Western Philosophy: From Renaissance to Enlightenment
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Western Philosophy: From Renaissance to Enlightenment

Learn the Philosophy of the West's Greatest Thinkers
5.0 (1 rating)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
261 students enrolled
Created by Greg Vanderford
Last updated 8/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $195 Discount: 95% off
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  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Summarize the main ideas of history's greatest Western thinkers
  • Apply life lessons of history's greatest Western thinkers
  • Analyze religious and philosophical ideologies
  • More deeply know thyself through lessons of great philosophers
  • Improve your life through deeper understanding of reality
View Curriculum
  • Desire to learn about philosophy
  • Desire to improve your life
  • Desire to increase your happiness and well being

Western Philosophy has a rich tradition of wisdom and clear thinking about ideas related to Justice, Consciousness, Freedom, the Nature of Existence and more.

In this course, you will learn what some of the greatest thinkers in history discovered about life and the nature of happiness including insights and realizations of:

1. Leonardo da Vinci

2. Francis Bacon

3. William Shakespeare

4. Thomas Hobbes

5. Michel de Montaigne

6. Petrarch

7. John Locke

8. Voltaire

9. Spinoza

10. Benjamin Franklin

11. Mary Wollstonecraft

12. David Hume

13. Kant

14. Jean Jacques Rousseau

15. Adam Smith

16. And More

The modern world and Western society have largely been shaped by the ideas of these individuals and their contemporaries. 

In this course, you will learn how they contributed to modern thought and how you can apply their powerful ideas to lead a more fulfilling, happier, and enriched life.

Who is the target audience?
  • All curious human beings
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Curriculum For This Course
18 Lectures
1 Lecture 06:14

Western philosophy has a rich history of great thinkers providing insight and clarity on issues related to all aspects of human life. In this we will preview what you will learn in the course and the great contribution that studying this powerful philosophers of the Renaissance and Enlightenment can have on your everyday life.

Preview 06:14
The Renaissance Philosophers
6 Lectures 51:49

Petrarch has been credited with triggering the Renaissance by discovering many of Cicero's ancient writings and having them translated into modern European languages. In this lesson we take a look at the Petrarch's contribution and teachings.

Preview 07:00

In many way Leonardo Da Vinci needs no introduction. He is famous for his paintings and is known as the original "Renaissance Man". But few are aware of the true breadth of his contribution to humanity and his activity in so many areas of thought including art, science, philosophy, government and many other areas. In this lesson we will explore some of Da Vinci's most profound insights.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Sir Francis Bacon lived during the latter part of the Renaissance and like Da Vinci, contributed to many fields of knowledge. In this lesson, you will learn about some of Francis Bacon's most powerful teachings and writings.

Francis Bacon

Like Da Vinci, Shakespeare is very well known. But more than just perhaps the greatest writer of the English language, Shakespeare was a deep thinker and philosopher. In this lesson, we will explore how to get the most out of Shakespeare's writings and profound insights into the human condition.

William Shakespeare

A somewhat lesser known philosopher, Montaigne was a giant of the French Renaissance. His contribution influenced many philosophers of his time as well as those that came later, which makes him an important figure in the pantheon of Western thought. In this lesson, we will observe some of his best ideas.

Michel de Montaigne

Thomas Hobbes contributed greatly to political thought and is largely credited with some of the first and most influential ideas on the ideal state. He wrote about the Social Contract and had a large impact on later philosophers of the Enlightenment that ultimately helped lead to the American Revolution and the proliferation of Democratic governments across the globe.

Thomas Hobbes
The Enlightenment Philosophers
10 Lectures 01:24:10

John Locke has had perhaps the most profound effect on the modern world as he was widely read by the founders of America that formed the basis for all modern Republican governments. Some of his words were copied almost verbatim by Thomas Jefferson in the American Declaration of Independence from England. In this lesson we will explore some of his most influential teachings and insights.

John Locke

Another famous philosopher, Voltaire was a giant of the French Renaissance who spoke forcefully against the Catholic Church and abuse of government power throughout Europe. His insights and writings are prolific and profound enough to make him one of the most read philosophers of the Enlightenment period.


Another giant among giants, Spinoza was a philosopher's philosopher who was well-read and respected by his intellectual contemporaries. In some ways, Spinoza is being re-discovered as the intellectual giant that he was, and his influence among leading thinkers is growing to reflect this knew found respect.


David Hume was a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment and was a contemporary of the famous Economist, Adam Smith. Mostly writing about the ideal forms of government and what makes for a happy human life, Hume as much to teach on these subjects.

David Hume

Mostly known for his great work on modern economics, The Wealth of Nations, Smith contributed to many other areas of knowledge. In this lesson, we will explore some of his other very insightful ideas.

Adam Smith

A lesser known figure than many other philosophers, Mary Wollstonecraft in unique as being one of the few women to rise to prominence during a period dominated by men and the suppression of women's education. Wollstonecraft forcefully argued for equality between the sexes and is still a major figure in the modern feminist movement, inspiring millions of women to take charge of their own lives and work to improve conditions for women and girls throughout the world.

Mary Wollstonecraft

Rousseau was a radical thinker who contributed greatly to modern thought and policy on education. In a world of standardized tests and "no child left behind", Rousseau has much to teach us about the education of the whole child and many ideas related to other aspects of human life as well. Truly a giant of the Enlightenment, this courageous thinker braved censorship and exile during a time of great oppression to reach the masses with his insights.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

A giant of the German Enlightenment, Kant's ideas on the ideal life also greatly influenced many philosopher that came after him. In this lesson, we will look at some of Kant's largest contributions to philosophy and how to live "the good life".

Immanuel Kant

Famous for his statement, "I think therefore I am", Descartes epitomized the so-called "Existentialist" philosopher of the Enlightenment and greatly influenced many thinkers to come after him. His writings are still standard reading in many University degree programs of philosophy, which speaks to the clarity and profundity of his writings.


Famous as one of the most influential figures of the American Revolution, Franklin's skills and ideas were similar in scope and power to those of Da Vinci many centuries early. Franklin was a businessman, inventor, scientist, statesman, and philosopher who continues to contribute greatly to modern life through his power ideas and is cited as being the most influential figure in the life of the great investor Warren Buffett's ingenious partner, Charlie Munger. In this lesson, we will explore some of Franklin's most useful insights into the human condition.

Benjamin Franklin
1 Lecture 05:10

Philosophy and philosophical thought have a deep tradition of providing clarity and insight into the human condition. Sometimes being forgotten for centuries, these ideas will never go out of style and perhaps are more relevant than ever as we grapple with an ever more complex modern society with its unique set  of challenges. Through philosophy and a respect for the knowledge of the past, the average person can improve their life immediately by applying these concepts. At the very least, there is much to be gained by simply reflecting upon the ideas and thoughts of some of the most powerful minds of human history.

Philosophy for a Better Life
About the Instructor
Greg Vanderford
4.6 Average rating
594 Reviews
10,896 Students
32 Courses
Teacher and Entrepreneur

My courses are designed based on my many years as a teacher and student of education and business. I hold a master's degree in curriculum and instruction and have been designing curricula for over a decade.

The business, language, and chess courses that I have built on Udemy are a reflection of this experience and dedication to education. My goal is to reach as many people as possible with my courses, which is why I have chosen the internet and the Udemy platform as my ideal mode of delivery.

The following is a little more about my expertise and background. I was born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho. I attended the University of Idaho where I earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2004. After a few years in the work force as an account manager I moved to Vietnam where I lived for over 5 years.

While in Vietnam I taught English as a second language for almost 2 years to students of all ages and backgrounds. For the 3 final years that I lived there I opened and ran a sports training company called Saigon Sports Academy. We coached sports such as soccer, chess, tennis, and basketball as well as ran large sporting events such as tournaments and leagues. My positions while at the company included Director of Strategic Initiatives as well as Director of the Chess Program.

While living in Vietnam I became fluent in the Vietnamese language and developed a deep love for teaching and traveling internationally. I then came back in the United States to work on a masters degree in education so that I would be an even more effective teacher in the future. It is my wish to be a positive force for education in the world, and to inspire my current and future students to be the best that they can be in whatever they do.