This series will serve as an introduction to the traditional philosophical problems about the structure of reality and our attempts at understanding it. It surveys a variety of topics in metaphysics and epistemology through selected essays largely free of technical terminology. The concepts covered in this first course are perception, skepticism, time and mind.
Discussions will mainly revolve around the following questions: does sense perception enable us to gain knowledge about the world? can we be certain about the existence of the external world or the existence of things outside of us must be accepted merely on faith? What do we mean when we say that time passes? Are past and future events real? What is the nature of the mind? Is it non-physical or a mere product of brain processes?
Week 1. Perception
- Locke: realism and representationalism
- Berkeley: immaterialism and idealism
Week 2. Skepticism
- Descartes: external world skepticism
- Putnam: the brain in a vat
Week 3. Time
- McTaggart: the unreality of time
- Einstein: the relativity of simultaneity and eternalism
Week 4. Mind
- Descartes: mind/body dualism -Smart: the mind/brain identity theory
The course will be co-taught by:
Mahmoud Rasmi (@decafquest): finished his PhD in Philosophy at the University of Salamanca Spain. Between 2013 and 2020, he taught philosophy and cultural studies at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. Now, he has decided to venture into the virtual world in order to give affordable classes online to people who are interested in studying philosophy in a non-academic setting.
Here’s a sample class on Stoicism from an Introduction to Philosophy online course:
Philippe Caponis (@philippecaponis): Philippe holds an MS in Physics and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Paris. He taught philosophy at the American University of Beirut and Lebanese American University. He is interested in better understanding how scientific theories illuminate (and often reshape) philosophical debates about the nature of space and time, identity and material constitution.
Here’s a talk by Philippe titled: Three Philosophical Lessons from Modern Physics:
Previous guest lecturers:
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb: https://twitter.com/Decafquest/status/1396852198496260096
- Trishank Karthik Kuppusamy
- Josh Hochschild
Dates and Schedule:
- 4 weeks, once a week, 2 hrs per session.
- The course will start on Tuesday, September 7, 2021, and will end on Tuesday, September 28, 2021.
- Course Schedule: Tuesdays at 9:30 pm Beirut time (8:30 pm CET time).
- Synchronous online course via Zoom.
- Asynchronous: if you can't attend, you will have the option to watch the recorded lectures.
- Price: USD150$
- Capacity: 30 seats
You will receive the link to the sessions a few days before the course starts.
Those based in Lebanon can make the payment via Bank transfer (please contact me to provide you with the details).
Since we are not an institution, you will not be able to claim credits for the course. Many of you might also already be busy with your jobs and daily routine; as a result, we won’t be assigning any homework, exams, or papers. However, if any of you wishes to be assessed on the course material covered, we can arrange for the proper method and format in private.
The sessions will be recorded and uploaded to the DecafQuest YouTube channel as hidden. The links will be made available on google classroom to those registered.
Testimonials: Praise from others:
“Highly recommend to anyone interested in finding out (more or for the first time like me) about philosophy – selected readings and highly enjoyable discussions, interactive, live class sessions with participants from all over the world.” – Tan Erten, (@tanerten)
“This guy’s class could change your life. At least make you think.” – Stephen Schott (@StephenBSchott)
“But one thing I can say is that his class got me thinking.” – Assaad Elias Mrad (@mradassaad)
“I have never taken a class like this (am an engineer), so I was a little intimidated by my lack of knowledge on the subject matter. Mahmoud brought a very non-elite, bottom-up style to the discussions and I felt very free and compelled to comment and be a part of this class. His knowledge is exceptional, and his perseverance (despite significant constraints happening in Beirut) was an inspiration. Having Nassim Taleb as a guest lecturer was also a great start to the class. 10/10 would take another class!” – Tom Martin
“Interested in new learning? Curious about an ancient topic? @Decafquest philosphy course is a great use of 2 hours, 2x wk for 1 mo. You’ll be in company of a thoughtful, studied guide and likeminded others from across Earth globe asia-australia.
Appearing smart has never been easier: brag about your acceptance into DecafQuest’s “Intro to Philosophy”. Getting a little smarter has also never been easier either: join a knowledgable, inquisitive guide on discovering Philosophy, with contemporary collaboration of like-minded classmates across the globe.” – Peter Noble (@petewnoble)
“I highly recommend @Decafquest.” – Waël Atallah (@wael_atallah)
“I joined @Decafquest’s course and can say it’s thought-provoking and fun.” – Oussama Himani (@ohimani)
“Last month I signed up for @Decafquest’s course on the Pre-Socratics to help with a project I’m working on related to the Sophists. Today’s the class I’ve been waiting for, but I already learned BIGLY more than I’d imagined, incl. about patristics and Late Antique Christianity.” – Beyon Miloyan (@bmiloy)"