144 episodes

From Altruism to Wittgenstein, philosophers, theories and key themes.

In Our Time: Philosophy BBC Radio 4

    • History
    • 4.6 • 21 Ratings

From Altruism to Wittgenstein, philosophers, theories and key themes.

    Hegel's Philosophy of History

    Hegel's Philosophy of History

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss ideas of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 - 1831) on history. Hegel, one of the most influential of the modern philosophers, described history as the progress in the consciousness of freedom, asking whether we enjoy more freedom now than those who came before us. To explore this, he looked into the past to identify periods when freedom was moving from the one to the few to the all, arguing that once we understand the true nature of freedom we reach an endpoint in understanding. That end of history, as it's known, describes an understanding of freedom so far progressed, so profound, that it cannot be extended or deepened even if it can be lost.

    With

    Sally Sedgwick
    Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Boston University

    Robert Stern
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield

    And

    Stephen Houlgate
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    Comenius

    Comenius

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Czech educator Jan Amos Komenský (1592-1670) known throughout Europe in his lifetime under the Latin version of his name, Comenius. A Protestant and member of the Unity of Brethren, he lived much of his life in exile, expelled from his homeland under the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and he wanted to address the deep antagonisms underlying the wars that were devastating Europe especially The Thirty Years War (1618-1648). A major part of his plan was Universal Education, in which everyone could learn about everything, and better understand each other and so tolerate their religious differences and live side by side. His ideas were to have a lasting influence on education, even though the peace that followed the Thirty Years War only entrenched the changes in his homeland that made his life there impossible.

    The image above is from a portrait of Comenius by Jürgen Ovens, 1650 - 1670, painted while he was living in Amsterdam and held in the Rikjsmuseum

    With

    Vladimir Urbanek
    Senior Researcher in the Department of Comenius Studies and Early Modern Intellectual History at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

    Suzanna Ivanic
    Lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Kent

    And

    Howard Hotson
    Professor of Early Modern Intellectual History at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Anne’s College

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 56 min
    Charisma

    Charisma

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the idea of charismatic authority developed by Max Weber (1864-1920) to explain why people welcome some as their legitimate rulers and follow them loyally, for better or worse, while following others only dutifully or grudgingly. Weber was fascinated by those such as Napoleon (above) and Washington who achieved power not by right, as with traditional monarchs, or by law as with the bureaucratic world around him in Germany, but by revolution or insurrection. Drawing on the experience of religious figures, he contended that these leaders, often outsiders, needed to be seen as exceptional, heroic and even miraculous to command loyalty, and could stay in power for as long as the people were enthralled and the miracles they had promised kept coming. After the Second World War, Weber's idea attracted new attention as a way of understanding why some reviled leaders once had mass support and, with the arrival of television, why some politicians were more engaging and influential on screen than others.

    With

    Linda Woodhead
    The FD Maurice Professor and Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College London

    David Bell
    The Lapidus Professor in the Department of History at Princeton University

    And

    Tom Wright
    Reader in Rhetoric at the University of Sussex

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 52 min
    The Arthashastra

    The Arthashastra

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ancient Sanskrit text the Arthashastra, regarded as one of the major works of Indian literature. Written in the style of a scientific treatise, it provides rulers with a guide on how to govern their territory and sets out what the structure, economic policy and foreign affairs of the ideal state should be. According to legend, it was written by Chanakya, a political advisor to the ruler Chandragupta Maurya (reigned 321 – 297 BC) who founded the Mauryan Empire, the first great Empire in the Indian subcontinent. As the Arthashastra asserts that a ruler should pursue his goals ruthlessly by whatever means is required, it has been compared with the 16th-century work The Prince by Machiavelli. Today, it is widely viewed as presenting a sophisticated and refined analysis of the nature, dynamics and challenges of rulership, and scholars value it partly because it undermines colonial stereotypes of what early South Asian society was like.

    With

    Jessica Frazier
    Lecturer in the Study of Religion at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

    James Hegarty
    Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions at Cardiff University

    And

    Deven Patel
    Associate Professor of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 56 min
    In Our Time is now first on BBC Sounds

    In Our Time is now first on BBC Sounds

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    • 1 min
    Walter Benjamin

    Walter Benjamin

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most celebrated thinkers of the twentieth century. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German Jewish philosopher, critic, historian, an investigator of culture, a maker of radio programmes and more. Notably, in his Arcades Project, he looked into the past of Paris to understand the modern age and, in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, examined how the new media of film and photography enabled art to be politicised, and politics to become a form of art. The rise of the Nazis in Germany forced him into exile, and he worked in Paris in dread of what was to come; when his escape from France in 1940 was blocked at the Spanish border, he took his own life.

    With

    Esther Leslie
    Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London

    Kevin McLaughlin
    Dean of the Faculty and Professor of English, Comparative Literature and German Studies at Brown University

    And

    Carolin Duttlinger
    Professor of German Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford

    Producer: Simon Tillotson

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
21 Ratings

21 Ratings

Norway true crime fan ,

Enkelt

Enkle svar, lite gjennomtenkt. Hadde vært fint å lære noe - det gjorde jeg ikke. Pretensiøse «britiske, overmenn/kvinner). U know nothing, and that’s ok! So don’t try! Have some «selvreflekterende» thaughts. I dont either, but I can embrace that. I’m sorry. Fuch u (if can’t publish this, please let m know. I can express myself in other ways

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