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Online Course

Minds and Machines

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX

Overview

What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Can computers think? Do we perceive reality as it is? Can there be a science of consciousness?

This course explores these questions and others. It is a thorough, rigorous introduction to contemporary philosophy of mind.

According to many scientists and philosophers, explaining the nature of consciousness is the deepest intellectual challenge of all. If you find consciousness at all puzzling, this is a great place to start learning more.

Syllabus

Overview. This class is an introduction to philosophy of mind. Here are some of the questions we’ll
be thinking about:

  • Are you an “immaterial soul”, distinct from your brain and body?
  • Alternatively, are you simply a material or physical animal, living in an entirely physical world?
  • If we (somehow) made a brain that was a perfect molecule-for-molecule replica of your brain,
    and (somehow) kept it alive in a tank, would the tank-creature have the same mental life as you?
  • Do we see ordinary physical objects like lemons and iPhones? And assuming that we do see them at all, do we see them as they really are?
  • Can consciousness be given a scientific explanation?

Schedule.
Part 1 – Minds and Computers
Lecture 1: Introduction
Lecture 2: The Chinese Room
Lecture 3: The Chinese Room, Continued; Arguments
Lecture 4: The Chinese Room, Continued
Lecture 5: Turing Machines and the Turing Test
Lecture 6: The Turing Test
Assessment 1: First Argument Analysis (10%)
Part 2 – From Dualism to Functionalism
Lecture 7: Dualism
Lecture 8: Dualism, Continued
Lecture 9: Behaviorism
Lecture 10: The Identity Theory
Lecture 11: The Identity Theory, Continued
Lecture 12: Kripke’s Objection
Lecture 13: Functionalism
Lecture 14: Functionalism, Continued
Assessment 2: Midterm Exam (30%)
Part 3 – Minds and Brains
Lecture 15: Knowledge
Lecture 16: Belief
Lecture 17: Belief, Continued
Part 4 – Perception
Lecture 18: Perception
Lecture 19: The Argument from Illusion, and Color Perception
Lecture 20: Color
Assessment 3: Second Argument Analysis (10%)
Part 5 – Consciousness
Lecture 21: Color, Continued; Nagel on Bats
Lecture 22: Nagel on Bats, Continued; the Knowledge Argument
Lecture 23: The Knowledge Argument, Continued; Chalmers’ Dualism
Lecture 24: Chalmers’ Dualism, Continued; Tye on Transparency
Lecture 25: Consciousness Wrap-Up
Assessment 4: Final Exam (50%)

Taught by

Alex Byrne

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Reviews

3.0 rating, based on 4 reviews

Start your review of Minds and Machines

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Very confusing - though given that we get small subsets of actual class presentations that seems inevitable. the Q&A's are not that helpful either in that wrong answers are seldom analyzed.
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    Samantha B.

    Samantha completed this course.

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    Monica G.

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  • Teresa T.

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