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Introduction to Philosophy

by University of New Orleans

This course material is only available in the iTunes U app on iPhone or iPad.

Course Description

Doing philosophy requires using reason in the attempt to resolve philosophical questions. Philosophical questions are fundamental or open questions  — questions that CANNOT be answered by appealing to facts alone. There are countless questions of this sort. We shall focus on the following:
  • Can God's existence be proven through reason alone?
  • Is knowledge possible? If so, how? Are we born with it (nativism)? Do we acquire it via reason alone (rationalism) or experience alone (empiricism)? How do we know that the world is as it appears?
  • What is the nature of the mind? Are minds souls, thinking substance, matter, or something else (e.g., a kind of computer software)?
  • Wherein lies personal identity? (That is, what makes you you and me me?) Sameness of body? Consciousness? Memories? Behavior?
  • What sort of "things" have minds? How can we tell whether something has a mind? Is it possible for something nonhuman to have a mind?
  • What is the philosophical significance (ethical, metaphysical, etc.) of machine or nonhuman intelligence?
  • What properties must something possess to be a person? Could a machine or an animal or an alien be a person?
  • What makes and action moral ("right") or immoral ("wrong")? Does it lie in what God commands? Does it lie in virtue (Aristotle)? Does it lie in the use of reason to determine our duties (Kant) or the greatest happiness for the most people (Mill)?
To explore these questions, we are not going to limit ourselves to online lectures and discussions of philosophical texts. Philosophy can be explored through movies (and TV episodes) too. Hence, you will be required to watch a few movies and/or TV episodes. The movie or episode will make the "abstract" concepts raised in the text more "real" or "concrete." Following the movie you will critically evaluate what you have seen using our discussion board. In the end, the aim of this course is not to solve the philosophical questions that will be raised. Rather, the aim is survey some of the major ideas, figures, and problems that have shaped Western philosophy … and to have some fun doing it.

Customer Reviews

Let the thinking begin...

Fantastic audio lectures that spark the light of reasoning. By his meditative voice I've grown intrigued by metaphysics.

Excellent introduction

This course is an excellent introduction to the basic ideas of philosophy. It will give a good foundation for continued study. The instructor is enthusiastic, engaging and able to communicate complex thoughts clearly.

Perfect Intro to Philosophy

I took the entire course, beginning to end, minus the tests, and it actually prompted me to not only take a general interest in Philosophy, but have since enrolled in post-graduate studies of the subject matter. I’m analytical by nature, and Dr. Stufflebeam was more than generous with the amount of information he posted. This is a course designed for anyone that is the slighter bit curious of age-old questions of humanity, and is presented in a way that even the most beginner can not only grasp, but actually apply the logic and reasoning that makes it all tick. Very highly recommended, and my hat’s off to Dr. Stufflbeam and UNO for allowing access to this excellent material.

Introduction to Philosophy
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Customer Ratings