SP22 PHIL493/593

Special Topics: Phenomenal Consciousness (PHIL493/593)
Dr. Wayne Wright

Mondays & Wednesdays  ·  9:30am–10:45pm  ·  LA1–312

This course will be focused on one of the major issues in the philosophy of mind: phenomenal consciousness. Phenomenal consciousness is the aspect of our mental lives that is referred to in talk of ‘felt qualities’ and ‘what it is like’. It has long been wondered how phenomenal consciousness fits into the physical world. How is it that the three pound lump of gray matter between our ears can give rise to the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread, the throbbing pain of a broken finger, or the thrilling sensation of one’s stomach dropping on a rollercoaster ride? When two different people look at the sky and agree that it is blue, is it possible that the sky looks radically different to them in their visual experiences? It seems safe to say that you know that you are phenomenally conscious, but how do you know that anyone else really is? Perhaps the brain is the wrong place in the world to look for answers to these questions. Maybe phenomenal consciousness is somehow altogether separate from the physical nature of world. This course will examine these and related issues. In the first half of the semester, we will go through Michael Tye’s Ten Problems of Consciousness (our only required textbook), which introduces the central problems of phenomenal consciousness and proposes one of the leading accounts of its place in the physical world. In the second half of the semester, we will read a variety of articles and book chapters (provided as .pdfs on the course’s Beachboard page) that offer different answers to or perspectives on the problems of phenomenal consciousness.

[PHIL493/593: Special Topics in Metaphysics may be repeated for up to 6 units with a change in topic.]