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730%20329%20B6%20Morgan - PHIL 329 Minds Machines Course...

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Course Syllabus, Summer 2011 Place: Frelinghuysen Hall, B2 Instructor: Alex Morgan Email: [email protected] Of±ce: B003, 1 Seminary Place Of±ce hour: Wednesday, 5.00—6.00pm Course Description In seeking to understand the nature of the mind, thinkers throughout history have used metaphors inspired by the technology of their time. Plato likened memory to the process of imprinting an object onto a block of wax. Freud’s theory of the unconscious evokes steam engines and hydraulic mechanisms. In our time, the prevailing metaphor is the computer. Indeed, the idea that the mind or brain is a kind of computer is often said to be one of the foundational assumptions of cognitive science. But what does it mean to say that the mind/brain is a computer? Is this more than a mere metaphor? If so, is it true? Could a computer have a mind or be conscious? What is a computer anyway? The purpose of this course is to critically engage with these and related questions, and thereby examine some of the core philosophical assumptions underlying contemporary scienti±c explanations of the mind. The hope is that participants will develop their skills of philosophical analysis and argumentation, and come away with an enriched understanding of one of the most exciting scienti±c endeavors of our time.
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Prerequisites I’ll assume that you’ve had some prior experience reading and writing philosophy. A couple of courses in philosophy should sufFce. Some experience with formal logic will come in handy, as will a background in one or more of the various sub-disciplines of cognitive science (psychology, computer science, etc.), but neither is required. If you’re unsure whether you’re sufFciently prepared for the course, please contact me. Course Materials There is no textbook for this course. All readings will be made available as PD±s via the Sakai site, which you can Fnd by searching for ‘Minds & Machines’. However, if you’d like to do some background reading, the following two texts are a good place to start: Andy Clark, ‘ Mindware ’ (Oxford University Press, 2001) Tim Crane, ‘ The Mechanical Mind ’ (Routledge 2003) In addition to the readings, the Sakai site will contain other important resources, including a discussion board, the lecture slides, and an up-to-date schedule of readings. The Sakai site effectively functions as an information hub for the course, so make sure to check it regularly.
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730%20329%20B6%20Morgan - PHIL 329 Minds Machines Course...

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