History of Philosophy – Lesson 1: Introduction

…a New York City skyscraper, with everything that it implies, with the thirteenth story labeled ‘fourteen’ because thirteen is an unlucky number.
— Leonard Peikoff, “History of Philosophy” course, ARI, Lesson 1.
(A building without the 13th floor. Man is a mixture of extreme rationality and irrational mysticism. The blame is on philosophy — the solution, too.)

In this introductory lesson of the History of Philosophy course, Peikoff first invites us to look at the world around us today: What do we see?

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The Big History

With a big history of 13.8 billion years, how to content oneself with “mere” centuries?

I learned about “Big History” when wondering how to begin studying History (the “little” one). I had decided to begin in 1789, following the example of the famous Eric Hobsbawm’s series. I had already bought all four volumes, so I convinced myself it made sense for someone like me who wanted to grasp the present and not indulge infinitely in the idiosyncrasies of the past.

Nope. Not for me.

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