Philosophy 2400/001

 

Philosophy of Mind

Objectives:

The nature of consciousness, and its relation to the body and/or the brain, is a mystery that has yet to be solved either by philosophy of mind or the related disciplines of cognitive science and psychology. Philosophy of mind is the exercise of determining the possible solutions to this mystery and assessing their coherency and legitimacy given the facts of the matter as we currently understand them. In this course we will critically examine the various philosophical theories that have offered ways of understanding the mind such as dualism, behaviorism, materialism and functionalism. The majority of the course will focus on 20th Century analytic philosophy of mind with a brief examination of critiques of this approach at the end of the semester. This will enable you to analyze the various claims made about consciousness and the mind in other disciplines and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Required Texts:

Kim, Jaegwon. Philosophy of Mind.

Lyons. William, ed. Modern Philosophy of Mind.

 

Requirements:

There will be an in-class midterm exam, a final exam as scheduled by the University and a 12-15 page term paper which will each be worth 30% of your grade. Class participation will be worth 10% of your grade.

Students are required to read and understand the material assigned prior to the class in which we discuss that reading. By 'understand' I mean identifying 1) the major points in the reading and why those important; 2) what you agree and disagree with and why; 3) what your own position is on this problem and why. Class attendance is required. I will substantially reduce the grade of any student that has five or more unexcused absences.

 

Academic Integrity:

In accordance with the University's Academic Integrity Policy any instance of plagiarism or other infractions of the policy will result in a grade of F for the semester and will be reported to the Dean.

 

Tentative reading schedule (it is the student's responsibility to remain abreast of what we are discussing as we will occasionally move through the material more slowly or more quickly than this schedule indicates):

 

January

1/15—1/9: Introduction; substance dualism. Descartes, Meditations I and II. Kim, pp. 1-23; Lyons, pp. xlv-lxvii

1/22—1/26: dualism and phenomenolgy of mind; James, "The Stream of Consciosness" (in Lyons, pp. 3-23.

1/29—2/2:Behaviorism; Kim pp. 25-45; Watson, "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It" (in Lyons, pp. 24-42.

February

2./5—2/9: Mind-Brain Identity Theory; Kim, pp. 47-72; Place, "Is Consciousness a Brain Process," Smart, "Sensations and Brain Processes," (Lyons, pp. 106-132)

2/12—2/16: Mind-Brain Identity Theory (cont.)

2/19—2/23: Functionalism, Kim 73-103; Putnam, "Philosophy and Our Mental Life," (Lyons, pp. 133-47).

2/26—3/2 Midterm Exam, Thursday, 3/1. No makeup exams will be given except for documented excuses according to University policy.

March

3/5—9 Semester break

3/12—3/16: Mind as a Causal Structure, Kim, pp. 104-24.

3/19—3/23: Mental Causation, Kim, 125-54; Armstrong, The Causal Theory of Mind," (Lyons, pp. 175-90.

3/26—30: Consciousness, Kim, pp. 155-83, Dennett, "Intentional Systems," (Lyons, pp. 191-213).

April

4/2—4/6: Mental Content, Kim, pp. 184-210, Nagel, "What’s it Like to be a Bat," (Lyons, pp. 159-174)

4/9—4/11 (no class 4/12-13): Reductive and Non-reductive Physicalism, Kim pp. 211-40, Churchland, "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes," (214-39).

4/17—4/20 (no class 4/16): Colin McGinn, "Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem," (Lyons, pp. 272-95.

4/23—4/27: The body’s persistence in mentation, handout.

4/30—5/2 (5/4-5 Reading days)

MayFinal Exams: Please check the final exam schedule for this class carefully. Students must take the final exam at the time and place designated by the university. The only exceptions will be for conflicts as defined by the university.