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Best of All-Time Online Course

What is a Mind?

University of Cape Town via FutureLearn

Overview

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This free online course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.

What is a mind?

This question has perplexed philosophers, scientists, historians and ordinary people across time and cultures.

While advances in the medical understanding of how the brain functions can shed light on neurological functions and disorders, the essential question of what the mind is speaks to a different problem.

This problem cannot be answered by a purely scientific understanding of the brain, nor by a purely philosophical or psychological approach. Many disciplines have attempted to address the question, resulting in multiple and sometimes antithetical answers.

New understandings of the mind

On this course, Professor Mark Solms, Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, will adopt a multidisciplinary approach.

He will bring in perspectives from a range of disciplines, to explore four specific aspects of the mind- subjectivity, intentionality, consciousness and agency. Together, these will help us think about the fundamental questions: what it is to be a mind, why we have a mind and what it feels like to have a mind.

You can find out more in Professor Mark Solms’s posts for the FutureLearn blog: “What is a mind? One of the great mysteries of our time” and “Thinking and feeling: what’s the difference?”

This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in psychology and the mind. The course will also appeal to practitioners, students and researchers from a range of disciplines, whose work directly or indirectly looks at the mind and the brain. This includes, but is not limited to neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, psychiatry and neurology.

Taught by

Mark Solms

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Reviews

4.8 rating, based on 245 reviews

Start your review of What is a Mind?

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    All my life I have wanted to do something that would really interest and excite me. I am now 82 and I found the course did both. Some people of my age and younger say that they do not mind dying now, they have enjoyed their lives and lived long enough....
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The good: - The courses talks about a few interesting concepts, one does feel more knowledgeable after finishing it - Every end of the week, there is section where Mark answers questions from the audience - the material for each video can be downloaded -...
  • Liz Court completed this course.

    This was an absolutely brilliant course from start to finish . It was extremely well put together and Mark Solms is one of the most engaging , interesting and accessible educators of all the FL courses I have taken part in. The course material , while complex , was utterly fascinating and even a complete lay person , such as myself ,was able to understand and engage with it fully. I cannot recommend this course highly enough . What a wonderful journey of discovery this has been , and I am so sorry it is now over. However there is so much recommended reading I shall be very engrossed for a long time. Brilliant.
  • Karla Cabrera completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    OK, I actually think this course was great! The professor engaged enormously to give interest in the student. He explained deeply the subject and also provided an opportunity to ask questions so he can respond to the 4 more rated. What I liked about this course is that he provided evidence of what he explained and also some additional sources like articles and/or websites (although in my opinion I'd prefer MORE sources so we can investigate more about the subject in question). Another point I would like to add is that the course gives scientific explanation of things I've never think before. Definitely, my favorite online class of all the ones I took before.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Overall; outstanding. Well structured with good balance of video lecture, articles, quizes etc. Transcripts available to allow reading and listening simultaneously. Well presented in a lucid and entertaining manner. Nicely linked to further info. The best MOOC I have done by a very large margin and one I shall use as a benchmark for the subsequent ones. Thoroughly recommended.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I really enjoyed this course. It was new to me but linked to thoughts like "what makes this body/mind me?" Having finished, it is possible to download much of the material so it can be reviewed in the future after mulling over some of the ideas and insights. Thank you to all the team who made this possible.
  • Margaret O' Doherty completed this course.

    This is an extensive subject and many people have devoted their lives to it without coming up with the answer. You won't have all the answers after doing this course but at least you will understand the question.
    Presentation is clear and structured in a way that is easy to follow. There are many links to further study for those at a more advanced level and Prof Solm's is an outstanding communicator.
  • Jacqueline Richards

    Jacqueline Richards completed this course.

    As a complete novice in this field I found this course really engaging and stimulating. Professor Mark Solms who presents the course is so enthusiastic about his subject, so that the whole complex subject comes across as entertaining rather than dry. I had to go over some sections again to fully understand them, but I was greatly aided by the comments section in the course where you could bounce ideas off each other. I was honoured to exchange ideas with other much more experienced and helpful online students which made the whole experience really uplifting. I highly recommend this course to the layman and professional alike.
  • Elisabeth Watkins completed this course, spending 10 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course was structured really well, the content was presented very well, and allowed for discussion and disagreement. Professor Solms made no secret of his approach to this topic and it certainly provides a way forward for the future, although one or two participants preferred the approach of neuroscience alone.

    Mark Solms showed undoubted learning and enthusiasm.He and his team were marvellous and supervised exceedingly well. This is the best FL course I have been on, other than Logical Thinking which ties with it. Thanks to all the team for a wonderful time.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Prof Mark Solms (Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital inter alia) and his colleagues have devised a Top Course for FutureLearn! It is effectively mind-boggling: excellent videos, creative articles and readings and lists of other materials, direct interaction by Prof Solms each week with questions raised by learners, and an environment that spurs learners to engage in the very best way in the easy-to-use FL comments sections. This course is pure energy, pure magic and pure enjoyment. I'll have another go at it for fun.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I came to this course with little knowledge, expertise, or experience other than that of life itself. Engaging with the materials, completing the assignments and interacting with other students made this a rich and insightful experience that has increased my understanding of self and of those around me. Whilst I do not adhere to all that has been presented I am in a stronger place than I was before to more forward in confidence of having a sound basis of argument.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It is a brilliant course. Professor Mark Solms is there all the time and teaches with enthusiasm and one feels as if it directed to you personally. Having no experience of any kind of neuro-science I understood the new concepts he explained, but struggled with the vocabulary and should have written myself a glossary. Like any university course l need to revise and intend reading right through the course again. It was a privilege to "study" under Mark, who is such a leader in his discipline. Thankyou Mark!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    What an amazing course, for practitioners and patients alike. For everybody who has a mind in fact (pun intended) The course is delivered in a concise and ultimately very understandable way. It's left me with much more understanding than I had about the formation and function of the mind and has created in me a desire to study further. I was skeptical at first, I thought a course that was free couldn't really offer too much but I was so wrong. I thoroughly recommend it.
  • Anonymous completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This is a brilliant course to learn about the four main components of a human mind from a neurophsychoanalytic perspective. Teaching videos are excellent and each week considers a separate component of the mind. Learners are invited to submit a question each week for Professor Solms to answer. Four questions are chosen and Professor Solms records each response as a video. A thoroughly engaging course, well pitched with no prior knowledge of psychology required. A must do MOOC.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This was my first Future Learn course and I found it excellent. The tutor was totally engaging and manged to explain some complicated concepts that were completely new to me in an easily understandable way. There was a nice mix of teaching/learning methods with links to articles and a further reading list so you can take it as far as you want to, really. All in all a thoroughly good and very productive experience.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    The best thing about this course is the calibre of student it attracts. I could have spent 120 hours a week in this course and I basically dropped everything else I could to give as much time to it as possible just trying to keep up with the fascinating things the students were bringing up! I will probably take this course over and over again. I've taken dozens of MOOCs and this one was by far the best of them in terms of my overall learning experience.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is a demanding course by MOOC standards but it repays the effort.
    Prof Solms is able to present complex and challenging material in plain English and has an engaging and endearingly honest approach which generates a fascinating chain of comments and discussions in each section.
    The fact that each week the Prof answers a number of student's questions directly adds significantly to the value of the course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I enjoyed this course, very much. It was a bit difficult for me, at times, but the transcripts that came with the videos were helpful. Input from other students who answered my questions, was wonderful. The interactive part of the course: writing papers, communicating with other students, and having Dr. Solms answer questions was invaluable. At any rate, I know more about 'the mind" than I did before!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    A brilliant insight and learning about the mind and it's 4 defining properties. I gained so much from this course that will support me in my life coaching practice and my personal life. I come away with so much more clarity and understanding of our emotional systems and what they represent.
    Deeply grateful to Prof. Solms for sharing his knowledge and years of research. I am excited to learn more!
  • HBot completed this course.

    As a practicing systems thinker (Executive and University Education) and someone who became familiar with behavioral psychology, this was a great course to dive deeper and become more exposed to the broader topic of neuro-psychology. The course not only provided insights and integrative views on the brain and psychology, but I found the topics and material valuable for practical personal insights and real life applications and understanding.

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