Death: A Free Online Philosophy Course from Yale Helps You Grapple with the Inescapable

It pays to think intel­li­gent­ly about the inevitable. And this course taught by Yale pro­fes­sor Shelly Kagan does just that, tak­ing a rich, philo­soph­i­cal look at death. Here’s how the course descrip­tion reads:

There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? This course will exam­ine a num­ber of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mor­tal­i­ty. The pos­si­bil­i­ty that death may not actu­al­ly be the end is con­sid­ered. Are we, in some sense, immor­tal? Would immor­tal­i­ty be desir­able? Also a clear­er notion of what it is to die is exam­ined. What does it mean to say that a per­son has died? What kind of fact is that? And, final­ly, dif­fer­ent atti­tudes to death are eval­u­at­ed. Is death an evil? How? Why? Is sui­cide moral­ly per­mis­si­ble? Is it ratio­nal? How should the knowl­edge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life?

Major texts used in this course include Pla­to’s Phae­doTol­stoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, and John Per­ry’s A Dia­logue on Per­son­al Iden­ti­ty and Immor­tal­i­ty.

You can watch the 26 lec­tures above. Or find them on YouTube and iTunes in video and audio for­mats. For more infor­ma­tion on this course, includ­ing the syl­labus, please vis­it this Yale site.

This course has been added to our list of Free Online Phi­los­o­phy cours­es, a sub­set of our meta col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mod­ern Poet­ry: A Free Online Course from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

Foun­da­tions of Mod­ern Social The­o­ry: A Free Online Course from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

African Amer­i­can His­to­ry-Eman­ci­pa­tion to the Present: A Free Course from Yale Uni­ver­si­ty

Watch Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tions to 25 Philoso­phers by The School of Life: From Pla­to to Kant and Fou­cault

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Comments (6)
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  • Hanoch says:

    It cer­tain­ly makes sense to think intel­li­gent­ly about death. But it seems impos­si­ble to do that when the great the­o­log­i­cal writ­ings and thinkers are exclud­ed from con­sid­er­a­tion as this course pur­ports to do.

  • Mr.Myo Nyi Nyi says:

    death isn’t the end of our life.
    We,humanbeing and animals,have reborn after death.
    Our good­deals or wore things deter­mine the our next lives after death.
    This is my opin­ion.

  • Jesús Oswaldo Loera Cervantes says:

    Salu­dos. Mi nom­bre es Oswal­do Loera, soy psicól­o­go, Mae­stro en Tana­tología con estu­dios en Filosofía Exis­ten­cial y Antropología de la Muerte.

    Estoy muy intere­sa­do en su cur­so, ¿habrá for­ma de cur­sar­lo en español?

    Bue­na noche.

    Oswal­do Loera.

  • Monica says:

    Seems like a very sin­cere and open teacher pas­sion­ate about his sub­ject, but I’d find it more than marked­ly absurd to engage in meta­phys­i­cal debate with any­one con­tin­u­ous­ly flash­ing secret soci­ety pyra­mid and “666” Satan­ic hand signs. Bod­i­ly death does­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly prove death of con­scious­ness and it could be argued that the life process is a sort of algo­rithm of con­scious­ness, both per­son­al and transper­son­al.

  • Monica says:

    Is the debate he’s posit­ing one of empiri­cism vs. her­meti­cism?
    If so I’d say one must absolute­ly look at the third dimen­sion of pos­si­bil­i­ty,
    life as illu­sion gen­er­at­ed by infi­nite con­scious­ness as both a cre­ative and rel­a­tive per­spec­tive to exis­ten­tial­ly attempt to com­pre­hend itself amidst infi­nite poten­tial.

  • Monica says:

    Is the debate he’s pos­ing one of empiri­cism vs. her­meti­cism? If so it seems essen­tial to include the third dimen­sion of pos­si­bil­i­ty — life as illu­sion gen­er­at­ed by con­scious­ness in a rel­a­tive and exis­ten­tial attempt to com­pre­hend itself amidst infi­nite poten­tial.

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