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

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