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Friday, January 6, 2017

History of Philosophy by Leonard Peikoff

History of Philosophy 
Leonard Peikoff

Today I finished the 50-lecture course on History of Philosophy by Leonard Peikoff. I found the course interesting and informative, and I would highly recommend it. Peikoff is an excellent raconteur and he makes a “supposedly” dull subject like philosophy seem quite entertaining.

However, these lectures are not for those who are experts in history of philosophy, and it is also not suitable for those who do not have any basic knowledge of the subject. But if you have already done some study of the key philosophers then with this course you can enhance your understanding of the philosophic ideas that have been shaping the world in the past 2600 years.

The course starts with the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Thales, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Pythagoras, before moving on to the contributions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and from there to St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, John Locke, Berkeley, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Ayn Rand, and several others. Peikoff has conducted an accurate analysis of the ideas of every thinker. When he points out the flaws in the reasoning of a thinker, he does so on basis of logic and evidence.

One thing that I missed in these lectures is discussion of the major contemporary thinkers—for instance, John Dewey and John Rawls, and even the libertarian thinkers like Ludwig von Mises and Robert Nozick. I think there is scope for one more lecture in this excellent course to cover the highly influential contemporary thinkers.

The total duration of the 50-lecture course that is available for free on the Ayn Rand Campus website is 37-hours and 28-minutes. But this is the abridged version of the course. The full course can be dowloaded from the Ayn Rand eStore from two links: Founders of Western Philosophy: Thales to Hume (33 hrs., 22 min) and Modern Philosophy: Kant to the Present (31 hrs., 36 min).

In my view, the most important takeaway from these lectures is that the philosophic ideas play a fundamental role in shaping world events and our way of life. 

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