I based this lecture series on an essay and never completed book. I wanted to explore the ways of life that have contributed to the great fluorescences of cultural history. Too often, we focus on the fruit of the tree - art, music, literature, science - rather than the tree itself. As I discuss the important elements, I reflect upon our current attitudes and habits and how they contribute or detract from a humane life.
I conceived of this series as a review of modern philosophers based on their influence. Any such list is arguable, but these are without doubt some of the most significant thinkers of the last 150 years. In coming to grips with their lives and thought I hope to convey a sense of both why they are influential and the origins of their ideas.