Home > 2014 Courses > HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY AND CONTEMPORARY STUDIES > Five great philosophical questions


Dr Greg Fried, Department of Philosophy, University of Cape Town

One striking feature of philosophy is that it deals with some of our deepest questions. Famous examples include ‘Does God exist?’ ‘How are the mind and body related?’ ‘Can we have free will?’ ‘What is it to be moral?’ and ‘When, if ever, should speech be censored?’ This course will introduce philosophy by raising these five questions and discussing important responses to them. The questions have been selected from various areas of philosophy and we will consider responses by scholars from medieval times to the present. As philosophers, we are interested not only in what our fellow philosophers argue, but also in whether we accept their arguments. Participants will therefore be encouraged to think about these ideas themselves.

1.    Does God exist? St Anselm’s ontological argument
2.    How are the mind and body related? Descartes’ dualism
3.    Can we have free will? Debates on the nature and existence of free will
4.    What is it to be moral? Utilitarianism and its critics
5.    When, if ever, should speech be censored? Mill on liberty

Recommended reading
Nagel, T. 1987. What Does it all Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Law, S. 2011. The Complete Philosophy Files. London: Orion.
Blackburn, S. 1999. Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Blackburn, S. 2001. Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Course code: 1040

Date & time: 27–31 January 3.30 pm


Full: R375,00

Staff: R186,00

Reduced: R94,00