Produced with the support of the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences, in this three part series Bettany Hughes retraces the lives of three great thinkers whose ideas shaped the modern world: Karl Marx, Frederick Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. Born in the 19th century they lived through a time when old certainties were breaking down, regimes were overthrown by mass uprisings and science was undermining religious authority. Their challenge was to figure out what makes us human in a fast-evolving world.
Part 1: Marx – born wealthy, became angry, idealistically radical, constantly on the run for his political agitating and incendiary writing. Marx’s explosive analysis of capitalism, Das Capital, was largely over-looked in his lifetime, and only 11 people attended his funeral. Yet his ideas would generate one of the most influential, and divisive ideologies in history. Drawing on new evidence Bettany reveals the flesh-and-blood man and his ground-breaking ideas.
Part 2 Nietzsche – Bettany travels across Europe in the footsteps of the both brilliant and dangerous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His uncompromising and often brutal ideas smashed the comfortable assumptions of religion, morality and science. Yet appropriated by the Nazis, his work is amongst the most devastatingly manipulated and misinterpreted in history. His philosophical quest led him to isolation and ultimately madness, but his ideas helped shape the intellectual landscape of the modern world.
Part 3 Freud – Bettany travels to Vienna on the trail of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. Freud’s influence surrounds us in our vocabulary; repression, penis envy and the Freudian slip. Also in the freedom we take for granted to talk openly about our deepest feelings and insecurities. A pioneer in the study of the human mind, Freud’s psychoanalytic methods addressed emotional issues seldom even discussed in the 19th century. Talking to his patients inspired his radical understanding of the unconscious mind, as a repository of hidden repressed emotions, and irrational primal desires.
OpenLearn has extensive content in connection with the programmes. For more information go to http://www.open.edu/openlearn/whats-on/tv/genius-the-modern-world (Please note that content may not be available before the date of broadcast).
This series was commissioned by the Open University, and supported by the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences. Nominated Academics for the series are Dr Gerry Mooney, Dr Manuel Dries, and Prof. Paul Stenner and the Media Fellows are Sue Hemmings and Dr Chris Williams