What Does It Mean to Be Free?

The Great Courses
Show More

Related videos

The Big Questions of Philosophy
We have all pondered seemingly unanswerably but significant questions about our existence - the biggest of all being, "Why are we here?" Philosophy has developed over millennia to help us grapple with these essential intangibles. There is no better way to study the big questions in philosophy than to compare…
Why Study Logic?
Influential philosophers throughout history have argued that humans are purely rational beings. But cognitive studies show we are wired to accept false beliefs. Review some of our built-in biases, and discover that logic is the perfect corrective. Then survey what you will learn in the course.
Do We Have Free Will?
Part of the Series: Examined Life Series
Do We Have Free Will? asks if our lives are determined, or if we freely choose among alternatives. Ancient philosophers believed us to be free moral beings, but how do we define our options in a world governed by the laws of physics?
Who or What Is God? (Books 8-9)
Of all the Roman philosophers, Augustine felt the most kinship with the Platonists, who had developed a transcendent view of God. Where they fell short, he believed, was in imagining God as a distant being, uninterested in material reality. For Augustine, God is immediate and accessible, as he argues in…
Does Happiness Define the Good?
Could the happiness or absence of pain that results from an action define whether it is good? The Greek philosopher Epicurus held this view, which was fine-tuned by utilitarian philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Study objections to this outlook.
Why Would God Cause Natural Evil?
It is one thing for God to grant humans the freedom to do evil, but it's harder to understand the existence of natural evils such as earthquakes and plagues. Evaluate different approaches to this problem, including the suggestion that God exists but didn't create our universe.
How Do We Find the Best Explanation?
Explore the power of abduction, a form of induction also known as inference to the best explanation, that is used not only by philosophers, but also by doctors to make medical diagnoses and scientists to construct theories. Even Sherlock Holmes--the master of deduction--really practiced abductive inference.
How Does the Brain Produce the Mind?
The next three lectures address the big question: What is the nature of the mind? Start with the celebrated "hard problem" of consciousness: How does the brain produce the mind? Investigate two possible answers and explore why many philosophers consider both to be problematic.
What Justifies a Government?
Does government arise naturally from a state of anarchy? Does this fact morally justify it? Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau thought so. However, each of these philosophers saw different factors driving individuals to enter into the social contract. Compare their views.
What Makes a Society Fair or Just?
Enter the fray with philosophers John Rawls and Robert Nozick, who reached different conclusions about what would constitute a just society. Begin with a thought experiment based on Christopher Nolan's movie Interstellar, pondering how you might start civilization from scratch in the fairest possible way.
Examined Life Series
Offering learners an in-depth analysis of the wisdom of the Western world, The Examined Life studies the "Great Questions" that have intrigued philosophers from antiquity to the present. Using writings of past philosophers and interviews with more than 50 contemporary thinkers, the course episodes underscore how these great questions -…
Ethics Matters
In this fascinating educational series, Dr. Dan Halliday talks with contemporary philosophers and helps place their ideas in a real world context.