Metaphysics and Mind (PHIL*2370) | College of Arts

Metaphysics and Mind (PHIL*2370)

Code and section: PHIL*2370*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Mark McCullagh


This course is about the nature of thought and its relation to the world. We will read a selection of writings on that subject, from the 17th century up to the end of the 20th.
* 8 brief writings, on assigned topics
* 12 reactions/queries
* 3 tests
* no final examination

There is no textbook for this course. All material is in PDF form and is linked on the “resources” page of the course website.
Weekly routine
Weekend: do reading for following week (text + my reading guide)
Monday: post on Teams your responses/queries, which will be discussed in our Tuesday meeting on Teams
Tuesday: [mandatory] discussion on Teams; assignment given
Wednesday: work on assignment
Thursday: [optional] office hour on Teams for discussion and questions
Friday: submit assignment

January 11-15: Descartes I: his project and his principles
January 18-22: Descartes II: his argument; assessing his project
January 25-29: Locke on ideas and primary and secondary qualities
February 1-5: Locke on perception; Molyneux’s problem; operations on ideas
February 8-12: Locke on language; taking stock of Descartes and Locke
February 22-26: Hume’s sceptical doubts, and his “sceptical solution” of those doubts
March 1-5: Kant’s idea of synthetic a priori knowledge; the problems he is trying to solve
March 8-12: Intuiting things a priori; Kant’s defence against the charge of idealism
March 15-19: Kant on “pure natural science”; solving the Humean problem
March 22-26: Davidson on conceptual schemes
March 29-April 1: Putnam on Twin Earth and the division of linguistic labour
April 5-9: Putnam on scepticism and brains in vats

Course Outline