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.
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, Marx, Arendt 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Building upon the predictions concerning the ramifications of human activity on earth's resources, a pertinent question emerges: Can philosophy play any role in navigating this predicament? This course aspires to conjure such an intervention and sheds light on the intertwining of philosophy with the human relation to the Earth, a concern extending beyond the realms of present-day debates. Indeed, it reveals a deep-seated enigma that has been a constant companion of Western philosophy since its very dawn - what is the nature of the bond between thought and the Earth? Through an exhaustive exploration emphasising the Earth's enduring, yet often enigmatic, presence across the trajectory of philosophical debate, this course lays the foundation for a philosophical retort to the looming ecological reality. The course will traverse key philosophical texts, commencing with the pre-Socratic philosophers and the Stoics, and continuing through Plato and Aristotle; progressing to philosophers of the enlightenment such as Descartes, Leibniz, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant; and concluding with 19th and 20th-century thinkers like Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, and Deleuze. Together, we will asses how the history of the concept 'Earth' has shaped our relation to the natural world, and the possibility of forging a new perspective, one which could pave the way towards a revitalized relationship with our environment, ultimately crafting a different future trajectory.
Philosophy in the second half of the 20th century was faced with the demands of formulating an adequate response to the world after the second world war: the rise of different forms of totalitarianism, the horrors of the war itself and the role of technology in bringing this about became urgent issues. We will examine two forms of response to this situation. Firstly, we will examine how Critical Theory attempted to explain and move beyond the social contradictions that had been laid bare during this period. Following on from this, the question of the place of language in our relations with the world came to a central focus of attention, giving birth to the ideas of structuralism and post-structuralism. In this part of the course we will engage with the work of Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze.
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.