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Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines

Use philosophical tools to examine the provocative and widely debated question of what the human mind is and how it is created by the brain.
Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 104.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly Thought-Provoking I covered much of this material in my earlier theological studies. However, Grimm presents extremely well and had me scrambling to defend my own long-held positions (which I did successfully). Highly recommended.
Date published: 2024-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great content, excellent Professor. This is the first course that I have taken in Wondrium. I have a degree in psychology and a lot of the content ( not all of it) was new to me. The human mind is always fascinating. highly recommend. Although I would recommend it for an intermediate, this course can be appreciated for a novice too.
Date published: 2023-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Food for Thought, Plus a Robotic Starfish! Dr. Patrick Grim makes clear that human philosophizing throughout history has been the foundation from which sciences grew, such as when mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, archaeology, etc., moved beyond being primarily based on musings and gained enough systematization, theoretical consensus, and experimental rigour to be regarded as more truly study than speculation. Psychology, anthropology, linguistics, robotics, and the analytics of artificial intelligence are some of the relatively new sciences that address questions raised in the present course; e.g.— What is the relationship between the brain and the mind? Is free will an illusion? Could a machine ever be creative? Dr. Grim freely admits that he has more questions than answers to lay before us in his lectures. I consider him an excellent instructor. He makes relevant use of intriguing anecdotes, biographical and research accounts, and dramatic demonstrations that include optical illusions and video clips. As my dear wife put it, seeing the robotic starfish in action was “worth the price of admission.” In addition, a better-than-average course guidebook includes a timeline, glossary, biographical notes, and extensive bibliography. Had I studied this course when it first came out fourteen years ago, I’d surely have raised my rating of it to 5-out-of-5. As an interested layperson, however, I am aware that a great deal has changed in the fields of robotics, computer science, and artificial intelligence since the course’s debut, and those are prominent among the subtopics discussed. Of course, there is also plenty of worthwhile and sufficiently up-to-date information presented about the history of philosophy of mind and the pros and cons of competing analytical theories. I feel a responsibility to prospective purchasers to point out that some of this course’s “coverage” is dated.
Date published: 2022-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Philosophy of Mind I found thid coures to be very interesting and informative, It was well worth the price and well grounded in research and the philosophy literature.
Date published: 2022-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Thought-Provoking! I bought this and could not stop watching it! The presenter did an excellent job covering the entire range of the topic. I had taken another of his courses and found it easy to follow the instructor and wanted to see more from him. I enjoyed this course so much that I bought a DVD version as a gift for a friend in my Pub Theology discussion (drinking) group. He enjoyed it, as well.
Date published: 2022-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Interesting lectures! I have worked with computers all my life and was drawn to this course because of the Artificial Intelligence aspect. However, once I got into the course, the philosophical discussion of the mind is what I enjoyed the most. I have often wondered of other people perceive colors the same as me etc. This course gives different views on topics such as that!
Date published: 2022-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best thing I've ever listened to This is (not one of) the most interesting and informative series I've ever heard. I'm addicted to the Great Courses. It breaks my heart that anyone could give this one star. This is anything you could ever ask for -- they lay out the bare bones of the most important theories of mind. They give all of the basics in a well-explained and interesting way. And the subject material is so interesting anyways that it carries itself. This review may sound too enthusiastic to have been written by a real person, but no - I just really really liked it.
Date published: 2022-03-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Content Excellent. Delivery really poor This is by far not my first class on this subject, nor here at the Great Courses. Though the content was interesting, and presented well, I found the professor's speaking style, so laconic and monotone, that I really had trouble staying awake. Kind of a dull drone.
Date published: 2021-06-18
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The quest to understand the mind has motivated some of history's most profound thinkers. Only in our own time are we beginning to see the true complexity of this quest. Take a scientific search through the mind, review the role of philosophers is to sharpen our concepts, untangle the morass of questions, and systematically explore alternate approaches to thought.


Patrick Grim

In the end, imagining a world of fact without value is quite nearly impossible for creatures like us. Our lives are woven in terms of the things we value.


State University of New York, Stony Brook

Dr. Patrick Grim is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He graduated with highest honors in anthropology and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was named a Fulbright Fellow to the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, from which he earned his B.Phil. He earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. Professor Grim is the recipient of several honors and awards. In addition to being named SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Dr. Grim has been awarded the President and Chancellor's awards for excellence in teaching and was elected to the Academy of Teachers and Scholars. The Weinberg Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan in 2006, Professor Grim has also held visiting fellowships at the Center for Complex Systems at Michigan and at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Grim, author of The Incomplete Universe: Totality, Knowledge, and Truth; coauthor of The Philosophical Computer: Exploratory Essays in Philosophical Computer Modeling; and editor of the forthcoming Mind and Consciousness: 5 Questions, is widely published in scholarly journals. He is the founder and coeditor of 25 volumes of The Philosopher's Annual, an anthology of the best articles published in philosophy each year.

By This Professor

Mind-Body Philosophy
The Philosopher's Toolkit: How to Be the Most Rational Person in Any Room
The Dream, the Brain, and the Machine

01: The Dream, the Brain, and the Machine

Professor Grim previews the range of ideas in the course with three examples: a dream of the philosopher René Descartes in 1619, the saga of Einstein's brain after his death, and a steam-driven computer designed in the mid-1800s.

33 min
The Mind-Body Problem

02: The Mind-Body Problem

How does the mental relate to the physical? One response is Dualism, developed by Descartes, which sees the two as radically distinct.

30 min
Brains and Minds, Parts and Wholes

03: Brains and Minds, Parts and Wholes

The strange case of Phineas Gage, who suffered a horrible brain injury in 1848, sheds light on the brain-mind connection.

31 min
The Inner Theater

04: The Inner Theater

Do we have an inner realm where representations of the world are displayed completely? A range of experiments seem to show that something much more complicated is going on.

30 min
Living in the Material World

05: Living in the Material World

You examine alternatives to Dualism—from the idea that the universe is purely mental (idealism) to the view that it is purely physical (materialism).

31 min
A Functional Approach to the Mind

06: A Functional Approach to the Mind

Behaviorism and Functionalism take a radically different approach to the body and mind approach.

31 min
What Is It about Robots?

07: What Is It about Robots?

If Functionalism is right, a machine could have real perception, emotion, pleasure, and pain. Wouldn't it then also have ethical rights?

30 min
Body Image

08: Body Image

Having conjectured how a body produces a mind, we approach the problem from the other side: how a mind produces a body.

31 min
Self-Identity and Other Minds

09: Self-Identity and Other Minds

This lecture explores our concept of ourselves and other minds—not just human but animal—together with puzzling questions about self posed by "teletransporter" thought experiments and split-brain cases.

31 min
Perception—What Do You Really See?

10: Perception—What Do You Really See?

What do we really see? What do we really hear? Empiricism argues that what we perceive are not things in the world but rather subjective sense data.

30 min
Perception—Intentionality and Evolution

11: Perception—Intentionality and Evolution

The intentionalist view holds that perception is always "about" something. The evolutionary view sees perception as an evolved grab bag of tricks.

31 min
A Mind in the World

12: A Mind in the World

In order to understand the mind, we have to understand the environment in which it functions—the mind in the world.

31 min
A History of Smart Machines

13: A History of Smart Machines

You trace the fascinating stories of computing machines—from the Antikythera device of 100 BCE, to legends of mechanical calculating heads in the Middle Ages, to Charles Babbage's designs for steam-driven computers in the 1840s.

32 min
Intelligence and IQ

14: Intelligence and IQ

This lecture looks at attempts to measure intelligence.

31 min
Artificial Intelligence

15: Artificial Intelligence

In 1950, Alan Turing proposed a test for determining whether a machine displays human intelligence, predicting that such a thinking machine would exist by 2000.

30 min
Brains and Computers

16: Brains and Computers

Computers use binary digits and logic gates. By contrast, brains are built of neurons, which are far more complex. While we know how computers work, we are ignorant of brain function on many levels.

30 min
Attacks on Artificial Intelligence

17: Attacks on Artificial Intelligence

The very concept of artificial intelligence has serious critics, including Hubert Dreyfus and John Searle. The latter has a powerful argument called the "Chinese room," which this lecture considers from both sides of the debate.

31 min
Do We Have Free Will?

18: Do We Have Free Will?

Can our actions be free? The compatibilist view holds that free will, when properly understood, is a natural part of a causal universe.

31 min
Seeing and Believing

19: Seeing and Believing

This lecture explores how our conscious experience is shaped by background beliefs and expectations. This issue raises an important question for our justice system: Is eyewitness testimony reliable?

31 min
Mysteries of Color

20: Mysteries of Color

Is color real or is it something that exists only in the mind? You explore this question with thought experiments and insights.

31 min
The Hard Problem of Consciousness

21: The Hard Problem of Consciousness

If there is a defining problem in philosophy of mind today, it is the problem of accounting for our subjective experience. David Chalmers calls this the "hard problem of consciousness."

31 min
The Conscious Brain-2½ Physical Theories

22: The Conscious Brain-2½ Physical Theories

How are we to understand conscious experience? This lecture considers two attempts to explain consciousness in terms of physical processes in the brain.

31 min
The HOT Theory and Antitheories

23: The HOT Theory and Antitheories

The philosopher David Rosenthal identifies consciousness with "higher-order thoughts"—HOT. You also survey antitheories.

32 min
What We Know and What We Don't Know

24: What We Know and What We Don't Know

Professor Grim reviews the high points of the course, focusing on questions raised by Lecture 1.

34 min