Centre for Continuing Education

Philosophy in the 21st Century Course: Ten Great Contemporary Thinkers

Philosophy. Study the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.

Learn about philosophy the smart way with Philosophy courses at the University of Sydney.

Aims

This course aims to provide a broad introduction to the most important issues of our age, through the works of some of the best contemporary philosophers and thinkers. We will cover a range of contemporary issues including the latest works on ecology, genetics, religion, law, language, science and the human condition.

Some of the philosophers and their works we will discuss include Timothy Morton’s exciting new work on ecology from his book Dark Ecology: For Logic of Future Coexistence (2016); Kenneth F. Schaffner’s book Behaving: What’s Genetic, What’s Not, and Why Should we Care (2016). Schaffner is considered by many to be the most important philosopher in the field of genetics and its relation to human personality; Brian Leiter and his provocative new book Why Tolerate Religion (2017); Martha Nussbaum’s Anger and Forgiveness (2016). Nussbaum is one of the most respected philosophers in the field of ethics. For the many decades, she has produced work on discrimination and its relation to constitutional law; Charles Taylor’s The Language Animal (2016). In Taylor’s latest book, he sets forth research on the human animal our capacities and flaws; George Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (2017). Monbiot is an activist and writer known for his books and weekly column in The Guardian.

Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Describe the diverse nature of contemporary philosophy.
  2. Identify the main issues which are of importance to contemporary thinkers.
  3. Recall introductions to some of the most important books published in the last few years.
  4. Discuss the central ideas in the course.
  5. Apply some of the ideas presented in the course to the broader issues in the world today.

Content

Timothy Morton

We will begin the course with Morton’s exciting new work on ecology, from his 2016 book Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence. We will also examine his 2017 book Humankind.

Brian Leiter

Leiter is a philosopher of politics and law. We will consider his provocative work Why Tolerate Religion (2017).

Kenneth F. Schaffner

Schaffner is considered by many, the most important philosopher in the field of genetics and its relation to human personality. He is a medical doctor specialising in the philosophy of medicine, ethics, and the conceptual issues involved in genetics. The central book will be Behaving: What’s Genetic, What’s Not, and Why Should we Care (2016).

Martha Nussbaum

Nussbaum has produced many books on ethics and politics, and is particularly interested in how discrimination works in relation to constitutional law. She is one of the most respected philosophers in the field of ethics. We will examine two of her works: Anger and Forgiveness' Resentment, Generosity, Justice and From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law.

Simon Blackburn

Blackburn is known for his work on mind, language and epistemology. Books: Passions and Projections, Practical Tortoise Raising, and Other Philosophical Essays.

Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright works in the philosophy of science and is most known for her work on scientific evidence and her critique of contemporary scientific methodology. Books: Philosophy of Science (2017) and Rethinking Order (2016).

Peter Singer

Singer is best known for his work in applies ethics and contemporary utilitarianism. Because of his fame, Singer is able to take his message to a broader audience on issues of global poverty and animal rights. Books: Does anything really Matter (2017) and The Most Good you can Do (2015).

Charles Taylor

In his latest book, Taylor sets forth decades of research on the human animal our capacities and flaws. Book: The Language Animal (2016).

Alasdair Macintyre

Macintyre’s early book After Virtue set the tone for much subsequent virtue ethics, in The Demise of Naturalism (2016) he reconsiders many of his ideas and extends his work in new directions.

George Monbiot

Monbiot is and activist and writer known for his weekly column in The Guardian. He is founder of ‘The Land is Ours’ movement: a peaceful campaign for the right of access to the countryside and resources in the United Kingdom. Books: Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding (2013) and Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis (2017).

Delivery Style

Lecture/seminar

Recommended Reading

To be provided in class.

Materials

To be provided in class.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • I loved the exposure to a diversity of modern thinkers. This course and the tutor have succeeded in expanding my thinking on a number of issues.