Philosophy of Mind – Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

Name Product: Philosophy of Mind – Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines
COST: $254.95
Author: Patrick Grim
Size: 8.2 GB
Website: http://www.thegreatcourses.com/tgc/courses/course_detail.aspx?cid=4278

Do other people have a mind like yours and, if so, how do you know?
Is your mind something distinct from your body, or do ordinary physiological processes produce minds?
Can a machine have a mind?
What is consciousness?
Do you have free will?
Is everything you are now experiencing actually happening, or is that an elaborate illusion created by the mind?

The mind reels at such questions! But philosophy provides powerful tools for investigating the mysteries of thinking, feeling, and perceiving.

What Is Your Mind?

History“s most profound thinkers have spent their lives attempting to answer the deceptively simple question, “what is the mind?” including Aristotle in antiquity, Rene Descartes in the 17th century, and William James in the 19th century.

Questions about the nature of the mind are among the most hotly debated in philosophy today. Today, we are beginning to see the true complexity of this pursuit, as philosophers draw on the latest evidence from neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and other fields to probe still deeper into the inner workings of the mind.

One of the most exciting research partnerships in recent decades has been the interdisciplinary study of the mind called cognitive science. It draws on neuroscience to chart how bundles of neurons create minds, psychology to illuminate how minds function, linguistics to explain how minds generate language, artificial intelligence to attempt to reproduce the output of our minds, and other fields to cover the big picture.

Try Thought Experiments

An amazingly productive technique for studying the mind is the hypothetical scenario, or thought experiment, which helps us grasp these overarching questions and show what a puzzling phenomena the mind is. Some of the fascinating thought experiments you encounter in Philosophy of Mind are:

Brain in a Vat: How do you know you are not a brain in a vat, with a completely simulated life? While plausible as science fiction, this picture assumes that the mind could be disembodied. The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and others, however, seem to have strong evidence that feedback from the body is essential to forming a mind.

Chinese Room: Imagine a room in which a non-Chinese speaker follows rules for translating Chinese and produces correct answers without understanding the language. In his powerful critique of artificial intelligence, the philosopher John Searle draws a comparison with computers and argues that they can“t have understanding simply by virtue of manipulating rules and symbols.

Life as a Bat: We all know what it is like to be us, but what is it like to be a bat? No matter how much we know about bat physiology, says philosopher Thomas Nagel, it is impossible to know the subjective experience of a bat. Perhaps no subjective state, such as consciousness, can be understood objectively.

The Changing Taste of Beer: Qualia are qualitative experiences such as tastes and smells, but how real are they? As an example, the philosopher Daniel Dennett cites the typical first reaction to the taste of beer: “What awful stuff!” But suppose you become a beer loverhas the taste of beer changed? Do you have different qualia, or do you have the same qualia but are just reacting differently?

Explore a Panorama of Theories

In Philosophy of Mind, you study all the major theories of the mind, including:

Dualism, which holds that body and mind are separate substances
Behaviorism and Functionalism, which stress behavior and interactions with the world as clues to the mind“s inner workings
Idealism, which views the physical world as an illusion and suggests that only the mental realm exists
“Antitheories” of the mind, which posit that subjective mental experiences are fundamentally inexplicable and will always remain a mystery.

These and other philosophical positions all have something going for them. One thinker“s convincing arguments often diverge radically from another“s equally convincing argument, so that a newcomer to the field can“t help but get lost among the contending proposals.

Philosophy of Mind expertly sorts out the various approaches to understanding the mind, giving the pros and cons of each in an engrossing survey of complex and often controversial intellectual terrain. The course articulates these intellectual options in service of capturing the excitement of intellectual discussion, never to lay down a single dogmatic position.


01. The Dream, the Brain, and the Machine
02. The Mind-Body Problem
03. Brains and Minds, Parts and Wholes
04. The Inner Theater
05. Living in the Material World
06. A Functional Approach to the Mind
07. What Is It about Robots?
08. Body Image
09. Self-Identity and Other Minds
10. PerceptionWhat Do You Really See?
11. PerceptionIntentionality and Evolution
12. A Mind in the World
13. A History of Smart Machines
14. Intelligence and IQ
15. Artificial Intelligence
16. Brains and Computers
17. Attacks on Artificial Intelligence
18. Do We Have Free Will?
19. Seeing and Believing
20. Mysteries of Color
21. The Hard Problem of Consciousness
22. The Conscious Brain2? Physical Theories
23. The HOT Theory and Antitheories
24. What We Know and What We Don“t Know


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