By Joe Pickett, OCW Publication Director

Now for the third installment in our survey of the most visited courses in the Humanities, this one featuring courses from the MIT department of Linguistics and Philosophy.

The list below has courses from both disciplines housed in this department. As with our other lists of most popular OCW sites, introductory courses predominate.

These course sites are distinguished by fascinating reading and often helpful notes. So be sure to check out their varying arrays of resources.

Photo of a road sign with directions in both English and Welsh.

A bilingual road sign with directions in both English and Welsh. (Image courtesy of Stefan Baguette.)


  • 24.900 Introduction to Linguistics taught by Professor David Pesetsky
    “This course studies what is language and what does knowledge of a language consist of. It asks how do children learn languages and is language unique to humans; why are there many languages; how do languages change; is any language or dialect superior to another; and how are speech and writing related.”
  • 24.901 Language and Its Structure I: Phonology taught by Professor Michael Kenstowicz
    “24.901 is designed to give you a preliminary understanding of how the sound systems of different languages are structured, how and why they may differ from each other. The course also aims to provide you with analytical tools in phonology, enough to allow you to sketch the analysis of an entire phonological system by the end of the term. On a non-linguistic level, the course aims to teach you by example the virtues of formulating precise and explicit descriptive statements; and to develop your skills in making and evaluating arguments.”
  • 24.906J Linguistic Studies of Bilingualism taught by Suzanne Flynn
    “This course studies the development of bilingualism in human history (from Australopithecus to present day). It focuses on linguistic aspects of bilingualism; models of bilingualism and language acquisition; competence versus performance; effects of bilingualism on other domains of human cognition; brain imaging studies; early versus late bilingualism; opportunities to observe and conduct original research; and implications for educational policies among others. The course is taught in English.”
  • 24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax (Fall 2003) taught by Professor David Pesetsky
    “This course will acquaint you with some of the important results and ideas of the last half – century of research in syntax. We will explore a large number of issues and a large amount of data so that you can learn something of what this field is all about . . . At the same time, you will learn the mechanics of one particular approach (sometimes called Principles and Parameters syntax). Most of all, the course tries to show why the study of syntax is exciting, and why its results are important to researchers in other language sciences.”
  • 24.902 Language and Its Structure II: Syntax (Fall 2015) taught by Professor Sabine Iatridou
    “This course covers some of the basic ideas in the subfield syntax, within the framework often referred to as “Generative Grammar” . . . We will explore the hierarchical organization of language and look at a number of syntactic phenomena that are common in completely unrelated languages and try to understand them. We will also look at differences among languages and try to understand what some possible ways are in which languages can differ.”
  • 24.903 Language and Its Structure III: Semantics and Pragmatics taught by Professor Kai von Fintel
    “This course gives an introduction to the science of linguistic meaning. There are two branches to this discipline: semantics, the study of conventional, “compositional meaning”, and pragmatics, the study of interactional meaning. There are other contributaries: philosophy, logic, syntax, and psychology. We will try to give you an understanding of the concepts of semantics and pragmatics and of some of the technical tools that we use.”

Photo of seated man sculpture in front of a museum building.

The Thinker shows a philosopher at work. (Image by asmythie on Flickr.)


  • 24.00 Problems in Philosophy taught by Professor Richard Holton
    “The course should really be called “God, Knowledge, Consciousness, Freedom, Survival, and Doing the Right Thing,” because that is what we’re going to be talking about. One goal is to give you a sense of what famous philosophers have said about these topics . . . A second goal is to get you thinking, and writing, and arguing, in a philosophical way yourself.”
  • 24.200 Ancient Philosophy taught by Professor Sally Haslanger
    “This course will acquaint the student with some of the ancient Greek contributions to the Western philosophical and scientific tradition. We will examine a broad range of central philosophical themes concerning: nature, law, justice, knowledge, virtue, happiness, and death. There will be a strong emphasis on analyses of arguments found in the texts.”
  • 24.241 Logic I taught by Ephraim Glick
    “In this course we will cover central aspects of modern formal logic, beginning with an explanation of what constitutes good reasoning. Topics will include validity and soundness of arguments, formal derivations, truth-functions, translations to and from a formal language, and truth-tables.”
  • 24.01 Classics in Western Philosophy taught by Rae Langton
    “This course will introduce you to the Western philosophical tradition, through the study of major figures such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. You will get to grips with questions that have been significant to philosophy from its beginnings: questions about the nature of the mind or soul, the existence of God, the foundations of knowledge, ethics and the good life.”
  • 24.235J Philosophy of Law taught by Professor Julia Markovits
    “This course examines fundamental issues in the philosophy of law, including the nature and content of law, its relation to morality, theories of legal interpretation, and the obligation to obey the law, as well as philosophical issues and problems associated with punishment and responsibility, liberty, and legal ethics.”

See all Linguistics and Philosophy courses on OCW >

See all posts in this Greatest Hits of the Humanities series: