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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to Philosophy by The University of Edinburgh

4.6
stars
4,048 ratings
918 reviews

About the Course

This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. Topics you’ll learn about will include: Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained; Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law; Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and; Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality. The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre. To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information....

Top reviews

LT

Sep 02, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.

CC

Oct 08, 2015

Great explanations that is broken down with examples for understanding. Quizzes test for your understanding of the topic rather than just the textbook explanations. Challenging and thought revoking.

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1 - 25 of 906 Reviews for Introduction to Philosophy

By Stefan W

Oct 25, 2018

Excellent program: I enjoyed specifically the opportunity of a wide range of different lecturers and their different styles, the accurate transcripts were very useful in assisting my revision and review, I enjoyed the regular tests to ensure I was assimilating all the material, choice of topics was generally very good, I liked the idea of a number of short lectures, rather than one great blockbuster, the seven week timing is also good as one can make that kind of commitment easily. The IT online delivery worked faultlessly and was easy to work with and like a Kindle, one could easily pick up where you left off which was a great time saver when you're trying to juggle study with a thousand other things.

By richard p

Jan 24, 2019

I found the course to be of very high quality in relation to content,breadth,materials and teaching .Philosophy is a subject far removed from my previous studies and provided a huge stimulus to different thought patterns , logic and concepts. As can be seen I rate the course and the MOOC concept very highly and hugely enjoyable.It has stimulated me ,after a short break, to follow this up with further studies in this subject.Thanks to The University of Edinburgh and to Coursera accordingly.

By Vera B

Aug 21, 2015

I didn't find the overall content of the course very well chosen for an introduction to philosophy - since it covers so little. The title of this course should have been "An Introduction to Just a Couple of Topics in Philosophy." And there are so few philosophers covered. However, the biggest problem was instructor

Alasdair Richmond, whose response to debate was locking threads down every time his ideological positions were challenged. He showed himself completely inept to have a debate with more than one course participant and chose to censor a variety of viewpoints he dislikes. It was particularly ironic to see an instructor exercise censorship in a Philosophy course - a domain whose objective, after all, is the pursuit of truth as well as to ask and debate the "why" of everything! A petty tyrant does not make a good teacher.

Should I ever meet anyone interested in studying Philosophy, my first recommendation to them will be stay away from the University of Edinburgh, since there is no respect for debate, freedom of expression, or inquiry there.

By Lemuel T

Sep 02, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.

By Chan E L C

Oct 08, 2015

Great explanations that is broken down with examples for understanding. Quizzes test for your understanding of the topic rather than just the textbook explanations. Challenging and thought revoking.

By Julie P

Jan 19, 2016

I gave this course 5 stars because the content does match the description, a general overview of the topic of Philosophy. It introduces the student to the concepts involved with the study of and the approach to Philosophy from various topics. It does not go into any specific philosophers very deeply, and instead focuses on the general study or overview of what is going on in the "philosophical world" as of 2013. The course has not been updated, from what I can tell from that time.

The Forums are "there" and the class is "supposed" to be live, but it did not have that feel to it. It was more of a "study on your own" experience and yes, we have a forum area. i found it not to be very active after the first week, (introductions were encouraged) but perhaps taking this course over the Christmas holiday (that fell in the middle of the course) was not the best time. I am near the end of the course and have put a lot of time effort and extra reading into it, but it does not seem this will be rewarded i.e by a certificate with distinction, at least there does not seem to be active involvement to that extent. 2-3 of the lectures had "extra"videos" of the professors addressing forum questions, but I do think these were outdated or from the first run of the course (?) as they seems to be talking about topics that were not necessarily in the forums at the time. I cannot determine that for certain, but, it was my impression.

I would HIGHLY suggest purchase of the book that goes with this course, due to week 6, when clearly the topic is not entirely covered in the notes nor the lecture (my opinion only) and the book was needed to get thru the quiz. The professor that week had an accent and spoke very fast, and even listening in a slower speed did not seem to help much. The book is a worthy purchase, look for it on EBAY, or Amazon or a Used Book website. The book does go deeper on all topics and again, especially for week 6 and it is looking like possibly week 7 as well are best studied with the book as well as notes provided by the course.

Again, this is an overview course, and it is interesting. If you are looking to study specific philosophers in depth - this is not the course. It is the course however to take before taking others or to review or learn what is going on in the area this area of study and it did hold my interest.

As others have commented the final week touches upon time travel and the professor has introduced interesting aspects that involve the philosophical in this unit.

Each week a different instructor presents information so you are switching learning styles weekly which is, I think made a more smooth transition if you actually have the book and the chapter that the instructor wrote.

I would recommend it for at least another 6 mo to a year - after that (say 2017 perhaps the lectures should be freshened up, as new information may be out there, or at least they should tape something that says, "yes this was originally taped in 2013, however the info is still on target" or if not then add a lecture that updates the course to the latest in that area of philosophy.

Overall, this being my second Coursera class I have found it to be of high quality, and worthy of my investment to obtain the certificate that is offered. And I do thank all of the professors who participated in this collaboration, it is again, a very interesting course that I think is a "must take" course if one is to really understand what is "going on" with Philosophy.

By Luis L

Mar 12, 2017

This course is really interesting and motivating. Even though it has a very short time for a very complex subject, the different professors have made their best to give a summary which is as complete as possible, being clear and understable at the same time.

I have used mainly the recommended textbook (which I recommend strongly), more than the videos, but the videos are more than enough to understand every session.

If someone is looking for simple answers to complex questions, this is not the course for him/her. But if you want a quick summary of some of the main views related to different philosophical problems, and could be interested in looking for additional information through the recommended bibliography, this course could be a very good starting point.

The possible drawbacks, in my view, would be:

1) The lack of discussion forums.

2) There is very little time for every philosophical problem. It would be really useful to widen the contents of the course using the Bibliography, mainly the online resources.

By david b

Mar 28, 2019

I have only a couple weeks left. This Intro to Philosophy has been enlightening and given me much to contemplate. This was the course I had been burning to take for many years, having always been curious about philosophy. Would be great if there were a follow-up course, delving deeper into these issues. Bravo and thanks a million!

By Andrew R

Jul 06, 2017

I found this course incredibly stimulating. A wonderfully structured introduction to European philosophy. All modules well presented. How lucky we are to have learning like this at our fingertips.

By Aylet G S

Mar 24, 2019

It is a worthwhile course that makes you reflect, it is full of complementary information and bibliography. Highly recommended.

By Darshna R

Dec 03, 2019

Loved the course structure. They are thought-provoking and give an idea of how to approach questions from a philosophical point of view. The most important thing was that there is no right or wrong answer, but to question and even look back to the reason behind our question.

One thing which was not right was that some of the links in open access sections gave "404:Not Found". Please make sure all the links at least take us to the given study material. But nonetheless, the content is amazing.

By José L C

Jun 20, 2019

Es una manera muy interesante de adentrarse al terreno filosófico puesto que se revisan temáticas vinculadas con la ética, moral, filosofía política, historia de la filosofía, epistemología, etc. Para un primer acercamiento es recomendable; la desventaja es el idioma de los artículos y el doblaje de sólo algunos temas.

By Paul K

Mar 19, 2016

Probably I am biased by just having followed edX's Minds and Machines. Compared to that course, the lectures here are superficial and not very engaging. This becomes especially striking for overlapping topics between the two courses. Also the quizzes are way too easy and you can try until you get it right. This makes the certificate virtually worthless, although you can pay for it.

By Fegie P M

Nov 12, 2016

Our mission for this module is to try and understand a little bit about what philosophy, as a subject, actually is. What makes it different from other subjects? What are its distinctive aims and methods? We'll think about two claims that are often made about philosophy: that it deals with questions that are, in some sense, fundamental; and that it deals with questions that are of some special importance. We'll also look at how philosophy is actually practiced by exploring some of the criteria philosophers bring to bear when assessing the success of philosophical arguments. Finally, we'll finish by briefly thinking about how two very influential philosophers - David Hume (1711-1776) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) - attempted to answer the question of how we can know whether, in any given case, there really is a right way of looking at things.

Resources

A handout for this module is here.

A large format handout for this module is here.

Assessment

In addition to the in-video quizzes, there is a short review quiz for this module's material. Also, why not take some time to introduce yourself to your coursemates on the discussion forums, and chat about the lectures from this module. Did anything not make sense? Was there anything you found especially interesting? How would you answer some of the questions raised in the lecture?

Additional Resources

There is an interesting selection of philosophers attempting to give their own definitions of philosophy at Philosophy Bites, here.

For a detailed historical survey of different conceptions of philosophy have a look at this article from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Both of these are excellent resources, and well worth browsing for material relevant to the rest of the course.

If you'd like to think more about the argument concerning free will, then this Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy article is a good place to start.

If you would like to read more about Hume and his work have a look at this article from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, as well as this article from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Moreover, If you fancy having a go at reading some of Hume's works you can find selected texts at this page, part of Jonathan Bennett's fantastic project Early Modern Texts.

If you would like to read more about Kant and his work have a look at this article from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Selected works of Kant can also be found at Early Modern Texts. Be warned, however, they can be pretty heavy going!

For a slightly more irreverent view on Hume, Kant, and the question 'Why do philosophy?' have a listen to the linked podcasts from The Partially Examined Life. Warning: contains occasional strong language!

By Hui J H

Sep 27, 2015

When I enrolled for this course, I was really just looking for a definition for the word 'philosophy'. Boy did I get more than what I bargained for!

Instead of going down the usual historical path and looking at the philosophers in just chronological order, the lecturers at the University of Edinburgh have divided the topic into broad strokes, covering the big ideas (and their related writers) that have driven philosophical debate till today. They made sure every topic linked up, so we could understand materialism as the opposite of dualism, rather than in isolation from other avenues of thought. If I want to, I could definitely take my studies in philosophy much further, knowing now where to look!

My only minor gripe would be the strong focus on Western philosophers and little mention of other cultural views, however, it would be unrealistic to ask for short online lectures to cover all of human thought endeavours. Hopefully other courses exist so all students can take a global approach to philosophy!

By Lesley H

May 04, 2017

The course is both interesting and well-presented. The handouts given by some lecturers are useful for revising the concepts introduced. The lecturers are all good at presenting their material although some use visual aids such as on-screen summaries better than others. The in-lesson quizzes (where used) are useful to point up areas of uncertainty and the practice quizzes and review assignments are well-written and thought-provoking. I like that the answers are explained, rather than just indicating which answer was correct. The choice of modules was very good and I felt that my choices linked together coherently, to give me a good overview of and introduction to key philosophical concepts. As an Edinburgh graduate, I knew that I could trust the quality of the course and I have no hesitation in awarding it five stars.

By YangCheng

Sep 21, 2016

It's a great introductory course to the seemingly difficult subject philosophy. After finishing this course, I find that philosophy is indeed a quite interesting and useful subject that relates with everyday life. People who have not studied philosophy yet are actually using them everyday; some of the topics philosophy regards are quite relative to our daily life, at least it is the case for me. I think it might be better if this course can have a better category of the topics taught in it, because sometimes I am confused with what this topic is actually a philosophical subject. If I can see clearly where this specific topic is in the huge subject philosophy, it would definitely benefit me a lot for my future study and research!

By Simon S S

Sep 09, 2015

Excellent introduction to an incredibly broad field. I would highly recommend this course to anyone interested in, or vaguely familiar with philosophy. I would also recommend this course to people wanting to brush up on a few things, as it goes over matters at a reasonable pace and thus allows one to get into the themes. Lastly, I would like to say that it's great to see such a new topic (relative to most of the classical philosophical themes) as Testimony in an introduction course. It arguably belongs in the (somewhat) new sub field of Social Epistemology and new research in this area allows philosophers to see original contributions from Reid, Hume and others in a new and modern light.

By Yasmin A H A

Apr 15, 2017

I've enjoyed this course greatly, and look forward to delve further into philosophy. I loved all of the talks by all the lecturers, and found their follow-up videos to be particularly helpful. Unfortunately, that also meant that there was no forum to access and discuss the questions posed by the lectures with other people taking the course, which I believe would have helped to hone my argumentative skills, which I believe is necessary to have (and further develop and enhance), when learning about philosophy.

Thank you very much for this amazing course. If you could introduce more philosophy courses (particularly ones that are more advanced and in depth), that would be great!

By Tarang B

Jul 07, 2017

It is an enriching experience. This was my first ever attempt in understanding certain nuances of philosophy. The course got my mind blown as it changed my way of looking at things. Before taking this course, I had assumed certain things to be too obvious to be true. The array of examples and schools of different thoughts assimilated in the videos have made the whole learning experience more edifying. I don't know how much of this knowledge will I be able to retain. Initially, I had doubts over taking this course as I had no clue of what it will unfold but turns out that it was a correct decision. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone behind this course.

By José E H N

Oct 24, 2019

Es un curso que pone retos para explicar el como suceden las cosas, para comprender que de alguna forma estamos predeterminados en algunas acciones y circunstancias y que, si tenemos libre alvedrio o si somos los que elegimos de acuerdo a nuestras condiciones personales, podemos ser o no moralmente responsables de nuestras acciones.

Gracias a los brillantes expositores -filósofos de alto nivel- que en la argumentación de sus clases, despiertan en uno como participante de este curso, la inquietud de seguir profundizando en la búsqueda de la verdad a través del estudio de la Filosofía

Mil felicitaciones y un millon de gracias....!

By Barbara M

Feb 26, 2016

I have really enjoyed this course and it has motivated me to learn more. I particularly liked the course as it showed us philosophy itself rather than a reiterated history of philosophy which is usual. It gave us hands on experience of problems and questions being asked.

The accompanying book has also been of great value to me. It enabled me to read the lectures before listening to them and will be a useful handbook to keep me in touch with the issues covered. The questions and further reading at the end of each chapter is also of great value to me.

A big thank you to all the team. I have been totally absorbed by the course.

By Matthew S

Aug 29, 2015

I found this course immensely mentally stimulating, and tailored well to those of us who are new to philosophy. I found the weeks that covered the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of time-travel to be particularly engaging and mind-expanding for me. I feel like this course has really opened the door to help me further explore in more depth the philosophical ideas that it provided me a guided introduction to. I would love to see other, more specialized philosophy courses offered on Coursera that cover the topics discussed in week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6 and week 7 individually in more depth in separate courses!

By Vern

Aug 19, 2017

This course provides a good and solid foundation for understanding what philosophy is, how it works, why we should philosophise, and, some of the major questions that philosophy continues to analyse today.

My main interests in philosophy would be: the philosophy of Science and the philosophy of Religion. I'd like to learn why we believe what we believe.

I'd recommend this course to anyone that seeks to understand what is philosophy and how we do philosophy.

Thanks to The University of Edinburgh, to Coursera, the professors, and all those who made this course available free of charge.

Cheers.

By Maya S

Jun 17, 2018

I took this course purely out of self-interest, because as a college student pursuing an engineering degree, my subjects tend to be more technical oriented, and a tab bit dry. This entire course, from start to finish, was nothing short of amazing. Each teacher taught their material with vigorous passion, and the topics covered were both interesting and educative. They were thoroughly explained but easy to understand, and overall, I would, with complete and utter certainty, do a course by this University again in a heartbeat. Thank you to all the teachers, for being so passionate.