Great Works of Philosophy

PHIL 151/3.0

Philosophy Books


This course will offer students a critical examination of a selection of the principal works of the Western philosophical tradition. We will examine each of our selections both in its historical context, and also as a living approach to questions of enduring concern today. Through an exploration of Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Mill, we will tackle such questions as the nature and possibility of knowledge, freedom of the will, moral obligation, ethical objectivity, and the nature of the human beings whom we are. 

Topics at a Glance

Module 1 - Introduction and Backround Concepts
Modules 2-3 - Aristotle: The Work of Being Human
Modules 4-5 - Descartes: Mind in a Material World
Modules 6-7 - Hume: The Scope and Limits of Knowledge
Modules 8-9 - Kant: The Laws of Freedom
Modules 10-11 - Mill: The Uses of Happiness
Module 11 - Persons, Freedom, and Living Well

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be better equipped to: 

  • Describe the principal arguments in a selection of the foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition; 

  • Critically analyze and assess these arguments for logical consistency; 

  • Weigh specific philosophical views against potential counterexamples; 

  • Apply the techniques of critical analysis in both reading and writing; 

  • Articulate and defend a clear and coherent position on a philosophical question; and 

  • Build and extend logical reasoning skills that are so crucial in every aspect of living and apply them to practical cases. 


Summer (May–July) 2023
Course Dates
Delivery Mode
Online Synchronous


50% - Short Papers (2 out of 3 - 2x25%) - Individual
10% - Quizzes (5x2%) - Individual
40% - Discussion Activities (4 out of 5 - 4x10%) - Individual with peer interaction

*Evaluation subject to change*

Instructor Information

Professor Mark Smith (

Textbook and Materials

All course readings, podcasts, and videos will be available to you electronically via the course site. 

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week (120 hours per term) in study, listening and online activity for this course.