Origins of the Human Mind
Fall 2019 not offered
Since classical antiquity, philosophers have often characterized human beings by way of contrasts between ourselves and nonhuman animals, particularly in terms of mental abilities humans possess and nonhuman animals (putatively) lack, such as reasoning and language. Only recently, however, have the sciences--particularly evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology, anthropology, and cognitive ethology--begun to offer the tools needed to characterize differences in the cognitive toolkits of different species and to attempt to piece together hypotheses about how human minds differ so greatly from those of our nearest relatives, the great apes, in spite of our genetic similarity and the comparatively brief period since the time of our last common ancestors. In this course, we will read several recent works by philosophers and scientists presenting theories of the evolution of distinctively human cognition.
|Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar
|Grading Mode: Graded
|Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)
Students should consult the Textbooks link as the semester approaches, but the course is likely to include recent books by Tomasello, Sterelny, and Rouse, as well as shorter readings to be determined.
|Examinations and Assignments:
This course will be run as a seminar, with students expected to take turns leading classroom discussion of the assigned readings. This and participation in class discussion will comprise one third of the grade. The remainder of the grade will be based on a mid-term paper and a final paper, on topics designed by the student in consultation with the professor. Between these two papers, students will likely produce 25-30 pages of writing for the class.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments:
As this is an advanced seminar in philosophy, fulfilling the upper-division course requirement for philosophy majors, it is advisable that students will have previously taken at least one course in philosophy. However, majors in other departments such as Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior, and Science in Society are also encouraged to take the course, and a class with diverse educational backgrounds will enrich discussion.
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