Philosophy at Oxford

A confession: some kinds of philosophical debates leave me cold. Take epistemology or the nature of knowledge. What difference does it make if the artifacts in my world exist, or if they only exist in the mind of God? I just need to know that the sandwich on my plate will satisfy my hunger.

That’s why you won’t find much pure philosophy (as opposed to political philosophy) in my listings.

That said, I’ve really been enjoying Oxford University Prof. Peter Millican’s series of lectures from his General Philosophy (iTunes) course. This iTunes U offering is a series of 17 clips which appear to correspond to the first 3 weeks of an 8 week course (lecture slides available here.)

This course introduction gives a quickie tour of the Western philosophical greats from the pre-Socratics to David Hume. Millican makes sense of these debates over ideas by giving a historical context for the philosophers he discusses. For example, he notes that during the Reformation era the nature of knowledge was of enormous practical importance. People fought wars over the question of whether truth was to be found in the traditions of the church or if truth was to be found from reading the Bible.

It’s also fascinating to see how the great minds of the early modern period grappled with the newly emerging insights of science and tried to construct a coherent worldview.

Other philosophy offerings on iTunes U from Oxford are Philosophy for Beginners (iTunes) and Critical Reasoning for Beginners (iTunes).

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