This course has been designed to meet two goals: First, to invite students to experience the fascinating mental tickles that thinking about thinking causes; second, to give students the opportunity to know the work of philosophers who do not meet the stereotype of philosopher (what is this stereotype? Try this: picture in your head a philosopher. That's it. What you got is probably something like this, or this).
Existing anthologies and textbooks in the philosophy of mind give the impression that only White males in Western countries think about the mind. But there are many philosophers out there doing great work. As your instructor, it's my responsibility that you learn more than one single story about the philosophy of mind. As a student, you deserve to know more than a single story.
This course is a very small step in the direction of making the philosophy curriculum more diverse. It includes women, people of color, citizens from non-Anglophone countries, and LGBTQIA people. From Teresa of Ávila, a XVI century Spanish nun, to Susan Schneider, a cognitive scientist and philosopher with a project with NASA on AI in space. From XVII century Elisabeth of Bohemia and her critique of Descartes, to Jennifer Mundale, a contemporary philosopher of neuroscience. From Mary Astell, another XVII century philosopher who crafted a theory of mind that dismantles gender stereotypes, to Frédérique de Vignemont, a philosopher at the Jean Nicod Institute in Paris who writes about how you perceive your own body. The course combines traditional and non-traditional topics in the philosophy of mind. We start the course by reflecting on the value of the very discipline of philosophy of mind: Why is it important? Does it have any practical applications? In previous semesters, the course included an overview of traditional metaphysical accounts of the mind, theories of the self, and a selection of contemporary debates:
Implicit attitudes/bias: What are they? Are we responsible for them?
Depression: Does philosophizing make you prone to getting depressed?
Introspection and brain imaging: Can a brain scan know more about my mind than myself?
Creativity: What does it mean to be creative? How many kinds of creativity are there?
Boredom: Could boredom be a good thing?
Non-human intelligence: How many different types of minds are there? Can a plant be intelligent? What would alien intelligence look like?
Machine consciousness: How can we tell if an artificial mind is conscious? Is that possible in the first place?
Hybrid minds and the self: if I replace a part of my brain with silicon chips with the same functions, am I still the same person?
This course is asynchronous. All the course materials, including video lectures, will be posted on the Canvas site.
There are several types of assignments, including quizzes, virtual presentations, and participation in discussion boards. I'm interested not only in your answers to questions, but in your own questions. I expect you to come up with questions on the material. Please check this about why asking your own questions is important.
The schedule with the readings and the final selection of topics will be posted soon.