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Undergraduate course

Introduction to Philosophy of the Mind

Main content

Level of Study


Teaching semester


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 into important classical philosophers viewpoint of the relationship between body and soul, especially Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant's view
  • 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

Recommended Previous Knowledge

Approved first semester studies. 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


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.

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

An approval of compulsory requirements is valid for three semesters, including the semester in which the approval is given.

Students must submit answers to 7 questions. Submission deadline is set by the department. The replies must be approved to be able to take the exam.

Forms of Assessment

Four-hour sit-in written examination with questions from various parts of the reading list.

The compulsory activities have to be formally approved before one can take an exam in the course.

The compulsory requirements have to be formally approved in a semester in which there is teaching in the relevant course in order to register for the examination in a semester in which there is no teaching in that course.

Grading Scale

From A to F

Course Evaluation

The teaching will be evaluated from time to time.

Course Administrator

Department of Philosophy.


Exam information

  • For written exams, please note that the start time may change from 09:00 to 15:00 or vice versa until 14 days prior to the exam.

  • Type of assessment: Written examination

    11.05.2023, 09:00
    4 hours
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam