Sioux Falls Atheists
Sioux Falls Atheists and Atheism, Agnostics and Humanism

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Birth of the Modern Mind course for describing
how the supporters of science lead the way out from under the 14 centuries
of repression by religious authorities. It was the beginning of the end
for crusades, the inquisition, torture for confessions, burning at the
stake, religious wars and other atrocities in the name of God.

The Birth of the Modern Mind
The Intellectual History of
the 17th and 18th Centuries
Lectures by Alan Charles Kors

The Birth of the Modern Mind (1998) - 24 lectures, 12 hours
The Birth of the Modern Mind at TheGreatCourses.com

Modern science, representative democracy, and a wave of wars were caused by a revolution of the intellect that seized Europe between 1600 and 1800. Shaking the minds of the continent like few things before or since, this revolution challenged previous ways of understanding reality and sparked what Professor Alan Charles Kors calls "perhaps the most profound transformation of European, if not human, life."

Revolutions in thought (as opposed to those in politics or science) are in many ways the most far-reaching. They affect our entire sense of legitimate authority, of the possible and impossible, of right and wrong, and of the potentials of human life.

The goal of these lectures is to understand the conceptual and cultural revolution of the Enlightenment. In them, you see the birth of modern thought in the dilemmas, debates, and extraordinary works of the 17th- and 18th-century mind.

Professor Kors is Henry Charles Lea Professor of European History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has taught for over 30 years. His courses on European intellectual history have won two awards for distinguished teaching.

He is the editor-in-chief of the multi-volume Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment and has written and edited several books on European intellectual history.

The Power of Aristotle and the Churchmen

When the 17th century dawned in Europe, past authors who had stood the test of time dominated the world of learning and understanding.

Their system of thought - Aristotelian scholasticism - emerged from the fusion of those authorities and Christian doctrine. Professor Kors shows how fully these ideas had suffused and controlled thought and society.

The Walls begin to Crumble

A series of fundamental assaults upon the inherited intellectual system dominated the intellectual life of the 17th century.

Those assaults constituted nothing less than a conceptual revolution that altered the European relationship to thought, nature, and human possibility. With Professor Kors, you examine the key thinkers who changed the world.

  • Francis Bacon, politician and philosopher, criticized the entire Western intellectual inheritance, revising the human quest for knowledge and transforming the uses of knowledge into power over the forces of nature.
  • René Descartes created a coherent philosophical system that became the major challenge to scholasticism on the Continent. Descartes sought to demonstrate that humans can establish a criterion of truth and, with it, know with certainty the real nature of things.
  • Thomas Hobbes, author of the monumental work of political philosophy known as Leviathan (1651), argued that the entire world was matter in motion according to mechanical laws. Thus, there was no freedom of the will, and all things were the necessary results of prior causes.
  • Blaise Pascal was one of the 17th century's most influential fideists. Philosophical skepticism is the belief that we may know nothing with certainty. When used to humble human reason and demonstrate our dependence on religious faith, it is termed "fideism" - yet another systematic assault on Aristotelian scholasticism.

Professor Alan Charles Kors has taught for more than 40 years at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Henry Charles Lea Professor of European History. He has written numerous insightful books on European intellectual history - his area of expertise - and was editor in chief of the comprehensive, four-volume Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment from Oxford University Press.

24 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Introduction - Intellectual History and Conceptual Change 13: The Moderns - The Generation of 1680-1715
2: The Dawn of the 17th Century - Aristotelian Scholasticism 14: Introduction to Deism
3: The New Vision of Francis Bacon 15: The Conflict Between Deism and Christianity
4: The New Astronomy and Cosmology 16: Montesquieu and the Problem of Relativism
5: Descartes's Dream of Perfect Knowledge 17: Voltaire - Bringing England To France
6: The Specter of Thomas Hobbes 18: Bishop Joseph Butler and God's Providence
7: Skepticism and Jansenism - Blaise Pascal 19: The Skeptical Challenge to Optimism - David Hume
8: Newton's Discovery 20: The Assault upon Philosophical Optimism - Voltaire
9: The Newtonian Revolution 21: The Philosophes - The Triumph of the French Enlightenment
10: John Locke - The Revolution in Knowledge 22: Beccaria and Enlightened Reform
11: The Lockean Moment 23: Rousseau's Dissent
12: Skepticism and Calvinism - Pierre Bayle 24: Materialism & Naturalism - The Boundaries of the Enlightenment


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The Birth of the Modern Mind
The Intellectual History of
the 17th and 18th Centuries
Lectures by Alan Charles Kors

Sioux Falls Atheists endorse The Birth of the Modern Mind course for describing
how the supporters of science lead the way out from under the 14 centuries
of repression by religious authorities. It was the beginning of the end
for crusades, the inquisition, torture for confessions, burning at the
stake, religious wars and other atrocities in the name of God.