Special Topics in Metaphysics: The Mind and its Environment (PHIL493/593)
Dr. Wayne Wright
Mondays & Wednesdays · 11:00am–12:15pm · LA5–246
This course will address the connection between the contents of our minds and those of the world around us. Our primary concern will be visual perception. A substantial part of the semester will be spent dealing with color vision, with particular emphasis on whether the colors we encounter when we open our eyes are real properties of mind-independent objects. Besides opening the door to familiar philosophical issues such as the appearance/reality distinction and the status of the so-called ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ qualities, this study should prompt further reflection on what sort of ‘match’ we might expect (hope for, etc), between the world as we experience it and the world as it is in itself. In the remaining part of the semester, we will turn to more general themes regarding the nature of perception and its connection to not just the external environment, but also our cognitive and behavioral capacities. Overall, we will go beyond fairly provincial concerns in the philosophy of perception and the philosophy of mind, and will also take up issues in the philosophy of science and the foundations of empirical research on vision.
No books are required; all course readings will be available as .pdfs through the course’s Canvas page. Our readings will be drawn from both philosophy and science. Authors likely to be included in the course reading list include Alex Byrne, Hasok Chang, Mazviita Chirimuuta, Patricia Churchland, Andy Clark, Daniel Dennett, Frances Egan, Mel Goodale, C. L. Hardin, Gary Hatfield, David R. Hilbert, Donald Hoffman, Anya Hurlbert, Kimberly Jameson, Jan Koenderink, Mohan Matthen, Rainer Mausfeld, Kevin O’Regan, Wilfrid Sellars, Davida Teller, Evan Thompson, and Mark Wilson.