I'd like to welcome you personally to this class site focused on nine important thinkers drawn from the history of ideas in the West. You'll be working, studying, and learning in it for as long as you'd like, at your own pace!
World Views and Values is a course which I developed and taught online for several years for Marist College - a selective liberal arts college in New York (where I very much enjoyed my interactions with the students). As one of the core classes students enrolled there were required to take - taught by philosophy instructors - World Views and Values was intended to provide a general introduction to some of the "big ideas" running through the development of Western culture.
I decided to structure my version of the class particularly around several major themes -- human nature, the good life, ethics and morality, education and culture, society and politics, the nature of reality, religion and God(s), and human relationships to the natural world. Each of the nine major thinkers -- and the works I've selected -- have some well-thought out things to say about these "big picture" topics. One of the main tasks for you as a student is to study their works so that you can envision the world, human being,s and society through their eyes. This doesn't mean that you have to agree with them -- but you do have to work to understand them.
There's more that you'll be doing, though. One way of understanding Philosophy is as "the examined life" -- and this is a significant area of any genuinely human existence. As you work your way through this class, you'll hopefully also be examining your own life, experiences, relationships, values, and plans in relation to the thinkers and texts we'll be studying. You'll see in the discussion forums what your classmates make of these ideas as well -- and perhaps find some interesting overlaps or connections between your own perspective and that of some of your fellow students.
I've designed this course -- and this class site -- intentionally to assist you in reading, studying, discussing, writing on -- and most of all learning about, and developing an appreciation for -- classic Philosophical texts and thinkers. You'll find that much of the class takes place through this course site. I'm setting it up deliberately to be a rich online learning environment for you students.
The ultimate goals for this class, of course, lie outside of the scope of this course site. They have instead to do with your further development in the course of your studies, in your career, and in the rest of your life. So, what I try to do in this course is three main things.
The first is to help you really learn the material we cover in the class -- I supply you with a lot of aids (e.g. overviews, handouts, videos) designed to help you wrap your head about the admittedly difficult material, and to "make it stick", so that you'll be able to draw upon it as something you now possess after this class is over.
The second is to open up for you wider vistas going beyond the specific material that we read and discuss -- to help you become "lifelong learners" in Philosophy. And, to a large extent, that means directing you to quality resources readily available to (but perhaps not yet known by) you, resources that you'll find useful for continuing your education in Philosophy.
The third is to communicate a portion of my passion about these subjects -- and the texts and thinkers -- to you. I'm a pretty practical person, so I wouldn't have devoted half of my life to studying and teaching about these texts and thinkers if there wasn't something really valuable, inherently worthwhile, even highly enjoyable there to be had. I want to share that with you, and help you find your own way to being able to really appreciate these key thinkers and texts.