PHIL 340.001 – Philosophy of Mind

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Instructor: Dean Pettit. This course meets MW 9:05 – 10:20 a.m. in CW 213.

The mind is the locus of consciousness, as well as our capacity to think, to feel, to desire, to experience, and to form intentions. We can think about objects that are far removed from us in space and time, or about objects that don’t even exist at all. As conscious creatures, we are aware of the qualitative character of our experience, something that seems inaccessible to anyone but the experiencer. These capacities of the mind appear anomalous, or even miraculous, in a physical world. Physical objects do not seem to have any of these qualities—consciousness, thoughts, feelings, intentions—or even a hint of them. This gives rise to a puzzle: can the mind be part of the physical world, and if so how? In this course we will survey a range of philosophical theories that aim to reconcile the mind and its qualities with the physical world. In order to grapple with this, we will need to get clearer on the nature of the mind and its qualities. What is consciousness? How do we account for the qualitative character experience seems to have? What is the nature of thought and what is it for a thought to be about something?

Prerequisite: at least 1 PHIL course.