Four Weeks, Four Philosophers: Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard and Marx

Meet four of the most influential philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries: Immanuel Kant, Georg W. F. Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, and Karl Marx. Learn about concepts such as Kant’s “synthetic a priori,” Hegel’s “absolute mind”, Kierkegaard’s “irrational” Christianity, and Marx’s materialist dialectic. Each week, we’ll take in a brief overview of the cultural, intellectual, and historical context that influenced each philosopher, followed by an introduction of some of his most influential ideas.

Note: No previous background in philosophy is expected.

A $50 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Gordon Gray $170.00 0 Join Waitlist
Online - Gordon Gray $170.00 2 Register

Schedule clarification: This is a four-week online course. It runs from Monday, March 8 to Friday, April 2. Each week, all week, you can study that week’s material, post and respond to messages, and engage in course activities. Students enrolled in Section 1 will participate in live videoconferencing sessions each Tuesday from 10–11:30 a.m. PT; students enrolled in Section 2 will participate in live videoconferencing sessions each Wednesday from 3-4:30 p.m. PT.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Explain how Enlightenment rationalism influenced each of these philosophers
  • Explain how the German Enlightenment differed from those of other nations
  • Describe one major idea from each philosopher

Learning methods

Your online learning will include the following methods:

  • Recorded lectures and podcasts
  • Academic and non-academic articles
  • Participation in written discussions with other students
  • Participation in videoconference seminars

For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) was concerned about an over-emphasis on reason and experience, at the expense of ideals, by Enlightenment philosophers. Kant’s response was his “Copernican moment”: three great critiques of reason, morality and aesthetics.

Week 2

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) sought to “close the gap” Kant left between what can be rationally understood and the idealistic that cannot be experienced. Hegel constructed a method of philosophy in which both experience and ideals fit into a rational systematic process, based in history. 

Week 3

Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) “loathed Hegel” (says Lawrence Cahoone). Kierkegaard’s overarching question was: “What does it mean to be a Christian?”. He held that religious experience is by necessity irrational and cannot therefore be molded into Hegel’s great rational system.

Week 4

Karl Marx (1820–1895) rejected Hegel’s idealist dialectic, believing there’s nothing idealist about class struggle. Our fundamental need, according to Marx, is to convert raw materials into goods necessary for survival, and a fundamental problem is who owns the means and rewards of this process.

Books, materials and resources

You will access reading material using SFU's online course management system, Canvas.

Technical requirements

This course is delivered using SFU's online learning system, Canvas. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.  

To get the most out of this online course, you should be comfortable doing the following:

  • Using everyday software such as browsers, email and social media
  • Navigating a website by clicking on links and finding pages in a menu
  • Downloading and opening PDF documents
  • Posting, replying and uploading images to a discussion board
  • Participating in videoconferencing sessions

You will be participating in videoconferencing using Zoom Meetings. For this, your computer needs to have a camera, microphone and speakers or headphones. Your computer software should be up to date with the latest available operating system and browser versions.

Accessing your course

  • A few days before the course starts, we will email you more information about the course and how you'll access it. You will also receive an email inviting you to access the Canvas learning platform (click on the link in the invitation to join the course). Once you’ve accessed Canvas, you can begin exploring the platform on your own. The full course will be accessible on its start date.
  • We’ll also host a virtual drop-in time on Zoom Meetings a few days before the course starts. This will give you a chance to check that you can access Zoom Meetings, and that your computer’s camera and microphone and speakers are working properly.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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