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.
It is not uncommon to hear today calls for a defence of and a return to Enlightenment values: but what exactly were they? The flourishing of the natural sciences from the 17th Century onward brought about not just an entirely new conception of the nature of the world but also a radical rethinking of the nature of reason itself, which in turn had profound implications for our understanding of the self and of society. But rather than a celebration of the serene progress of triumphant reason, the Enlightenment itself might be better understood as a series of crises. We will explore the myriad of issues these developments raise through an examination of the great thinkers of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.
This is an online course. Do we need to secure our claims of knowledge before understanding what is absolutely true? How do we know what we know? What is the relation between our consciousness and the external world? Is the process of knowing immediate or mediated? Who is free in the master-slave relation? What is an ethical act in relation to the state? What does the death of Christ reveal to us? What is absolute knowing? G.W.F. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit seeks address these questions through an examination of the development of self-consciousness and the cultural-historical forms it takes in what he calls 'spirit'. This is Hegel's most revolutionary text, and has influenced all subsequent philosophy, Marxism, feminism, anti-colonial theory, existentialism, and postmodernism.
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 our for yourselves.