V. Philosophy

Five Philosophy Courses on Offer!




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Look for our Courses on Udemy!


Course I. Nietzsche and Socrates : Fundamental Alternatives?

Allan Bloom argued that Nietzsche and Socrates represent two basic alternatives in approaches to ethics. For Socrates man is a rational being and the task of philosophy is to provide KNOWLEDGE of the good life. For Nietzsche such knowledge does not exist – ethics are fundamentally about VALUES – which are expressions of commitment and creativity rather than questions of objective truth. In this course we will put these of two of the most fascinating and influential figures in the history of Western civilzation in dialogue across an array of  issues like: what is the good life? Can reason attain the truth about ethics? Is virtue a form of knowledge? Where is the origin of values? What is the role of art in human life? Can we find meaning in suffering? What is the implications of the crisis of religious faith?

Instructor: Alexander Rosenthal Pubul, PhD in Philosophy – Director and Co-Founder of the Petrarch Institute in discussion with Dr. Miles Smit, PhD in philosophy and Co-Founder


Other courses we have done include:

Course II – Introduction to Stoicism

Stoicism is currently enjoying a surge of interest as a system of thought which can be applied to your life. This ancient Greco-Roman philosophy sought answers to such perennial questions as “What do I need to do to be happy?”, “What is virtue?” and “How should I best make use of my life?”. In this introduction, we explore Stoicism as a practical system of philosophy aiming to lead its practitioners both to moral goodness and to inner tranquillity in the face of life´s difficulties and shifting fortunes. We will show how Stoicism reconciled the idea of being inwardly free from preoccupation with external things, with a deep ethical concern for the good of others and of society. We will explore its history, main ideas and maxims, and influence of Stoic philosophy. We will look at the divisions of Stoicism in terms of cosmology and ethics. After an initial presentation of its origins in the thought of Zeno of Citium, this course dives into two of the great ancient Stoics, Epictetus and Seneca. Attentive students will emerge with a solid understanding of the fundamentals of Stoicism and its enduring relevance.” This is the first part of a three-part course on Stoicism. Parts II and III will move on to discuss central figures of Roman-era Stoicism – Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.


Course III. Seneca

This is the second part of a three-course plan providing an in-depth introduction to Stoicism (the video provided introduces the whole theme).  Seneca was a central literary figure, as well as participating in public affairs in the imperial court.  He has been read for centuries for his Latin eloquence, pithy maxims, and fertile discourses on philosophical themes germane to everyday life. This middle course will focus on the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC-65 AD), as he deals with some of the most universal problems confronting human life.  These include how to find tranquility in every situation, how to deal with the sense that life is passing too quickly, how to manage passions like anger and sorrow, and how to cope with the loss of loved ones.  In studying these enriching essays from ancient times, we will see how Seneca´s philosophy still speaks to us today in our quest for a life of wisdom, virtue, and happiness.

One change – in the previous course, I had posted questions for each lecture. This time I will leave the initiative to the students to ask me any questions they may have about the material with a Q and A feature.

Course IV. Marcus Aurelius

In this course, we take a look at the life and thought of the fascinating Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius. The last of the so-called “Good Emperors”, Marcus reigned as Emperor of Rome from 161-180.  Admired for centuries for his rare combination of great power and virtue, Marcus is often thought to be the figure who came closest to realizing Plato´s ideal of the philosopher-king. While holding the imperial office, Marcus´s life was outward active coping among other things with defending the Roman frontier from Germanic invasions. And yet Emperor Marcus Aurelius is best known for this expression of his interior life as a philosopher expressed in his work The Meditations. For centuries many have found a path to comfort and serenity in its pages.   Inspired by Pierre Hadot´s idea of the Meditations as “spiritual exercises”, we will explore the key ideas of the Marcus Aurelius for attaining the Stoic goals of moral goodness and tranquillity in the midst of shifting and uncertain fortune. We also include a “bonus lecture” on the 16th century Flemish Neo-Stoic Justus Lipsius, to complete our three-part series of courses on Stoicism. Justus Lipsius is known as the central figure in what is called “Neo-Stoicism” – the influential revival of Stoic thought in the context of the European Renaissance.

Course V. Plato -Rise of the Philosopher-King

Plato ranks among the most celebrated philosophers in history. One 20th-century thinker,  Alfred North Whitehead went so far as to describe Western philosophy as a series of footnotes to Plato. Plato´s Republic in turn is widely regarded as Plato´s greatest and most profound work. Yet, even among professional scholars, the text has proven to be challenging with debates emerging even as to its basic focus. In this course we go through the first five books of Plato´s work one at a time, covering the basic characters and issues of each.  Among the issues we will discuss include such fundamental questions as “What is Justice?” and “Why should we be just?” and “What is a good society?”. Questions remain as relevant today as in Plato´s time. We will also endeavor to explain Plato in his own historical context examining issues like the role of poetry and rhetoric in Greek education (παιδεία) and the struggle of Greek culture to define excellence or virtue (ἀρετή).  We will look closely at how Plato aims to challenge and reform Greek education by giving it a new center and aim in theology, the ascent of the soul to the divine. We will also look closely at the connections between Plato´s psychological and political ideas, and how he thinks examining the justice in the polis can help elucidate the inner cosmos of the human soul.

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