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I listened to my first Teaching Company courses, now known as The Great Courses, over 20 years ago. A dear friend suggested that I listen to The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Prof. Daniel N. Robinson. It was magnificent, and I soon had finished ALL of Prof. Robinson’s courses: The Great Ideas of Psychology, Consciousness and Its Implications, Greek Legacy: Classical Origins of the Modern World, and American Ideals: Founding a “Republic of Virtues.” Every course was incredibly illuminating.
In college, I could count the number of Great professors on one hand: my Trig/Statistics/Calculus professor, an American History professor, and the great David Bell, an English professor. Daniel N. Robinson had all the qualities of a great teacher, primarily the ability to present a survey class, like The Great Ideas of Philosophy, which included the Western philosophers from the pre-Socratics into the 20th century, as if he were a full believer of the philosopher on whom he was lecturing.
I have since listened to (and occasionally viewed, but I much prefer listening while driving or walking) dozens more. Here is a list of some of the other professors I find to be great, “great” meaning I will listen to their courses again and again with unfailing pleasure.
Note: Never pay full price. Wait until the courses you want go on sale for 70% less or more.
Robert Greenberg: The most prolific of the Great Courses professors, Prof. Greenberg does Classical Music right. Funny, smart, and compelling, I recommend you start with one or all ten of his Great Masters series, which have a minimum of technical musical language. Great Masters: Mozart–His Life and Music. After those, if you want to get a deeper knowledge of the formal language of Classical Music, try either his survey course How to Listen to and Understand Great Music, or Bach and the High Baroque.
Michael Sugrue: Only one course, but it doesn’t get better than this: Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues. I steal from him shamelessly. Why? In the words of Stravinsky, when challenged that a portion of one movement of his symphony sounded like it was stolen from Mozart, said, “Of course, I stole from him. He’s great.”
William R. Cook: Prof. Cook, and his occasional compatriot professor Ronald B. Herzman, is fantastic on courses like: St. Augustine’s Confessions, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Francis of Assisi, Lives of the Great Christians, Machiavelli in Context, The Catholic Church: A History, The Worlds Greatest Churches, The Cathedral, and Tocqueville and the American Experiment. No, as it happens, I am not a Catholic.
Thomas L. Pangle: Only one course, but it’s required: The Great Debate: Advocates and Opponents of the American Consitution.
Steven L. Goldman: For the best in Science and related topics: Great Scientific Ideas that Changed the World, Science in the 20th Century: A Socio-Intellectual Survey, and Science Wars: What Scientists Know and How They Know It. A marvelous trilogy of courses.
There are more, but start with any of these. I’m sure some of you have a few courses you would recommend.