The goal of this course is to explore and critically assess a variety of answers to these questions. In the first half of the semester, we will consider the dominant theory of the mind in cognitive science: the computational theory of cognition. After examining the most important arguments for this theory, we will turn our attention to the thorny question of how the mental representations it posits get their contents. In the second half of the semester, we will consider two kinds of problems for the computational theory of cognition. First, we will discuss a number of arguments which purport to show that there is more to our mental lives than computation. Second, we will study two direct challenges to the computational theory: eliminativism and the embodied cognition movement.
There will be three significant course requirements. First, students will be required to write a short response to the reading each week. Second, there will be two 900-1200 word papers. Third, there will be a take-home exam consisting of a number of short essay responses during the last week of classes.