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The Medici

23 ratings

Summary

A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition. Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning, Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence as well as the Italian Renaissance, which they did so much to sponsor and encourage. Interwoven into the narrative are the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola. In his enthralling study, Strathern also follows the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Medici, who became queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.

©2016 Paul Strathern (P)2016 Tantor

Narrator: Derek Perkins
Length: 16 hrs and 21 mins
Available on Audible
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Spinoza in 90 Minutes

3 ratings

Summary

Spinoza's brilliant metaphysical system was derived neither from reality nor experience. Starting from basic assumptions, with a series of geometric proofs he built a universe which was also God, one and the same thing, the classic example of pantheism. Although his system seems an oddity today, Spinoza's conclusions are deeply in accord with modern thought, from science (the holistic ethics of today's ecologists) to politics (the idea that the state exists to protect the individual). Both Spinoza's system and conclusions have compelling beauty unequaled in the history of philosophy. In Spinoza in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Spinoza's life and ideas, and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Spinoza's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Spinoza within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1998 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 11 mins
Available on Audible
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Descartes in 90 Minutes

2 ratings

Summary

Rene Descartes spent most of his childhood in solitude, a situation that also came to characterize his adult life. Fortunately, these countless lonely hours helped Descartes produce the declaration that changed all philosophy: "I think, therefore I am." Eventually convincing himself to doubt and disregard sensory knowledge, Descartes found he could prove his existence through his thoughts. This internal information, he believed, was the true reality and external forces were hopelessly deceiving. In Descartes in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Descartes' life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 15 mins
Available on Audible
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Kant in 90 Minutes

2 ratings

Summary

Immanuel Kant taught and wrote prolifically about physical geography yet never traveled further than forty miles from his home in Kvnigsberg. How appropriate it is then that in his philosophy he should deny that all knowledge was derived from experience. Kant's aim was to restore metaphysics. He insisted that all experience must conform to knowledge. According to Kant, space and time are subjective; along with various "categories," they help us to see the phenomena of the world-though never its true reality. In Kant in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Kant's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 22 mins
Available on Audible
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Socrates in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

Just a century after it had begun, philosophy entered its greatest age with the appearance of Socrates, who spent so much of his time talking about philosophy on the streets of Athens that he never got around to writing anything down. His method of aggressive questioning, called dialectic, was the forerunner of logic; he used it to cut through the twaddle of his adversaries and arrive at the truth. Rather than questioning the world, he believed, we would be better off questioning ourselves. Socrates placed philosophy on the sound basis of reason. He saw the world as not accessible to our senses, only to thought. Finally, charged with impiety and the corruption of youth, he was tried and sentenced to death, and ended his life by drinking the judicial hemlock. In Socrates in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Socrates' life and ideas, and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Socrates' work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Socrates within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1997 Paul Strathern (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 18 mins
Available on Audible
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Sartre in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

During his lifetime, Jean-Paul Sartre enjoyed unprecedented popularity for a philosopher, due partly to his role as a spokesman for existentialism at the opportune moment, when this set of ideas filled the spiritual gap left amidst the ruins of World War II. Existentialism was a philosophy of action and showed the ultimate freedom of the individual. In Sartre's hands, it became a revolt against European bourgeois values. In Sartre in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Sartre's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. This audiobook also includes selections from Sartre's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Sartre within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1998 Paul Strathern (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Length: 1 hr and 40 mins
Available on Audible
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Plato in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

In an age when philosophers had scarcely glimpsed the horizons of the mind, a boy named Aristocles decided to forgo his ambitions as a wrestler. Adopting the nickname Plato, he embarked instead on a life in philosophy. In 387 B.C. he founded the Academy, the world's first university, and taught his students that all we see is not reality but merely a reproduction of the true source. And in his famous Republic he described the politics of "the highest form of state." In Plato in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Plato's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 12 mins
Available on Audible
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Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

Kierkegaard wasn't really a philosopher in the academic sense. Yet he produced what many people expect of philosophy. He didn't write about the world, he wrote about life, about how we live and how we choose to live. His subject was the individual and his or her existence, the "existing being." In Kierkegaard's view, this purely subjective entity lay beyond the reach of reason, logic, philosophical systems, theology, or even "the pretenses of psychology." Nonetheless, it was the source of all these subjects. The branch of philosophy to which Kierkegaard gave birth has come to be known as existentialism. In Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Kierkegaard's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 26 mins
Available on Audible
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Death in Florence

1 rating

Summary

Death in Florence illuminates one of the defining moments in Western history - the bloody and dramatic story of the battle for the soul of Renaissance Florence. By the end of the fifteenth century, Florence was well established as the home of the Renaissance. As generous patrons to the likes of Botticelli and Michelangelo, the ruling Medici embodied the progressive humanist spirit of the age, and in Lorenzo de' Medici (Lorenzo the Magnificent) they possessed a diplomat capable of guarding the militarily weak city in a climate of constantly shifting allegiances between the major Italian powers. However, in the form of Savonarola, an unprepossessing provincial monk, Lorenzo found his nemesis. Filled with Old Testament fury and prophecies of doom, Savonarola's sermons reverberated among a disenfranchised population, who preferred medieval biblical certainties to the philosophical interrogations and intoxicating surface glitter of the Renaissance. Savonarola's aim was to establish a "City of God" for his followers, a new kind of democratic state, the likes of which the world had never seen before. The battle between these two men would be a fight to the death, a series of sensational events - invasions, trials by fire, the "Bonfire of the Vanities," terrible executions, and mysterious deaths - featuring a cast of the most important and charismatic Renaissance figures. Was this a simple clash of wills between a benign ruler and religious fanatic? Between secular pluralism and repressive extremism? In an exhilaratingly rich and deeply researched story, Paul Strathern reveals the paradoxes, self-doubts, and political compromises that made the battle for the soul of the Renaissance city one of the most complex and important moments in Western history.

©2015 Paul Strathern (P)2015 Blackstone Audio

Narrator: Derek Perkins
Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
Available on Audible
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Hegel in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

With Hegel, philosophy became very difficult indeed. His dialectical method produced the most grandiose metaphysical system known to man. Even Hegel conceded that "only one man understands me, and even he does not." Hegel's system included absolutely everything, but its most vital element was the dialectic of the thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. This method sprang from Hegel's ambition to overcome the deficiencies of logic and ascended toward mind as the ultimate reality. His view of history as a process of humanity's self-realization ultimately inspired Marx to synthesize his philosophy of dialectical materialism. In Hegel in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Hegel's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Hegel's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Hegel within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1997 Paul Strathern (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 15 mins
Available on Audible
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Nietzsche in 90 Minutes

1 rating

Summary

With Friedrich Nietzsche, philosophy was dangerous not only for philosophers but for everyone. Nietzsche ended up going mad, but his ideas presaged a collective madness that had horrific consequences in Europe in the early 1900s. Though his philosophy is more one of aphorisms and insights than a system, it is brilliant, persuasive, and incisive. His major concept is the will to power, which he saw as the basic impulse for all our acts. Christianity he saw as a subtle perversion of this concept, thus Nietzsche's famous pronouncement, "God is dead." In Nietzsche in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Nietzsche's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 12 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Thomas Aquinas in 90 Minutes

Thomas Aquinas in 90 Minutes

Summary

We see our age as the greatest in human history, filled with seemingly unending originality. Yet such dynamism is not a necessary characteristic of great eras. Among the most long-lasting and stable civilizations was that of medieval Europe. There stasis was achieved, and with it a stability that permitted the development of structured thought and intellectual embellishment of unparalleled degree. Like the vast gothic cathedrals of western Europe, certainties of thought were part and parcel of the medieval age. Its monument of the intellect was the largely static, cumulative philosophy of Scholasticism. And the acknowledged maestro of Scholastic philosophy was Thomas Aquinas. In Thomas Aquinas in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Aquinas' life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Aquinas' work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Aquinas within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1998 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 21 mins
Available on Audible
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The Borgias

Summary

The Borgia family have become a byword for evil. Corruption, incest, ruthless megalomania, avarice, and vicious cruelty - all have been associated with their name. And yet, paradoxically, this family lived when the Renaissance was coming into its full flowering in Italy. Examples of infamy flourished alongside some of the finest art produced in western history.            This is but one of several paradoxes associated with the Borgia family. For the family which produced corrupt popes, depraved princes, and poisoners, would also produce a saint. These paradoxes which so characterize the Borgias have seldom been examined in great detail. Previously history has tended to condemn, or attempt in part to exonerate, this remarkable family. Yet in order to understand the Borgias, much more is needed than evidence for and against. The Borgias must be related to their time, together with the world which enabled them to flourish. Within this context the Renaissance itself takes on a very different aspect. Was the corruption part of the creation, or vice versa?                       The primitive psychological forces which first played out in the amphitheaters of ancient Greece are all here. Along with the final, tragic downfall.

©2019 Paul Strathern (P)2019 Tantor

Narrator: Julian Elfer
Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
Available on Audible
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St. Augustine in 90 Minutes

Summary

Augustine's struggles with sex and a domineering mother, followed by his spiritual crisis and conversion to Christianity, detailed in his Confessions, ultimately led him to his major contribution to philosophy: the fusion of the two doctrines of Christianity and Neoplatonism. This not only provided Christianity with a strong intellectual backing but tied it to the Greek tradition of philosophy. In this way Christianity managed to keep the flame of philosophy burning, however dimly, through the Dark Ages. Augustine also produced important philosophic ideas of his own, including theories of time and subjective knowledge that anticipated by many centuries the work of Kant and Descartes. In St. Augustine in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of St. Augustine's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from St. Augustine's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place St. Augustine within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1997 Paul Strathern (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Narrator: Simon Vance
Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for Schopenhauer in 90 Minutes

Schopenhauer in 90 Minutes

Summary

Schopenhauer, the "philosopher of pessimism", makes it very plain that he regards the world and our life in it as a bad joke. But if the world is indifferent to our fate, it doesn't thwart us on purpose. The world's facade is supported by what Schopenhauer calls the Universal Will, blind and without purpose. This Will brings on all our misery and suffering; our only hope is to liberate ourselves from its power and from the trappings of individualism and egoism that are at its mercy. In Schopenhauer in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Schopenhauer's life and ideas, and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Schopenhauer's writings, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Schopenhauer within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1999 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 18 mins
Available on Audible
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Rousseau in 90 Minutes

Summary

In Rousseau we encounter a walking ego, naked sensibility. Feeling triumphs over intellectual argument in his works, which are both deeply stirring and deeply inconsistent. Yet while his contemporaries Kant and Hume may have been superior academic philosophers, the sheer power of Rousseau's ideas was unequaled in his time. It was he who encouraged the introduction of both liberty and irrationality into the public domain. In Rousseau in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Rousseau's life and ideas, and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Rousseau's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Rousseau within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©2002 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 28 mins
Available on Audible
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Hume in 90 Minutes

Summary

David Hume reduced philosophy to ruins: he denied the existence of everything, except our actual perceptions themselves. I alone exist, he argued, and the world is nothing more than part of my consciousness. Yet we know that the world remains, and we go on as before. What Hume expressed was the status of our knowledge about the world, a world in which neither religion nor science is certain. In Hume in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Hume's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Hume's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Hume within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1999 Paul Strathern (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 17 mins
Available on Audible
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Heidegger in 90 Minutes

Summary

One of the two major philosophical traditions of the twentieth century was linguistic analysis, derived largely from Wittgenstein. The other, diametrically opposed, came from Heidegger, and its fundamental question was, "What is the meaning of existence?" For Heidegger, this question could not simply be "analyzed away". It was beyond the reach of logic or reason. It was the primary "given" of every individual life. To confront it, Heidegger needed to develop an entire new form of philosophy. In Heidegger in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Heidegger's life and ideas, and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Heidegger's work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Heidegger within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©2002 Paul Strathern (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 27 mins
Available on Audible
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Confucius in 90 Minutes

Summary

Confucius knew all about life and told us how to behave, but we can't find out precisely what he was up to. His well-meaning platitudes, quaint maxims, and quasi-enigmatic anecdotes combined to produce an ideal philosophy for civil servants. It would appear that his aim was to turn his pupils into good government officials, but his teachings succeeded beyond his wildest expectations, providing rules of conduct and spiritual fodder for more than two thousand years. In Confucius in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Confucius's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. The book also includes selections from Confucius' work, a brief list of suggested readings for those who wish to delve deeper, and chronologies that place Confucius within his own age and in the broader scheme of philosophy.

©1999 Paul Strathern (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 15 mins
Available on Audible
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Aristotle in 90 Minutes

Summary

Aristotle wrote on everything from the shape of seashells to sterility, from speculations on the nature of the soul to meteorology, poetry, art, and even the interpretation of dreams. Apart from mathematics, he transformed every field of knowledge that he touched. Above all, Aristotle is credited with the founding of logic. When he first divided human knowledge into separate categories, he enabled our understanding of the world to develop in a systematic fashion. In Aristotle in 90 Minutes, Paul Strathern offers a concise, expert account of Aristotle's life and ideas and explains their influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world.

©1996 Paul Strathern (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks

Length: 1 hr and 15 mins
Available on Audible