Courses

We aim to provide a wide range of philosophy courses for people interested in the subject. No previous study of the subject is required to enrol. The fees for standard ten week courses are £120 or £90 concessions unless otherwise stated.  For more information see enrolment.

Outline 2017-2018 timetable (pdf)

Autumn Term (October – December 2017)

Spring Term (January – March 2018)

Summer Term (April – June 2018)

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Hermeneutics COURSE NOW FULL

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding

Originally a technique for understanding biblical texts, hermeneutics has, in the form of the work of Gadamer and Ricoeur especially, come to represent a genuine challenge to a variety of competing approaches to philosophy. After a brief review of the foundations of the discipline, we’ll consider how and in what way Gadamer is correct in proposing a philosophy which is concerned with “what happens to us over and above our wanting and doing”.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Philosophy of Love

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 13:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

This course will investigate the nature of love in general, concentrating on erotic love, and its philosophical history from Plato to the present; also touching on what anthropology, literature and neuroscience say about it. Questions to be considered: how far is love biological and universal, and how far it is just a local cultural concoction? Do we love a real person, or simply our own feelings, or an illusion engendered by social expectations or evolutionary imperatives? See course outline (Word doc) for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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German Idealism Reading Group

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutor: Meade McCloughan.

This term we will considering Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics. See course outline for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Meade (meade[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Introduction to Philosophy COURSE NOW FULL

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutors: Mark Fielding and Jane O’Grady.

This is a general Introduction to Philosophy based on the individual course of the same name which is part of the University of London International Programme in Philosophy. Students who register for this examination will benefit from a programme of study which is tailored to the subject-centred approach found in this text. All tutors on this course have extensive experience of teaching the subject in this way and study skills are an integral part of the programme. Students are able to register without any obligation to also commit to the examination. This course will run over two terms. The outline both terms is available here (pdf).

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Wagner and Philosophy

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutor: Meade McCloughan.

An in-depth examination of the philosophical aspects of Richard Wagner’s main works, from The Ring of the Nibelung to Parsifal. We will also consider philosophical responses to Wagner, from Nietzsche to Adorno.

To enrol, please e-mail Meade (meade[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Classics of Moral Philosophy: Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals COURSE NOW FULL

Autumn Term 2017, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 2nd October

Course Tutor: Sam Fremantle.

This course will undertake a guided reading of Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals, covering either the entirety of the book, or at least the essential parts, depending on the pace the class finds comfortable. Time permitting, we shall go on to look at contemporary perspectives on Nietzsche’s ethics from philosophers such as Alasdair MacIntyre and Bernard Williams (depending on the preferences of the class). This course assumes no prior knowledge of Nietzsche’s Genealogy, or his other work, and is perfect for beginners, though those with prior knowledge should find it useful too.

To enrol, please e-mail Sam (sam[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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New Shakespeare and Philosophy

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

Should philosophers go to the theatre? Can philosophy learn from Shakespeare? We will explore themes in political and moral philosophy, as well as philosophical anthropology using five plays by Shakespeare, including Othello and Measure for Measure.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Kant Reading Group

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 14:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

An interactive reading group. This year we will study Immanuel Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals (1797-98) [NOT the Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals]. The term-fee is only £20, reflecting the shortness of the meetings.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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The Pre-Socratics

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

Philosophy is two and a half thousand years old, no longer a spring chicken and, as we all like to do when we get older, it is time for it to look back to its youthful beginnings. But how can we identify a “beginning” at all? Philosophising has become so much part of our culture it would seem to have always existed. In this course we will study the backgrounds, ideas and assumptions of the earliest philosophers in the Greek tradition, and discuss what made them distinctive and philosophically relevant.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Philosophers of Otherness 3: Irigaray, Kristeva, Butler

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Keith Barrett.

‘Supposing truth is a woman – what then? Are there not grounds for the suspicion that all philosophers … have been very inexpert about women?’ – wrote Nietzsche in Beyond Good and Evil. Confounding Nietzsche, some of the most important contemporary philosophers are women, and the course will explore the ideas of three of them, relating them to psychoanalysis and feminist thought. We begin with An Ethics of Sexual Difference (1984) by Luce Irigaray; then explore Black Sun: Depression and Melancholia (1989) by Julia Kristeva; and conclude by studying Judith Butler’s Antigone’s Claim (2000).

To enrol, please e-mail Keith (keith[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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History of Philosophy 1

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

‘What’s it all about then, guv?’ a taxi driver asked Bertrand Russell. This course gives a chronological survey of some the great Western philosophers who have formulated, and tried to solve, enduring puzzles – what reality is, who we are, how we should live. It traces the ongoing argument, and invites your contributions to it. Part 1 runs from the ancient Greeks to John Locke; Part 2 (in the Spring term) runs from Berkeley to Mill; Part 3 (in the Summer term) runs from Nietzsche to now. You can join any or all of these courses. See course-outline1 (Word doc) for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Classics of Moral Philosophy: Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature

Autumn Term 2017, Tuesdays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 3rd October

Course Tutor: Sam Fremantle

This course will undertake a guided reading of those parts of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature that put forward his ethical theory, covering roughly a third or a half of the book. Time permitting, we shall go on to look at differing perspectives on Hume’s ethics from the enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant and contemporary philosophers such as Bernard Williams. Exactly which commentators and critics we look at can depend on the preferences of the group. This course assumes no prior knowledge of Hume’s works and is perfect for beginners, though those with prior knowledge should find it useful too.

To enrol, please e-mail Sam (sam[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Deconstruction

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding.

Twentieth century philosophy was marked by a number of far-reaching challenges to its own history. This course considers the contribution made by Jacques Derrida — the enfant terrible of 1960’s French thought. We’ll see how his unique role begins in Heidegger’s Destruktion of the subject and trace the ways in which his own position, deconstruction, developed into a maddening engagement with its own past.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Emotions and the Self

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 13:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

When you are angry or sad are you just having physical sensations? Or are anger or sadness, instead, ways of perceiving the situation you are in? Are emotions a distortion of our true (rational) nature, or essentially part of us? The way in which different philosophers have differently reconciled the cognitive and sensation aspects of emotion has always been closely bound up with different notions of what it means to be human. We examine theories about the self and its emotions from Homer to Sartre. See course outline (Word doc) for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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German Idealism Reading Group

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutor: Meade McCloughan.

This term we will we will finish reading Fichte’s 1798 System of Ethics before moving onto Schelling’s 1799 First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (1799). See course outline for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Meade (meade[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Introduction to Philosophy

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutors: Mark Fielding and Jane O’Grady.

This is a general Introduction to Philosophy based on the individual course of the same name which is part of the University of London International Programme in Philosophy. Students who register for this examination will benefit from a programme of study which is tailored to the subject-centred approach found in this text. All tutors on this course have extensive experience of teaching the subject in this way and study skills are an integral part of the programme. Students are able to register without any obligation to also commit to the examination. This course will run over two terms. The outline both terms is available here (pdf).

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Philosophy of History from Kant to Foucault COURSE NOW FULL

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutor: Meade McCloughan.

How should we, as historical beings, understand ourselves and our place in history? Are we moving forward, and if so, how and to what? Or should we be looking back, to understand how we got to where we are now? This course will consider how some of the most important European thinkers of the last 250 years have asked and answered these questions. See course outline for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Meade (meade[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Lacan with Levinas and Sartre

Spring Term 2018, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 15th January

Course Tutor: Keith Barrett.

Jacques Lacan was one of the most innovative thinkers of the 20th century, bringing together philosophy and psychoanalysis to create a subtle and powerful vision of the human condition that has been uniquely influential on the contemporary intellectual scene. The course will clarify – and de-mystify – Lacan’s most important ideas, bringing them into dialogue with the thinking of Levinas and Sartre, two of his most highly respected contemporaries.

To enrol, please e-mail Keith (keith[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Philosophy, Lies and Politics

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

Might Nietzsche be right, claiming that lying is “a condition of life?” – Or Kant, arguing that lying means annihilating human dignity? Is it ever acceptable for governments to lie to the public or for individuals to lie to the government? We will discuss the moral status of lying, and then focus on the function of lies in politics, exploring ideas about lies in totalitarian and democratic systems by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse and Noam Chomsky.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Kant Reading Group

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 14:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

An interactive reading group. This year we will study Immanuel Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals (1797-98) [NOT the Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals]. The term-fee is only £20, reflecting the shortness of the meetings.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Classical Greek Philosophy

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

This course will explore the ideas of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle set in the context of their time. We will read passages from some of the famous but importantly also from some of the less standardly studied texts. We will discuss the political, social and philosophical pressures that affected them.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Philosophies of Modern Life

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: John Holroyd.

What ideas about human nature and how best to live, lie under the surface of modern western culture and its multi-cultures? We shall explore a range of ideologies that to a lesser or greater extent make up the ebb and flow of our conversation about these questions including aspects of Enlightenment philosophy, Marxism, evolutionary psychology, existentialism and some of Charles Taylor’s writings. Finally we shall examine some contrasting philosophies of multiculturalism including the views of Will Kymlicka and Martha Nussbaum.

To enrol, please e-mail John (johnholroyd100[at]gmail.com).

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Heidegger

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding

Martin Heidegger is amongst the most influential and important thinkers of the 20th Century. The first part of the course covers his magnum opus, Being and Time (1927). We then move on to consider his later writings on technology, art, and language.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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History of Philosophy 2

Spring Term 2018, Tuesdays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 16th January

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

From the Enlightenment to 1900. ‘Daring to know’ and the rule of reason, liberation from priests and kings – to the overruling of reason, rise of naturalism, and death of God. Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Romanticism, and Schopenhauer. See course-outline2 (Word doc) for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Philosophy and Film

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding

Charlie Chaplin, Star Wars, Marilyn Monroe, Dr Strangelove. The cultural, social, and political impact of film has made it a central part of our lives — but why? This short course provides an opportunity to discuss the philosophical contributions of some of the main thinkers working in this area. Each week short extracts from selected films will be used as the basis for our discussions.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Problems in Philosophy: a discussion class

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 13:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

In what circumstances would you save the lives of five people by letting one person die? How free are you? Are you the same person you were twenty years ago? In any case, who on earth are you? This course will consist of debating these and other philosophical questions and thought experiments.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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German Idealism Reading Group

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Meade McCloughan.

See course outline for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Meade (meade[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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The Self in Decline: Philosophy and Loss

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding

This far-reaching course is an attempt to engage philosophically with issues surrounding loss. In particular, the idea of loss of self, typically encountered in cases of Alzheimer’s in particular, and dementia in general will be our starting point. There has been a relative lack of philosophical discussion of this topic, and the course aims to begin to remedy this lack of attention.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Wittgenstein

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Mark Fielding

Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of a very select number of philosophers who transformed the subject in the twentieth century. The course follows the development from his work in the foundations of mathematics which led to the Tractatus and continues through the middle period in which he largely rejected the view of language it contains. The remainder of the course focuses on the final stages of his thought contained in Philosophical Investigations and in On Certainty.

To enrol, please e-mail Mark (mark[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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History of Philosophy 3: From Nietzsche — to Now

Summer Term 2018, Mondays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 23rd April

Course Tutor: Jane O’Grady.

If God is dead, as Nietzsche claimed, what happens to truth and morality? We shall consider the re-making of values, humanity and truth — in Nietzsche’s ‘aristocratic radicalism’, John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism and feminism, William James’s pragmatism and Freud’s unconscious; in Heidegger, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Ayer, and in the current tortured debate on the mind-body problem. See course outline (Word doc) for more information.

To enrol, please e-mail Jane (jane[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Religion and Politics

Summer Term 2018, Tuesdays, 11:00 – 13:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutors: Anja Steinbauer and John Holroyd.

“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.” – Thus argues Mahatma Gandhi. This course will consider philosophical explanations of what religion is, how its social and political effects can be described, and how it relates to political action, organisation and violence. We will discuss relevant thinkers and draw examples from traditions as diverse as Islam and Buddhism.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Kant Reading Group

Summer Term 2018, Tuesdays, 14:00 – 15:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

An interactive reading group. This year we will study Immanuel Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals (1797-98) [NOT the Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals]. The term-fee is only £20, reflecting the shortness of the meetings.

An interactive reading group. The term-fee is only £20, reflecting the shortness of the meetings.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Hellenistic Philosophy

Summer Term 2018, Tuesdays, 15:00 – 17:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutor: Anja Steinbauer.

How stoic were the Stoics? Was Epicurus only interested in pleasure? Why did Diogenes live in a barrel? Hellenistic philosophy is complex, fascinating and rewarding to read, yet often an afterthought of our philosophical education. We will engage with the ideas of diverse and compelling thinkers – emperors, slaves and bohemians – and study their arguments concerning ethics, logic, metaphysics and the meaning of human life.

To enrol, please e-mail Anja (anja[at]philosophynow.org).

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Agamben: Language, Death, History

Summer Term 2018, Tuesdays, 17:00 – 19:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutor: Georgios Tsagdis.

The experience of language attests to a split between its abstract purity and its articulated, voiced materiality, in which the very possibility of ethics, politics and history is founded. Moreover, if the human is the animal that speaks, it is also the only animal which does not merely perish, but experiences death as death. We follow Agamben in his exploration of the genealogies and interrelation of the human prerogatives of death and language, and his examination of the function of negativity, absence and the inoperative.

To enrol, please e-mail Georgios (georgiostsagdis[at]outlook.com).

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Moral Philosophy and Applied Ethics

Summer Term 2018, Tuesdays, 18:00 – 20:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutor: Shahrar Ali.

Are we genuinely capable of non-egoistic, altruistic action? What are our responsibilities to future generations? What claim do starving populations have on us? When, if at all, is torture justified? Is free speech an unconditional right? Is whistleblowing an act of greater corporate loyalty? Is lying worse than other forms of intentional deception? Should euthanasia be legalised in the UK? When is it legitimate, or required, to challenge authority? We will address these and other questions within a moral philosophical framework and test our intuitions about equality, obligation and rights.

To enrol, please e-mail Shahrar (shahrar[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger on Violence

Summer Term 2017, Tuesdays, 19:00 – 21:00, ten weeks starting 24th April

Course Tutor: Keith Barrett.

There is an alternative history (yet to be written) of Western philosophy as a response to the problem of violence. We will examine the inception of both Ancient and Modern Western philosophy from this perspective, then study the problem of violence as it emerges as a theme – or remains tantalizingly beneath the surface – in the work of three great contemporary theorists of the human condition; Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger. The course will be informed by contemporary philosophical perspectives on violence – especially those of Foucault, Girard and Zizek.

To enrol, please e-mail Keith (keith[at]londonschoolofphilosophy.org).

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