RELI3056 Philosophy of Mind, Consciousness, and Personal Identity (3 units)
Philosophy of mind is the study of the nature of the mind and various conceptual puzzlements related to any mental aspects and activities of life, in particular humans. It is one of the oldest yet still the most prolific fields in philosophy. Contemporary discussions are fuelled by tremendous advances in many areas—neurosciences, psychology, psychiatry, medical sciences, linguistics, sociology, artificial intelligence, computer studies, robotics, to name but a few—giving the area a huge interdisciplinary character without detracting from its unique philosophical relevance.
This course aims to survey a particular issue in the philosophy of mind, namely, the mind-body problem. Dualists claim that mind and body are distinct substances, whereas physicalists claim that mental states are just physical states. The course starts by examining the origin and the implications of Descartes’ dualism, and moves into the current philosophical debate on the relationship between the mental and the physical. Various theories will be examined including behaviourism, identity theory, functionalism, interpretativism, and eliminativism. The focus is on whether physicalists can reply to the challenges on intentionality, propositional attitudes and phenomenal consciousness. It explores what it means to be a person and how personal identity is formed. In the end of the course, we reflect on some assumptions such as the distinction of the subjective versus the objective, and whether the mind is confined by the body.
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