Philosophy as a topic has been studied for thousands of years with rich strands of tradition in various cultures, both in the East and the West. Our modern university has the Doctor of ‘Philosophy’ as the pinnacle of educational attainment. But in our current technological age, is it still important to study philosophy?
We would claim that philosophy is still important, now more than ever. We don’t mean just metaphysics, such as asking ourselves ‘What is the meaning of life?’ (albeit its an important question). There are ethical questions such as biological cloning, ‘just wars’, or natural resource management. Developing a strong foundation in critical thinking (logic) is important, as we are bombarded with many more choices and operate within increasingly complex systems. And then there are new insights from psychology that help us understand ourselves better, but also raise questions about what we should be trying to achieve in the first place.
After all, we each live by a personal philosophy, whether it is expressed and well-considered, or implicit and ad-hoc.
Philosophy is relevant in addressing all of these areas because it is ultimately not about the conclusions people came up with in the past (though studying history can be very helpful), but it is about how we ask and answer the big questions in our lives about the world we live in. After all, we each live by a personal philosophy, whether it is expressed and well-considered, or implicit and ad-hoc. So look through this list of free courses and go get your philosophy on!
Note that not all of these courses are available now, but if not, add the course to MOOC Tracker and we will notify you when it becomes available. Courses marked as Archived can only be audited and some features, such as the discussion forums, may not be available.
Introduction to Philosophy University of Edinburgh via Coursera This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. Go To Class
PHIL1440x: The Ethics of Eating Cornell University via edX Explore the ethical issues you confront each time you decide what to eat or purchase food. Join a diverse group of philosophers, food scientists, activists, industry specialists, and farmers in this exciting discussion. Go To Class
Rationing and Allocating Scarce Medical Resources University of Pennsylvania via Coursera
You have one liver but three patients awaiting a liver transplant. Who should get the liver? What criteria should be used to select the recipient? Is it fair to give it to an alcoholic? These are some of the questions that arise in the context of rationing and allocating scarce health care resources among particular individuals, and concern what are called micro-allocation decisions. Go To Class
Neuroethics University of Pennsylvania via Coursera This course will examine the ethical, legal and social issues raised by neuroscience. Topics will include the implications of new knowledge of the brain for our understanding of selfhood, for the meaning of privacy, for the distinction between therapy and enhancement, and for national security. Go To Class
Practical Ethics Princeton University via Coursera Is abortion wrong? Should we eat animals? What is our responsibility to the world’s poor? This course will encourage you to examine your ethical beliefs on topics relevant to the ancient question posed by Socrates: “How am I to live?” Go To Class
Technology and Ethics Ohio State University via Coursera The meteoric rise of technologies used in our everyday life for profit, power, or improvement of an individual’s life can, on occasion, cause cultural stress as well as ethical challenges. In this course, we will explore how these multifaceted impacts might be understood, controlled and mitigated. Go To Class
A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment Indian School of Business via Coursera Do you ever wonder why you aren’t as happy and fulfilled as you should be, given everything you have? Or perhaps you are about to graduate and want to know what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Or maybe you are already as happy as happy can be, but are just curious about the latest findings from the science of happiness. Whatever your situation, this course is for you. Go To Class
Know Thyself University of Virginia via Coursera An investigation of the nature and limits of self-knowledge from the viewpoints of philosophy, psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Buddhism. Readings are drawn from classical Western, non-Western, and contemporary sources. Go To Class
The Soul and the Search for Meaning The University of North Carolina at Greensboro via Independent Humanity: the epic story of our species’ quest to understand our very existence. Across the rise and fall of civilizations, the emergence of science and reason from the Dark Ages, and our quest to explore our realm, over land and ocean and into the very stars themselves, we are driven by a need to understand who we are, where we come from, and how we got to where we are today. Go To Class
Moralities of Everyday Life Yale University via Coursera How can we explain kindness and cruelty? Where does our sense of right and wrong come from? Why do people so often disagree about moral issues? This course explores the psychological foundations of our moral lives. Go To Class
Human Nature in Film: Topics in Philosophy Criswell College via Canvas.net In this class we will be viewing films that both express perceived meaning in life and those that are seeking to find it. We will look at art that intends to imitate reality, art that will express emotions, and art that uses good form. We will view films that give insight into the inner world of humanity and that provide universal truths about human nature. Go To Class
Philosophy and Human Destiny The University of Oklahoma via Janux What is it to be human? How did we get here, and what should we strive for, or try to be like? What can we hope for in this life, or (if there is one) the next? In this course we will consider and critically examine a variety of different answers to these questions, both Religious and Secular, from both the East and the West. Go To Class
Introduction to Logic Stanford University via Coursera In this course, you will learn how to formalize information and reason systematically to produce logical conclusions. We will also examine logic technology and its applications – in mathematics, science, engineering, business, law, and so forth. Go To Class
Think Again: How to Reason and Argue Duke University via Coursera Reasoning is important. This course will teach you how to do it well. You will learn how to understand and assess arguments by other people and how to construct good arguments of your own about whatever matters to you. Go To Class
Logic and Paradoxes Universidad de las Américas Puebla via CourseSites The main target of this course is introducing the student to some themes in the philosophical literature about the sorites paradox and the Liar paradox as well as to some logical developments connected to them. Go To Class
Explorations in Confucian Philosophy Nanyang Technological University via Coursera Explore the world of Confucianism, its foundational teachings, the ways in which it continues to shape Chinese culture and society, and how it may respond to today’s global challenges. Go To Class
Søren Kierkegaard – Subjectivity, Irony and the Crisis of Modernity University of Copenhagen via Coursera In this course we will explore how Kierkegaard deals with the problems associated with relativism, the lack of meaning and the undermining of religious faith that are typical of modern life. His penetrating analyses are still highly relevant today and have been seen as insightful for the leading figures of Existentialism, Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism. Go To Class
Reason and Persuasion: Thinking Through Three Dialogues By Plato National University of Singapore via Coursera In this course we will study Plato’s ancient art of blowing up your beliefs as you go, to make sure they’re built to last. We spend six weeks studying three Platonic dialogues, then two more weeks pondering a pair of footnotes to Plato; that is, we will consider some contemporary manifestations of issues Plato discusses. Our focus will be: moral theory and moral psychology. Go To Class
OpenCourseWare courses are recordings of in-class lectures put online. While the courses mentioned above (MOOCs), are designed for an online audience and have feedback of sort via assignments, homeworks, exams, etc.
Problems in Philosophy The course has two goals. First, to give you a sense of what philosophers think about and why. Here we look at a number of perennial philosophical problems, including some or all of: how knowledge differs from “mere opinion,” the objectivity (or not) of moral judgment, logical paradoxes, mind/body relations, the nature and possibility of free will, and how a person remains the same over time, as their bodily and psychological traits change. The second goal is to get you thinking philosophically yourself.
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.
Ancient Philosophy This course will acquaint the student with some of the ancient Greek contributions to the Western philosophical and scientific tradition. We will examine a broad range of central philosophical themes concerning: nature, law, justice, knowledge, virtue, happiness, and death. There will be a strong emphasis on analyses of arguments found in the texts.
Philosophy of Love in the Western World This course is a seminar on the nature of love and sex, approached as topics both in philosophy and in literature. Readings from recent philosophy as well as classic myths of love that occur in works of literature and lend themselves to philosophical analysis.