Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness

Learn how to ask and answer big questions. Pursue a verified certificate to have your work graded and commented upon by professional philosophers.

There is one session available:

88,306 already enrolled! After a course session ends, it will be archived.
Starts Jun 10
Ends Aug 26
Estimated 12 weeks
5–6 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

Skip About this course

This philosophy course has two goals. The first goal is to introduce you to the things that philosophers think about. We will look at some perennial philosophical problems:

  • Is there a God?
  • What is knowledge, and how do we get it?
  • What is the place of our consciousness in the physical world?
  • Do we have free will?
  • How do we persist over time, as our bodily and psychological traits change?

The second goal is to get you thinking philosophically yourself. This will help you develop your critical reasoning and argumentative skills more generally. Along the way we will draw from late, great classical authors and influential contemporary figures.

To help enhance your learning experience, this course offers instructor grading. If you choose to pursue a verified certificate, a professional philosopher will carefully read, grade and comment upon your work. Though all residential philosophy courses at MIT, and other major universities, offer instructor grading, this is an innovation in the world of MOOCs. Students will test their ideas against, and receive individual advice from, professional philosophers. We believe that this is the best way to learn philosophy.

Verified learners will be eligible for the MITx Philosophy Award and (for students presently in high school) the MITx High School Philosophy Award. The awards will be given for outstanding written work by the MIT Philosophy Department. In addition, award winners will be profiled on the MIT Philosophy website. Please see the FAQ section below for the link to more information on the MITx Philosophy Award.

NOTE: Enrollment for instructor grading will be capped.

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Humanities
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    None.

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • How to construct and analyze philosophical arguments
  • How to write clearly and communicate complicated ideas effectively
  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
  • The distinction between epistemic and practical rationality
  • Theories of Knowledge
  • Physicalist and Non-Physicalist theories of consciousness
  • Free Will and Determinism
  • Personal Identity

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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Verified learners will be eligible for the MITx Philosophy Award and (for students presently in high school) the MITx High School Philosophy Award. The awards will be given for outstanding written work by the MIT Philosophy Department. In addition, award winners will be profiled on the MIT Philosophy website.

Please visit the MIT Philosopy Department website for additional information on the Award and eligibility on the Philosophy Prize, a list of winners from previous years:http://web.mit.edu/philosophy/mitx.html

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.