48 Animated Videos Explain the History of Ideas: From Aristotle to Sartre

This year we’ve been fea­tur­ing short ani­mat­ed videos from BBC Radio 4, all cov­er­ing the big ques­tions: How did every­thing begin? What makes us human? What is love? How can I know any­thing at all? They’ve all come script­ed by philoso­pher Nigel War­bur­ton (he of Phi­los­o­phy Bites pod­cast fame) and nar­rat­ed by a host of nota­bles from both sides of the pond like Stephen Fry, Gillian Ander­son, Aidan Turn­er, and Har­ry Shear­er. They’ve illus­trat­ed the philo­soph­i­cal con­cepts at hand not just with elab­o­rate and joke-filled draw­ings that come to life before your eyes, but with direct ref­er­ence to the ideas of his­to­ry’s best-known thinkers: Aris­to­tle, Descartes, Hume, Wittgen­stein, de Beau­voirSartre, Freud, Chom­sky — the list goes on.

Now you can expe­ri­ence all of them in the one big playlist embed­ded just above, which pro­vides a grand his­to­ry of ideas with a suc­ces­sion of bite-size videos. The intel­lec­tu­al jour­ney begins with Dio­ti­ma’s con­cept of desire as a form of beau­ty and ends, 47 one- to two-minute celebri­ty-nar­rat­ed and philo­soph­i­cal­ly scin­til­lat­ing pro­duc­tions lat­er, with Karl Pop­per’s con­cept of fal­si­fi­ca­tion, under which an idea only attains the des­ig­na­tion sci­en­tif­ic if it could, in prin­ci­ple, be proven false.

Once you’ve gone through all these videos, despite how much they them­selves will have taught you, you’ll sure­ly want to go even deep­er into all these big ideas. In the ser­vice of that goal, why not have a look through some of the oth­er philo­soph­i­cal resources we’ve fea­tured, includ­ing our archive of Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es, our col­lec­tion of Free Phi­los­o­phy eBooks, pod­casts like Oxford’s phi­los­o­phy lec­tures and The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps, Bryan Magee’s tele­vi­sion inter­views with philoso­phers, and of course, phi­los­o­phy explained with donuts.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Can I Know Any­thing at All? BBC Ani­ma­tions Fea­ture the Phi­los­o­phy of Wittgen­stein, Hume, Pop­per & More

What is Love? BBC Phi­los­o­phy Ani­ma­tions Fea­ture Sartre, Freud, Aristo­phanes, Dawkins & More

What is the Self? Watch Phi­los­o­phy Ani­ma­tions Nar­rat­ed by Stephen Fry on Sartre, Descartes & More

How Did Every­thing Begin?: Ani­ma­tions on the Ori­gins of the Uni­verse Nar­rat­ed by X‑Files Star Gillian Ander­son

What Makes Us Human?: Chom­sky, Locke & Marx Intro­duced by New Ani­mat­ed Videos from the BBC

How to Live a Good Life? Watch Phi­los­o­phy Ani­ma­tions Nar­rat­ed by Stephen Fry on Aris­to­tle, Ayn Rand, Max Weber & More

How Can I Know Right From Wrong? Watch Phi­los­o­phy Ani­ma­tions on Ethics Nar­rat­ed by Har­ry Shear­er

Phi­los­o­phy Bites: Pod­cast­ing Ideas From Pla­to to Sin­gu­lar­i­ty Since 2007

Col­in Mar­shall writes else­where on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­maand the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future? Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.