How is it that our brain creates all the subjective experiences of our lives every single day - the experiences we call reality? That is the mind-body problem. In Mind-Body Philosophy, Professor Patrick Grim of the State University of New York at Stony Brook leads an intellectually exhilarating tour through millennia of philosophy and science addressing one of life's greatest conundrums. But you won't just be a spectator as Dr. Grim engages and encourages each of us to come to our own conclusions. Is the mind part of the body? Or could the body be part of the mind? And if they are separate, what is the mechanism for interaction? This course poses these challenging questions, and more, for philosophers and scientists of all levels.
In this course you'll learn about the many ways in which philosophy, mathematics, psychology, and cutting-edge neuroscience have weighed in on the mind-body problem, all to varying degrees of success. You'll learn how computers and artificial intelligence have challenged our notions of the mind and consciousness and what scientists have learned from our dreams, hallucinations, and experiences under anesthesia. And you'll enjoy the fascinating, creative thought experiments that address knowledge, perception, and consciousness.
What is the answer to the mind-body problem? No one knows...yet. But in Mind-Body Philosophy, Dr. Grim suggests a new method of inquiry that could possibly lead to a solution: a philosophical science of consciousness combining the best that philosophy and science have to offer. But even without an answer, Dr. Grim says, this passionate pursuit of truth is a crucially important enterprise in itself.
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Another Great Courses Homerun!
In this course, an old crusty philosophical problem crashes headlong into bleeding edge science. In 1,000 years from now, will we have a decisive answer to the philosophical puzzle of consciousness? I don't know. But in 100 years from now, it seems likely we'll have made exciting progress into the relevant neuroscience and hopefully AI as well. This is why I believe most contemporary academics - as Professor Grim states in the first lecture - are materialists; this is where the progress is.
Also for this reason, the course really starts for me around Lecture 15 on machine consciousness, and is in full swing by Lecture 19 on the binding problem. So if you are not impressed in the beginning, make sure to ride it out. Lecture 21 "Of Mind, Materialism, and Zombies" is probably the coolest and most intellectually stimulating single Great Courses lecture. Not to say the course as a whole is the best - although it's up there - but that one lecture alone is worth this whole course.
If you are interested in further (very technical and abstract) knowledge on the AI side of this coin, I highly recommend On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins, as I fully recommend this course.
Spotlight of Clarity on the Mind-Body Problem