Philosophy Course: Introduction to the Big Ideas

Philosophy Course: Introduction to the Big Ideas

Philosophy short courses in Sydney, open to everyone.

Study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence with our Philosophy courses in Sydney or Online.

Philosophy is the study of human existence, which calls us to critique our own pre suppositions, and asks us to assess ideas in relation to our own lives and society. Learn Philosophy with our Philosophy courses in Sydney or Online - short courses open to everyone.

This philosophy course introduces the essential questions of philosophy. All humans must make decisions based on what they believe to be true. In this philosophy course we will ask: What is truth and is it attainable. We will also consider Scepticism as a viable position, and whether humans have free will. As humans we must also make ethical decisions, but what is the foundation of ethics and what constitutes a good life. In this hilosophy course we will study the answers which philosophers have given to these questions and whether this entails responsibility to others. This philosophy course will also engage with two contemporary fields of study which are much in debate at the moment: The Philosophy of Time and the relationship of humans to Technology. Philosophy of Technology asks: Do machines ‘think’ and what role will humans have in a world dominated by machines. This philosophy course will use both Ancient and Contemporary sources to discuss these questions.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of this philosophy course you will:

  1. Understand both the history and contemporary implications of the issue raised in the course.
  2. Have a general introductory knowledge of the development of the philosophical tradition.
  3. Understand the mode of argumentation which is used in philosophical debate.
  4. Be able to discuss the issues in the course as they impact on living in our contemporary world.

Course Content

This philosophy course will cover the following topics:

What is truth and is it attainable?

The question of truth is one of the most enduring in philosophy: It began in the Western tradition with the Ancient Greeks and in our ‘post truth world’ is still as crucial as ever. We will consider a range of philosophers on this issue, including Descartes who makes the mind the foundation of all knowledge. Descartes' theory of the Cogito claims that: “I think therefore I am”. We will ask: Is the only reason that you know you exist because you think you do?

What is Skepticism?

We will examine skepticism as it develops historically as a theory and also what it means to have a ‘skeptical attitude’. We will ask if there are benefits in developing a skeptical attitude. We will look at contemporary situations and consider how we ascertain the truth of our opinions

Do humans have free will?

We certainly ‘feel’ as if we are making decisions freely, but is this an illusion. From the Ancient philosopher Aristotle down to the present the issue of how free we are has filled many books of philosophy. Are you a determinist or a free willy: or is that decision an illusion to!

What is the Foundation of Ethics.

Aristotle asks: What constitutes a good life, this is a question which resonates with all of us. We will look at a range of ethical theories which gives an answer to this question.

Nietzsche and the Will to Power.

Most ethical philosophers believe that our responsibilities to others are foundational to any ethics, but this week we will consider the hedonist position which denies that we have this responsibility.

Politics: What is the foundation of political power:

Do you only obey the law because of the penalties or is there a deeper reason.

Power in the Postmodern Age.

The French philosopher Michael Foucault is considered to have given a theory of power for our age, we will consider his theory.

Philosophy of Time.

What is time, is it a thing, is it human mind dependent, does anything exist outside of time.

The Phenomenology of Human Time.

How is time experienced by humans, is our subjective time consistent with objective clock time.


Do machines ‘think’, what is our relationship to artificial intelligence, will machines be our masters one day (soon).

Intended Audience

This philosophy course that introduces the essential questions of philosophy is suitable for anyone interested in gaining insights into identifying, analysing and constructing cogent arguments. This philosophy course is designed for those interested in developing their ability of engaging in insightful philosophical conversations with others.

Delivery Style

This philosophy course will be delivered as an interactive workshop consisting of an instructor-led lecture, analysis of case studies and group discussions. This philosophy course strives to encourage active and informed participation, group analysis and debate of the facts, issues and insights into our changing world.

Course Prerequisites

This philosophy course has no prerequisites and is open to all members of the public.

About your instructor

Kerry Sanders

Kerry Sanders

Dr Kerry Sanders gained her PhD in philosophy at The University of Sydney and was recently awarded the title of Honorary Associate at the Department of Philosophy, The University of Sydney. She lectured at Sydney College of the Arts University of Sydney for 10 years, giving Hon and Masters Courses in the philosophy of aesthetics. Kerry has taught in the areas of Philosophy of Mind; Ethics; Critical Thinking; Political Philosophy; Contemporary Philosophy of Technology; Phenomenology; and the Philosophy of Music. She has a particular interest in the new developments in neurobiology which have significantly changed ideas about the nature of consciousness and the workings of the human mind. Kerry also participates in the Gifted Students Program, giving philosophy sessions to high school students who show an interest in a broad scope of ideas and wish to develop their thinking abilities through the challenge which philosophy gives. Kerry has also published a book of poetry.

Kerry’s Approach to Philosophy

Philosophy is a living practice which calls us to critique our own pre suppositions, and asks us to assess ideas in relation to our own lives and society. In engaging with the ideas of philosophy we both study philosophy but also do it. Philosophy can be thought of as engaging in an ‘adventure sport for the mind’, in which we can develop critical thinking techniques and learn to use the mind in new and exciting ways. The skills which are developed in the practice of philosophy are also relevant to many other areas of academic study, as well as in the complex living of our ordinary lives. Much of Western philosophy is based on the priority of reason and logic in human thought, however to fully understand the human condition we must also consider the role of experience, emotions and the body.

Other Academic functions
  • Supervision of Postgraduate Seminar Groups.
  • University Preparation Course in Philosophy 2000 – 2015.
  • Sydney College of the Arts University of Sydney.
  • Four years of Australian Postgraduate Research Award.
  • Vera Edith Thorpe Scholarship.


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Course Features

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