PHIL 440.001 – Philosophy of Mind

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Instructor: Dorit Bar-On. This course meets M 3:00 – 5:30 p.m. in CW 208.

Phil 440: Knowing Our Own Minds
This course will explore a cluster of philosophical issues surrounding our knowledge of our own minds that have become more pressing in the last few decades, no doubt due to the increasing dominance of the materialist view of the mind. Do we have privileged knowledge of our own minds? If so, what is characteristic of this kind of knowledge, and what is its scope and source or basis? If there is privileged self-knowledge, what (if anything) does that entail regarding the nature of mind? Can we preserve the idea that there is something truly special about our knowledge of our own minds without invoking Cartesian introspection? Can this idea be made consistent with a thorough-going materialist view of the world, and with various psychological findings concerning self-ignorance and self-deception? These will be our guiding questions. Along the way we will explore the significance of questions concerning our knowledge of our own minds for the philosophy of mind and related areas.

This course is open to philosophy graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Given the specialized character of the topic and the readings, only undergraduates with adequate background should enroll. To ensure this, instructor’s consent is required for undergraduates. (As a rough guideline, the following are the minimum prerequisites: at least 3 philosophy courses other than Phil 155, with at least one in Philosophy of Mind (340) and one in Epistemology or 20th Century analytic philosophy. If you believe you qualify, send the instructor an email specifying your year, whether you are a Phil major/minor, what Phil courses you have taken, with whom, and what grade you received.)