Philosophy of Mind

Philosophy 235

Bates College

William Seeley


What is a mind?  Are minds distinct from brains?  If so, what is the relationship between minds and brains?  Could a brain literally lose its mind?  If it were possible, would the individual become a person without thoughts?  Would it even be a person at all?  Questions like these are the domain of philosophy of mind.  In this field philosophers ask questions about the nature mind, the relationship between the mind and its environment, and the ability of anyone to know the contents of other minds.  For instance, what is a belief, what is a desire, and how do these two types of mental states combine to form our human conception of the world.  In this course we will examine these sorts of questions.  The topics discussed will include:  dualism, behaviorism, physicalism, the nature of psychological explanation, consciousness, and the nature of mental representation. The first half of the semester is loosely a survey of theories of psychological explanation and the nature of mind. During the second half of the semester, as we turn to more topical questions of interest to contemporary research, we will also turn to questions about what cognitive science, neuroscience, and comparative psychology might be able to contribute to the field. This course is a good course for students who are also interested in cognitive science, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.


2012 Syllabus

2011 Syllabus