PHIL 840.001 – Research Seminar in Philosophy of Mind

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Instructor: L.A. Paul. This course meets R 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. in CW 213.

Experience, Time and Self

This seminar will blend contemporary discussions of temporal metaphysics, temporal experience, and first personal approaches to the self to explore new perspectives on how our grasp on the phenomenal character and temporal structure of the world is built into our first personal conception of our selves.
As an agent occupying your distinctive first-personal perspective on the world, you use your evolving perspective to navigate your life’s path, from moment to moment, from birth to death. As you map your path, you experience yourself as a located, conscious self with control of who you are and how you evolve. As such, you experience yourself as choosing, at each experienced present, how your subjective future will develop depending on whether you perform or avoid a particular act, in a way that fits naturally with cognitive scientific approaches to simulation, causal modeling and causal learning.
We will explore the structure of how the agent, from this first personal perspective, reflects on her memories from the past, beliefs about the present and expectations for the future, and then uses this information to construct and imaginatively simulate models of different possible first personal futures. Agents use such models to track their current and evolving selves, as well as to develop temporally extended, forward-looking, subjective projections about what will happen next and which future selves they hope to bring into being.

Readings include selections from David Chalmers, Barry Dainton, Mark Johnston, Jenann Ismael, Susanna Siegel, Carla Merino, Ian Phillips, Marya Schechtman, David Velleman, and Brad Skow. (We’ll have several of the authors of our readings skype in or visit to lead discussion of their work, including Chalmers, Ismael, Merino, Siegel, Skow, and Velleman.)

Assignments and Grading: Regular readings and discussion. One in-class presentation and one final paper.