The History of Philosophy by Leonard Peikoff

Recorded lectures by Leonard Peikoff


I. The first problem: are there any absolutes?
The Father of Philosophy: Thales of Miletus. The philosophy of flux: Heraclitus - "You cannot step into the same river twice", - change as the only absolute. The paradoxes of Zeno. The mind-body opposition begins: the mathematical mysticism of the Pythagoreans.

2. The triumph of the metaphysics of two worlds
The birth of determinism: the materialism of Democritus. The birth of "It seems to me...": the skepticism of the Sophists - "Might makes right." The teachings of Socrates. The first full philosophy: Plato's. Plato's metaphysical dualism.

3. The results in this world
Plato's epistemology - the myth of the cave. Plato's ethics and politics: man as a being torn by the conflict. of reason and emotion - Platonic love – the Philosopher-King - Communism as the political ideal.

4-5. A revolution: the birth of reason
Aristotle. Epistemology: sensory evidence as the base of knowledge-the laws of logic - the nature of truth. Ethics/politics: happiness as the moral goal- the place of reason in the good life - the Great-Souled Man - the ideal society.

6. Philosophy loses confidence
The philosophy of pleasure: the hedonism of Epicurus. The philosophy of duty: Stoicism. The new Skepticism: Pyrrho of Elis. Neo-Platonism: Plotinus.

7-8. Philosophy becomes religious-and recovers
The rejection of reason and happiness: the developmrnt of Christianity. The first major Christian philosopher: Augustine. Faith as the basis of reason - the ethics of self-sacrificial love. Man as a corrupt creature. The Dark Ages. The rediscovery of Aristotle. Thomas Aquinas: the union of Aristotelianism and Christianity - the absolutism of reason and the new role of faith. The aftermath of Thomism: the Church loses its power -the Renaissance

9. The new breach between the mind and reality
Materialism and determinism in the name of science, dictatorship in the name of harmony: Thomas Hobbes. The father of modern philosophy and the first famous Continental Rationalist: René Descartes - The method of universal doubt- "I think, therefore I am" - the theory of innate ideas.

10. The breach deepens. ..
The second famous Rationalist: Spinoza. Pantheism - determinism. The third famous Rationalist: Leibnitz - tthe unreality matter - the "window less monads" - "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." British empiricism: John Locke.

11. ...and the attempt collapses
Empiricism becomes subjectivist: Bishop Berkeley ,,"To be js to be perceived." Empiricism becomes bankrupt: the skepticism of David Hume - the attack on the external world, on the law of casality and on the self - the breach between logic and fact.

12. Conclusion
The Objectivist answer to a number of key problems posed by Ancient and Modern Philosophy.

Audio (24-tape set; 33 hrs.)

Part II – MODERN PHILOSOPHY: Kant to the Present

1. The historical background A summary of those issues of Ancient and early Modern Philosophy essential for an understanding of recent philosophic trends.

2-3. Aristotelian logic is banished from philosophy The Father of Contemporary Philosophy: lmmanuel Kant. The Karitian Revolution in philosophy – the analytic-synthetic dichotomy – Kant’s famous argument: the "deduction of the categories" – reality as unknowable "things-in-themselves" – the phenomenal and noumena1 worlds. Kant's ethics: the morality of duty – the attack on happiness – the Categorical lmperative – the right to have faith "God, freedom and immortality."

4.A new "logic" leads to an old politics… The philosophy of Hegel. Reality as a dialectic process - the Absolute – the coherence theory of truth – Hegel's philosophy of history – Hegel's concept of freedom – the absolutist state.

5. ...and to an epidemic of irrationalism Nineteerith-century German romanticism: Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Marx. Schopenhauer: the metaphysics of the Will – the irrationality of the universe. Nietzsche: the philosophy of Power – "Beyond Good and Evil." Marx: the philosophy of Communism – romanticism unites with materialism: dialectical materialism – the economic interpretation of history – the advocacy of world-revolution.

6.. The virus reaches defenders of science Comte: the philosophy of Positivism – the origin of the term "altruism. " Mill.: Utilitarianism, "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" – a collectivist defense of capitalism. Spencer: reality as unknowable – Social Darwinism.

7-8. Truth. Logic, and values are formally divorced from reality The phiosophy of Pragmatism. The Pragmatic theory of meaning: C..S..Peirce – the Pragmatic theory of truth: William. Jumes – Pragmatism fully developed: John Dewey's instrumentalism.. Logical Positivism.. The.Linguistic theory of logic – the attack on conceptual.knowledge: the verifiability theory of meaning – knowledge as mere probability – the rejection of metaphysics.

9. Language is formally divorced from reality The Analysts. Philosophy as the analysis of propositions. G. E. Moore – Bertrand Russell – Ordinary Language Analysis: the later Wittgenstein and his followers – the emotive theory of ethics and its heirs.

10..Nausea becomes a metaphysical emotion Existcentialism: Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre. Thec rejection of reason – the absurdity of the universe – Death and Nothingness, fear, trembling and dread. Zen Buddhism.

11.Man finds his defender: the philosophy of Objectivism Objectivism in relation to the history of Western philosophy. The primacy of existence vs. the primacy of consciousness – the distinction between the subjective, the intrinsic and the objective – the Objcectivist theory of concept-formation – the derivation of the Objectivist ethics and politics from its metaphysics and epistemology.

Audio (24-tape set; 33 hrs.)