The Philosophy of Mind

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course will provide students with an introduction to contemporary philosophy of mind. The philosophy of mind is concerned with the relations between the mental and psychological aspects of a person and the person's bodily characteristics. The subject has a history that goes back to classical Greek philosophy, but in a modern context particularly Descartes's dualism represents the classic challenge that different philosophical directions have tried to overcome. The course will present the most important modern equivalent of this dualism, and we will see that we still struggle with some of the basic problems from Descartes. The course will also discuss experience consciousness as a particularly challenge to the materialistic conceptions of consciousness.

Learning Outcomes


After completing the course, the student should have

- overview of the most important directions within the philosophy of mind in the 20th century, such as behaviorism, the psychophysical identity theory, functionalism, characteristic dualism and eliminative materialism

- insight into the issues that are common challenges for these directions, such as the question of what intentionality is, the question of the experience of awareness relative to a person's material properties and processes, and how we can understand mental causation

- insight into issues that connects philosophy of mind to modern cognitive science, important here is the question whether Artificial Intelligence can exist

- insight to evaluate the effectiveness of the classical argument in the philosophy of mind out from their soundness and validity


After completing the course, the student should be able to

- distinguish between strong and weak aspects of the various main positions in contemporary philosophy of mind in the 20th century

- communicate knowledge about these positions both in academic as well as more general contexts

- understand that solutions to problems in the philosophy of mind requires something more than empirical knowledge, at the same time as one realizes that innovations in psychology and neurophysiology may establish the basis for a crop rotations between philosophical concepts analysis and empirical research


After completing the course, the student should be competent to

- ensue further studies in cognitive science

- keep pace with the contemporary philosophical debate about the problems in the philosophy of mind at a level of moderate difficulty

- provide insight into the problems to people without special background knowledge of the subject

Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring or Fall

Place of Instruction

Recommended Previous Knowledge
A good proficiency in English is necessary since it ought to be assumed that much of the prescribed reading will be in English.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
FIL235 overlaps 10 credits with FIL105 and FIL335.
Access to the Course
The course is open to students admitted at the University of Bergen
Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is offered in the form of lectures.

Supervision of term paper: supervision is a voluntary offer and can occur individually or in groups.

The number of gatherings may be reduced if the number of students attending the course is less than 4. In that case, the students will be compensated with individual or group tutoring.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Forms of Assessment

The assessment form is a portfolio assessment, consisting of two written assignments to be handed in before a deadline set by the department. The first assignment is on a topic chosen from a list provided by the course teacher, and should be between 1500 and 2000 words (excluding table of contents, list of references, etc.). The second assignment is between 2500 and 3000 words (excluding table of contents, list of references, etc.). Each student chooses a topic subject to prior approval by the teacher of the course. With regards to the final grade, the first assignment makes up 30 % and the second assignment 70 % of the grade.

Assessment in a semester without teaching follows the syllabus the previous semester the course had teaching.

Grading Scale
From A to F
Course Evaluation
The teaching will be evaluated from time to time.