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Course, academic year 2019/2020
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The Evolution of Mind - AFSV00308
Title in English: The Evolution of Mind
Guaranteed by: Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies (21-UFAR)
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Actual: from 2019
Semester: summer
Points: 0
E-Credits: 4
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:2/0 Ex [hours/week]
Capacity: unknown / unknown (unknown)
Min. number of students: 30
State of the course: not taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Additional information:
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: doc. James Hill, Ph.D.
Class: Exchange - 08.1 Philosophy
Last update: doc. James Hill, Ph.D. (16.02.2019)
In this course we will investigate the evolutionary approach to the origin of the human mind. Of central importance for us will be Daniel Dennett’s recent book From Bacteria to Bach and Back (2017) which offers a neo-Darwinist theory of the emergence of consciousness and the higher mental faculties. Special attention will be given to Dennett’s extension of Darwinism into the field of cultural evolution and to the concept of “memes” which this move relies upon. We will also consider views that diverge from Dennett’s Darwinist approach, in particular the critique of the theory of memes in Steven Pinker, doubts about an evolutionary explanation of language in the work of Noam Chomsky and the claim, by Thomas Nagel, that consciousness itself cannot be explained in the framework of Darwinian theory. The course aims to provide an understanding of the debates surrounding the evolution of mind, but does not aim to relate and advocate a single position in those debates.

This course, which will be conducted in English, is intended for students on Bachelor’s or Master’s programmes in Philosophy. It may also be taken by non-specialists, but only on the agreement of the instructor.

Requirements to the exam
Last update: doc. James Hill, Ph.D. (16.02.2019)

Course Requirements:

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. There is no formal exam to this course, but the written work will be equivalent to the exam.

(i) To be eligible for the grade, students should not be absent from the seminar more than three times over the semester.

(ii) The written work will be a short essay, of between 1,000-1,500 words on one subject from the course. This essay, written in English, should show knowledge of one specific problem, and the work of one philosopher on that problem, as included in the course. The student should choose the topic and essay title themselves, and the essay should include their own argued standpoint. The essay must be handed in on paper by May 1st 2019. Essays cannot be accepted after this date, nor can they be accepted in electronic form. All essays will undergo a routine check for plagiarism.

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