Minds, Brains, and the Nature of Consciousness: An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Fall - September 18–November 21, 2021
Modality, Day & Time:
Online - Saturday, 1:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m.

Jared Peterson

Course Description

What is the nature of the mind? How is the mind related to the brain? What is consciousness? How can we be certain that others have minds? Can robots possess minds?

We explore these questions via a philosophical investigation of a number of attempts to explain the nature of the mind. The course begins with dualist attempts to characterize the mind as a non-physical soul, existing independently of the body, and proceeds to an investigation of recent attempts to understand the mind as the brain and mentality as physical phenomena. Some of the most widely-embraced answers to the questions what is a mind? and what is mentality, are critically assessed, including (i) substance dualism, (ii) mind-brain identity theory, and (iii) functionalism. In the latter part of the course, issues such as the nature of consciousness, and how to make sense of the causal efficacy of the mind are explored.

The broad goal of the course is to sharpen students’ analytical reading and writing skills, while the more specific objectives are to give them a solid understanding of issues in the philosophy of mind as well as an understanding of the methods of philosophy. The course includes asynchronous work, which students are expected to complete between class sessions.

Registration Guidance & Call Number(s)

To view detailed information on a particular offering, click on the call number to be directed to the Directory of Classes catalogue.

PHMN0104 | Call Number: 15131

Further guidance on the registration process can be found here.


Jared Peterson

Jared Peterson holds a doctoral in philosophy (with a focus on epistemology and philosophy of mind) from Northwestern University. His current research is on issues of self-knowledge, or how we know our own minds, with an emphasis on how we know our attitudes. He taught philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside before joining the philosophy department of the State University of New York-Oswego in 2018.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course details such as topics, activities, hours, and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.