Philosophy for the guilty

Course Dates: 17/09/19 - 22/10/19
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: International House
Andrew West

What can philosophy offer us once we have transgressed, fallen or sinned? You could say that philosophy only truly comes alive to us once we have betrayed our own values. Only then are we ready for philosophy's interrogation.


What is the course about?

Our own moral failings often prompt us to ask big questions. When we have stepped over our own sense of ourselves, the need to ask things like ‘Can you be a good person if you do bad things?’ or ‘Are regrets worth the same as apologies?’ becomes more immediate.
This course is for any human being alive to their own imperfection who wants to make sense of themselves.

What will we cover?

We will cover questions that speak to the issue of guilt, such as:

Can you be a good person if you do bad things?
Does loving require judgment?
Is shame necessary?
Is innocence a failing?
Is it weak to regret?
Are right and wrong a fiction?
Are only the unforgivable worthy of forgiveness?
Can laughter rescue us from tragedy?
What do we mean by the term victim?
Are somethings worth more than goodness?
Is hope a prison?
Are you born with a past?
Can you apologise for the sins of your father?

We will turn to ideas from Weil, Sartre, Sontag, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Cioran, De Beauvoir and others to help us build our own philosophy for the guilty.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

1. Students will finish the course with a more intimate knowledge of their own beliefs and ideas around guilt.
2. Students will leave with foundational skills about how to have a philosophical conversation and what makes it different to other types of conversation.
3. Students will have a grasp of the main ideas of key figures from French and German philosophy.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is for all levels.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Sessions take the form of facilitated discussions. The first part of each class is exploratory, with time given by the tutor/facilitator for learners to feel their way around topics and philosophical ideas and extend their understanding. The second part focuses on a text from a philosopher to unpack and debate. The tutor will offer and suggest reading prior to and after the class, though it isn’t compulsory to do it.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. You might want to bring notetaking materials.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in Andy West's course on the philosophy of love and sex (HP129), starting in January 2020.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details

Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HP128

Tue, eve, 17 Sep - 22 Oct '19

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £89.00
Senior fee: £89.00
Concession: £39.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.