Genius of the Modern World

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Bettany Hughes explores the life and works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud in the three part series from the OU and the BBC.

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Bettany Hughes stands in front of the East side of the Berlin Wall. Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The BBC Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud changed the landscape of the modern world. Together they re-imagined global economics; questioned the very foundations of morality and society; and unravelled the workings of the human mind.

The first episode of 'Genius of The Modern World' will be broadcast on BBC Four on Thursday 16th June 2016 at 21.00. Full broadcast details and watch again links can be found on bbc.co.uk.

Episode guide

Marx

Bettany Hughes stands in front of the East side of the Berlin Wall. Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The BBC

Karl Marx was a man who lived a life of contradiction:  An angry agitator who spent years in scholarly silence in the British Library Reading Room. A family man who got the housekeeper pregnant. A brilliant mind who argued against exploitation, but lived off wealth exploited from workers in Engel’s family mills.

Yet despite the paradoxes this philosopher’s ideas had a greater influence in a shorter time than any other thinker in history.  During his lifetime he was a little-known, impoverished intellectual, living on the charity of friends and spending his days reading and writing.  But within seventy years of his death in 1883, almost a third of the entire human race was living under governments that called themselves by his name – Marxist.

Bettany begins her journey in the city of Trier on the banks of the Mosel in Germany.  It was here on the 5 May 1818 that one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century was born.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Marx In the first episode of 'Genius of the Modern World' we investigate the life and works of Karl Marx. Read more
Nietzsche Bettany Hughes takes us on an exploration of Friedrich Nietzsche's life and works. Read more
Freud In the final episode, Bettany Hughes explores the world of Sigmund Freud. Read more

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