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Mind and Body


In the West, the distinction between the mind and the body has a long tradition. But what precisely do these terms refer to? For instance, what can you say about your mind? Where is it located? Is it in your brain, near your brain, or simply what your brain does? Are the mind and brain identical?

In this unit we will explore two basic questions -- first, is the mind a separate entity from the brain? Rene Descartes will argue that the two are distinct, and Gilbert Ryle will challenge Descartes's claim. Second, is it logically possible for a computer to think (i.e. to have conscious mental states?) William Lycan (while admitting that even our fastest supercomputers are not even close to being conscious) argues that in theory, a computer could be conscious. John Searle rejects this view by noting that computers will never be able to attach meaning to the symbols they are so adept at manipulating.


Rene Descartes
Gilbert Ryle
William Lycan
John Searle
Group Project #2