Learn Philosophy with a Wealth of Free Courses, Podcasts and YouTube Videos

Used to be, a few thou­sand years ago, if you want­ed to learn phi­los­o­phy, you’d hang out in the ago­ra, the pub­lic space in ancient Greece whose name turned into verbs mean­ing both “to shop” and “to speak in pub­lic.” Pol­i­tics and meta­physics min­gled freely with com­merce. If a Socrates-like sage took a lik­ing to you, you might fol­low him around. If not, you might pay a sophist—a word mean­ing wise teacher before it became a term of abuse that Pla­to lobbed at rivals who charged for their ser­vices. Only cer­tain peo­ple had the means and leisure for these pur­suits. Nonethe­less, phi­los­o­phy was a pub­lic activ­i­ty, not one sequestered in libraries and sem­i­nar rooms.

Even though phi­los­o­phy moved indoors—to monas­ter­ies, col­leges, and the libraries of aristocrats—it did not stay cooped up for long. With the mod­ern age arrived new pub­lic squares, cen­tered around cof­fee­hous­es where all sorts of peo­ple gath­ered, rubbed elbows, formed dis­cus­sion groups. Phi­los­o­phy may not have been the pub­lic spec­ta­cle it seemed to have been in antiq­ui­ty, but neo­clas­si­cal thinkers tried to recre­ate its char­ac­ter of free and open inquiry in pub­lic spaces.

Wide­spread lit­er­a­cy and pub­lish­ing brought phi­los­o­phy to the mass­es in new ways. Philo­soph­i­cal works trick­led down in afford­able edi­tions to the intel­lec­tu­al­ly curi­ous, who might read and dis­cuss them with like-mind­ed laypeo­ple. But phi­los­o­phy also became a pro­fes­sion­al dis­ci­pline, gov­erned by asso­ci­a­tions, con­fer­ences, jour­nals, and arcane vocab­u­lar­ies. Out­side of France, philoso­phers rarely act­ed as pub­lic intel­lec­tu­als address­ing pub­lic issues. They were aca­d­e­mics whose pri­ma­ry audi­ences were oth­er aca­d­e­mics.

The cul­ture suf­fered immense­ly, one might argue, in the with­draw­al of phi­los­o­phy from pub­lic life.

The broad out­line above does not pre­tend to be a his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy, but rather a sketch of some of the ways West­ern cul­ture has engaged with phi­los­o­phy, treat­ing it as a pub­lic good and resource, or a domain of spe­cial­ists and an activ­i­ty divorced from ordi­nary life. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for us in the 21st cen­tu­ry, dreams of a dig­i­tal ago­ra have col­lapsed in the dystopi­an sur­veil­lance schemes of social media and the tox­ic sludge of com­ments sec­tions. But the inter­net has also, in a way, returned phi­los­o­phy to the pub­lic square.

Philoso­phers can once again share knowl­edge freely and open­ly, and any­one with access can stream and down­load hun­dreds of lessons, cours­es, enter­tain­ing explain­ers, inter­views, pod­casts, and more. We have fea­tured many of these resources over the years in hopes that more peo­ple will dis­cov­er the art of think­ing deeply and crit­i­cal­ly. Today, we gath­er them in a mas­ter list, below.

Learn the in-depth his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy from Peter Adamson’s acclaimed series The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy… With­out Any Gaps; lis­ten in on round­table dis­cus­sions on famous thinkers and the­o­ries with the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast, or “repave the Ago­ra with the rub­ble of the Ivory Tow­er!” with the acces­si­ble, com­pre­hen­sive phi­los­o­phy videos of Carneades. These are but a few of the many qual­i­ty resources you’ll find below. Tech­nol­o­gy may nev­er recre­ate the ear­ly atmos­phere of pub­lic philosophy—for that you’ll need to get out and min­gle. But it can deliv­er more phi­los­o­phy than any­one has ever had before, lit­er­al­ly right into the palms of our hands.


187 Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es: In a neat, handy list, we’ve amassed a col­lec­tion of free phi­los­o­phy cours­es record­ed at great uni­ver­si­ties. Pret­ty much every facet of phi­los­o­phy gets cov­ered here.


Wire­less Phi­los­o­phy: Learn about phi­los­o­phy with pro­fes­sors from Yale, Stan­ford, Oxford, MIT, and more. 130+ ani­mat­ed videos intro­duce peo­ple to the prac­tice of phi­los­o­phy. The videos are free, enter­tain­ing, inter­est­ing and acces­si­ble to peo­ple with no back­ground in the sub­ject.

School of Life: This col­lec­tion of 35 ani­mat­ed videos offers an intro­duc­tion to major West­ern philosophers—Wittgenstein, Fou­cault, Camus and more. The videos were made by Alain de Botton’s School of Life.

Gre­go­ry Sadler’s Phi­los­o­phy Videos: After a decade in tra­di­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic posi­tions, Gre­go­ry Sadler start­ed bring­ing phi­los­o­phy into prac­tice, mak­ing com­plex clas­sic philo­soph­i­cal ideas acces­si­ble for a wide audi­ence of pro­fes­sion­als, stu­dents, and life-long learn­ers. His YouTube chan­nel includes exten­sive lec­ture series on Kierkegaard, Sartre, Hegel and more.

A His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy in 81 Video Lec­tures: Watch 81 video lec­tures trac­ing the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy mov­ing from Ancient Greece to mod­ern times. Arthur Holmes pre­sent­ed this influ­en­tial course at Wheaton Col­lege for decades and now it’s online for you.

Carneades: Repave the Ago­ra with the rub­ble of the Ivory Tow­er!  Put your beliefs to the test!  Learn some­thing about phi­los­o­phy!  Doubt some­thing you thought you knew before.  Find on this chan­nel 400 videos on the sub­jects of phi­los­o­phy and skep­ti­cism.

What the The­o­ry?: This col­lec­tion pro­vides short intro­duc­tions to the­o­ries and the­o­ret­i­cal approach­es in cul­tur­al stud­ies and the wider human­i­ties. Cov­ers semi­otics, phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy, post­mod­ernism, marx­ist lit­er­ary crit­i­cism, and much more.

Crash Course Phi­los­o­phy:  In 46 episodes, Hank Green will teach you phi­los­o­phy. This course is based on an intro­duc­to­ry West­ern phi­los­o­phy col­lege lev­el cur­ricu­lum. By the end of the course, you will be able to exam­ine top­ics like the self, ethics, reli­gion, lan­guage, art, death, pol­i­tics, and knowl­edge. And also craft argu­ments, apply deduc­tive and induc­tive rea­son­ing, and iden­ti­fy fal­lac­i­es.


Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life: Phi­los­o­phy, philoso­phers and philo­soph­i­cal texts. This pod­cast fea­tures an infor­mal round­table dis­cus­sion, with each episode loose­ly focused on a short read­ing that intro­duces at least one “big” philo­soph­i­cal ques­tion, con­cern, or idea. Recent episodes have focused on Niet­zsche, Sartre and Aldous Hux­ley, and fea­tured Fran­cis Fukuya­ma as a guest.

Hi-Phi-Nation: Cre­at­ed by Bar­ry Lam (Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Phi­los­o­phy at Vas­sar Col­lege), Hi-Phi Nation is a phi­los­o­phy pod­cast “that turns sto­ries into ideas.” Con­sid­er it “the first sound and sto­ry-dri­ven show about phi­los­o­phy, bring­ing togeth­er nar­ra­tive sto­ry­telling, inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism, and sound­track­ing.”

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy … With­out Any Gaps: Cre­at­ed by Peter Adam­son, Pro­fes­sor of Ancient and Medieval Phi­los­o­phy at King’s Col­lege Lon­don, this pod­cast fea­tures more than 300 episodes, each about 20 min­utes long, cov­er­ing the Pre­So­crat­ics (Pythago­ras, Zeno, Par­menides, etc) and then Socrates, Pla­to, Aris­to­tle, and much more.

Phi­los­o­phy Bites: David Edmonds (Uehi­ro Cen­tre, Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty) and Nigel War­bur­ton (free­lance philosopher/writer) inter­view top philoso­phers on a wide range of top­ics. Two books based on the series have been pub­lished by Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press. There are over 400 pod­casts in this col­lec­tion.

In Our Time: Phi­los­o­phy: In Our Time is a live BBC radio dis­cus­sion series explor­ing the his­to­ry of ideas, pre­sent­ed by Melvyn Bragg since Octo­ber 1998. It is one of BBC Radio 4’s most suc­cess­ful dis­cus­sion pro­grammes, acknowl­edged to have “trans­formed the land­scape for seri­ous ideas at peak lis­ten­ing time.’”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Cours­es in Ancient His­to­ry, Lit­er­a­ture & Phi­los­o­phy 

Intro­duc­tion to Indi­an Phi­los­o­phy: A Free Online Course 

Philoso­phers Name the Best Phi­los­o­phy Books: From Sto­icism and Exis­ten­tial­ism, to Meta­physics & Ethics for Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (1)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Srinivasan. D. K. says:

    In the sec­tion ‘Intro­duc­tion into Indi­an Phi­los­o­phy’, it has been stat­ed that ” Advai­ta and Dvai­ta are as uni­ty and diver­si­ty, in their under­stand­ing “.
    This is very ambigu­ous and dis­tort­ed expla­na­tion.
    One may please refer the arti­cle on
    ’ Advai­ta and Dvai­ta ’ by B. Shiv­aku­mar, 2011,posted by Life & style. This seems near­est to the scrip­tures.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.