Philosophy of Mind (PHIL*6120) | College of Arts

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL*6120)

Code and section: PHIL*6120*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Andrew Bailey


This course will deal with the very old, very new topic of panpsychism: the idea that consciousness (or proto-consciousness) is fundamental and ubiquitous in nature. Although this view originates with early Greek thought, can be found in modern philosophers such as Spinoza and Leibniz, and flourished in the nineteenth century (Schopenhauer, Fechner, Royce, James, Schiller, Russell, Whitehead), our focus will be on the contemporary resurgence in interest in panpsychism over the past twenty years or so. This modern, and perhaps unexpected, attention to panpsychism is a response to the difficult problem of integrating phenomenal consciousness into the natural world in a satisfactory way. We will approach the current literature on panpsychism via William Seager’s book Theories of Consciousness: An Introduction and Assessment (second edition, Routledge 2016), which lays the groundwork for panpsychism as a potentially attractive solution to the problem of consciousness. We will then explore some of the current literature laying out this idea.

This course will be delivered online. It will probably be delivered with one scheduled hour a week for the class to join together as a group in online discussion (the Registrar will schedule this time into the timetable, but once the class convenes we will feel free either to use the scheduled time or to mutually agree on another time that works for us all). In addition, there will be various asynchronous online elements, including a discussion board, notes, videos etc. Class participants will likely be asked to record their own video presentation as part of the course assessment, as well as to participate in other ways.

Course Outline