Nov 28, 2021  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog

HON 308 - Consciousness and Cognition


Prerequisite, acceptance to the University Honors Program. How is it possible that in a universe made of mindless atoms following physical laws, some of those atoms have the capacity to produce a first-person, subjective, conscious experience of the world? How can a hunk of brain matter produce an "inner life" of thoughts, perceptions, and "Feelings? In short, how does mindless matter become mind? The existence of consciousness is a profound scientific mystery and our inability to explain it is arguably the biggest gap in our scientific understanding of reality. This course will focus on the problem of consciousness from the perspective of philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive science, and artificial intelligence. The course will be organized around the following major questions from each discipline. Philosophy: What is consciousness, and what is the problem? Can our current laws of physics account for consciousness? What would a scientific explanation of consciousness entail? Cognitive neuroscience: How does consciousness emerge from non-conscious matter? How do my conscious cognitive experiences of thinking, Feeling, remembering and perceiving relate to the physical processes going on in my nervous system? Cognitive Science: Are all cognitive processes conscious? Artificial Intelligence: Can computers be conscious? What would it take for a machine to be conscious? Get ready for an adventure as we attempt to understand the single most shocking and amazing feature of the universe! Come along for the ride as we use our consciousness to understand consciousness (how meta). "The almighty human brain: the only hunk of matter in the universe that can reflect upon its own existence." --Me. " (Offered as needed.) 3 credits