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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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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