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.
This course is designed to be accessible to people with no prior training in philosophy. Some of the texts are difficult, and university-level English reading skills are an asset, but video lectures are designed to make these texts accessible.
We will meet on ten consecutive weekdays (plus a first organizational meeting). There are three class meeting times:
Each class is 75 minutes long and will be supplemented by a 30–50 minute video lecture made available in advance.
Readings will be made available in PDF format through the course website.
Week 0 January 12/13: Organizational meeting
Week 1 January 19/20: Plato: Doing wrong is worse than being wronged
Week 2 January 26/27: Zhuangzi: Relativizing rights and wrongs
Week 3 February 2/3: The Milindapañha: There is no self
Week 4 February 9/10: Ibn Tufayl: The discovery of God
Week 5 February 16/17: David Hume: Causation isn’t real
Week 6 February 23/34: Friedrich Nietzsche: Master morality and slave morality
Week 7 March 2/3: Peter Singer: The drowning child
Week 8 March 9/10: Amia Srinivasan: The right to sex
Week 9 March 16/17: Myisha Cherry: The case for rage
Week 10 March 23/24: Nick Bostrom: Are we living in a simulation?