Download Free Courses from Famous Philosophers: From Bertrand Russell to Michel Foucault

You can download hundreds of Free Courses from Great Universities. (Perhaps you already knew that.) And that includes courses by some of the biggest minds teaching in philosophy. (Is that old news too? Or some welcomed good news?) So we’re starting the week by giving you a rundown of some notable mentions.

John Searle began teaching philosophy at UC-Berkeley in 1959, and first did important work on “speech act” theory. Later he turned to consciousness and artificial intelligence, out of which came his famous “Chinese room” thought experiment. You can find a nice trio of classes online.

  • Philosophy of Language – iTunes
  • Philosophy of Mind – iTunes
  • Philosophy of Society – iTunes

Walter Kaufmann spent 33 years teaching philosophy at Princeton. And more than anyone else, Kaufmann introduced Nietzsche’s philosophy to the English-speaking world and made it possible to take Nietzsche seriously as a thinker. Here he delivers three lectures on existentialists.

  • Lectures on Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre – Web Site

Leo Strauss landed at The University of Chicago in 1949, where he spent decades teaching and writing on political philosophy, especially the political thought of the Ancients. His intellectual legacy is controversial, but his courses valuable.

Find many more Strauss courses here.

Bertrand Russell was one of the most important British philosophers of the last century – a logician, essayist and social critic best known for his work in mathematical logic and analytic philosophy. When it comes to this lecture series, start with the bottom lecture first and then work your way up.

  • Authority & the Individual: Six BBC Lectures – Web Site

Michel Foucault taught history and philosophy at the Collège de France and published influential writings on power, knowledge, and discourse.

  • Six Lectures on Truth & Subjectivity presented on the UC Berkeley campus (English) - YouTube

Find more Foucault audio here and here.

Hubert Dreyfus has taught many popular existentialism and phenomenology courses also at UC Berkeley, some of which laid the foundation for his new book, All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

  • Existentialism in Literature & Film – iTunes
  • Heidegger – iTunes
  • Heidegger’s Being & Time – iTunes

Michael Sandel has taught political philosophy at Harvard since 1980. His course on justice (below) has been taken by more than 15,000 students, making it the most popular undergraduate course at Harvard. This version aired on PBS and the web.

For all 75 philosophy courses, please see the Philosophy section of our list of 575 Free Online Courses.

Related Content:

The Harvard Classics: A Free Digital Collection

Stephen Fry on Philosophy & Unbelief

The Existential Star Wars: Sartre Meets Darth Vader


by | Permalink | Comments (15) |

Comments (15)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  1. german observer says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 3:29 pm

    If you know German, there are also a few Heidegger, Arendt, Adorno, Horkeimer and Habermas lectures to be had:

  2. german observer says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 3:36 pm
  3. Dan Colman says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 3:50 pm

    Another user on Twitter highlighted this video with early Frankfurt School member Erich Fromm discussing core critical theory:

  4. Dan Colman says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 4:35 pm

    German Observer,

    You’re totally right about Kaufmann. We have mentioned his lectures before, and I was remiss in not adding them to the list. They are there now. Thanks for the good reminder.


  5. german observer says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 4:50 pm

    Perhaps I can also recommend these lecture series/courses by Michel Foucault for your francophone readers:

  6. german observer says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 4:52 pm

    I can’t edit commments, but I meant to include also this link containing many further courses:

  7. Carol A says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 5:14 pm

    And this series:

    Called “The History of Philosophy with No Gaps” from Kings College London. Peter Adamson, who delivers the series, is entertaining, but he also provides enough material and links to keep you reading for a lifetime! And after 43 episodes we have still only reached Aristotle so the “no gaps” is a very true title.

  8. Dan Colman says . . . | August 29, 2011 / 5:53 pm

    Wow, I’ve never encountered the Foucault lectures before. Great find. And meanwhile I’m looking forward to checking out the History of Philosophy series. Thanks for flagging these.

  9. Tamas Lorincz says . . . | August 30, 2011 / 1:02 am

    Thanks. This is a fabulous list.
    I have just started listening to Peter Adamson’s brilliant History of Philosophy without gaps podcast. Enjoyable, interesting, engaging. you can find it on iTunes, too.
    Don’t know how relevant but I also love ABC Radio National’s Philosopher’s Zone and Philosophy Bites. Both fabulous podcasts that do an amazing job of showing why we need philosophy more than ever before.

  10. Dara says . . . | August 31, 2011 / 12:38 pm

    You might also want to add the Harvard philosophy courses from Sean Kelly.

    See Heidegger: Being and Time,

    Existentialism in Literature and Film

    Later Heidegger

    The Sacred and The Secular

  11. Dan Colman says . . . | September 2, 2011 / 1:57 pm

    Hi Dara,

    Thanks very much for listing these. I hadn’t seen them before. Will definitely check them out.


  12. slava22 says . . . | September 4, 2011 / 9:03 am

    Thank you very much, very useful

  13. Chris Mullen says . . . | September 4, 2011 / 9:01 pm

    I would also like to suggest the podcast, It’s very listenable even when i get frustrated with the conversation, wanting a bit more critical commentary on some of discussed works. It comes recommended.

  14. Dan Colman says . . . | September 5, 2011 / 12:31 pm


    We know the folks behind PartiallyExaminedLife and really like what they do. Good call.


  15. Liam O'Donnell (@liamrulz) says . . . | December 19, 2012 / 2:54 pm

    those foucalt lecture are not there

Add a comment