History of Philosophy

Online History of Philosophy Class Dr Daniel Fincke

*A new History of Philosophy class will run whenever a student requests it. Please write me at write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com or, even better, friend me and write to me on Facebook to let me know your schedule so we can set one up.

*Click here for the full schedule of classes currently set to run in early 2017!

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History of Philosophy: This class introduces students to the story of Western philosophy all the way from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the 20th Century. In this course I chronologically explain the major ideas and relevance of the major philosophical schools and figures from each major period in the history of Western Philosophy, overviewing an entire period or tradition each week. While there is ample room for students to discuss their philosophical responses to the ideas being covered, this is generally the class I teach which is heaviest on lecture time as there is a great quantity of detailed material to explain week to week.

We overview Ancient Greek and Hellenistic Philosophy (the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Cynics, the Epicureans), Medieval Philosophy (Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and the Scholastics), Modern Philosophy (the Rationalists, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, and the Empiricists Locke, Berkeley, and Hume), Kant, 19th Century German Idealists (Fichte and Hegel) and the 19th Century European proto-existentialist reactions against them (Marx, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche).

Then finally we address the diverse explosion of movements in 20th Century Philosophy. Students are given a familiarizing overview of the rise of Analytic Philosophy (Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege, Logical Positivism, Ordinary Language Philosophy, Modal Logic, and the division of philosophy into new subfields like Metaethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, etc.), Pragmatism (Peirce, James, Dewey, Rorty), Process Philosophy (Whitehead), Phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas), Existentialism (Sartre, Camus, Buber, Barth), Structuralism (Saussure and Lacan), Hermeneutics (Gadamer), Feminism (de Beauvoir, Irigaray), Postmodernism (Derrida’s Deconstruction and Foucault’s Post-Structuralism), and Post-World War II Political Philosophy (Rawls, Nozick, Walzer, Arendt). This course has some significant overlaps with Philosophy for Atheists but is designed to be complementary to (rather than redundant with) all the other classes.

Each week I rotate to another self-contained topic so students can join in at any time without worrying about not understanding. While students can keep attending as long as they want and there will always be fresh lectures, most students take about 16 weeks of a given class before moving on to another. But over the course of a year, a student can expect to see the full sweep of the history of Western philosophy. Even if a student joins a class already in progress, he or she can simply stick with it until it eventually loops around to the beginning again, in order round out his or her understanding.

As with all of my classes this is a live, dynamic, interactive small group class. It is held using Google’s videoconference technology (the easy to install and use service called Google Hangout). The class is tailored to student’s specific interests in the material as vigorous, rigorous, and potentially wide-ranging class discussions emerge when students respond to my lecturing and to our mutual close readings of screen-shared philosophical texts.

No outside reading will be expected or required. I take it as my responsibility to catch students up to speed on the ideas we’re covering so that students are able to fully engage with the concepts for themselves without independent research. Frequently we will read aloud, explicate, and criticize portions of books and articles looking at them together on a screen share in order to help us orient our discussion more concretely. Students interested in outside reading will be provided with suggestions upon request. But I find that these classes work best (and students attend most frequently) when they fit into students’ otherwise busy schedule as a once weekly source of rest, intellectual reinvigoration, and mentally stimulating social interaction, rather than as a source of work throughout the week.

There is no university credit for attending these class sessions.

The first session is a FREE TRIAL for newcomers who have never attended one of my class sessions before. For more about me, see this page. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com now to express your interest in this class and give me your availabilities so that I can plan it around accommodating you. Below you will find more detailed information answering frequently asked questions about how my classes work.

Scheduling Details:

Class times will be built around the actual students signing up. Once I have all the regular time availabilities of the interested students, I will create a schedule that puts as many students together with classmates as possible and meets as often as necessary to accommodate everyone. I will also happily run 1-on-1 classes at the (cheaper) group class rate when the only time that works for a given student is a time that works for only that one student.

Make ups, Recordings, and Refunds:

If you can’t make your regular class session in a given week, you can either request a recording of the missed session, sit in with another section of the class, set up a one on one make up time with me at your convenience, or request a no questions asked refund. Some busy prospective students worry that they will either inconvenience me or not keep up with the material if they have inconsistent attendance in their regular time slot. Fear of inconsistent attendance should never be the reason for not signing up to my classes. From both a pedagogical and, frankly, a business standpoint, it’s always in my own interest to make up the class time, to give you a recording (so long as you honor its copyright and my confidentiality and that of your fellow students and never redistribute it), or to give you a refund so that you are getting value from your money and will continue paying me and being a part of the class when you can attend. As long as a student is available at some time during the week, day or night, I will prioritize making myself available if at all possible. And if there is simply no time for a student to make up time in a given week or later in a month, then that’s okay too. 

My motto is “the year is long”. We are not under any institutional time pressures to get classes completed in specific timeframes. So if the class takes more weeks or months than are typical to complete because students need a number of weeks off, that doesn’t negatively affect me. If some students feel finished running through the material earlier than the others and I do some more weeks or months with other students who want to cover more or make up topics they missed, then that’s great too. Classes will run until every single student has gotten every single thing he or she wants out of it. And since I strive to make my philosophical discussions with me and your classmates such a highly valued part of your weekly ritual that you continue to participate in classes with me year round, I look at this from a long term perspective and fully expect that it will be inevitable and healthy that eventually you will have some other weeks away (sometimes consecutively even), that you will attend to important occasions that arise, go on vacations, deal with illness, or just plain need to save money sometimes. My goal is to be accommodating so that whenever it works for you to join in my classes, you feel welcome and feel no guilt over the times you cannot.

Sometimes I am also now offering enrolled students the option to accept an exclusive, non-distributable, and confidential recording of their missed regular weekly session in lieu of a make up session or a refund. Whether a paying student prefers a make up session, a recording, or a refund for any given missed session will always be entirely the students’ choice.

Prices, Billing, and Refunds for Students on Weekly Subscriptions:

Most students pay for class using a weekly subscription.  Once you subscribe, you’re self-enrolled in the class and PayPal will automatically deduct $39.99 weekly until whenever you want to cancel. Each payment must occur on or before the day of attendance and each payment grants a student a weekly 2 hour live and interactive class session, led by me directly (which is half the rate per hour of a guaranteed 1-on-1 class, even if the group class winds up only being 1-on-1 after all, either for any given week’s session or routinely). Any time you request a refund for unused time you will receive it. Unlike with your gym membership, you will never get stuck paying for time you don’t use. If for any reason whatsoever a student is absent and declines a make up session or to take a recording of the class, the student will be refunded with no questions asked, within three weeks (but usually within just a few days).

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Weekly Subscription Cancellations (Temporary and Permanent):

You may at any time self-cancel your subscription directly through PayPal. There is no obligation to attend any minimum numbers of weeks before canceling future payments. If you intend to at some point come back to my classes, I request you ask me to suspend your subscription instead of directly canceling yourself. I will do so immediately, so that you’re not charged for any unused time, and I will refund any payments for class time that you have not used, unless you request to be credited for the time in the future or plan to immediately attend one last pre-paid session before pausing. Of course you can still come back later even if you self-cancel, but it is logistically easier for both of us if I merely suspend your account and can reactivate it at the touch of a button upon your return. Subscriptions are transferable to any of the classes I teach, so if you switch classes you don’t need to sign back up afresh if you haven’t outright cancelled your last subscription completely.

Yearly Subscriptions:

While students who intend to attend year round can still attend on a week to week payment basis as per usual, I am now offering a new Yearly Subscription for students who (a) feel sure they want to attend for an entire year, (b) have the money available to pay upfront, and (c) who want to help support my efforts even if they wind up unable to attend as frequently as they initially expect, are now welcome to purchase Yearly Subscriptions at a 25% discount of the full price for 50 weeks of class. For $1,499, the price of 37.5 two-hour group class sessions or one-hour guaranteed 1-on-1 sessions, you can attend for all 50 weeks of the year that I am not on vacation on a Yearly Subscription. That’s a rate of only $29.98/week. Students on Yearly Subscriptions can attend any classes they like, even attending more than once a week, up to 50 sessions within a calendar year of either a two-hour group class format or a guaranteed 1-on-1 format. Yearly Subscriptions are neither fully nor partially refundable on account of the student’s failure to attend class. If you have a personal hardship that requires you to suspend participation for anywhere from 1-12 months, I guarantee that I will extend the subscription’s period for fulfillment for the same number of consecutive months and weeks that you are unable to attend. I may even be able to extend longer, but cannot guarantee it. Yearly Subscription time that winds up unused and undeferred will be converted into scholarship funding for students with financial hardship. Refunds of Yearly Subscriptions will only be available if I neglect to offer or show up for 50 two-hour group class sessions or one-hour guaranteed1-on-1 sessions that can accommodate the subscribers’ schedule (including through proposed make ups when necessary), within 52 weeks. In such cases, I will owe the student a partial refund of $29.98 per unfulfilled two-hour group or guaranteed 1-on-1 session. Yearly Subscriptions last for exactly one year. Shortly after a student sets up his or her Yearly Subscription and makes his or her yearly payment therewith, I will suspend the subscription within PayPal’s automatic billing system so that the student will not be automatically charged the following year. I will wait for explicit confirmation from the student that they want to renew it during the weeks before its renewal is coming due, in order to reactivate the subscription. At such time the student will be automatically billed again with nothing further required from the student. And again the subscription will be suspended indefinitely awaiting explicit confirmation of intention to renew.


Occasionally there are full or partial scholarships available so subscribe to the e-mails (see the top left of this page) even if you cannot yet afford the classes. All paying students are welcome to have their partner, roommate, friends, or others share their computer screen and participate in class with them for no extra charge on what’s called “The Shared Screen Discount”. If you want to regularly support students with financial hardships, please use the subscribe button below to commit to make automatically deducted PayPal donations on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Scholarship subscriptions are self-cancelable at any time.

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