Philosophy | Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy
P730 | 23791 | O'Connor

Topic:  Mind and Its Place in Nature

Our topic in this course is the nature of mind and its relationship
to the material world. In the vast landscape of contemporary
philosophy of mind, these questions are much debated:

(1) Are mental states ontologically reducible to physical states?
(And what might this question mean?)

(2) Do mental states ever make a distinctive causal contribution to
anything that happens?
(And what might this question mean?)

We, too, shall be much preoccupied with these particular questions.
But, unlike many who style themselves 'philosophers of mind' but
not 'metaphysicians,' we shall raise them in the context of an
exploration of basic ontology, enccouraged by the thought that one's
views concerning substance, properties, and causality might
constrain the plausible answers to questions specifically about
mind.  We shall differ from many of them also by taking seriously
certain heterodox views about the mental.

Lastly, do mind that we'll be doing our ontology from an unabashedly
realist point of view.  No swirling together of epistemological and
metaphysical theses into an unwholesome brew here.