Philosophy and the Sciences: Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Sciences

About this Course

What is our role in the universe as human agents capable of knowledge? What makes us intelligent cognitive agents seemingly endowed with consciousness? This is the second part of the course ‘Philosophy and the Sciences’, dedicated to Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences. Scientific research across the cognitive sciences has raised pressing questions for philosophers.

The goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the main areas and topics at the key juncture between philosophy and the cognitive sciences. Each week we will introduce you to some of these important questions at the forefront of scientific research.

We will explain the science behind each topic in a simple, non-technical way, while also addressing the philosophical and conceptual questions arising from it. Areas you’ll learn about will include:

  • Philosophy of psychology, among whose issues we will cover the evolution of the human mind and the nature of consciousness.
  • Philosophy of neurosciences, where we’ll consider the nature of human cognition and the relation between mind, machines, and the environment.

Learning objectives

  • Gain a fairly well-rounded view on selected areas and topics at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences
  • Understand some key questions, and conceptual problems arising in the cognitive sciences.
  • Develop critical skills to evaluate and assess these problems.

What you will learn from this course (Syllabus)

1. Philosophy and the Sciences Part 1: This course is the second part of the joint course ‘Philosophy and the Sciences’. If you want to go to the first part of the course, ‘Philosophy and the Physical Sciences’

2. Stone-age minds in modern skulls: evolutionary theory and the philosophy of mind: Scientists agree that our brains are a product of natural selection. How did human brains and human cognitive structures evolve?

3. What is consciousness? Why do creatures with brains like ours have consciousness? What makes certain bits of our mental life conscious and others not?

4. Intelligent machines and the human brain: How does one make a clever adaptive machine that can recognise speech, control an aircraft, and detect credit card fraud?

5. Embodied cognition: Embodied cognition is all about the huge difference that having an active body and being situated in a structured environment make to the kind of tasks that the brain has to perform in order to support adaptive success.

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When will I have access to the lectures and assignments?

Access to lectures and assignments depends on your type of enrollment. If you take a course in audit mode, you will be able to see most course materials for free. To access graded assignments and to earn a Certificate, you will need to purchase the Certificate experience, during or after your audit. If you don’t see the audit option:

• The course may not offer an audit option. You can try a Free Trial instead, or apply for Financial Aid.

• The course may offer ‘Full Course, No Certificate’ instead. This option lets you see all course materials, submit required assessments, and get a final grade. This also means that you will not be able to purchase a Certificate experience.

What will I get if I purchase the Certificate?

When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page – from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. In select learning programs, you can apply for financial aid or a scholarship if you can’t afford the enrollment fee. If fin aid or scholarship is available for your learning program selection, you’ll find a link to apply on the description page.

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