Since thousands of years ago, scholars across the world have pondered what it means to live a fulfilling life. What is worthy of pursuit? How should we go about attainment? What is morality? How do we make logical arguments? These are some questions addressed by philosophy. Or perhaps, questions that philosophers have tried to address, because we continue to ponder about many of them even today.
Somehow, I got through 18 years of schooling without a single philosophy course. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to start with the basics. Continue scrolling down for philosophy courses that will help you develop personal, professional, and interpersonal understanding.
1. Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness: Interested in the Big Questions? This course out of the MIT Philosophy Department (“24”) offers an overview of philosophical questions and critical thinking methods.
Level: Intro | Duration: 12 weeks | Start Date: 30 September 2014
2. Introduction to Philosophy: A less time-intensive course at 1-2 hours a week, this course from the University of Edinburgh is nonetheless a strong introduction to contemporary philosophy. Get a broad understanding of epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and metaphysics. Translation available in Turkish and Chinese, so non-English speakers can focus on the concepts and not the language!
Level: Intro | Duration: 7 weeks | Start Date: Flexible
PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: HAPPINESS, MORAL DILEMMAS, THEN DEATH
3. Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? No list of philosophy courses would be complete without Michael Sandel’s “Justice.” One of the most popular courses at Harvard, Justice focuses on moral dilemmas and case studies, as a means to explore the blurry boundary between right and wrong. You’ll wrestle with questions around cannibalism, torture, and lies.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 12 weeks | Start Date: Flexible
4. The Science of Everyday Thinking: Conversations with 21 leading thinkers will force you to think about where you fit in and how to improve your thought processes. This course will lay bare the biases in human thought and provide ways to improve that path.
Level: Intro | Duration: 12 weeks | Start Date: 2 March 2015
5. The Science of Happiness: As “positive psychology” picks up steam, explore the fundamentals with the first MOOC to tackle this topic. Out of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, this course will teach you how to enjoy life, while contributing to the greater good. This course stretches beyond philosophy into an interdisciplinary space—so don’t be surprised by the cameo made by evolutionary biology!
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 10 weeks | Start date: 9 September 2014
6. Philosophy of Love in the Western World: Looking for love on the Internet? Here it is! MIT Professor Irving Singer teaches this undergraduate course as an introduction to the philosophy of love and sex. Explore these concepts in readings from prominent philosophers and authors. Four recorded sessions provide further information, though this course is primarily self-guided.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 12 weeks | Start date: Flexible.
7. Death: Death: one of the only certainties, though remarkably infrequently studied. This Yale course explores concepts such as existentialism, suicide, and near-death experiences.
Level: Intermediate/Advanced | Duration: 13 weeks | Start date: Flexible
PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHY: BUILD SKILLS
8. Think Again: How to Reason and Argue: Sputtering in the board room? Sleeping on the couch again? This course from Duke University aims to change that. How to spot, evaluate, and screw up arguments—and have fun doing it.
Level: Intro | Duration: 12 weeks | Start Date: 25 August 2014
9. On Strategy: What Managers Can Learn from Philosophy: How often did philosophy come up in business school? If you were too busy taking finance, marketing, and business strategy, here’s your opportunity to make up for lost time. Billed as the opportunity to “rediscover the art of thinking,” this course will reinvigorate your management style.
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 6 weeks | Start Date: 28 Oct 2014
INTERNATIONAL PHILOSOPHY: GLOBAL ETHICS?
10. Humanity and Nature in Chinese Thought: As China emerges as a greater political force, Chinese philosophy only becomes more relevant. Convene with nature in this course from Hong Kong University. Something to look forward to in 2015!
Level: Intermediate | Duration: 10 weeks | Start Date: 2015
TED TALKS ON PHILOSOPHY
11. How to make hard choices: Philosopher Ruth Chang argues that big decisions are difficult, because we think about them the wrong way.
12. How do you explain consciousness: Remember the questions about consciousness raised by The Matrix? David Chalmers tries to explain the “movie playing in our heads”.
AND, A COUPLE OF NOTABLE MENTIONS
13. Philosophy Bro: A common complaint about philosophy is that academic texts are awfully hard to read. The Philosophy Bro will do all the reading and dumb down the content to make it easily digestible, even if it is with the occasional expletive.
14. Philosophy Bites: This site introduces you to reputed philosophers via podcasts of them speaking on bite-sized topics.
15. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A reference resource containing the works of global scholars in philosophy and related disciplines.
Have you taken any of these courses? What did you think of them? Tell us in the comments below.
Happy thinking and philosophizing!