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Course, academic year 2022/2023
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Contemporary Theories of Consciousness - AFSV00290
Title: Contemporary Theories of Consciousness
Guaranteed by: Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies (21-UFAR)
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Actual: from 2022
Semester: summer
Points: 0
E-Credits: 6
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:2/0, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unlimited / unknown (unknown)
Min. number of students: unlimited
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Additional information:
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: prof. James Hill, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): prof. James Hill, Ph.D.
Last update: prof. James Hill, Ph.D. (23.02.2023)
We shall examine contemporary attempts to define and explain the phenomenon of consciousness. The central question will be how consciousness can be accounted for in a naturalistic way: whether, for example, it can be understood as a state of the brain, or as reducible to "functional states", or as a "user-illusion" or other form of illusion. We will pay attention to the mysterians who think that a naturalist explanation, though in principle possible, is humanly unattainable. We will also consider emergentist theory and the recent revival of panpsychism and neutral monism which, though they reject physicalism, remain naturalistic theories. Throughout the course we will bear in mind the different conceptions of consciousness that are presupposed by the philosophers whom we discuss.

Plan of course:
1. Introduction: consciousness and the hard problem
2. Identity theory
3. Functionalism and multiple realizability
4. Illusionism
5. Non-reductive biological theory
6. Mysterianism
7. Emergentism
8. Panpsychism
9. Neutral monism
10. Conclusion
Requirements to the exam
Last update: prof. James Hill, Ph.D. (23.02.2023)

Each week there will be a reading available which will be the subject of our discussion in the seminar. The reading is an essential part of the course, and students will lose their way if they fail to do it. Our course will be graded according to two criteria: attendance and written work.

(i) To be eligible for the grade, students should attend the course on a regular basis. More than three absences during the semester will not be acceptable (except in cases of medical indisposition backed up by a signed doctor's letter).

(ii) The written work will be a short essay, of between 1,000-1,500 words on one subject from the course with a title and plan chosen by the student themselves. This essay, written in English, should show knowledge of a philosopher and topic appearing in the course, it should draw on literature made available for the course, and it should include the student’s own argued standpoint. The essay should be handed in on paper by May 1st, 2023. Essays cannot be accepted after this date, nor can they be accepted in electronic form. It is important that Erasmus students do not leave Prague without discussing their essay with me, as the discussion may contribute towards the grade.

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