Tuesday and Thursday 3:30-4:45 Silver Center 520
Ned Block's office hours: Tuesday 5:00-6:00 and by appointment
Office: 5 Washington Place, Room 405
Jenny Judge's office hours: Tuesday 10-12, Room 612, 5 Washington Place
Trevor Teitel's office hours: Tuesday, 5:30-6:30, Room 514, 5 Washington Place
The philosophy and science of consciousness. Topics covered will include: The concept of a neural basis of consciousness and how we could discover what it is; whether there are different kinds of consciousness; the relation between consciousness and attention, cognitive accessibility, intentionality and agency; the function of consciousness; the unity of consciousness; whether the representational contents of perception are just colors, shapes and textures or include "rich" properties such as facial expressions and causation. The course will also cover some theories of consciousness such as mind/body dualism, behaviorism, functionalism, physicalism and theories of consciousness as representation. Among the topics discussed will be some famous thought experiments, such as whether there could be an inverted spectrum and whether Wittgenstein's views of the mind make room for an inverted spectrum; zombie thought experiments; Jackson's example of the scientist raised in a black and white environment who sees red for the first time and learns something about color vision that she could not find out from textbooks. Readings from philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and David Chalmers and neuroscientists such as Victor Lamme and Stanislas Dehaene
(Please send info about broken links to ned.blockat-sign nyu.edu)
ATTENTION: The final examination will be in the last class, Thursday December 14th, 2017.
No late papers. If you miss the deadline for one assignment, just do another.
Assignments (and slides) are posted on Classes. Please submit your assignments electronically on Classes. If you have problems with Classes, send your paper by email to Jenny Judge or Trevor Teitel. Put your student number on your paper but not your name. Assignments will be graded anonymously.
More information on assignments and grading can be found below: Requirements, Grading and Rules
Sept 12-Assignment 1
Sept 19-Assignment 2
Sept 26-Assignment 3
Oct 3-Assignment 4
Oct 10-Assignment 5
Oct 17-Assignment 6
Oct 24-Assignment 7
Oct 31-Assignment 8
Nov 9-Assignment 9
Nov 9.1 Assignment 9.1
Nov 16-Assignment 10
Nov 28-Assignment 11
Dec 5-Assignment 12
Dec 12-Assignment 13
All readings will be available on the web. Some will require a password that is on Classes and will also be mentioned in class.
The reading for this course is not lengthy but it is difficult material. You should expect to read almost everything twice.
Further Readings on all of these topics can be found in the philosophy of mind section of PhilPapers
Those of you who are new to philosophy will find this helpful: How to Read Philosophy
The Explanatory Gap and Theories of Consciousness
Robert Van Gulick, "Consciousness" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, SECTIONS 1-3
Ned Block (2009), "Comparing Theories of Consciousness" Michael Gazzaniga (ed.) The Cognitive Neurosciences IV, MIT Press.
David Chalmers (2003), "Consciousness and its Place in Nature". Read the first 7 sections. In Stephen P. Stich & Ted A. Warfield (eds.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, Blackwell. pp. 102--142 (). If you want to find out more about Chalmers' views, look at his TED talk or this podcast. Or read Chalmers' Phenomenal Concepts and the Explanatory Gap
The Inverted Spectrum
Alex Byrne, "Inverted Qualia", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Martine Nida-Rumelin, Pseudonormal Vision, Philosophical Studies 82, p.145-157
Daniel Dennett, "Quining Qualia", in A. Marcel and E. Bisiach, eds, Consciousness in Modern Science, Oxford University Press 1988
Note: If you are having trouble understanding what functionalism is, read this:
Janet Levin, Functionalism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Concepts of Consciousness
Eric Schwitzgebel, "Phenomenal Consciousness, Conceptualized as Innocently as I Can Manage", blogpost on February 18, 2016 on The Splintered Mind
David Chalmers, Extended Cognition and Extended Consciousness, In Matteo Colombo, Elizabeth Irvine & Mog Stapleton (eds.), Andy Clark and his Critics. Wiley-Blackwell ()
Experiments on Phenomenal Consciousness and Access Consciousness
Victor Lamme's Youtube talk
Victor Lamme, V. (2010) "How neuroscience will change our view on consciousness", Cognitive Neuroscience, 1: 3, 204-220
Ned Block, ""Perceptual consciousness overflows cognitive access". Trends in Cognitive Sciences December 15, 12, 2011, p 567-575
Ned Block, "Rich conscious perception outside focal attention", Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol. 18, Issue 9, p445 to 447, 2014
Cohen, M. and Dennett, D. (2011) Consciousness cannot be separated from function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15, 358-364
Nicholas Shea, Methodological Encounters with the Phenomenal Kind, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LXXXIV No. 2, March 2012
Ian Phillips (2015) "No watershed for overflow: Recent work on the richness of consciousness," Philosophical Psychology, on-line September 24, 2015
Brian Greene's introduction to a panel on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. The first 18 minutes of Measure for Measure: Quantum Physics and Reality
Kelvin McQueen, Does Consciousness cause Quantum Collapse? Philosophy Now 121, August/September, 2017
Higher Order Theories of Consciousness
Hakwan Lau and Richard Brown, The Emperor's New Phenomenology? The Empirical Case for Conscious Experiences without First-Order Representation, forthcoming in a festschrift for Ned Block edited by Adam Pautz and Daniel Stoljar
Ned Block, Empirical science meets higher order views of consciousness: Reply to Hakwan Lau and Richard Brown, forthcoming in a festschrift for Ned Block edited by Adam Pautz and Daniel Stoljar
Hakwan Lau, Why monkeys get magic and zombies don't
Hakwan Lau & David Rosenthal, Empirical support for higher-order theories of conscious awareness, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15, 8, 2011, 365-373
Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown A higher-order theory of emotional consciousness. PNAS Early Edition Feb 15, 2017
David Chalmers, Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia, Conscious Experience, edited by Thomas Metzinger. Imprint Academic, 1995
Michael Tye, " HOMUNCULI HEADS AND SILICON CHIPS: THE IMPORTANCE OF HISTORY TO PHENOMENOLOGY, forthcoming in a festschrift for Ned Block edited by Adam Pautz and Daniel Stoljar
Ned Block, Reply to Tye (and Chalmers). forthcoming in a festschrift for Ned Block edited by Adam Pautz and Daniel Stoljar
The Perception-Cognition Border
Gary Lupyan, "Cognitive Penetrability of Perception in the Age of Prediction: Predictive Systems are Penetrable Systems, In Review of Philosophy and Psychology.
Fiona MacPherson, Cognitive penetration and predictive coding: a commentary on Lupyan. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, (2015) 6:571 to 584 (doi:10.1007/s13164-015-0254-3)
Gary Lupyan, Reply to Macpherson: Further illustrations of the cognitive penetrability of perception, Rev.Phil.Psych. (2015) 6:585-589
John Morrison, "Perceptual Confidence," Analytic Philosophy (2016), 1-34
Rachel Denison, "Precision, Not Confidence, Describes the Uncertainty of Perceptual Experience: Comment on John Morrison's "Perceptual Confidence", Analytic Philosophy (2017) 58, 1
John Morrison, Perceptual Confidence and Categorization", Analytic Philosophy (2017) 58, 1
Jessie Munton, "Visual Confidences and Direct Perceptual Justification, Philosophical Topics, forthcoming
The Zombie Within
Ian Phillips, Consciousness and Criterion: On Block's Case for Unconscious Seeing, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2016
Ned Block, "The Anna Karenina Principle and Skepticism about Unconscious Perception", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 2016
Raymond Tallis, Against Panpsychism, Philosophy Now 121, August/September, 2017
Hedda Hassel Mørch, Is Matter Conscious? Nautilus Magazine, April 6 2017
Daniel Stoljar, Two Conceptions of the Physical, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXII, 2, 2001
David Chalmers, Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism, in Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Godehard Bruntrup and Ludwig Jaskolla, Oxford University Press
Bandwidth (We are skipping this unit)
Michael Cohen, Daniel Dennett, Nancy Kanwisher, "What is the Bandwidth of Perceptual Experience?" Trends in Cognitive Sciences, May 2016
Consciousness and Attention
Christof Koch & Naotsugu Tsuchiya, "The Relationship between Consciousness and Attention," in Laureys & Tononi, The Neurology of Consciousness, 2008
Jesse Prinz, The Conscious Brain, Chapter 3: When Are We conscious? Attention and Availability (Oxford University Press, 2012)
Slides will be posted on the web in Classes
Students who successfully complete this class will be able to combine philosophical and scientific considerations to reason about issues on the cutting edge of scientific thinking where what is at issue is not only what the answers are but what the questions are
Read Jim Pryor's advice on writing a philosophy paper: Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper
There will be a 3-5 page writing assignment posted each week and due the following week. You must choose three of these assignments, including one of Assignments 1-3 and one after Assignment 7.
There will be a final examination, the questions of which will be very similar to questions on the weekly writing assignments. So you should be satisfied that you understand the questions even for assignments that you do not do in writing.
The writing assignments will normally require statements of positions taken by one of the authors that you've read. These statements should be couched in your own words, explaining how you see what the author has said. No quotations; no paraphrases.
Grading: Each of the three papers will count for one fifth of the grade, the final will count for one fifth of the grade and participation in class will be another one fifth.
Joint work is encouraged. Arguing about your views with others is the best way to find out where your position leads. If your paper is a product of joint work, all of the participants should turn in their own versions, with the communal ideas stated in each paper in the writer's own words. When you do work together on an assignment, this must be stated on each paper. All participants in joint work get full credit.
NO LATE PAPERS. Papers are due at 8 PM on the day the assignment is due. If you can't get it in by 8 PM, just do the next assignment.