Philosophy of Mind II: Consciousness
James Hill PhD
In this one semester course we shall examine contemporary attempts to define and explain the phenomenon of consciousness . A central question for us will be whether or not consciousness can be explained in a naturalistic way: whether, for example, it can in principle be understood as a biological phenomenon (Searle), or as reducible to functional states (Dennett), or by the help of the physics of sub-atomic events (Penrose). We will also examine the philosophers who are sceptical of naturalist explanation (Nagel), or who think that a naturalist explanation, while in principle possible, is humanly unattainable (McGinn). Throughout the course we will attentive to the different concepts of consciousness that are presupposed by the philosophers whom we discuss. Often it is assumed that we all know what consciousness is. In fact, as we shall see, philosophers may be implicitly presupposing rather different conceptions of the phenomenon.
The course will be conducted in English throughout and will be graded by attendance and a single piece of written work at the end of the semester.