Online Philosophy Courses

Life is busy. Our days get so filled with practical matters that we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Philosophy is about getting that bigger picture in view and examining it carefully.

I offer ten-week online courses where we discuss important works of philosophy from the ancient world to the present and across a range of philosophical traditions. We meet once per week for 75 minutes over Zoom in groups of fifteen or fewer. These meetings are accompanied by asynchronous video lectures, usually 30 to 50 minutes in length.

My aim isn’t simply to teach philosophy but to create a community where we learn together. The principle that inspires our discussion classes is simple: Socrates discovered 2400 years ago that the best method for doing philosophy is in conversation. The weekly video lectures provide expert guidance, unpacking the arguments and framing the issues for discussion. But those lectures are just a prelude to the main event: a structured conversation between curious and open minds.

These courses don’t promise any practical benefit. The point is to step back from our practical concerns and inquire into the “big questions” about life and its purpose that the demands of daily life so often distract us from.

Upcoming Courses

An Introduction to Philosophy in Ten Dangerous Ideas

The best philosophers are unafraid to follow a line of reasoning wherever it might lead. Sometimes their reasoning leads them to surprising places. This course offers an introduction to philosophy by way of ten arguments that challenge us with bold, and sometimes unsettling, conclusions. Our survey will cover philosophers from the Greek, Chinese, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions, as well as contemporary thinkers.

"Know Thyself": Knowledge and Self-Knowing in Literature and Philosophy

Since its beginnings, philosophy has understood itself in comparison with literature—and more often than not in competition with it. In Book X of Plato’s Republic, the philosopher Socrates alludes to an “ancient quarrel” between poetry and philosophy and argues for the banishment of poets from his ideal philosophical republic. This ten-week course takes Plato’s argument as a focal point: we will work to understand why he wanted to banish poetry, whether he was right to do so, and what lessons we can draw from this argument today. In the process, we will ponder the sometimes competing claims of philosophy and literature as sources of wisdom. Besides writings by Plato, we will read Sophocles’ great tragedy Oedipus the King and excerpts from Aristotle’s Poetics and consider more recent responses to the question of what, if anything, we can learn from literature.

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Meet your Teacher

Learn more about David Egan.

Past Courses

Check out summaries from past courses.

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