How can I start learning metaphysics

Philosophy for beginners: how to get started

Conclusion video lectures:

Have you always wanted to study philosophy? Then online lectures can offer you a good way to get started Offer. If you prefer to have things explained to you by experienced professors than to read them up yourself, you may be at the right place here. It should be noted, however, that the Lectures naturally at an academic level held, which requires the learner to be a little more abstract than the philosophical bestseller books. From time to time the picture / sound quality of the video lectures also suffers a little under the conditions of the live recording.

And with it right away to the next learning opportunity for aspiring philosophers: Specially produced online video courses.

3.) Digitally presented: Modern online courses (MOOCs)

Anyone who is interested in philosophical questions but has not yet had the opportunity to pursue them can also acquire basic knowledge through online courses. Various providers provide MOOCs (massive open online courses) to disposal. The following are intended to three of the most famous video courses are presented in more detail in their Approaches, however, are quite different are:

  • an introduction based on important philosophical questions;
  • a systematic presentation the philosophical sub-disciplines; and
  • a psychological discussion of morals and ethics.

The introductions presented here are aimed at beginners and put no previous knowledge ahead. In contrast to the video lectures mentioned above, MOOCs generally address a somewhat broader audience in terms of language / didactics, so more complex topics are also becoming more complexgenerally understandable explained.

At the same time, in contrast to the video lectures, there is one interactive participation possible via discussion forums. However, the MOOCs in English held, so participants should have sufficient knowledge of English (the English subtitles to read along help understanding). The course content is included accessible free of chargeif you want a certificate (optional), you can often buy it as well.

(You can also find general basic knowledge about MOOCs here: "This is how a MOOC works".)

MOOC # 1: Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness

The aim of this MOOC is to give the learner the Asking and answering the big questionsof philosophy bring closer. The course is held by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) via the edX platform and lasts twelve weeks and requires a weekly effort of five hours. The content of the course is suitable for anyone who wants to acquire basic knowledge of philosophy.


First are a few selected philosophical Questions presented:

  • Is there a god?
  • What is knowledge and how can we acquire it?
  • Where is consciousness to be located in the physical world?
  • Do we have a free will?
  • Do we always stay the same people even though we change over time?

In a second step, the learners should then even begin to think philosophically. During the course works by classical philosophers are treated as well as texts by contemporary thinkers. By studying philosophy, it is possible to improve one's own critical thinking and reasoning skills. One of the goals in the course is to learn to present complex topics in an understandable way.

The participants of the MOOC deal with it also with the following topics:

  • Building philosophical arguments
  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
  • Definitions of knowledge
  • Theories of consciousness
  • Free will and determinism
  • Person and identity

So you learn here Philosophy based on important questions and tried this reflect on yourself.

Introductory video to the free MOOC (the full course has English subtitles to read)

MOOC # 2: Introduction to Philosophy

A team of seven lecturers from the University of Edinburgh did this more systematically structured introduction to the basic knowledge of philosophy compiled. The MOOC can be found on the Coursera platform in seven weeks to be completed. The learning material for one week consists of a reading, several videos with online presentations and a multiple-choice test. (An exception is the first week, when general information about the online course is provided and the question of what philosophy is clarified.)

A peer review is planned at the end of the seventh week. This means that each participant passes one online written exam and at the same time evaluates the work of another student. So if you want to take this final exam and acquire an optional certificate, you should have sufficient knowledge of English to be able to write a written text on your own. Of course, you can also just watch the free content without any further obligations.


In the MOOC the University of Edinburgh will Basic knowledge in the following philosophical disciplines mediates:

  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of science
  • Philosophy of mind
  • ethics
  • metaphysics

In the Epistemology the question of what our knowledge of the world consists of and how we get it is investigated. The Philosophy of science is dedicated to basic concepts in scientific research. The Philosophy of mind asks what it means to have a consciousness and how this can be explained. The Subject ethics aims to understand the nature of our moral judgments and reactions. It can be argued, for example, that there is a objective moral truth there, or you can try morals with cultural or personal preferences to justify. In the metaphysics fundamental questions about the nature of reality are investigated. On the latter subject, works by the well-known philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant will be considered.

So this MOOC conveys the Philosophy along the classic core areas and sub-disciplines.

MOOC # 3: Moralities of Everyday Life

This MOOC course created by Yale University is more psychologically oriented than the other two online courses and deals with everyday ethical issues. The course is conducted by psychology professors Paul Bloom and Suzanne Ragen via the Coursera platform. The duration is six weeks.


The video course includes the following Aspects of ethics treated:

  • What is morality
  • Mind vs. Feelings
  • Empathy and its limits
  • Evolution of morality
  • Cultural differences
  • Reactions to friends and strangers
  • Free will

It is discussed, among other things, from where our sense of good and bad comes and why different people so often disagree on moral issues. Also the question what role religion plays for morality is investigated. Among other things, the course looks at psychological studies in which it was found that the respective situation has a strong influence on the moral behavior of people. In addition, genes also influence our attitudes towards morality. What results from this for moral responsibility and whether there is free will should be clarified in the last week of the course.

Conclusion online courses / MOOCs:

You can see that the MOOCs approach the philosophy using very different approaches. Since the content is free, there is nothing to prevent you from having a look at several of the courses. The MOOC format is (unlike the lecture recordings) specially designed for online learning. It allows an interactive and quite varied digital learning experience for a wide learning audience. However, they are important here some knowledge of English. If you only want to learn in German, you will get along a little better with the simple lecture videos.

Now it's your turn: Introductory book, video lecture or online course - which entry do you choose?

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