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Origins of Mind: Philosophical Issues in Cognitive Development (PH357-15)

How do humans come to know about objects, causes, words, numbers, colours, actions or minds?

At the start of life humans know nothing, or not very much.

Sometime later we do know some things.

How does the transition occur?

The question has baffled philosophers since Plato or earlier. Recent scientific breakthroughs have transformed our understanding of the question. Infants enjoy surprisingly rich social abilities. And emergence use of new---and sometimes controversial---methods has revealed that preverbal infants have surprisingly sophisticated expectations about causal interactions, numerosity, actions, mental states and more besides. But these breakthroughs raise as many puzzles as they solve.

We will examine these puzzles using a range of conceptual tools from philosophy. Our aim is to understand the developmental origins of mind.

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Module Director

Stephen Butterfill

Timing and CATS

This module runs in the Autumn Term of the 2016/17 academic year and is worth 15 CATS.