PHILOSOPHY of MIND

This three-hour tutorial is intended as  a comprehensive primer on philosophy of mind, covering important paradigm issues such as the mind-body problem and the hard problem of consciousness. During the tutorial, we will consider questions and research from the fields of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, genetics and evolutionary biology, developmental neurobiology, neuropsychology, quantum physics and zoology. The tutorial has been designed to be of particular use to students reading for degrees in neuroscience,  psychology and philosophy.

 

After a brief introduction to the nature of philosophical enquiry, the tutorial begins in earnest with a consideration of the mind-body debate, outlining the dualist and monist schools of thought and providing focus windows on the positions of Baruch Spinoza, William James and René Descartes. We delve into various forms of dualism, including interactionist, psychophysical and property dualism, and explore opposing monist theories such as behaviourism, functionalism, emergent materialism and forms of non-physical monism such as idealism. We also expound the positions of mysterianism and Thomas Nagel - considering his essay, What Is It Like To Be A Bat? - naturalism and qualia, alongside Heidegger's anti-ontology and the explanatory gap. In the second half of this tutorial, we explore the nature of consciousness and the different forms proposed. We reflect on artifact consciousness and John Searle's 'Chinese room' thought experiment. We then focus on animal consciousness, considering whether it can be reduced to the electrochemical and biophysical properties of nerve cells. How complex does a nervous system need to be for consciousness to emerge?  Is Caenorhabditis elegans conscious with only 302 neurons?  We examine the neural correlates of consciousness, the work of Rodolfos Llinás and recurrent thalamocortical resonance, and the competing mammalian consciousness–brain theories of the likes of Francis Crick and Christof Koch. We finish with a consideration of how developmental central nervous system problems such as anencephaly and traumatic brain injury-induced coma may inform our conceptions and knowledge of consciousness and mind.

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For further information and a programme, please email Dr Guy Sutton at the address in the footer below.

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