thousands of his subjects to embark on a crusade to Jerusalem.

Time and again, moments shape history. We often examine history from a distant vantage, zooming in on a few dates and kings and battles, or spotlighting faceless trends and general themes. But history is made up of individuals who were as alive in their time as we are today. Pausing on a few key individuals and magnifying specific moments in their lives allows us to experience history in a whole new way—as a vibrant story, full of life.

Living History: Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds takes you back in time and throws a spotlight on two dozen turning points where the tide of history changes irrevocably. Taught by acclaimed Professor Robert Garland of Colgate University, these 24 dramatic lectures examine key events from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome to medieval Europe and Asia. Spanning thousands of years and three continents, this course illuminates fascinating historical dramas on the individual scale.

More than covering great events that change the contours of history, Professor Garland takes you into the scene and allows you to hear what he terms the “heartbeat of history.” Rather than merely reviewing the facts of events such as the Battle of Marathon, the arrest and trial of Jesus, and the coronation of Charlemagne, you’ll engage with a variety of first-hand accounts and authentic primary and secondary sources to experience what it was like to live these events as they occurred. From reports by historians such as Herodotus and Livy to official scrolls and administrative records, these eyewitness sources and ancient documents take you back in time through the eyes of people who were there.

Through a blend of historical facts and imaginative reasoning, Living History: Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds offers you the chance to meet the actors and witness the great events as they occur. Professor Garland breaks down these turning points to days and even hours so you will truly feel like a participant in stories hundreds or thousands of years old—but still in a vibrant and fascinating world.

Meet Extraordinary Men and Women

In your tour of the ancient and medieval worlds, Professor Garland introduces you to some of the most captivating and enigmatic characters to have ever lived. You see Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and others as energetic, charismatic leaders who were complex and flawed people, by turns admirable and brutal, circumspect and brazenly power-hungry. Whether we view them as heroes or villains, they are fascinating.

There is perhaps no better example than Alexander the Great. Educated by Aristotle, a brilliant military tactician, and relentless in pursuit of his goals, he was also a paranoid megalomaniac with a desire for grandeur and a violent temper. These facets of his personality all come to bear on the moment when his army has had enough and refuses to march further into India. Witness how Alexander must back down while still saving face.

You’ll also encounter some extraordinary women and watch them defying the rules to make their mark on world history:

  • Observe how Cleopatra uses her charms, intelligence, and theatrical ability to achieve unprecedented influence in political affairs—and how her relationship with Mark Antony eventually enables Octavian to become the undisputed ruler of the Roman world.
  • Reflect on how Theodora, at one time a mime and possibly a prostitute, climbs her way up the social ladder to become the wife of a socially conservative emperor.
  • Meet Wu Zetian, a classically educated concubine who eventually becomes China’s first female empress, doing much during her reign to establish a meritocracy and improve the lives of her subjects.

Professor Garland also explores the lives of a wealth of key philosophical and religious figures, from the secular wisdom of Socrates to the deeds of Jesus and Muhammad to the breathtaking spiritual conversions of Ashoka the Great and the Grand Duke Vladimir, founder of the Russian Orthodox Church.

See How History Often Turns on a Moment

Beyond the people, what makes an event “great” often lies in its consequences. Hundreds or thousands of years have passed since the events of this course, yet we feel their rippling effects. When Pyrrhus marched his Greek army toward Rome, he had dreams of making his mark on the world’s stage, but his “victory”—and subsequent withdrawal—paved the way for Rome to supplant Greece as the dominant global power. Or consider Pontius Pilate’s decision to offer Jesus up for crucifixion to please the crowd, even though he likely believed Jesus innocent of the charges brought against him—the events resulting from his choice have resonated over millennia.

Quick decisions, a victory, a defeat, an impulse: these small moments shape history. One of the joys of this course is that in examining these moments, Professor Garland also reflects on contingencies. What if Charles Martel had not defeated the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Tours? Would Europe have become a largely Muslim continent? Or, what if Theodora had not urged her husband Justinian to stand firm and not flee when the angry mob at the hippodrome in Constantinople was baying for his blood? Would the Byzantine Empire have come to an abrupt end one hot afternoon? Reflecting on these contingencies makes clear the myriad ways in which the ancient and medieval worlds have made us who we are today.

View History through the Eyes of Ordinary People

Professor Garland is an amazingly empathetic lecturer, passionate about history and the people who lived it. Perhaps his greatest strength is taking you into the minds of ordinary citizens. While you have likely heard some of the stories in this course before, his approach sheds new light on such events as the first theatrical presentation of Aeschylus’s Oresteia and the trial of Socrates. Both of these events reveal the way the Athenian democracy functioned at moments of unease and crisis.

Imagine the thoughts of Muslim envoy Ibn Fadlan, coming from cosmopolitan Baghdad in the 10th century, upon arriving in the wild territories of Central Asia. Or picture yourself in the crowd when Pericles or Pope Urban II gives an inspirational speech extolling the glory of Athens or Christendom. Would you be moved by the swell of the crowd and the enthusiasm of the day?

Witnessing these moments as a participant—slowing down to hear the “heartbeat of history”—is a captivating way of reflecting on the past. Living History: Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds takes you inside the hearts and minds of those who lived through fascinating human dramas—a novel approach to history you won’t find anywhere else.

Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds [TTC Video]

Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations [TTC Video]

Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations [TTC Video]
Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations [TTC Video] by Brian M Fagan
Course No 380 | AVI, XviD, 384x272 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | 5.13GB

Where do we come from? How did our ancestors settle this planet? How did the great historic civilizations of the world develop? How does a past so shadowy that it has to be painstakingly reconstructed from fragmentary, largely unwritten records nonetheless make us who and what we are?

This course brings you the answers that scientific and archaeological research and theorizing suggest about human origins, how populations developed, and the ways in which civilizations spread throughout the globe.

It is a narrative of the story of human origins and the many ties that still bind us deeply to the world before writing.

Your professor is Brian M. Fagan, Ph.D., Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Professor Fagan was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1973 and has received numerous awards, among them the Public Service Award of the Society of Professional Archaeologists and the Public Education Award of the Society for American Archaeology. He received a Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His excavations have made him a pioneer of multidisciplinary African history.

Dr. Fagan's numerous books include People of the Earth and In the Beginning, two widely used university and college textbooks in archaeology and prehistory. His other works include The Rape of the Nile, The Adventure of Archaeology, Time Detectives, and The Little Ice Age. He also edited The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Professor Fagan was born and educated in Britain and speaks with a British accent.

AudioFile magazine writes about Dr. Fagan: "Vibrant and dynamic. It's easy to hear why he has been lauded by faculty and students at The University of California, Santa Barbara, for his teaching and academic excellence since 1967."

What Is "Prehistory"?

Prehistory—meaning human societies without writing or widespread written records—survived until Western culture and industrial society completed their globalization in the 20th century, making the topic of a course that begins with some very old fossils seem more current than you may think.

You learn about dozens of archaeological sites all over the world and learn about stone-tool making, mammoth hunting, and temple building as you explore man's earliest origins and the earliest civilizations.

Themes to Remember: Human Achievement

Woven through this narrative is a set of pervasive themes:

  • Emerging human biological and cultural diversity (as well as our remarkable similarities across surprising expanses of time and space)
  • The impact of human adaptations to climatic and environmental change
  • The importance of seeing prehistory not merely as a chronicle of archaeological sites and artifacts, but of people behaving with the extraordinary intellectual, spiritual, and emotional dynamism that distinguish the human.

This is a world tour of prehistory with profound links to who we are and how we live today.

2.5 Million Years of History

This 36-lecture narrative covers human prehistory from our beginnings more than 2.5 million years ago up to and beyond the advent of the world's first preindustrial civilizations.

Due to the large spans of time and geography covered in this series, these lectures are divided into six sections:

Section I: Beginnings

This section surveys the archaic world of the first humans, you travel into the remote past, learning why the late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould was probably right to observe that we all come from the same African twig on the bushy tree of human evolution.

You examine prehistory from Australopithecus africanus through Homo habilis (the first tool-making hominid), and Homo erectus (whose remains were first found on Java but whose origins lie in Africa) through the hardy Neanderthals who lived and hunted successfully in Europe despite the bitter grip of the last Ice Age 100,000 and more years ago. You focus on the first human settlement of Africa as early as 800,000 years ago.

Section II: Modern Humans

This section tells the story of the great diaspora of anatomically modern humans in the late Ice Age. Whether and how these modern humans spread from the African tropics into southwestern Asia and beyond remains one of the great controversies among scholars of prehistory.

You follow Homo sapiens sapiens north into Europe some 45,000 years ago. You meet the Cro-Magnons, among the first known artists as well as hunter-gatherers, who exhibited degrees of spiritual awareness, social interaction, and fluid intelligence.

You venture into the frigid open plains of the Ukraine and Eurasia, where big-game hunters flourished in spite of nine-month winters. Moving to the Americas, debate over the origins of the first human settlement continues.

Section III: Farmers and Herders

This section describes perhaps the most important development in all human prehistory: the beginnings of agriculture and animal domestication.

This defining chapter began about 12,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers in the Near East broke from the long human tradition of intensely mobile foraging and turned to more settled ways of life built around cultivating cereal grains or tending animals.

Section IV: Eastern Mediterranean Civilizations

Professor Fagan describes early civilizations in an increasingly complex eastern Mediterranean world, discussing many theories accounting for the appearance of urban civilization and overall attributes of preindustrial civilizations.

You examine Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia and the intricate patchwork of city-states between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. You explore ancient Egypt, the Minoan civilization of Crete, the Mycenaeans, and the Hittites.

You learn about the Uluburun shipwreck of southern Turkey, a sealed capsule of international trade from 3,000 years ago.

Section V: Africans and Asians

You analyze the beginnings of South Asian civilization and the mysterious Harappan civilization of the Indus, which traded with Mesopotamia. Professor Fagan resumes the story of South Asian civilization after the collapse of the Harappan and shows how Mauryan rulers on the Ganges encouraged trading much farther afield.

You see the impact of monsoons which revolutionized maritime trading among Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, and explore Meroe, Aksum, and the coastal civilization of East Africa.

Several lectures cover the beginnings of civilization in China and Southeast Asia.

Section VI: Ancient Americans

Professor Fagan takes you into sophisticated chiefdoms and civilizations that developed in the Americas over the past 3,500 years, including Pueblo cultures of the North American Southwest and the Mississippian culture of the South and Southeast. You learn about Mesoamerican civilization, primordial Olmec culture of the lowlands, and the spectacular ancient Maya civilization.

Moving to the highlands, you visit the city-states of Monte Albán in the Valley of Oaxaca and Teotihuacán near the Valley of Mexico. Professor Fagan also describes the rise of Aztec civilization, followed by a journey to the Andes. Finally, you explore the southern highlands, with the rise of Tiwanaku near Lake Titicaca, the Chimu civilization of the coast, and the huge Inka empire.

The series closes by analyzing the closing centuries of prehistoric times during the European age of discovery and summarizing the main issues and themes of the course:
  • What was involved in the archaic world
  • The appearance and spread of modern humans
  • Food production
  • The development of states
Human Prehistory and the First Civilizations [TTC Video]

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