Philosophy 342:  Philosophy of Mind

Prof. Warren Schmaus

TR 10:00 – 11:15

Office:  228 Siegel Hall

Room:  202 Siegel Hall

Mailbox:  218 Siegel Hall

Office Hrs: TR 1:30 - 3:30

Email: schmaus@iit.edu

Web Site:  mypages.iit.edu/~schmaus/Philosophy_of_Mind

Phone:  x 7-3473

 

 

Tentative course syllabus

 

 

What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Is the mind the same thing as the brain or is it something else? Can we explain our conscious experience in terms of what goes on in our nerve cells? How can mere thoughts cause things to happen in a physical universe? Is it merely a delusion on our part to believe that our thoughts matter? Does evolutionary theory shed light on any of these problems? Could a computer think the way we do? How will our answers to these questions affect the way we choose to study psychology – the science of the mind? These are the sorts of questions we will discuss in this course.

 

We will begin with an introduction to several different philosophical theories of the relationship between the mind and the body, starting with mind-body dualism, the view that the mind and body are two distinct substances with no properties in common. After discussing the problems with that view, we will then turn to several alternatives, including behaviorism, materialism, and functionalism. We will also consider the problems of what we mean when we talk about the mind and its contents, whether we can really know anything about the mind, and if so, how?

 

In answer to the last question, we will focus on two currently popular approaches to the study of the mind: the cognitive-computational approach and the neurosciences. We will be particularly interested in what light, if any, these approaches shed on the problem of consciousness. Are the methods of the sciences sufficient for understanding consciousness?  Or does this require some special philosophical method distinct from that of the sciences? Or is the phenomenon of consciousness beyond human understanding?

 

Required Texts:

 

                 Churchland, Patricia Smith, Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy, (BW)

                 Churchland, Paul, Matter and Consciousness, third edition (MC)

                 Heil, John, ed. Philosophy of Mind: A guide and anthology.  (PM)

                          

Course requirements:

 

 

 

3 500-word essays, 10 points each, due 1/30, 2/18, 3/12

 

30 %

8 Surprise quizzes

 

10 %

Class Participation

 

10 %

Research Project:

 

 

3/3

Proposal:  Title, description, bibliography

 6 %

 

4/2

4 - page progress report, with bibliography

 12 %

 

4/16 – 4/30

Class presentation

 12 %

 

Exam week

8 - 10 - page final paper

 20 %

 

Total for project:

 

 50 %

Total:

 

100 %

 

Essays:

 

The three 500-word essays will be based on material covered in class. For each assignment, you will choose and write about one of the three or four questions I will ask. 

 

I will be providing notes on the web for all of the classes, which should help you with the short essays as well as the quizzes. Take your web browser to the web site named above (not to Blackboard). There you will find this syllabus with highlighted links to lecture outlines (in parentheses), paper topic assignments, and a guide to paper writing. 

 

All written work, including the essays, the research proposal, the progress report, and the final paper, are to be double-spaced and in a readable 11 or 12-point font, and turned in as hard copy. Students whose written work is not up to college level will be requested to seek assistance at the Writing Center in Siegel Hall rooms 232 and 233.

 

Plagiarized work receives a failing grade and cannot be made up, and will be reported to the university committee on academic honesty.. 

 

Quizzes and Class Participation:

 

In addition, there will be approximately 8 quizzes, which typically consist of 7 true-and-false questions and one 3-point question that requires a written answer. Your average quiz grade will count for 10 % of your final grade.  Class participation and attendance will count towards another 10 % of your grade.

 

Students may make up missed quizzes only if they have an excused absence. Valid excuses concern things that are outside a student’s control, such as an out-of-town trip by a sports team or ROTC unit, an illness, or other medical problem. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the professor ahead of time when the student knows he or she will be absent from class. 

 

Research Project:

 

Every student will be responsible for a library research paper of about 8 - 10 pages and a 10 -15 minute presentation based on that paper. The topic may be drawn from either recent philosophy of mind, the history of the philosophy of mind, or related work in the cognitive sciences, artificial intelligence, or the neurosciences. A list of suggested topics is linked to the on-line syllabus.  Alternative topics may be worked out with the professor. There will be a class visit to Galvin Library to introduce you to some of the research tools available to you. 

 

This research project will proceed through a series of guided stages, each of which shall contribute towards your grade for the course. 

 

·                  First each student will turn in a proposal, including a tentative title, a one-paragraph description of the topic to be investigated, and a tentative bibliography of at least three peer-reviewed sources of the sort we learned about during our visit to Galvin Library. This will be returned with comments by the professor. 

·                  The next stage will be a progress report of about 1000 words, in either paragraph or outline form. It should also include the current bibliography on a separate page.  You may think of this progress report as serving as the basis of the class presentation. 

·                  The third stage is a class presentation of about 10 to 15 minutes. No particular audiovisuals are required for the class presentation; anything from chalk to power point is acceptable.  Grades will be based on the content of your presentation and not on the technology employed.

·                  Comments on this progress report and class discussion generated by your class presentation will then provide you with feedback for writing your final paper. The final research paper is due on the day scheduled for the final examination for this course and serves in place of it.

 

Disability Accommodations:

 

Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with documented disabilities.  In order to receive accommodations, students must obtain a letter of accommodation from the Center for Disability Resources and speak with me about it as soon as possible.  The Center for Disability Resources is located in 218 Life Sciences.  You can also call them at 312-567-5744 or email them at disabilities@iit.edu.

 

Readings and Assignments:

 

Date

 

Assignment (All required unless otherwise indicated)

 

1/14

T

Introduction to course.  Descartes on people, machines, and animals. Handout from Discourse on Method, V (Discourse).

1/16

R

Descartes’s Mind-Body Dualism.  Meditations, II, VI, with objections and replies.  PM, pp. 16-18, 36-58 (Descartes). 

1/21

T

Descartes’s Mind-Body Dualism, cont’d. FIRST ESSAY WILL BE ASSIGNED.  DUE:  1/30.

1/23

R

Locke and concluding discussion of dualism.  PM, pp. 18-20, 59-67; MC, pp. 11-35 (Locke, dualism). 

1/28

T

Behaviorism and the Semantical Problem.  PM, pp. 75-79, 85-104; MC, pp. 36-40 (behaviorism). 

1/30

R

Do Martians feel pain? Jan. 28 readings, continued (behaviorism). FIRST ESSAY DUE.SECOND ESSAY WILL BE ASSIGNED.  DUE:  2/18.

2/4

T

Materialism.  PM, pp. 79-84, 116-127; MC, pp. 40-45 (materialism)

2/6

R

Functionalism.  PM, pp. 139-149, 168-182; MC, pp. 63-72 (Fodor).

2/11

T

Dennett’s Intentional Stance.  PM, pp. 277-279, 298-320 (Dennett).

2/13

R

Concluding discussion of intentional stance.

2/18

T

Eliminative Materialism.  PM, pp. 357-364, 382-400; MC, pp.73-94, 93-108 (eliminativism). SECOND ESSAY DUE. THIRD ESSAY ASSIGNED.  DUE:  3/12.

2/20

R

Visit to Galvin Library.

2/25

T

Bat consciousness.  Bats?  Yes, bats.  PM, pp. 521-527, 528-538 (Nagel)..

2/27

R

There is something about Mary. PM, pp. 762-771 (Jackson).

3/3

T

The Mystery of Consciousness.  PM, pp. 599-606, 617-640 (Chalmers) 

3/5

R

Tuesday's assignment, continued. PROPOSALS DUE. 

3/10

T

Materialist replies.  MC, pp. 45-62 (materialism2), PM pp. 798-806 (Hardcastle). 

3/12

R

What we can know, and how we can learn about minds.  MC pp. 111-56, BW plp. 117-25 (epistemology, methodology). THIRD ESSAY DUE.

3/16 M –3/20 F SPRING BREAK.  NO CLASSES.

3/24

T

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.  PM, pp. 205-234; recommended:  MC, pp. 157-82 (Turing).

3/26

R

The Chinese Room.  PM, pp. 235-252; MC, pp. 182-89 (Searle). 

3/31

T

Chinese Room, cont’d.  PM, pp. 253-66 (Boden). 

4/2

R

Connectionism.  MC, pp. 241-259; BW, pp. 283-302; (connect).  PROGRESS REPORTS DUE.

4/7

T

Consciousness and neuroscience.  BW, pp. 127-170; recommended:  pp. 20-32 (Churchland1).

4/9

R

Consciousness and neuroscience, cont’d.  BW, pp. 171-199 (Churchland2).

4/14

T

Concluding discussion of neuroscience. 

4/16

R

Student presentations

4/21

T

Student presentations, cont’d.

4/23

R

Student presentations, cont’d. 

4/28

T

Student presentations, cont’d. 

4/30

R

Student presentations, cont’d. 

5/4 M –5/8 F EXAM WEEK.  FINAL PAPERS DUE ON SCHEDULED EXAM DATE.