Literature and Ethical Values OpenCourseWare: MIT's Free Undergraduate Course on the Study of Ethics in Literature

Published Feb 07, 2009

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Explore historical writings on ethical philosophy in MIT's 'Literature and Ethical Values.' In this free online OpenCourseWare, students examine the role of ethics in major literary works from Shakespeare to Flannery O'Connor, guided by a comparison of the ancient philosophy of Plato and Aristotle to the modern philosophy of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. Students interested in Philosophy, Literature or English will enjoy this undergraduate-level course.

Literature and Ethical Values: Course Specifics

Degree Level Free Audio Video Downloads
Undergraduate Yes No No Yes

Lectures/Notes Study Materials Tests/Quizzes
Yes Yes No

Literature and Ethical Values: Course Description

The study of ethical philosophy can deepen our understanding of literature, as well as the ethical values that arise out of many narratives. In MIT's 'Literature and Ethical Values,' students learn about the history of Western ethical theory through the work of four major philosophers. This OpenCourseWare introduces students to ancient philosophy through Plato and Aristotle and post-renaissance philosophy through Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, using the writings of Thomas Hobbes to provide a historical bridge between the four thinkers. The arguments of these philosophers are then applied to the analysis of a broad range of literature, including works by Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, George Bernard Shaw and Flannery O'Connor. The course seeks to relate the broad framework of Western ethical philosophy to major themes in these texts. The course upon which this free OpenCourseWare is based is taught by Professor Alvin Kibel.

Readings and paper assignments are available for download on the course website, as well as a collection of notes and study guides. To take this class, visit the literature and ethical philosophy course page.

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