|132||Philosophy of Mind||Flanagan||TuWTh 10-12:30||130 Wheeler|
Humans, and possibly certain other creatures, are conscious. Life would have no personal meaning, it wouldn’t matter one bit (to each of us individually, at any rate), if it were not for consciousness. But what is consciousness? Does possession of consciousness require possession of a non-physical soul or does mind = brain in which case it will eventually be explained by neuroscience? Did some deity endow us with consciousness or is consciousness just one quirky outcome of the blind force of evolution by natural selection? Does my possession of a mind equip me with a free will that allows for personal responsibility, as well as blame and praise, for my actions? If my mind is just my brain then in what sense, am I free – the brain after all is just a 3 lb. piece of tissue and biology is thought to be governed by natural laws. Indeed, some have suggested that the idea of free will is an illusion.
The course will introduce students to the main problems in the philosophy of mind: the nature of consciousness, the mind-body relation, free-will vs. determinism, the nature of personal identity. Nothing less that the meaning of life and the nature of morality rest on our understanding of our minds. No prior background in philosophy is required. Students interested in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, religion, and law will find much to interest them.