Course Syllabus

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PHIL S-4 2018 Syllabus

(Click to download it)


Harvard Summer School 2018

Professor Andreas Teuber

PhD, Harvard University

BA, Harvard University

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The primary concern of philosophy is the study of ideas central to the ways we think and live. The value, however, of many of our key concepts is often hidden from us. We take the ways we make sense of ourselves and the world for granted. We forget why truth matters or acting decently is a minimal requirement for treating others justly.


Philosophy makes the invisible visible.


It cultivates techniques that will help you to become clearer about what matters to you most and develops skills that are essential in the pursuit of every discipline.

As Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary under Clinton, said many times: “I took one course in philosophy in college and it made me a better economist.”


The course asks and aims to answer central questions in philosophy:


“Can machines think?”

"What is consciousness?”

“Do persons have free will?”

“How do you know you are not living in a matrix?” 

“What is so bad about inequality?” 

“What is justice?”

“If you had the option, would you be immortal?”

"Does life have meaning?


The course is more about thinking than it is about coverage or the memorization of a bunch of facts.

The main focus is on the questions.


The McGurk Effect


Anamorphic Illusions


Chaplin Mask


The Argument Clinic


Monty Python Philosophy Football


Sixty Seconds in Thought


Musical Notes and Neurons


Ants That Count


Philosophy: Trinity College, Dublin


Topics include arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, minds, brains and programs, personal identity ("who am I?"), freedom and determinism, moral objectivity v. moral relativism, justice and mercy, and what makes life worth living  .  .  .  to name a few.

The course is not intended to be comprehensive or exhaustive. The classic philosophical materials are selected to provide a basis for understanding central debates within the field.

The course is divided into four sections and each section focuses on a key area within Western philosophy, in the areas of (somewhat fancily put) epistemology, general metaphysics and ontology as well as philosophy of  mind, philosophy of religion, political philosophy and ethics:


Preamble: What is Philosophy?





(See the Syllabus)


In its aim and format the course is more an invitation to do philosophy than an introduction.

Introductions seek to map out a territory or lay the groundwork for more detailed study. There will be some of that in the Summer of 2018, but insofar as invitations beckon and introductions point, the course beckons students to the study of philosophy rather than points the way.

The Syllabus for The Introduction to Philosophy course has been listed among the top ten most popular philosophy syllabi in the world for a number of years now:

The Ten Most Popular Philosophy Syllabi in the World


Stop & Think



Time: 12:15 to 3 Tuesdays & Thursdays

Place: One Story Street, ROOM 304


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Course Summary:

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