The Collected Lectures of Joseph Campbell

From the Star Wars trilogy to the Grateful Dead, Joseph Campbell has had a profound impact on our culture, our beliefs, and the way we view ourselves and the world. Provocative and exhilarating, the approximately 90 titles that will ultimately comprise The Collected Lectures of Joseph Campbell offer a glimpse into one of the great minds of our time, drawing together his most wide-ranging and insightful talks.

Lecture Series I

Series IVol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 5
Always at his best as an impromptu speaker, Campbell shines in these recordings, both as a scholar and as a master storyteller. These lectures are from early in his career, including recordings of his famous lectures at the Cooper Union.

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual
Volume 2: Inward Journey: East and West
Volume 3: The Eastern Way
Volume 4: Man and Myth
Volume 5: Myths and Masks of God
Volume 6: The Western Quest

Volume 1: Mythology and the Individual

These five talks, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the ways in which mythology serves and shapes the individual. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.1.1 – The Celebration of Life

In the human heart and in the human mind — no matter what the race, the culture, the language, the tradition — there is at least the sense of a mystery, and an awesome...

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Lecture I.1.2 – The Individual in Oriental Mythology

In the wonderful Inferno of Dante, as he wandered through these hell pits, he recognized all of his friends. In the Greek world, when the heroes go to the underworld, they recognize their friends,...

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Lecture I.1.3 – Symbolism and the Individual

These two systems of ideal–one teaching the beauty and majesty of the religious submission before God, the other the heroism of the humanistic insistence of the values of man–are in collision, and distinctly so...

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Lecture I.1.4 – New Horizons

The old texts comfort us with horizons, they tell us that a loving, a kind, a just father is out there. But according to the scientific view, nobody knows what is out there, or...

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Lecture I.1.5 – The Vitality of Myth

Myths are public dreams; dreams are private myths. By finding your own dream and following it through, it will lead you to the myth-world in which you live. But just as in dream, the...

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Volume 2: Inward Journey: East and West

These five talks, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the roots of myth, its psychological manifestations, and the ways in which it has expressed itself differently in India and East Asia on the one hand and Europe and the Middle East on the other. These recordings, which have been remastered, were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.2.1 – The Thresholds of Mythology

The first function [of mythology] is to reconcile consciousness to existence or to reject existence. The second function is to present an image of the universe through which the sensed meaning, or power, or...

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Lecture I.2.2 – The Inward Journey

When one studies primitive mythologies, the imagery of the mythological world derives from the psychological experiences of the shamans. The source of the imagery of primitive myths is the shaman’s psychological crisis. The shaman...

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Lecture I.2.3 – Confrontation of East and West in Religion

Just as for the American Indian the buffalo dropped away, and with it their public social mythology, so for us: the world has moved past, and our mythology has dropped off, and we are...

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Lecture I.2.4 – Imagery of Rebirth Yoga

The realms of the gods and demons — heaven, purgatory, hell — are of the substance of dreams…. The mythology is the dream of the world. And if taken objectively as though there were...

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Lecture I.2.5 – The World Soul

In the ultimate illumination, all pairs of opposites are transcended, are left behind. And this world as we know and experience it is the perfect lotus world — this is nirvana, as it looks…....

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Volume 3: The Eastern Way

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore the myths and symbols of the religions in India and East Asia. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.3.1 – Interpreting Oriental Myth

The whole point of the Oriental wisdom and mythic themes is that we are not in exile, but that the god is within you. You can’t be exiled from it. All that can happen...

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Lecture I.3.2 – The Mystical Traditions of India

Yoga is the intentional stopping of the spontaneous activity of the mind substance. Now the notion is that within what is called the gross matter of the mind… there functions what we now call...

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Lecture I.3.3 – Hinduisim

In traditional Hinduism, each caste has its own laws, its own morality, its own place in the society, and the individual is given so many laws to attend to that his whole life is...

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Lecture I.3.4 – Buddhism

No experience can be taught; all that can be taught is the way to an experience. Hence Buddhism is something that is implicit in ourselves and is to be achieved through experience but cannot...

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Lecture I.3.5 – Creativity in Oriental Mythology

When one looks at the glorious panorama of Indian art one sees a repetition of themes; beautiful themes, dependable themes, motifs that recur time and time again. And if you compare that galaxy of...

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Volume 4: Man and Myth

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, examine the way in myth and symbols affect and serve the individual, tying together lessons from religion, anthropology, art and modern psychology. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.4.1 – Man and Myth

There are two orders of dream. There is the simple personal dream, where you get tangled up in your own personal twists and resistances to your life and so forth…. But then there is...

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Lecture I.4.2 – Mythic Living

Jung began reading ravenously the works that had already been published on mythology, and this thought came to him—what it means live by and with a myth and what it means to live without...

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Lecture I.4.3 – Society and Symbol

I think one could define a symbol as an energy-releasing and -directing image, and since the symbolic systems of the world include many symbols that are practically universal, the questions comes up as to...

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Lecture I.4.4 – The Necessity of Rites

Life is a monstrous, horrendous presence and you live on it. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for that. The first function of a mythological order has been to reconcile consciousness to this...

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Lecture I.4.5 – Personal Myth

Now what do you have in your life for which you would sacrifice your life…? What is the great thing? What makes you do what you do, what is the call of your life...

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Volume 5: Myths and Masks of God

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore what it means to approach and experience the divine. They were among those that Campbell kept in his study and used as the basis for later investigations of myth, symbolism, the psyche, and spiritual awakening. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.5.1 – Interpreting Symbolic Forms

One way… to destroy the value and spiritual effect of a symbol of this spiritual kind is to say that it refers to a historical event. A spiritual symbol, a religious symbol, a mythic...

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Lecture I.5.2 – Mythic Vision

The mythological realm is the realm that supports our realm. In philosophical language it could be compared to the realm of Platonic ideas. It is that realm of eternal principals, eternal forms which bring...

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Lecture I.5.3 – Experiencing the Divine

When our guiding mythology corresponds to that of our culture, our dreams will be regarded, so to say, as visions. We will be experiencing the divine in the form in which our society regards...

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Lecture I.5.4 – History of the Gods

A myth is a poetic image that points past itself to an ineffable truth and so it can’t be called a concept…. But a myth, a mythology is a total image of the universe...

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Lecture I.5.5 – The Religious Impulse

We have a highly differentiated society able to absorb people of many, many different faiths, but that means that the society itself cannot be governed by a single faith. Even that phrase that we...

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Volume 6: The Western Quest

These five lectures, recorded early in Campbell’s career as a public speaker, explore how the modern European cultural explosion from the Middle Ages to the present, with its emphasis on the individual’s quest for fulfillment, has expressed itself mythologically. Provocative and exhilarating, full of wit and wisdom, they are windows into one of the greatest minds of our time.

Lecture I.6.1 – Origins of Western Mythology

As I say, the function finally of myths is to introduce you by way of the mārga, of the [universal] path, to the deep psychological and mystical the two being ultimately one. The mystery...

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Lecture I.6.2 – The Mythology of Love

The Persian poets asked, “What is it that sustains Satan in his eternal, infinitely painful exile?” Because the deepest pain of Hell is not the fire or the stench but the depravation of the...

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Lecture I.6.3 – The Arthurian Tradition

Europe had perfectly good religions and mythologies going fine and then [Christianity] is brought in on top of it. And what you get then… is an attempt on the part of the European mind...

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Lecture I.6.4 – The Grail Legend

Galahad is a word from the Old Testament that means Mountain of Testimony; [Sir Galahad] is a mountain of testimony to Christ. The whole tradition of the virgin knight as the Grail knight belongs...

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Lecture I.6.5 – The Forest Adventurous

We left our two heroes, Percival and Gawain, on their quest, and we now come to the story of the resolutions…. Percival has been wandering for some five years on his steed through this...

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Lecture Series II

Series IIVol 1Vol 2Vol 3Vol 4Vol 5Vol 6
Lectures from the middle of Campbell’s career, starting just after the moon landing in 1969 and counting to the late 1970s.

Volume 1: A Brief History of World Mythology
Volume 2: Mythological Perspectives
Volume 3: Christian Symbols and Ideas
Volume 4: Psychology and Asia Philosophies
Volume 5: Your Myth Today
Volume 6: Mythic Ideas and Modern Culture

Volume 1: A Brief History of World Mythology

In Series II.1 Joseph Campbell provides a “brief history of World Mythology” by introducing us to the functions of Mythology and how the functions differ from East to West. Lectures include an interpretation of the sound of AUM, how Buddhism works in China, Jung, Thomas Mann, James Joyce, Grail Mythology, the relationship of schizophrenia and shamanism to the Hero Journey, and other topics. This tour de force is Joseph at his best.

Unique among the volumes in the Joseph Campbell Audio Collection, this collection includes eleven separate recordings from a single week-long workshop — all recorded at the renowned Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. “A Brief History of World Mythology” provides over twelve hours of Campbell covering his subject as no one else could.

Lecture II.1.1 – The Function of Mythology

…the origin of the mythological symbols is not pseudo-scientific, pseudo-historical. They spring from the psyche. They are not the consequence of observations, they are the consequence of observations misinterpreted through projections from the human...

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Lecture II.1.10 – Birth of the Modern

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores way in which myth expressed itself in the first cities, in classical India and East Asia, and in the birth of our modern world. This series was recorded...

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Lecture II.1.11 – Mythological Conclusions

In this talk, never before commercially released, Joseph Campbell sums up the subject that he has been exploring: a brief history of world mythology. He then moves on to discussing with his audience the...

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Lecture II.1.2 – Mythology East and West

“‘Tat Tvam Asi’. You are it. That mystery which you seek to know, which you look for outside, which you project into personifications such as Yahweh, is your own very being, and looking for...

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Lecture II.1.3 – The Sound AUM and Kundalini Yoga

All of these possibilities are before you. And then… when you come down finally to the last, you are born. And this little thing comes into the world, ignorant of all that it has...

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Lecture II.1.4 – Buddhism in China

I suppose if you were to try to invent two peoples at opposite poles of any spectrum you chose, Chinese and Hindus would be perfectly good candidates for the opposition. […] Think of the...

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Lecture II.1.5 – Shift to Western Psychology

In this talk, Joseph Campbell begins looking at the psychological underpinnings of myth, and the way in which the modern revolution in psychiatric knowledge led by Freud and Jung has altered our view of...

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Lecture II.1.6 – Jung: Myth and Shadow

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the connection between mythology and the depth psychology of Carl Jung.

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Lecture II.1.7 – Thomas Mann and James Joyce

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the mythologically inflected novels of Thomas Mann and James Joyce. This series was recorded at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California during the summer of 1969, immediately...

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Lecture II.1.8 – Grail Mythology

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores the Arthurian tales of the Grail–both in their humanist form, featuring the quest of the unsophisticated Sir Parzival, and in their spiritual form, featuring the quest of the...

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Lecture II.1.9 – Birth of the Perennial Mythology

In this talk, Joseph Campbell explores way in which myth expressed itself in the earliest human cultures. This series was recorded at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California during the summer of 1969,...

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Volume 2: Mythological Perspectives

In this series, Joseph Campbell offers an overview of world mythology through a variety of lenses. The topics range from Christianity to the East, including a lecture that ties Carl Jung and Buddha into similar realms. The final question is “What is Your Myth Today?”

Lecture II.2.1 – Mythic Themes in Literature and Art

Creative mythology, then, is the rendition of images, of life, of poetic statements, of the orders that you perceive underlying the purposes of the world in terms of your experience. — Joseph Campbell In...

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Lecture II.2.2 – Hermes, Alchemy, & the Voyage of Ulysses

Hermes is the lord of the road to rebirth. He is the one who meets the soul at death and guides the path to eternal life of one kind or another. In that way,...

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Lecture II.2.3 – Psychosis and the Hero’s Journey

Each one brings the myth right out of himself. And what the analyst does is help you recognize it as the image carrier of your own affects, your own energies. The value of the...

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Lecture II.2.4 – Mythology in the Modern Age

Whereas in the ancient world one could speak of two mythologies — the mythology of the people staying in the village, doing as they were told, guarded by the village compound and the village...

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Lecture II.2.5 – Creative Mythology

It is impossible to communicate an experience to someone who has not had the experience. Try to communicate the experience of skiing down a wonderful mountain slope to someone who has never been on...

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Volume 3: Christian Symbols and Ideas

Beginning with the symbols of the Christian faith, Campbell explores medieval history from the perspective of Tarot deck. Discussions of mythic images, mythic goddess, and alienation and rapture offer a deep look into Campbell’s unique view of such topics.

Lecture II.3.1 – Symbols of the Christian Faith

Why do we yearn? What is it we yearn for? It’s for something that was never on land or sea. And this is a peculiar European romantic thing. And that is the fulfillment of...

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Lecture II.3.2 – Tarot & the Christian Myth

The wheel of fortune is usually represented as a revolving wheel with a person up here in victory, in triumph. A person here on the way down, the depression, the crackup, the falling stock...

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Lecture II.3.3 – The Mythic Image

These are the principal archetypes, I would say, in the Jungian psychological opus: the center; the figures representing the functions — sensation, thinking, and so forth; the personae, these are culturally conditioned; the anima/animus,...

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Lecture II.3.4 – The Mythic Goddess

All I can tell you about mythology is what men have said and men experience. And now women have to tell us from their point of view what the possibilities of the feminine future...

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Lecture II.3.5 – Mythologies of Alienation and Rapture

Whether there is a God, whether one can be united with God, whether one can transcend God, and all that, it’s a perfect matter simply of vocabulary. And since the ultimate mystery of being...

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Volume 4: Psychology and Asia Philosophies

In Volume 4, Campbell delves deep into the relationships involving Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and the concepts involved in Kundalini Yoga. His thoughts on aesthetic realization, Dante’s “La Vita Nuova” and his thoughts about women as the goddess, the universe. Whether it’s Yoga in relation to modern psychology or the chakras of transformation, he is unparalleled in his clear concise blending of these ideas. In the last lectures of this Volume, he relates the archetypes to mythology and closes out by offering a detailed look at the four aims of Indian life.

Lecture II.4.1 – Freud Jung & Kundalini Yoga Part 1

One can take anything – this watch – draw a ring around it. Forget that you know hot to use it. What is it? The mystery of the being of this object is exactly...

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Lecture II.4.2 – Freud Jung & Kundalini Yoga Part 2

Everywhere you turn you find the same myths . . . not always with the same emphases . . . but the same symbols. How is it that these symbols keep returning? There are...

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Lecture II.4.3 – Freud Jung & Kundalini Yoga Part 3

As I said to begin: life, the universe and all things are first and last absolutely without meaning. And this term of the Buddha, the tathagata, the one ‘thus come,’ points to that. As...

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Lecture II.4.4 – Archetypes & Mythology

You ask about eternal life. Shall I be alive after death? This is lunar eternity. This is a long time. The eternity is that dimension which the screen of time shuts out. The obscuring...

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Lecture II.4.5 – Four Aims of Indian Life

The first encounter of the West with this type of yoga was that of Alexander the Great. When he arrived in Taxila, in 327 B.C., he and his young officers heard that there was...

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Volume 5: Your Myth Today

The ever changing story of mythology is brought to us with a modern perspective by Joesph Campbell. In this volume, he talks of mythology of today, his thoughts on how it relates to violence in America. Whether it’s life, literature, art or “The Way of Beauty” you don’t want to miss his 20th century perspective on the ageless story of man!

Lecture II.5.1 – Mythologies New, Old & Today

When people ask me what is the myth today, I always have the feeling there is no myth, there can be no myth anymore. A mythology requires a homogeneous population, a group of people...

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Lecture II.5.2 – Myth & Violence in America

A movement from what Spengler called culture to civilization … is marked by revolutions and radical transformations of culture, where everything that had been natural became a problem, intellectually considered, criticized, and taken apart....

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Lecture II.5.3 – Androgyne as Mystical Symbol

My subject tonight is the androgyne as mystical symbol. And the first point I want to make before engaging in the argument is that a symbol derives from the psyche, speaks to the psyche...

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Lecture II.5.4 – Cosmology and the Mythic Image

There is a beautiful saying by Novalis: The seat of the soul is there where the inner world and the outer world meet. This is the secret of all myth. The imagery of myth...

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Lecture II.5.5 – The Mythic Approach to Life Literature & Art

In India the ultimate mystery is defined in three terms: being, consciousness, and bliss. Where your bliss is, there’s your adventure. And it will be a bliss that will involve pain. It will involve...

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Lecture II.5.6 – The Way of Beauty

And so we come to the next part of the problem: what about aesthetic arrest, what about the static? Well Joyce turns for his authority here to Aquinas. And Aquinas speaks of three moments...

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Volume 6: Mythic Ideas and Modern Culture

Joseph Campbell presents mythic ideas and concepts with a unique perspective of modern cultures. As he discusses art and it’s relationship to mythology today, he explores the confrontation of religion and society and addresses the concept of “The Psychological Basis of Freedom.” These lectures continue to illuminate and enlighten us as we move forward in the 21st century.

Lecture II.6.1 – Modern Myths of Quest

Myths do a number of things for us – from social and cultural to psychological and spiritual. Joseph Campbell offers a modern perspective on the Illumination of myths. After delving into the perspectives of...

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Lecture II.6.2 – The Psychological Basis of Freedom

Speaking at Bennett College in Greensboro NC, Joseph Campbell addresses the psychological perspective of freedom as it relates to Modern Man. He touches on Roman perspectives and the “Tree of Enlightenment” and once again...

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Other Lectures

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