PHIL 340.001 – Philosophy of Mind

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Instructor: Krasi Filcheva. This course meets MW 1:25-2:40 p.m. in PH 328.

The central problem we will explore in this course is the relationship between mind and language, examining the extent to which thought is independent from or prior to language. Does thinking take place in an inner medium of the mind and get translated in public language? Do the languages we speak significantly constrain the thoughts and concepts we can have? Are there any true universal concepts all languages must share? Can there be languages we might not be able to translate into our own at all? What is the role of natural language in other aspects of the mind such as spatial and temporal representation and perception? Do we come pre-equipped with a set of innate concepts or are all concepts we employ in thought innate? What view of the mind must we have in order to make sense of the idea that artificial minds with general intelligence like us are a genuine possibility? These are some of the questions we will investigate. The topics we will consider along the way include the nature of concepts, innatist views about the mind, artificial intelligence, and the possibility that there are thoughts which cannot be communicated through language, thus exploring the limits of linguistic expression. We will pay some attention to inter-disciplinary studies on these topics from cognitive science, evolutionary psycholinguistics, cross-cultural linguistic anthropology in addition to core philosophical material.

Prerequisite: at least 1 PHIL course