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Philosophy

1120. Introduction to Political Philosophy
This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.
(Prof. Steven B. Smith, Yale University: Open Yale)

1150. Moral Problems and the Good Life
This course provides an introduction to important philosophical debates about moral issues and what constitutes a good life: What is right, what is wrong, and why? How important are personal happiness, longevity, and success if one is to live a good life? When is it good for you to get what you want? To what extent are we morally obliged to respect the rights and needs of others? What do we owe the poor, the oppressed, our loved ones, animals and fetuses?
(Prof. Sally Haslanger, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare)

1210. Death
This course will examine a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. The possibility that death may not actually be the end is considered. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? Also, a clearer notion of what it is to die is examined. What does it mean to say that a person has died? What kind of fact is that? And, finally, different attitudes to death are evaluated. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? How should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life?
(Prof. Shelly Kagan, Yale University: Open Yale)

1510. Classics in Western Philosophy
This course will introduce you to the Western philosophical tradition, through the study of major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. You will get to grips with questions that have been significant to philosophy from its beginnings: questions about the nature of the mind or soul, the existence of God, the foundations of knowledge, ethics and the good life. In the process of evaluating the arguments of these philosophers, you will develop your own philosophical and analytical skills. You will also observe changes of intellectual outlook over time, and the effect of scientific, religious and political concerns on the development of philosophical ideas.
(Prof. Rae Langton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare)

2210. Minds and Machines
This course is an introduction to many of the central issues in a branch of philosophy called philosophy of mind. Some of the questions we will discuss include the following. Can computers think? Is the mind an immaterial thing? Or is the mind the brain? Or does the mind stand to the brain as a computer program stands to the hardware? How can creatures like ourselves think thoughts that are "about" things? Can I know whether your experiences and my experiences when we look at raspberries, fire trucks and stop lights are the same? Can consciousness be given a scientific explanation?
(Prof. Alex Byrne, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare)

 

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