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List of Free Online Philosophy Lectures, Courses and Classes

See our list of the top free online philosophy courses. Learn about what courses are available and what topics they cover to find the course that's right for you.

Free Online Philosophy Course Info

Following is a sample of the many free, online philosophy courses offered by some major universities, which provide open access to learning materials from previous courses through their OpenCourseWare (OCW) endeavors. Most of these universities offer introductory survey courses as well as courses devoted to specific branches of philosophers or the works of particular philosophers. Self-directed learners don't interact with the course instructors or receive credit for use of these materials.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT's OCW options from its Department of Linguistics and Philosophy are numerous, including courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These are undergraduate courses. Ethics covers various aspects of moral philosophy, examining questions regarding the objective validity of moral claims, moral character and personal responsibility. Learners have access to a syllabus with a required text, a reading list, assignment descriptions and lecture notes in .pdf format.

In Philosophy of Film, students view films by Jean Cocteau, Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock, among others, and analyze them in terms of aesthetic questions they provoke. Students can view four video-taped class sessions and have access to the syllabus, reading list and assignment descriptions. The goal of Problems in Philosophy is to encourage students to think like philosophers while investigating enduring philosophical questions, like the existence of free will. Students can view the syllabus, reading list, lecture notes, assignment descriptions and a list of links to outside philosophical resources.

University of Notre Dame

The philosophy department at the University of Notre Dame also offers open access to course materials from several philosophy courses. Lectures are available in video format for each of the courses listed here, and students can view the lecture through iTunes University as well. In Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, students are encouraged to keep a journal while reading Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

Students in Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love look at romance, sexuality and marriage from the perspectives of philosophy and literature, using readings and several movies. Some of the readings are accessible online. Materials include a syllabus, exams, discussion questions and guidelines for six essay assignments, as well as the video lectures. Environmental Philosophy takes a multidisciplinary approach and examines from a philosophical perspective the consumer values that endanger the environment. A syllabus, reading list and discussion questions accompany the video lectures.

University of California at Berkeley

The philosophy department at UC - Berkeley makes lectures available from several of its philosophy courses as video or audio podcasts through iTunes University and YouTube. These lectures typically aren't accompanied by other materials, like syllabi, exams or reading lists. One exception is The Nature of Mind, for which students can view a syllabus and essay questions in addition to video lectures. This course examines questions about mental states, like memories and desires, consciousness and personal identity.

Through audio podcast lectures, Philosophy of Society provides a basis for studies in the social sciences, inquiring into the nature of social reality and how that relates to psychological and physical experience. The Theory of Meaning, with lectures available in video or audio, looks at a variety of questions that explore the intersection of thought and language, semantics and how language is used socially.

University of Oxford

Learners can also explore courses on Nietzsche, bioethics and Kant, among other topics, through audio and video podcasts from Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy. Through the eight audio podcasts in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art, students may read writings on beauty from ancient philosophers as well as Hume and Kant. The course also covers how to understand and define art, including literature and music.

Philosophy of Religion investigates questions about the existence of God, religious experience, evil and faith related to the traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Handouts accompany each audio lecture. Through video or audio podcasts, Philosophy for Beginners introduces students to philosophical inquiry through a wide range of topics that include ethics, language and aesthetics.

Yale College

Philosophy courses from Open Yale provide students with syllabi and the option to access lectures as transcripts, audio files or videos. Death examines attitudes and issues about mortality, such as the possibility of immortality and moral questions surrounding suicide. Learners read the political writings of Aristotle, Hobbes and Locke, among others, to gain an understanding of political life and institutions in Introduction to Political Philosophy. In Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature, students read recent studies in cognitive science alongside major Western philosophers to examine topics like happiness, ethics and political structures.

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