Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Course Description

This class is an introduction to many of the central issues in a branch of philosophy called philosophy of mind. Some of the questions we will discuss include the following. Can computers think? Is the mind an immaterial thing? Or is the mind the brain? Or does the mind stand to the brain as a computer program stands to the hardware? How can creatures like ourselves think thoughts that are "about" things? (For example, we can all think that Aristotle is a philosopher, and in that sense think about Aristotle, but what is the explanation of this quite remarkable ability?) Do we perceive ordinary physical objects like lemons and iPods as they really are? Can consciousness be given a scientific explanation?


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Reading and Attendance

Reading, discussing, and writing about the assigned readings are the central activities of this class. There is a reading assignment for each lecture. Some are (a) very difficult, or (b) very long, or (c) both. All demand careful study. All should be completed before each lecture as the lecture will often presuppose familiarity with the material in the texts.

Attendance at all lectures and all recitation sections is required. Lectures will introduce important material not in the readings. As mentioned above, one goal of the course is to help students develop their critical and argumentative skills. Because of this—and to meet the requirements for a Communication-Intensive course—participation in section is an especially important component of the course.

Criteria For HASS CI Subjects

Communication intensive (CI) subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) should require at least 20 pages of writing divided among 3–5 assignments. Of these 3–5 assignments, at least one should be revised and resubmitted. HASS CI subjects should further offer students substantial opportunity for oral expression, through presentations, student-led discussion, or class participation.

As this is a CI subject, the oral component is essential. Active participation in both lectures and (especially) recitations is required. Students will be asked to give oral presentations on the reading in recitation.


Recitation Grade 20%
3 Papers (5 pages) 60%
Final Exam 20%

Recitation Grade

Recitation evaluation will be based on attendance, preparation, contributions to discussion, and any written or oral assignments, including 2 argument analysis exercises (2–3 pages). The two exercises together must total at least five pages.

60% 3 5-Page Papers

Paper topics will be distributed in advance and will ask students to analyze and discuss material covered in class. Guidelines for papers will be handed out in class. (The three papers together must total at least fifteen pages.) You must meet with a TA at least once in the process of writing one of the three papers.

One (and only one) of your three papers—either the first or second paper—must be rewritten and resubmitted (see the CI criteria above). You have two weeks to rewrite the paper after your first submission has been returned to you. You are strongly advised to rewrite your first paper. You must meet with a TA at least once to discuss your rewrite before submitting it (hence for a total of at least two meetings). Your grade for the revised paper will be the average of the grades for the two versions. (Note that revised papers are held to a higher standard.)

20% Final Exam

There will be a 3-hour final exam on material covered throughout the term.
The exam will be closed-notes and closed-books. (There is no midterm exam.)