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Best Greatbooksofthewesternworld podcasts we could find (updated April 2020)
Best Greatbooksofthewesternworld podcasts we could find
Updated April 2020
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This week, Scott and Karl discuss Schopenhauer's Metaphysics of Love. Among 19th-century philosophers, Arthur Schopenhauer was one of the first to contend that at its core, the universe is not a rational place. His view of love is no different— earnest but slightly unromantic. Scott sums up Schopenhauer's theory by saying, “Love is an experience yo…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read The Sound of Waves, a 1954 novel by the Japanese author Yukio Mishima. The novel follows Shinji and his romance with Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthy shipowner, on the island of Uta-Jima (Song Island). It’s a charming coming-of-age story, but as Scott points out, “There’s not a reformer in this book.” Do …
 
Welcome, dear listeners, to a show that explores what it means to be human. Sound intriguing? This week, Scott and Karl read Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune which is a book thought to be The Lord of the Rings equivalent in the science fiction genre. Scott expands, "In The Lord of the Rings, there’s something comforting and familiar about that world…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read and discuss the 63 clauses of the Magna Carta. In 1215, Bad King John pledged, under duress, to his barons that he would obey “the law of the land” when he affixed his seal to a charter that came to be called Magna Carta. Few men have been less mourned, few legal documents more adored. Although most of the charter dea…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read the Articles of Confederation. This "firm league of friendship" was written in 1777, stemming from wartime urgency. However, it was not actually ratified until 1781. It now lays on the ash heap of history, formally replaced by the present United States Constitution on March 4, 1789. Under these articles, the states re…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read A Modest Proposal, a satirical essay written and published anonymously by Jonathan Swift in 1729. Are human lives the sort of things you should add up like numbers? Despite suggesting that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food to rich gentlemen and ladies, Swift ac…
 
In the spring of 1845, Henry David Thoreau borrowed an ax, walked into the woods, and started cutting down trees to make a shack to live in. Walden is the result of this endeavor. Through this process, Thoreau spells out his distinctly American project — simple living with as few compromises as possible. Karl says, “The book is not a guide to your …
 
Scott and Karl are back at it again, this time with Tom Wolfe and his book, The Painted Word. Wolfe is a mid-century American writer and the inventor of New Journalism. He’s known for straddling multiple genres at once, reporting back to his readers on a world we ultimately couldn't see without him. In The Painted Word, Wolfe provides a critique of…
 
This week, Scott and Karl dive into The Gulag Archipelago by Russian writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Published in 1973, the title refers to a series of disconnected prisons in the Soviet Union that, nevertheless, all shared the same culture. The manuscript had to be hidden, originally published by the underground Samizdat press which r…
 
In this week’s episode, Scott and Karl talk with Michelle Hawkins, music professor and Online Great Book’s member. The trio listen and discuss Beethoven’s Third Symphony and read The Heiligenstadt Testament, a heartbreaking letter written by Beethoven to his brothers. Beethoven's Third Symphony is regarded as a turning point in musical history, the…
 
We’re switching up our normal routine to answer your Online Great Books questions. In this episode, Scott and Karl address everything from membership, seminar, accountability, and our mission. What will reading the books on this list do for you, anyway? Scott says, “If you read them in earnest and you take them seriously and actually go to the semi…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, author unknown. This narrative poem is considered to be one of the jewels of English Literature and a crowning achievement of Middle English poetry. Filled with chivalric knights, seductive sirens, and plenty of temptation and testing, this Arthurian legend lives up to the name. This p…
 
The medium is the… massage? In 1967, Marshall McLuhan teamed up with graphic designer Quentin Fiore to write The Medium is the Massage, a short 160-page picture book that offers us a glimpse as to how the medium "shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action,” of work and leisure. Karl points out, “to say the media is the m…
 
“I would prefer not to.” In their simplicity and politeness, these five words illustrate a story of passive resistance that will both move you and leave you searching for answers. You may have even uttered the line yourself at work. "Bartleby, the Scrivener, A Story of Wall-Street," was published in Putnam's magazine in November and December 1853 b…
 
In this week’s episode, Scott and Karl discuss Edward Bernays’ 1928 book Propaganda. Referred to as “the father of public relations,” and “the Machiavelli of the 20th century,” Bernays pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion which he famously dubbed “engineering of consent.” His seminal work, Propaganda, is a l…
 
When you begin reading the Great Books, family and friends may be puzzled. They will see you toting around huge books, taking notes, and gazing off thoughtfully into the void. Greg, one of our members, was questioned by a coworker. “Why are you reading Thucydides at lunch?” He restated this question on our OGB Slack channel. We have an active commu…
 
This week, Scott and Karl read Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture. The duo dives into the Pieper-style definition of leisure, work, and their relationship. Pieper shows us that the Greeks and medieval Europeans understood the great value and importance of leisure. But do we? Most of us have been brought up on heavy doses of careerism, or w…
 
This week, Scott and Karl discuss Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The America Scholar.” This address was delivered at Cambridge in 1837, before the Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. According to Emerson, there’s a fundamental challenge American scholars are faced with— what is it they ought to be doing? Emerson has a reverence for work and the …
 
In this week’s episode, Scott and Karl discuss all things related to reading. Before opening a book, it’s crucial to define your “why” and then your “how.” If you are reading for entertainment, your methods will differ than if you’re reading for enlightenment. Here at Online Great Books, the first book our members read in the program is How to Read…
 
This week, Scott and Karl discuss Book I of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle may seem like an intimidating figure that you can’t tap into, but this just isn’t true. As the author of the first book on ethics, Aristotle treats human behaviors like a science. If you believe in reason, if the world is a place you want to learn about and explor…
 
In this week's episode, Scott and Karl discuss an essay by Plutarch, “How a Man May Become Aware of His Progress in Virtue.” As an eminent biographer and moralist, Plutarch is best known for his Parallel Lives, a series of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans arranged in tandem to illuminate their common vices and virtues. To Karl’s initial dism…
 
This week, Scott and Karl discuss Dorthy Sayers’ paper, "The Lost Tools of Learning." This groundbreaking work is a great deal important to our mission here at Online Great Books, and for anyone else who wants a redo on their education. What did Sayers notice was lost back in 1947? Why does it matter that we have lost the tools of learning? In this…
 
One year ago, Karl decided to give up his 20-year teaching career as a university professor of humanities and philosophy. Why did he make this decision? In Karl’s own words, “It was no longer rewarding for me or valuable to the students.” Towards the end of his teaching career, Karl started to notice a decline in his student’s ability to read and a…
 
In this week’s episode, Scott and Karl pay homage to the recently deceased Harold Bloom, a great ally to our mission at Online Great Books. Once hailed the most notorious literary critic in America, Bloom was a professor of humanities at Yale and a fierce defender of canonicity. His version of the canon, with Shakespeare reigning at its center, is …
 
This week, Scott and Karl read Chapters 1-3 of Gabriel Marcel’s Man Against Mass Society. Mass society doesn’t just include people for Marcel, he also includes art, media, and technology. Marcel is concerned with human existence, or more specifically, with the quality of human life in relation to the transcendent. Written in 1952, Marcel’s discussi…
 
Thomas Hobbes is the type of writer you love to hate– but he’s also the guy you’d love to play cards with. Scott believes Hobbes’ Leviathan is one of the most fruitful books he has ever read. It’s a founding text of western thought filled with original ideas that are still relevant to contemporary politics. In today’s episode, Scott and Karl dig in…
 
Scott is joined by Karl Schudt in this week’s discussion of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance.” For Emerson, authentic, unmediated thought has some sort of divine truth in it. This is crucial to our mission at Online Great Books. In seminar discussion, everyone has a unique perspective that we need to hear about. Your thoughts are worth a…
 
The tables have turned. Scott makes Karl read “A Scandal In Bohemia” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Understanding this short story is to understand what made young Scott tick. Sherlock Holmes is a saint of reason. The world is an explicable place- one where he can deduce who you are simply by looking at your shoes. To Holmes, humans are rational actors…
 
In the second installment of the series, Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt continue their discussion of Tolkien’s magic in The Lord of the Rings. The two talk about the problem of evil in this Homeric story, what the good life actually looks like, models of hope we see in many of the characters, the unyielding power of friendship, language’s captivati…
 
After years of Karl’s persistent hounding, Scott finally reads The Lord of the Rings. The two discuss elves, orcs, dwarfs, hobbits, and so much more. Disclaimer: If you haven’t yet already, do not watch The Lord of the Ring movies before reading the books. Don’t let your first Tolkien experience be from Peter Jackson. Karl will find you and scold y…
 
If you don't believe in anything, how can you make meaningful art? Scott and Dr. Karl Schudt discuss their first encounter with philosopher-novelist Iris Murdoch. Her essay "Against Dryness" addresses that question, along with the ideas and forces that brought that question about. Looking at art and of literature, Murdoch laments the loss of moral …
 
Scott and Dr. Karl Schudt discuss Walker Percy's essay on how preconceived ideas about experiences cause us to overlook their essence. Why do so many people surrender their experiences of things to the way others want those people to experience them? How do we get around Percy's "symbolic complex" of a book or a place, and find a way to experience …
 
Plato's Seventh Letter has it all - history, politics, epistemology, pedagogy. And the complaints of an old man who has watched his life's work...fail? Scott and Dr. Karl Schudt discuss the letter and the drama behind it, and then wrestle with the question of whether or not a lover of wisdom actually has the ability to "make people good." And even …
 
In the second installment of the Moments miniseries, seminar leader Karl Schudt reflects on the capricious and tenuous nature of our current political environment. As Thucydides reminds us, extreme partisanship is nothing new: "reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal supporter... prudent hesitation specious cowardice." And wh…
 
Scott says it all the time -- if you can start your own Great Books group at home, do it! There's nothing that can truly replace the camaraderie, the deep shared intellectual experiences, and the accountability of an in-person group. Several years ago Scott started his own Great Books group in the tradition set forth my Mortimer Adler in his founda…
 
This week we're trying something new at Online Great Books: a new series of short episodes reflecting on one aspect of the Great Books. We're calling them Moments. We'll hear personal reflections from the seminar staff and from members. One core tenet of Online Great Books is that seminar staff do NOT teach during seminars. They serve to moderate a…
 
Scott Hambrick and Karl Schudt discuss Friedrich Nietzsche's book The Joyful Wisdom, Book 3, which contains his infamous proclamation "God is dead." Nietzsche is perhaps best known for his writings about nihilism, the rejection of God and moral principles, or of any notion of meaning in life. From the nihilist's perspective, nothing in the world is…
 
Scott Hambrick and Online Great Books member Miles Marco Bennett -- in fact the very first member to join OGB -- discuss Michel de Montaigne's insightful, tongue-in-cheek, and occasionally droll essay Of Cannibals. Montaigne's essay, which appears in a larger collected work of his essays written in the 16th century, describes the author's experienc…
 
Scott talks to Joe McCormack, author of Brief: Make Bigger Impact by Saying Less, about the importance of brevity in communication. Joe is an author, speaker, and consultant who has worked with executives, military personnel, and many others to hone their ability to communicate efficiently in critical situations. With attention spans shrinking and …
 
Psychiatrist Dr. David Puder joins the podcast to discuss Sigmund Freud's 1917 paper Melancholia and Mourning. You can find Dr. Puder on Instagram @dr.davidpuder and you can subscribe and listen to his podcast at https://psychiatrypodcast.com. Use the discount OGBPODCAST to save 25% on enrollment at Online Great Books.…
 
Online Great Books founder Scott Hambrick and seminar leader Emmet Penney tackle the first scientific work on the podcast, Euclid's Elements. The Elements are a collection of treatises, postulates, and propositions that ultimately drive toward important mathematical concepts such as the Pythagorean theorem and the theory of numbers, i.e. integers, …
 
Scott and Producer Trent wrap up their discussion of Shakespeare's Hamlet, close-reading Hamlet's soliloquies and dissecting the structure of Shakespeare's verse. They reflect on Shakespeare's impact on modern literature, the curiously secular perspective of the play in a highly religious time period, and whether Shakespeare sought to moralize or d…
 
Producer Trent returns to the podcast to discuss the first modern piece of literature to appear on the podcast: Shakespeare's Hamlet. A dark, introspective, sprawling drama, Hamlet is arguably Shakespeare's masterpiece, and certainly one of the best of the twelve tragedies he penned. Scott and Trent discuss how Hamlet remains vital and relevant eve…
 
Brett Venoitte of the School Sucks Project returns for Part 2 of our interview discussing the problems with college admissions and the persistent myth that college is a sure path to financial success and career fulfillment. In the second half of the interview, Scott and Brett argue that the value of the college is on the decline, and that young peo…
 
Scott Hambrick interviews podcaster, author, former test prep educator, and education contrarian Brett Veinoitte about the rapidly changing role of school and, particularly, secondary school. As the recent scandal involving celebrities paying bribes to obtain university admissions for their children has revealed, college has become so ingrained as …
 
Scott and Karl Schudt discuss what an Online Great Books seminar is like -- the experience, what it should be, and what it is not. Many people interested in reading the great books balk at the seminar aspect of OGB out of fear that they won't have anything useful to contribute, that they may not be smart or educated enough to participate, or perhap…
 
Scott and Online Great Books member John Syc, a therapist and LCSW from Hamden, CT, discuss the concept of authenticity in speech and discussion, and the various ways people sabotage their participation in discussions. Not only do people rob themselves of value with inauthentic speech, they also do disservice to the group. The Socratic model relies…
 
Online Great Books seminar leader and former advertising executive Malachy Walsh joins the podcast again to discuss everyone's least favorite school subject -- composition. Many people dread writing, either because of grammar, a tenuous grasp of dialect, or simply because they are not sure what they have to say. Malachy has developed a writing cour…
 
Brett McKay of Art of Manliness fame joins Online Great Books owner Scott Hambrick to discuss Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, a narrative poem best known by the titles of its three constituent parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Dante's tale blends Christian theology and human reason, exploring the nature of sin and redemption. Virgil, the p…
 
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