• Cog-B. Conversations on Consciousness* (Advanced!)

    (Maria Kuvaldina, SUNY Farmingdale and St. Petersburg State University)

    This class is advanced.  Available for students with background in cognitive psychology or philosophy

    Consciousness is often called the main mystery
experience seems to be trivial, we don't see changes in our awareness until we make a mistake in a simple cognitive task or someone tells us that we missed something salient. Consciousness studies is a multidisciplinary field in science that includes approaches and methods from neuroscience and physics, philosophy and anthropology, artificial intelligence and linguistics. We will try to learn more about the contribution of all these sciences, all aimed at answering one question: "What does it mean to have consciousness?" Some representative questions we will be discussing are: What is the function of consciousness? How intelligent is the unconscious? What is the relationship between consciousness and attention? Can a machine ever be conscious? Is consciousness fundamental in the universe (as Eastern philosophies argue) or did it emerge as matter became ever more complex (as Western science insists)? Is there a stream of consciousness or is this just an illusion? What could happen if we didn't have consciousness?

    The course brings together modern and historical ideas to give a perspective on how the problem of consciousness could be addressed.
Each topic presents a question that we will try to answer, each topic includes reading part, demonstration of effects and experiments and a small task that could be done in class or at home.

    The primary text for the course is:

    Blackmore, S. (2006). Conversations on consciousness: what the best minds think about the brain, free  will, and what it means to be human. Oxford University