What is the course about?
Our world has been vitally shaped by the ideas of key thinkers: ideas about morality in a secular world and
whether a radical loss of meaning threatens us, the role and status of women, the question of how 'human
nature' ought to be understood (or rejected) , the character of political and economic injustice and exploitation
and what can be done about it - and much more. This course introduces the ideas of four key thinkers and
examines what they thought and what kind of influence they had on our world. Since their ideas are with us still,
and they shape and influence us in myriad ways, we surely ought to examine what it is they have to say, and
whether we agree with them or not. This course aims to give you the chance to do that for yourself.
What will we cover?
We will look at four thinkers: Nietzsche and the 'death of god', Marx and the radical critique of capitalism; Hannah
Arendt and the 'banality of evil', & Simone de Beauvoir and the seeds of post war feminism.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Describe the core ideas of these thinkers and be able to relate their ideas to our world. Identify why they argued
as they did and both who they influenced and the debates they sparked. You should be able to use and explain
the key concepts we will be looking at in the course, such as 'nihilism', 'the banality of evil', the concept of women
as 'the second sex', and more.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The level is introductory. No previous knowledge is assumed and all you need is an interest in the kinds of ideas
we will be looking at.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Lively tutor presentations and seminar discussions. The aim is to inform, stimulate and inspire you to think further
about the issues we will look at. Suggestions for weekly reading will be provided but this work will not be
compulsory. There will be a dropbox available in which all the resources used in the course will be available for
you to download, plus hard copy materials given out in class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Whatever you need to take notes would be useful..
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
See our offer of philosophy courses on our website.