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PHIL 451 Philosophy of Mind

The nature of the mental and physical; the relation between minds and bodies; the character of psychological explanation.

This course is eligible for Credit/D/Fail grading. To determine whether you can take this course for Credit/D/Fail grading, visit the Credit/D/Fail website. You must register in the course before you can select the Credit/D/Fail grading option.

Credits: 3

Pre-reqs: PHIL 240. (or COGS 200 if accompanied by 3 credits of PHIL at the 200-level or above.)


Status Section Activity Term Interval Days Start Time End Time Comments
  PHIL 451 001 Lecture 1 Tue Thu 9:30 11:00

This course will focus on the nature of consciousness and the self. What is consciousness and how is it related to the brain, the rest of the body, and the physical world? Can consciousness be explained in physical terms? Can there be a scientific understanding of consciousness or will consciousness remain forever mysterious? Is there a self or is the self an illusion? Guided by these questions, we will examine consciousness and the sense of self across a wide variety of states, including awake perception, dreaming, lucid dreaming, deep sleep, out-of-body experiences, dying and near-death experiences, as well as meditative states. We will draw from a wide variety of sources, including contemporary philosophy of mind, Indian philosophy, and Buddhist philosophy, as well as cognitive sciencand~

e, especially the neuroscience of consciousness, sleep science, and the neuroscience of meditation.

  PHIL 451 002 Lecture 2 Tue Thu 15:30 17:00

In the first part of this course, we will survey the traditional and modern responses to the "Mind-Body Problem". What is the relationship of the mind (consciousness) to the body (to thephysical in general)? We will examine some of the special features of minds that seem to maketheir relation to the physical particularly problematic. These features can be divided into two broad categories: (A) intentionality of mental states (most maybe all mental states and processes appear to be intrinsically representational be about things), and (B) phenomenology of experiences (qualitatively rich sensory, perceptual, or emotional experiences such as pain, color

experiences, anxiety, etc. there is, for the experiencer, something it is like to be in these states). Both aspects of minds pose special problems for and put constraints on theories proposed to solve the mind-body problem. We will discuss both aspects but will have a closer

and more detailed look at the latter the experiential consciousness and its relation to the physical.

The discussion of the Mind-Body Problem is the standard material for undergraduate philosophy of mind courses. However, we will extend the discussion to cover the philosophical problem of personal identity. This is the problem of understanding what the identity of an individual person through time consists in. We will look at the main proposals philosophers have proposed. The discussion of this problem will naturally lead to the philosophical problem of the nature and significance of death -- the death of persons. We will also have a brief look at this topic at the end.