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Philosophy of Mind: Part 1, the Dream, the Brain and the Machine

By Frank Simons

The Meditation Center begins the 24-part Great Courses series, Philosophy of Mind: Part 1, The Dream, the Brain, and the Machine, at 5:30pm, Thursday, June 8, 2017, at the Center, Callejón Blanco 4.

Video Presentation
Meditation Center presents
Philosophy of Mind: Part 1, The Dream, the Brain, and the Machine
Thu, Jun 8, 5:30pm
Callejón Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted

What is the relation between the brain and the mind? Is free will an illusion? Could a machine ever be creative? What is consciousness? The discipline known as philosophy of mind encompasses a range of questions about subjective experiences, perceptions, intelligence, emotion, and the role of the mental in a physical universe. A broad range of disciplines is involved in the ongoing attempt to understand what minds are and how they work: psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, computer science, and even robotics. The overriding goal of this course is to develop a deeper philosophical understanding of our minds and of ourselves.

The first lecture outlines the kinds of topics to be covered using three examples: The dream of Rene Descartes of the science of the future that would make clear the different realms of matter and mind; the brain of Albert Einstein, a little smaller than average, but with some unique characteristics as well; the machine as Analytical Engine designed by Charles Babbage in the mid-1800s, that, had it been built, would have been a full-fledged computer constructed of steel and brass and driven by steam. This lecture also offers a road map of the course and illustrates the general approach to be used.

The goal of philosophy of mind is a unified understanding of mind and its place in the world. The focus is on conceptual clarification, the disentangling of complex questions, and the careful examination of alternative approaches. Philosophy’s major tool is rational argument.

Throughout the course, we will lay out issues in terms of a range of intellectual options and alternatives. The first six lectures introduce basic concepts, classical theories, and current hypotheses. The next six lectures follow the theme of functionalism through issues of perception, self-conception, and minds in the world. A third section focuses on questions of intelligence, both natural and artificial. The final six lectures focus on subjective experience and the mystery of consciousness. A crucial prerequisite for the course is your mind, which will function both as the subject and the object of study.

Professor Patrick Grim, as Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has provided his students with invaluable insights into issues of philosophy, artificial intelligence, theoretical biology, and other fields. Professor Grim was awarded the University’s Presidential and Chancellor’s awards for teaching excellence and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.

Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


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