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We are living in a Golden Age for public philosophy, philosophy presented to a general audience rather than a specialised academic one. The Internet has opened everything up, and philosophers have responded well. From free online courses http to magazines, blogs, podcasts, animations, and videos, there is a rich variety of philosophical thought available to anyone who knows how to use Google. Since it launched in 2012, Aeon has been at the vanguard, and has published writing by leading figures in the field such as Martha Nussbaum, Philip Pettit, Galen Strawson, and Roger Scruton; but also, and perhaps even more importantly, has provided a platform for younger thinkers who have chosen to write for a general readership, including Nakul Krishna, Suki Finn, Rebecca Reilly Cooper, Clare Chambers, Skye Cleary, Keith Frankish, Paul Sagar, Philip Goff, Carrie Jenkins, Maria Kasmirli, and many others. It has been wonderful to be able to commission outstanding writers like these in my role there as Consultant Senior Editor, and to see several of them go on to secure book contracts with major publisher.

If you think I’m exaggerating by describing this as a Golden Age, consider just how much philosophy is now available thanks to the Internet. Philosophers were among the earliest adopters of the new technology that emerged in the late 1990s – the outstanding Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , for example, a reliable and growing resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the subject, was launched in 1995; the philosopher Denis Dutton, founded the web portal Arts and Letters Daily in 1998, later selling it to The Chronicle of Higher Education . Today many philosophers have their own websites, as you’d expect, but they’re far from uniform - Jonathan Glover’s quirky site is one of my favourites  – it’s a rabbit hole that’s easy to fall into. But online philosophy is so much more than just a series of individuals’ websites. There are numerous blogs – try Aeon author Eric Schwitzgebel’s The Splintered Mind where you can see him working out his ideas in public, Brian Leiter’s well-known Leiter Reports which he modestly describes as ‘The world’s most popular philosophy blog for more than a dozen years’, and Justin Weinberg’s philosophy news blog Daily Nous . There are also sites which regularly feature links to free online philosophical content, such as Open Culture , 3 Quarks Daily , Maria Popova’s Brainpickings  and The Browser. There are also less-easily-categorised sites with interesting philosophical content: the philosopher Jonathan Bennett has devoted amazing energy to setting up Early Modern Texts, where he and his team have paraphrased many of the great works of philosophy in to contemporary English ; the website Five Books, contains many interviews with philosophers (disclaimer – I am its consultant Philosophy Editor), as does What Is It Like to Be a Philosopher? , and there are even places where you can find philosophical humour, such as Daniel Dennett’s Philosophical Lexicon  this useful summary of Sidney Morgenbesser’s witticisms   (for those who don’t know, Morgenbesser was certainly the wittiest of 20th Century philosophers), and the very popular Existential Comics 

There are conventional magazines, such as The New Philosopher (of which I am consultant Editor at Large), The Philosophers Magazine, and Philosophy Now, and other magazines such as Prospect, New Republic, The Atlantic, and Quartz, which publish philosophical essays from time to time: content from all these is available online, and not always behind a paywall. The New York Times even has a regular column, The Stone , edited by Simon Critchley, that features a wide range of philosophers and topics, and philosophers also occasionally write for The Guardian’s Comment is Free section.

On social media, particularly on Twitter, philosophers are very active – check out Kelly Truelove’s list of more than 400 philosophical tweeters  with over 1,000 followers - among them you’ll find Peter Singer, Daniel Dennett, Patricia Churchland, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Kate Manne, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and quite a few Aeon authors, including Massimo Pigliucci, Luciano Floridi, Skye Cleary, Julian Baggini, Peter Adamson, Stephen Law, John Tasioulas, Gary Francione, Brian Earp, and many more.

There are also numerous philosophy podcasts, animations, and videos, some of which receive millions of downloads. Podcast include the series  I make with David Edmonds Philosophy Bites , Aeon-author Peter Adamson’s ambitious A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps  and Barry Lam’s excellent Hi-Phi Nation . BBC Radio 4’s long-running In Our Time series includes some outstanding episodes https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01f0vzr, and the BBC Reith Lectures archive includes interesting series by the philosophers Kwame Anthony Appiah, Michael Sandel, and the 1948 series given by Bertrand Russell  Authority and the Individual. There are also individual gems to be found online if you search hard, including this 1978 radio programme about the brilliant Cambridge philosopher and mathematician F.P. Ramsey who died at the age of 26  Kelly Truelove has convenient lists of philosophy audio 

I was lucky enough to be invited to write the scripts for BBC Radio 4’s History of Ideas series of 48 animations, brought to life by the brilliant animator Andrew Park. There is so much available that it is hard to keep abreast of it all. One YouTube discovery that I’d recommend dipping into feels like a time capsule from the early 1970s: it’s the experimental documentary Logic Lane (the name of a real lane in Oxford), featuring the Oxford philosophers A.J.Ayer, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Gilbert Ryle, and more, with a soundtrack by Michael Nyman. Some of the best Philosophy videos and animations are reposted on Aeon, including this episode of Bryan Magee’s BBC television series The Great Philosophers on Schopenhauer.


The Internet has also provided a forum in which to discuss topics that don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve within some philosophy departments. For instance, Bryan Van Norden’s Aeon Essay ‘Western Philosophy is Racist’  diagnoses the Anglo-American biases of many academic philosophy courses, and there are numerous online projects addressing the question of why there are relatively few women in philosophy, and in drawing attention to neglected women thinkers of the past. These include the sites History of Women Philosophers, and Women in Philosophy. The experience of women philosophers online has not been uniformly good – some have received abusive and threatening messages, and this is worrying. But the speed with which other people have come to support those under attack online has been gratifying. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that everything about doing philosophy online has been wonderful, but on balance there hasn’t been a better time in history for the subject. 

This post is based on a newsletter I wrote for the online magazine Aeon.co (you can become a friend of Aeon and get access to regular newsletters and other benefits). 

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Imagine a heap of sand. You carefully remove one grain. Is there still a heap? The obvious answer is: yes. Removing one grain doesn’t turn a heap into no heap. That principle can be applied again as you remove another grain, and then another… After each removal, there’s still a heap, according to the principle. But there were only finitely many grains to start with, so eventually you get down to a heap with just three grains, then a heap with just two grains, a heap with just one grain, and finally a heap with no grains at all. But that’s ridiculous. There must be something wrong with the principle. Sometimes, removing one grain does turn a heap into no heap. But that seems ridiculous too. How can one grain make so much difference? That ancient puzzle is called the sorites paradox, from the Greek word for ‘heap’.

There would be no problem if we had a nice, precise definition of ‘heap’ that told us exactly how many grains you need for a heap. The trouble is that we don’t have such a definition. The word ‘heap’ is vague. There isn’t a clear boundary between heap and no heap. Mostly, that doesn’t matter. We get along well enough applying the word ‘heap’ on the basis of casual impressions. But if the local council charged you with having dumped a heap of sand in a public place, and you denied that it amounted to a heap, whether you had to pay a large fine might depend on the meaning of the word ‘heap’.

More important legal and moral issues also involve vagueness. For instance, in the process of human development from conception to birth to maturity, when is there first a person? In a process of brain death, when is there no longer a person? Such questions matter for the permissibility of medical interventions such as abortion and switching off life-support. To discuss them properly, we must be able to reason correctly with vague words such as ‘person’.

You can find aspects of vagueness in most words of English or any other language. Out loud or in our heads, we reason mostly in vague terms. Such reasoning can easily generate sorites-like paradoxes. Can you become poor by losing one cent? Can you become tall by growing one millimetre? At first, the paradoxes seem to be trivial verbal tricks. But the more rigorously philosophers have studied them, the deeper and harder they have turned out to be. They raise doubts about the most basic logical principles.

Traditionally, logic is based on the assumption that every statement is either true or false (and not both). That’s called bivalence, because it says that there are just two truth-values, truth and falsity. Fuzzy logic is an influential alternative approach to the logic of vagueness that rejects bivalence in favour of a continuum of degrees of truth and falsity, ranging from perfect truth at one end to perfect falsity at the other. In the middle, a statement can be simultaneously half-true and half-false. On this view, as you remove one grain after another, the statement ‘There is a heap’ becomes less and less true by tiny steps. No one step takes you from perfect truth to perfect falsity. Fuzzy logic rejects some key principles of classical logic, on which standard mathematics relies. For example, the traditional logician says, at every stage: ‘Either there is a heap or there isn’t’: that’s an instance of a general principle called excluded middle. The fuzzy logician replies that when ‘There is a heap’ is only half-true, then ‘Either there is a heap or there isn’t’ is only half-true too.

At first sight, fuzzy logic might look like a natural, elegant solution to the problem of vagueness. But when you work through its consequences, it’s less convincing. To see why, imagine two heaps of sand, exact duplicates of each other, one on the right, one on the left. Whenever you remove one grain from one side, you remove the exactly corresponding grain from the other side too. At each stage, the sand on the right and the sand on the left are exact grain-by-grain duplicates of each other. This much is clear: if there’s a heap on the right, then there’s a heap on the left too, and vice versa.

Now, according to the fuzzy logician, as we remove grains one by one, sooner or later we reach a point where the statement ‘There’s a heap on the right’ is half-true and half-false. Since what’s on the left duplicates what’s on the right, ‘There’s a heap on the left’ is half-true and half-false too. The rules of fuzzy logic then imply that the complex statement ‘There’s a heap on the right and no heap on the left’ is also half-true and half-false, which means that we should be equally balanced between accepting and rejecting it. But that’s absurd. We should just totally reject the statement, since ‘There’s a heap on the right and no heap on the left’ entails that there is a difference between what’s on the right and what’s on the left – but there is no such difference; they are grain-by-grain duplicates. Thus fuzzy logic gives the wrong result. It misses the subtleties of vagueness.

There are many other complicated proposals for revising logic to accommodate vagueness. My own view is that they are all trying to fix something that isn’t broken. Standard logic, with bivalence and excluded middle, is well-tested, simple and powerful. Vagueness isn’t a problem about logic; it’s a problem about knowledge. A statement can be true without your knowing that it is true. There really is a stage when you have a heap, you remove one grain, and you no longer have a heap. The trouble is that you have no way of recognising that stage when it arrives, so you don’t know at which point this happens.

A vague word such as ‘heap’ is used so loosely that any attempt to locate its exact boundaries has nothing solid and reliable to go on. Although language is a human construct, that does not make it transparent to us. Like the children we make, the meanings we make can have secrets from us. Fortunately, not everything is secret from us. Often, we know there’s a heap; often, we know there isn’t one. Sometimes, we don’t know whether there is one or not. Nobody ever gave us the right to know everything!

Timothy Williamson

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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Philosophy Sites has just launched. This is a podcast series focusing on places linked to philosophers. The first episode, available from www.philosophysites.com and on iTunes, is an interview with the award-winning biographer of Wittgenstein, Ray Monk, on the topic of Wittgenstein's grave. The discussion ranges across issues of aesthetics, culture, and death. Future episodes will include interviews about Jeremy Bentham's Auto Icon, and Karl Marx's flat in Soho, London...

Photo by Nigel Warburton please feel free to use this...

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Do you think racial stereotypes are false? Are you sure? I’m not asking if you’re sure whether or not the stereotypes are false, but if you’re sure whether or not you think that they are. That might seem like a strange question. We all know what we think, don’t we?

Most philosophers of mind would agree, holding that we have privileged access to our own thoughts, which is largely immune from error. Some argue that we have a faculty of ‘inner sense’, which monitors the mind just as the outer senses monitor the world. There have been exceptions, however. The mid-20th-century behaviourist philosopher Gilbert Ryle held that we learn about our own minds, not by inner sense, but by observing our own behaviour, and that friends might know our minds better than we do. (Hence the joke: two behaviourists have just had sex and one turns to the other and says: ‘That was great for you, darling. How was it for me?’) And the contemporary philosopher Peter Carruthers proposes a similar view (though for different reasons), arguing that our beliefs about our own thoughts and decisions are the product of self-interpretation and are often mistaken.

Evidence for this comes from experimental work in social psychology. It is well established that people sometimes think they have beliefs that they don’t really have. For example, if offered a choice between several identical items, people tend to choose the one on the right. But when asked why they chose it, they confabulate a reason, saying they thought the item was a nicer colour or better quality. Similarly, if a person performs an action in response to an earlier (and now forgotten) hypnotic suggestion, they will confabulate a reason for performing it. What seems to be happening is that the subjects engage in unconscious self-interpretation. They don’t know the real explanation of their action (a bias towards the right, hypnotic suggestion), so they infer some plausible reason and ascribe it to themselves. They are not aware that they are interpreting, however, and make their reports as if they were directly aware of their reasons.

Many other studies support this explanation. For example, if people are instructed to nod their heads while listening to a tape (in order, they are told, to test the headphones), they express more agreement with what they hear than if they are asked to shake their heads. And if they are required to choose between two items they previously rated as equally desirable, they subsequently say that they prefer the one they had chosen. Again, it seems, they are unconsciously interpreting their own behaviour, taking their nodding to indicate agreement and their choice to reveal a preference.

Building on such evidence, Carruthers makes a powerful case for an interpretive view of self-knowledge, set out in his book The Opacity of Mind (2011). The case starts with the claim that humans (and other primates) have a dedicated mental subsystem for understanding other people’s minds, which swiftly and unconsciously generates beliefs about what others think and feel, based on observations of their behaviour. (Evidence for such a ‘mindreading’ system comes from a variety of sources, including the rapidity with which infants develop an understanding of people around them.) Carruthers argues that this same system is responsible for our knowledge of our own minds. Humans did not develop a second, inward-looking mindreading system (an inner sense); rather, they gained self-knowledge by directing the outward-looking system upon themselves. And because the system is outward-looking, it has access only to sensory inputs and must draw its conclusions from them alone. (Since it has direct access to sensory states, our knowledge of what we are experiencing is not interpretative.)

The reason we know our own thoughts better than those of others is simply that we have more sensory data to draw on – not only perceptions of our own speech and behaviour, but also our emotional responses, bodily senses (pain, limb position, and so on), and a rich variety of mental imagery, including a steady stream of inner speech. (There is strong evidence that mental images involve the same brain mechanisms as perceptions and are processed like them.) Carruthers calls this the Interpretive Sensory-Access (ISA) theory, and he marshals a huge array of experimental evidence in support of it.

The ISA theory has some startling consequences. One is that (with limited exceptions), we do not have conscious thoughts or make conscious decisions. For, if we did, we would be aware of them directly, not through interpretation. The conscious events we undergo are all sensory states of some kind, and what we take to be conscious thoughts and decisions are really sensory images – in particular, episodes of inner speech. These images might express thoughts, but they need to be interpreted.

Another consequence is that we might be sincerely mistaken about our own beliefs. Return to my question about racial stereotypes. I guess you said you think they are false. But if the ISA theory is correct, you can’t be sure you think that. Studies show that people who sincerely say that racial stereotypes are false often continue to behave as if they are true when not paying attention to what they are doing. Such behaviour is usually said to manifest an implicit bias, which conflicts with the person’s explicit beliefs. But the ISA theory offers a simpler explanation. People think that the stereotypes are true but also that it is not acceptable to admit this and therefore say they are false. Moreover, they say this to themselves too, in inner speech, and mistakenly interpret themselves as believing it. They are hypocrites but not conscious hypocrites. Maybe we all are.

If our thoughts and decisions are all unconscious, as the ISA theory implies, then moral philosophers have a lot of work to do. For we tend to think that people can’t be held responsible for their unconscious attitudes. Accepting the ISA theory might not mean giving up on responsibility, but it will mean radically rethinking it.

Keith Frankish @keithfrankish

This article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.

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Virtual Philosopher by Nigel Warburton - 9M ago

Events

Philosophy in the Bookshop (Blackwell's bookshop, Oxford)

Nigel Warburton is interviewing a number of philosophers at Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford for the series Philosophy in the Bookshop. All events are free and no booking is required. Forthcoming interviews:

Saturday 10th September 11am Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford (free) Nigel interviews Marcus du Sautoy

Saturday 17th September 11am Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford (free) Nigel interviews Anthony Gottlieb 

Saturday 1st October 11am Blackwell's Bookshop, Oxford (free): Nigel interviews Philosophy Bites interviewee Cécile Fabre

 

Other events


Saturday 3rd September, 5.a.m (!) Helsinki (Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art)  Night of Philosophy: Nigel will be speaking at 5 a.m. on Philosophy as Conversation (event runs 7pm Friday  2nd of Sept - 7am Saturday 3rd September).

Tuesday 27th Sept 10 am - 12.30. Nigel will be speaking at an event about European Identity at the European Parliament in Brussels. 

Recently published

 Big Ideas in Social Science (SAGE publishing) edited by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton - this is based on the podcast series Social Science Bites and consists of modified transcripts of 18 interviews with social scientists, including Kate Pickett, Jonathan Haidt, Stephen Pinker, Ann Oakley, Robert J. Shiller, Bruce Hood, Robin Dunbar, David Goldblatt and others.

Read the interview with Rom Harré on 'What is Social Science?' from Big Ideas in Social Science.

 

 

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Virtual Philosopher by Nigel Warburton - 9M ago

Just published: Big Ideas in Social Science (SAGE publishing) edited by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton - this is based on the podcast series Social Science Bites and consists of modified transcripts of 18 interviews with social scientists, including Kate Pickett, Jonathan Haidt, Stephen Pinker, Ann Oakley, Robert J. Shiller, Bruce Hood, Robin Dunbar, David Goldblatt and others.

Read the interview with Rom Harré on 'What is Social Science?' from Big Ideas in Social Science.

 

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There is a discount if you decide to take both courses - details at end of this post.

NB Courses begin 26th Oct. 2015. Monday evenings.

If you have previously taken any of my Philosophy courses, are a full-time student, unemployed, or an OAP,  you are entitled to the concession rate (click on arrow on PayPal button for drop-down menu)

Philosophy: the Basics

A 4-part course led by Nigel Warburton held at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4 RL (a short walk from Holborn tube station, also near Chancery Lane, and Russell Square).

No prior knowledge of Philosophy required.

Class size: 30 max.

Teaching style: a mixture of lectures and group discussion

4 Monday evenings 6.15pm - 7.45pm. 26th Oct 2015 - 16th Nov. 2015.

Course outline

This course offers an introduction to philosophy and philosophical thinking.Topics will include What is Philosophy? Thought experiments in Philosophy. What is reality? What am I?  How should I live? No prior knowledge of Philosophy is assumed.

Suggested Background Reading

Nigel Warburton Philosophy: the Basics, 5th edn (Routledge)

Nigel Warburton A Little History of Philosophy (Yale University Press)

Nigel Warburton Thinking from A to Z,  3rd edn (Routledge)

1. Monday 26th Oct 2015 6.15 pm - 7.45pm pm, Brockway Room, Conway Hall

2. Monday 2nd Nov. 2015 6.15 pm - 7.45 pm, Brockway Room, Conway Hall

3. Monday 9th Nov. 2015 6.15 pm - 7.45 pm, Bertrand Russell Room, Conway Hall

4. Monday 16th Nov. 2015 6. 15 pm - 7.45 pm, Bertrand Russell Room, Conway Hall

Philosophy: the Basics course (includes 20% VAT)
Full Price £96.00 GBP Concession £78.00 GBP

Philosophy and Death

A 4-part course led by Nigel Warburton held at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4 RL (a short walk from Holborn tube station, also near Chancery Lane, and Russell Square).

No prior knowledge of philosophy required.

Class size: 30 max.

Teaching style: a mixture of lectures and group discussion

Monday evenings 8pm - 9.30pm.

Course outline

This course will explore a range of philosophical issues around death from Epicurus's arguments that we shouldn't fear death, through to Samuel Sheffler's recent discussion of our attitudes to what happens after our deaths, taking in ideas from such thinkers as  Montaigne, David Hume,  Albert Camus, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, along the way. No prior knowledge of Philosophy is assumed.

1. Monday 26th Oct 2015 8 pm - 9.30pm, Brockway Room, Conway Hall

2. Monday 2nd Nov. 2015 8 pm - 9.30pm, Brockway Room, Conway Hall

3. Monday 9th Nov.2015 8 pm - 9.30pm, Bertrand Russell Room, Conway Hall

4. Monday 16th Nov. 2015 8 pm - 9.30 pm , Bertrand Russell Room, Conway Hall

  

Philosophy and Death course (includes 20% VAT)
Full Price £96.00 GBP Concession £78.00 GBP

 Discounted price if you take both courses:

Discounted price if you take both courses: Basics and Death
Full Price £168.00 GBP Concession £144.00 GBP
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Virtual Philosopher by Nigel Warburton - 9M ago

'[A]gainst those who laud the present state of society, with its unjustly rich and its unjustly poor, with its palaces and its slums, its millionaires and its paupers, be it ours to proclaim that there is a higher ideal in life than that of being first in line for wealth...Be it ours to declare that health, comfort, leisure, culture, plenty for every individual are far more desirable than the breathless struggle for existence, furious trampling down of the weak by the strong, huge fortunes accumulated out of the toil of others, to be handed down to those who had done nothing to earn them'. 

Annie Besant, Our Corner

These powerful lines are quoted in David Rosenberg's excellent book Rebel Footprints: A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History.

 

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An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art

A 5-session introductory course led by Nigel Warburton

Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (a short walk from Holborn tube station)

Maximum class size 35

Teaching style: a mixture of lectures and discussion

No prior knowledge of philosophy assumed

This course runs for 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings beginning 13th January 2015 (13th, 20th, 27th January, and 3rd and 1oth February)

The course will run from 8.10pm - 9.40pm in the Bertrand Russell room (apart from 2oth Jan, which is in the Brockway Room)

This is an introductory course examining some key ideas in the Philosophy of Art. Topics discussed will include several different approaches to the question 'What is Art?' such as Clive Bell's Formalism, R.G. Collingwood's The Principles of Art, the neo-Wittgensteinian critique of attempts to define art, Arthur Danto and George Dickie on art and institutions. We'll also discuss questions about the relevance of an artist's intentions  to interpretation, and the vexed issue of the basis of critical judgments about particular works of art, taking off from David Hume's famous essay 'Of the Standard of Taste'. 

If you want to do some background reading before the course starts, my book The Art Question covers several of these topics. You might also listen to this Philosophy Bites interview with Derek Matravers on the definition of art.

For those who haven't studied Philosophy before, my books Philosophy: the Basics and A Little History of Philosophy are intended for general readers. Philosophy: the Basics includes a chapter on the Philosophy of Art.

 

Booking

The price for the 5-session course is £85 payable in advance via Paypal using the buttons below.  (concessions - full time students, unemployed, and those who have attend previous courses I've run:  £70 - use drop down menu on Paypal button).

Special price if you take both An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art and An Introduction to Existentialism courses: £150 full price, concessions (as above) £120. Further details of An Introduction to Existentialism course (this course runs on the same evenings as the existentialism course from 6.30pm - 8pm).

Book now for An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art course at Conway Hall

Full Price/Concession
Full price £85.00 GBP Concession £70.00 GBP

Book now for both courses: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Art and An Introduction to Existentialism

 

Full Price/Concession
Full price £150.00 GBP Concession £120.00 GBP

Comment on a previous course:

'Fully recommend attending Nigel Warburton's Philosophy courses. Around this time last year, I had never studied Philosophy before, never been to university and had been out of education for three years. After doing a few courses with Nigel, I chose to enrol and am now studying Philosophy at the University of Sussex, where I have just received a first for an essay in my first term! Nigel is a brilliant teacher and his courses are hugely enjoyable and informative for people at all levels. I didn't realise just how much I'd learnt until I was able to apply it to a range of modules at university study. It was a fantastic grounding in the subject and if you're thinking about studying philosophy further or just for fun, and particularly if you haven't studied it before - Nigel's definitely your man! The courses make perfect Christmas pressies too - I spent my Christmas money on last year's course and it was a very sound investment! I also loved meeting a range of people on the courses from secondary school pupils to middle aged professionals - it really has something to offer everyone.'

 Kelly Smith, Theatre Producer and Philosophy Undergraduate, Brighton.

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An Introduction to Existentialism: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre

A 5-session introductory course led by Nigel Warburton

Venue: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL (a short walk from Holborn tube station)

Maximum class size 35

Teaching style: a mixture of lectures and discussion

No prior knowledge of philosophy assumed

This course runs for 5 consecutive Tuesday evenings beginning 13th January 2015 (13th, 20th, 27th January, and 3rd and 1oth February)

The course will run from 6.30p.m. -  8 p.m. (doors open from 6.15pm) in the Bertrand Russell room (apart from 2oth Jan, which is in the Brockway Room)

This is an introductory course examining some key existentialist thinkers' work. We'll be looking at Fear and Trembling and Either/Or by the Danish 19th Century thinker Søren Kierkegaard, selections from the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, including The Birth of Tragedy, and The Genealogy of Morals, and Jean-Paul Sartre's Existentialism is a Humanism and parts of his Being and Nothingness. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed or necessary. I'll make suggestions for further reading/listening after each session.

If you want to do some reading before the course, I suggest you read Jean-Paul Sartre's short Existentialism is a Humanism - this was originally a public lecture which he gave in 1945 (sometimes mistranslated as 'Existentialism and Humanism'). You could also listen to this radio programme about Kierkegaard I made for BBC Radio 3 'Fear and Trembling in Copenhagen'. You might also want to read the relevant chapters of my book Philosophy: the Classics (ie those on Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre) and watch this video about Jean-Paul Sartre on YouTube 'The Road to Freedom'

For those who haven't studied Philosophy before, my books Philosophy: the Basics and A Little History of Philosophy are intended for general readers.

 

Booking

The price for the 5-session course is £85 payable in advance via Paypal using the buttons below.  (concessions - full time students, unemployed, and those who have attend previous courses I've run:  £70 - use drop down menu on Paypal button).

Special price if you take both Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre course and The Philosophy of Art courses: £150 full price, concessions (as above) £120. Further details of The Philosophy of Art course (this course runs on the same evenings as the existentialism course from 8.10pm - 9.40pm).

Book now for Introduction to Existentialism course at Conway Hall:

Full Price/Concession
Full price £85.00 GBP Concession £70.00 GBP

Book now for both courses Introudtion to Existentialism and Introduction to the Philosophy of Art

 

Full Price/Concession
Full price £150.00 GBP Concession £120.00 GBP

Comment on a previous course:

'Fully recommend attending Nigel Warburton's Philosophy courses. Around this time last year, I had never studied Philosophy before, never been to university and had been out of education for three years. After doing a few courses with Nigel, I chose to enrol and am now studying Philosophy at the University of Sussex, where I have just received a first for an essay in my first term! Nigel is a brilliant teacher and his courses are hugely enjoyable and informative for people at all levels. I didn't realise just how much I'd learnt until I was able to apply it to a range of modules at university study. It was a fantastic grounding in the subject and if you're thinking about studying philosophy further or just for fun, and particularly if you haven't studied it before - Nigel's definitely your man! The courses make perfect Christmas pressies too - I spent my Christmas money on last year's course and it was a very sound investment! I also loved meeting a range of people on the courses from secondary school pupils to middle aged professionals - it really has something to offer everyone.'

 Kelly Smith, Theatre Producer and Philosophy Undergraduate, Brighton.

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