Philosophy For Beginners Part 2
Explore some of the most important ideas, themes, and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them out for yourselves.
Who is this course for
This course is for absolute beginners, and no previous experience of philosophy is necessary. Students will need English language skills to the equivalent of level 2, however, in order to benefit fully from the classes.
Although the course continues from Term 1 it is still possible to start on the course in this term and we will not assume that everyone in the class already has knowledge of the topics covered previously.
What does this course cover
In this term we will be looking closely at issues in Moral and Political philosophy and exploring the connections between the two. The kind of questions we will be exploring include the following: are there any objective standards of what is morally right and wrong? Or are all such judgements always relative to a certain time and place or from person to person? What might the implications of this be? Can we turn to philosophers when trying to resolve ethical dilemmas in real life?
Turning to questions of social and political philosophy, we ask such questions as; are there any good, rational reasons why we should obey the laws of the State? What makes political authority legitimate, and when is it illegitimate and open to resistance? What is the proper relationship between the power of the State and the Freedom of the Individual? What do we really mean when we talk about freedom anyway? Can we really talk about 'progress' when it comes to the development of societies and culture, and what are the implications of an answer to this question?
In exploring these ideas and others , we will come across the work of range of philosophers from the 17th Century up until today, including Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Hegel, Marx and many more.
By the end of the course, you should be able to:
- Compare, Contrast and Evaluate different theories within normative ethics (e.g. Kantian versus Utilitarian approaches to the nature of morality)
- Assess the significance of philosophical debates concerning the nature of morality (e.g. the Realism vs Relativism debate concerning the nature of moral values)
- Compare, Contrast and Evaluate differing philsophical approaches to the relationship between the individual and the State
- Develop your knowledge of the history of philosophy and the ideas, debates and concepts which have been developed there
What will it be like
The classes will be discussion-based, allowing participants to explore, debate, and (inevitably) disagree. Please note that in a philosophy class, disagreement is not only acceptable, but is actively encouraged. Be prepared to have your preconceptions challenged. Your tutors will assess your progress through your class participation, in conjunction with your own self-assessment of your progress. In philosophy, however, progress often means becoming less certain, or more perplexed.
What else do you need to buy or do
You will need a notebook, a pen, and an open mind. Your tutors may also recommend further reading, but the course does not require the purchase of any more materials. We will also make course materials and other resources available to you outside of class via the College's Moodle website.
What this course could lead to
The next of the course looks at questions concerning the relationship between faith, reason and meaning. You may also want to explore other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences
I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.MWC student
This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria
Got a Question about this Course?
Contact The Departmental Administrator.
Why come to Mary Ward Centre?
Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.
Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’