The course is intended for students who want to understand and to be able to practice philosophical thinking. Throughout the course, basic ideas and concepts of philosophical thinking are introduced and discussed. The emphasis is not on historical scholarship but rather in getting familiar with the conceptual tools needed to be able to practice and apply philosophical thinking in everyday life.
Participation on the course requires no prior studies in philosophy.
The course aims to:
- Inspire philosophical thinking in everyday life.
- Introduce conceptual tools and methods to practice philosophical thinking.
- Introduce methods and criteria for evaluating thinking and argumentation.
- Explore various opportunities to engage in philosophical thinking.
The course consists of three hour lecture sessions each organized around a pre-defined philosophical topic. During the lecture sessions, the topics are presented and discussed. Each lecture will also involve relevant pre-reading materials the students are expected to read prior to the lecture in question.
The lectures are structured around the following themes:
Lecture 1: What Is Philosophy? (23.9.2020)
A general introduction to and discussion on what philosophy is with a brief historical overview.
Lecture 2: Mind and Language (30.9.2020)
A review and discussion of questions concerning the nature of the human mind and language, and the relationship between the two.
Lecture 3: Knowledge and the World (7.10.2020)
A review and discussion of general questions in epistemology (the theories of knowledge) and metaphysics (the theories of what there is).
Lecture 4: Question Everything? (28.10.2020)
An overview of logic, argumentation, the philosophy of science and the tools and methods of carrying out inquiry.
Lecture 5: Good and Evil (4.11.2020)
A review and discussion of basic questions of ethics and some conceptual tools on how to address them.
Lecture 6: The Good Life (18.11.2020)
A more practically-oriented discussion on how to conceptualize, evaluate and enact the good life.
Lecture 7: Philosophy in Practice (25.11.2020)
A discussion on how to apply the concepts, tools and methods discussed throughout the course in everyday life.
The main goal of the course is to help students become conversant in often difficult, complex and hard to grasp philosophical questions about identity, thinking, perception, the nature of the world we live in, methods and practices of inquiry and the nature of a good life.
More specifically, the course addresses themes related to overall philosophy, philosophy of language and the mind, epistemology and metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and applied philosophy. The goal is to give the students a grasp of a selection of central concepts and ideas in these fields to build a basis for carrying out philosophical thought in their everyday lives.
Assessment Methods and Criteria
Passing of the course will require the completion of the following:
- Learning diary of the seven lectures.
- A short essay (2–3 pages) on a book or philosophical essay chosen during the course.
- A long essay (5–7 pages) developing on a personally relevant philosophical idea.
- Active participation in the discussion in class.
The essays will be graded between 0–5. The overall course grade will be determined mainly by the two essays, with emphasis on the long essay. Level of participation in class can have an impact on the final course grade.
Criteria for grading the essays are the following:
- clear presentation of the chosen topic
- logical structure of argumentation and writing
- insightful use of reference material
- ability to reflect the chosen topic from different perspectives
A grade 5 from the assignment is the kind of essay that introduces a novel way of discussing the topic at hand at depth, employs the concepts and terminology in an appropriate manner and engages in clear and lucid argumentation. It is the type of essay that should elicit a strong positive response from a non-academic reader interested in philosophy.