Rene Magritte, L'acte de Foi

Philosophy of Mind: Thinking and Consciousness

Instructor: Michael Stevenson
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is the mind a reducible, physical system, or is there anything more to consciousness? It’s often taken for granted that the human mind is a kind of computer (and that, similarly, computers can “think,” know, and learn much as humans do). In more classical thought, the mind was frequently regarded as independent of the body, a thing associated with an incorporeal “soul.” But how seriously do we take such metaphors? What does it mean when we say we are thinking and learning? What do we mean by “consciousness”?

In this class, we’ll approach these questions through studying key texts from the philosophy of mind, exploring the so-called “mind-body problem” and the closely related “problem of consciousness.” We’ll read about how or whether neural events in the brain give rise to conscious experience and intelligent behavior, and ask what makes behavior intelligent to begin with. Readings will be drawn from philosophers such as Rene Descartes, Elizabeth Anscombe, Gilbert Ryle, John Searle, Patricia Churchland, Daniel Dennett, David Chalmers, Thomas Nagel, among others.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
June 15 — July 06, 2023
4 weeks


Registration Open