Mental Phenomena

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One way to start to study the philosophy of mind is to draw up a map of the mind: among the states, events, properties of a person, which are those that we regard as mental? (Note that by ‘mental’ I don’t mean something opposed to the physical; I don’t make any assumptions about the issue of physicalism. The mental is opposed simply to the non-mental, or the merely physical.) The purpose of this course is to look into some theories of different mental features.

Our starting point will be the categories commonly used in philosophy and everyday life. We will attempt to discover what lies behind this classification: what is the nature of a given category? How can we distinguish one category from another? For example, what is the difference between perception and cognition, or perception and imagery? Is there a deep difference, or only a difference in degree? Do we indeed have five perceptual senses? What is the nature of dreams? And of hallucinations? What are standing states? Do character traits exist?

Although our interest in these questions will be largely philosophical, we will use findings from empirical science to inform our philosophical inquiry.