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Mind-Body Philosophy

Mind-Body Philosophy

Professor Patrick Grim, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Stony Brook

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Mind-Body Philosophy

Course No. 4932
Professor Patrick Grim, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Stony Brook
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4.9 out of 5
16 Reviews
87% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 4932
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for diagrams, illustrations, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. While the video version can be considered lightly illustrated, there are graphics, images, video, animations, X-rays, and CT Scans, which may help reinforce material for visual learners.
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover the ways in which the physical body affects the mind.
  • Explore the relationship between memories and the concept of self.
  • Examine creative thought experiments that teach us about consciousness.

Course Overview

Many people have heard the term “mind-body philosophy” used to describe the relationship between physical wellness and mental wellbeing. But mind-body philosophy in its truest form is so much more. It’s a philosophical inquiry that has engaged great minds for centuries, going far beyond the simple idea of a physical mind-body connection, and seeking answers for some of the most complex questions of human existence.

The question of consciousness has mystified humanity for millennia. Even those of us who do not specialize in philosophy or science may be prompted to examine these all-consuming mysteries, asking questions like: how does the three pounds of gray matter in each of our skulls creates all the subjective experiences of our lives every single day, and define the experiences we call reality?

We know it is the mind that allows us to witness and process the changes at every stage of life—and question them. But how does it work? And how much of our existence is defined by our physical substance versus our mental reality? Is the mind part of the body? Or could the body be part of the mind? And if they are separate, what is it that allows them to work together so seamlessly? These questions and more comprise the puzzle known as the mind-body problem.

In Mind-Body Philosophy, Professor Patrick Grim of the State University of New York at Stony Brook leads an intellectually exhilarating tour through questions and theories addressing one of life’s greatest mysteries. These 24 lectures address enduring mysteries through the lenses of both philosophy and its offspring, science. You will learn how some of the greatest thinkers have addressed and attempted to solve the mind-body problem. But you won’t just be a spectator; Dr. Grim thoroughly engages with the questions from all sides and encourages you to come to your own conclusions.

With an easygoing conversational manner, a contagious passion for his subject—and supported by illustrations, infographics, brain scans, videos, demonstrations, and on-screen text—Dr. Grim breaks down even the most complex theories into easily accessible parts. He guides you through a multidisciplinary search for truth using multiple philosophical lenses as well as neuroscience, mathematics, psychology, metaphysics, theology, and more.

The History of the Mind-Body Question

As you look into the 20th century and beyond, you will examine how the fields of psychology and neuroscience have contributed to the discussion. Through the lens of modern thought, you will look at:

  • How the physical body affects the mind, although we usually think of the mind “being in charge of” the body.
  • How the fields of psychology and neuroscience have contributed to the mind-body discussion and what solutions each has to offer.
  • How dreams, hallucinations, and experiences under anesthesia help us better understand consciousness.
  • How we create memories and explore the relationship between memories and the concept of self.
  • How the latest research on the complex relationships between mind, body, and emotions reveals surprising conclusions about the role of emotions in our lives and thoughts.
  • How the exciting recent discoveries of neuroscience relate to our perceptions of the world.
  • How binding in the brain could relate to consciousness and the mind-body problem.

Lessons in Consciousness through Computers

In the early 20th century, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and mathematician Alan Turing both asked the question: “Is it possible for machines to think?” While Wittgenstein examined the role of language, Turing focused on machines and their prospects for computation. All contemporary computers—along with the fields of artificial intelligence and computational neural networks—trace their history back to Turing’s vision. Computers now exist everywhere in our daily lives. But can they “think?” Dr. Grim presents many of the theories that attempt to answer this question, including:

  • Wittgenstein’s theories addressing the brain and language;
  • The Turing test, which asks whether or not we could build a machine that would be indistinguishable from a human under specific conditions;
  • Why some of the earliest developers of Artificial Intelligence believed they had solved the mind-body problem, and where they went wrong;
  • Whether or not we can now claim to have intelligent machines, given that some computer programs can teach themselves new information;
  • What computer science and information theory have taught us about the mind, intelligence, and consciousness.

Fascinating Thought Experiments

In Mind-Body Philosophy, Dr. Grim provides exciting analyses via thought experiments—mental exercises philosophers and scientists use to learn about the world around them. From Plato to Einstein, great thinkers in a variety of disciplines have used thought experiments to validate disparate theories. Dr. Grim also encourages us to develop our own thought experiments and, in a humorous but well-accepted philosophical line of inquiry, he suggests we consider . . . zombies. After all, zombies are just like us but without consciousness, making them particularly well-suited subjects for the mind-body problem.

In addition, Dr. Grim shares the enthralling classic thought experiments:

  • Jackson’s “Mary’s Room,” exploring the non-physical nature of knowledge and mental states
  • Leibnitz’ “Giant Head,” examining whether or not perception and thought can be explained in purely mechanical terms
  • Wittgenstein’s “Beetle Boxes,” exploring the relationship between language and meaning, and public and private language
  • Searle’s “Chinese Room,” exploring whether or not a computer—even one that seems extremely human-like—can have a mind or consciousness
  • Block’s “China Brain,” which asks if it’s possible for something to be functionally equivalent to a human being and yet have no conscious experience.

The big questions explored in this course don’t have easy answers. What you get instead is a new look at how our minds work, empowering you to draw your own philosophical conclusions based on scientific findings. And, as Dr. Grim points out, even without a formative solution, the passionate and informed pursuit of truth is a crucially important enterprise in itself.

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24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    Mind, Body, and Questions of Consciousness
    The 3.5 pounds of gray matter in your skull processes all the information you need to live and thrive-from the functioning of your physical body to your relationships with loved ones. But how can the physical matter of the brain create the subjective experience of your life? That is the mind-body problem. x
  • 2
    Mind and Body in Greek Philosophy
    Humans have been asking this question for thousands of years: exactly how are we related to the world around us? Learn what modern Western thought inherited from the Greeks and how the theories of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle still affect our thinking and questioning today. x
  • 3
    Eastern Perspectives on Mind and Body
    Western philosophers want to understand how the physical brain produces the reality of subjective experience. But Hindu and Buddhist traditions don't recognize that same dualism. Unlike the Western attempt to discover the truth of how things are, Eastern philosophy takes a more practical line of inquiry, examining how to best live. x
  • 4
    Using the Body to Shape the Mind
    We tend to think of the mind being in charge of, and giving instructions to, the body. But is it possible for the body to direct the mind? Learn how the Eastern practical disciplines of yoga and meditation and Western habits of physical exercise can affect the brain and the mind. x
  • 5
    History of the Soul
    While the concept of the soul has been of great philosophical importance over the millennia, it is not addressed by contemporary brain science or philosophy of the mind. Learn why William James encouraged people to believe in the soul if they wanted to, but exiled" the subject from the concerns of modern psychology." x
  • 6
    How Descartes Divided Mental from Physical
    How can you know with absolute certainty that you exist? Rene Descartes famously answered: "I think; therefore I am." He also suggested a complete split between the mind and the physical body. The vast and sharply divided responses to Descartes' dualism still influence the ways in which we address the mind-body problem today. x
  • 7
    Mistakes about Our Own Consciousness
    One thing we know we can count on is the validity of our everyday experiences. After all, we know what we see, hear, feel, and think on a daily basis, right? You'll be surprised to learn how wrong we can be even about the realm of experience itself and our own everyday consciousness. x
  • 8
    Strange Cases of Consciousness
    The study of individuals with unusual brains-e.g., those with split brains, color-blindness, face-blindness, synesthesia-has revealed brain modularity, differentiation, blending, and other mechanisms of consciousness. Do we really see with our eyes? Learn how the brain's organization affects even our most basic perception of the world around us. x
  • 9
    Altered States of Consciousness
    Learn what dreams, lucid dreams, hallucinations, and other altered states teach us about brain structure and function. Why do so many hallucinations include the same geometric shapes? And after thousands of years of inquiry, do we finally understand the purpose of our dreams? Do dreams help us remember-or forget? x
  • 10
    Memory, Mind, and Brain
    Philosopher John Locke suggested it is your continuous sequence of memories that allows you to be "you." But what is memory and how is it related to our emotions and dreams? Learn about the many different ways in which the brain stores the information we later retrieve and experience as memory. x
  • 11
    Self-Consciousness and the Self
    Throughout the centuries, philosophers and scientists have tried to come to a definitive understanding of the self and self-consciousness-and failed. The exciting intellectual journey through these theories and experiments will lead you to a new way of seeing yourself and the world around you. x
  • 12
    Rival Psychologies of the Mind
    William James, Sigmund Freud, and Wilhelm Wundt all aimed for a science of consciousness in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, differing significantly in ideas and methodology. Learn why Wundt left the strongest mark on contemporary psychology, with the neuroscience revolution of the early 21st century picking up where he left off. x
  • 13
    The Enigma of Free Will
    Our daily experiences tell us we are acting with a free will. But you'll be surprised to learn what quantum mechanics and the latest studies in readiness potential reveal about our decision making. Is it possible that scientific inquiry is just not germane to the ongoing philosophical conundrum of free will and determinism? x
  • 14
    Emotions: Where Mind and Body Meet
    We all know emotions can affect the body-e.g., heart-pounding fear, tears of joy. But can the physical body affect emotions as well? And could emotions be a requirement for rationality itself? You'll be surprised by the latest research on the very complex relationships between body, mind, and emotions. x
  • 15
    Could a Machine Be Conscious?
    Twentieth-century mathematicians Alan Turing and Ludwig Wittgenstein both asked: Could machines think?" Learn how they addressed the complex concepts of language, thinking, intelligence, and consciousness. All contemporary computers and the fields of artificial intelligence and neural networks trace their origin to Turing. But Wittgenstein seems to have the last word." x
  • 16
    Computational Approaches to the Mind
    Since the development of computers, philosophers and scientists have wondered what we could learn about our own intelligence by building intelligent machines. What would a deeper understanding of computerized information processing teach us about the brain? Learn how these lines of inquiry have led to revelations about the differences between mind and machine. x
  • 17
    A Guided Tour of the Brain
    We've made great strides in understanding the workings of the human brain-from our hundred billion neurons and trillions of synapses, to more than fifty neurotransmitters. We've mapped the brain and described each part's functions, evolutionary history, and methods of processing information. What have we not found?" Consciousness." x
  • 18
    Thinking Body and Extended Mind
    We believe our thinking occurs in our head. But that's not entirely correct. In some cases, cognition requires the mind and the body. Learn how the autonomic, sympathetic, and enteric nervous systems are linked to the brain, integrated into the body, and even connected to the outside world. x
  • 19
    Francis Crick and Binding in the Brain
    After co-discovering the structure of DNA, Francis Crick turned his research attention to mind-body issues. He believed in an underlying physical structure of consciousness. Was he correct? Learn about Crick's spatial and temporal hypotheses, the binding problem, and the reasons he pinned his research hopes on the brain's claustrum. x
  • 20
    Clues on Consciousness from Anesthesiology
    Is it possible to be certain that an anesthetized patient who seems to be unconscious during surgery really feels no pain? Our current knowledge of the brain, anesthetics, and consciousness at the physiological level, lead us to believe in the possibility of building a consciousness monitor." But would even that answer the question?" x
  • 21
    Of Mind, Materialism, and Zombies
    Distinguished philosophers and scientists have put forth their theories about the mind, brain, and consciousness. But each of us has our own views, too. Zombie thought experiments" can help identify and clarify your personal views. Are you a materialist, a reductionist, an anti-behaviorist, a dualist? Find out with the aid of your zombie scorecard." x
  • 22
    Thought Experiments against Materialism
    Physicists and philosophers have relied on thought experiments for thousands of years. But how can we know that the conclusions of thought experiments are correct? Learn what Leibniz' "giant head" and Searle's "Chinese room" can tell us about materialism-and about the potential limits of our own imaginations. x
  • 23
    Consciousness and the Explanatory Gap
    What is consciousness? Some scientists describe it as a result of emergence, much as wet" emerges from a particular combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Others propose that neuroscience will answer the question-or already has. But is it possible that the human mind will never be able to fully understand its own consciousness?" x
  • 24
    A Philosophical Science of Consciousness?
    If the fields of brain science, philosophy, and artificial intelligence alone cannot adequately explain the relationship between body, mind, and consciousness, where should we look for answers? Explore an exciting step-by-step approach that could lead to a richer understanding of the process of consciousness and its evolutionary benefit. x

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Your professor

Patrick Grim

About Your Professor

Patrick Grim, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Stony Brook
Dr. Patrick Grim is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He graduated with highest honors in anthropology and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was named a Fulbright Fellow to the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, from which he earned his B.Phil. He earned his Ph.D. from Boston University. Professor Grim is the recipient of several...
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Reviews

Mind-Body Philosophy is rated 4.9 out of 5 by 16.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Modest Update of Grim's "Philosophy Of Mind" I am a big fan of Professor Grim in general and of his 2008 course "Philosophy of Mind" in particular. So when I saw he had recorded this new course in 2017, I immediately subscribed to it. It never occurred to me that the 2017 course would be largely devoted to recycling material from the 2008 course. Rather, i assumed that Professor Grim had new material to present and that where there was overlap with material from the 2008 course, he would do what Professor Greenberg does: briefly summarize the discussion from the prior course and refer viewers/auditors to the earlier course if they wished to hear the complete presentation. Alas, this course is largely a rehash of the 2008 course In particular, I believe about 80% of the material in this 2017 course is either the same verbatim as that in the 2008 course or a close paraphrase, with some material moderately compressed and other material moderately expanded. To be sure, the 2017 course does discuss some intervening developments, but by and large these are minor. And with respect to the 80% of the material that appears in both the 2008 and this 2017 course, I believe that, as a general matter, the presentation in the 2008 course is far tighter, more elegant, and superior. For example, while the opening lecture in the 2008 course compelling set forth all the themes of the course -- through a discussion of a dream of Descartes, the brain of Einstein, and a 19th century prototype of a computer -- the opening lecture of the 2017 courses seizes on a baseball metaphor of left field, right field, and center field to discuss materialism, idealism, and dualism, but the metaphor was a meaningless digression that didn't illuminate issues in the course at all. And there are numerous other respects in the 2008 course is superior: e.g., the discussion of zombies, which was concentrated in one lecture, rather than being haphazardly spread between multiple lectures as it was in the 2017 course. In any case, I think it was misleading of the teaching company to label this a separate course: it was more in the nature of a "second edition" of the course released in 2008. But because the "new" material was so limited and of such little value, I am hard pressed to explain why the 2017 was made and released. As a minor protest, I am returning the 2017 course for a refund. In fairness, if Professsor Grim had not made the 2008 course, I think the 2017 course would have been an excellent course and I would have recommended it. For that reason, I have given the course good numerical ratings. But because the 2008 course exists and is superior, my recommendation is that interested persons obtain that course instead, and I would not recommend this 2017 course to a friend..
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Always stimulating, with a reservation Grim si great at explaining difficult concepts in clear ways for the layman and from that standpoint I would strong recommend this course. The only reasons I don't give it 5 stars is that he's not informed on the criticisms of the mechanistic theories to explain near-death experiences and related phenomena, like remote viewing and death bed visions. In God Reconsidered, I show that brain biochemistry near death and the effects of drugs can't explain these and there are plenty of double-blind studies that show remote viewing is possible for some and strong anecdotal evidence of individuals reporting conversations during their NDE between others who were not in the room with the body. I'd recommend the course The Spiritual Brain by Dr/ Andrew Newberg for another perspective on these issues.
Date published: 2017-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Splendid! This is one of the best philosophy lectures I've ever listened to in my life. Strongly recommend anyone who's interested in consciousness!
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thought Provoking and Introspective Professor Grim offers very insightful perspectives on the many aspects of the mind-body dilemma. Examinations of deep thinkers throughout history are considered along with exploration of different perspectives from purely objective (Materialism) to purely subjective (Idealism). Interesting thought experiments also stimulated my thoughts on key questions that have been raised for decades. Professor Grim demonstrates a clear command and knowledge of the subject matter and forces the student to examine his/her own position, or at least the unanswered questions!
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Journey into the Mind I ordered this course based upon my interest in philosophy, however I was so pleased at the journey it took me through a better understanding of the way the mind works. It satisfied both my interest, philosophy and life science.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring knowledge I completed up to lecture 12 and have learned so much in just a few days. I would want to re-listen to the lectures for a second time, just in case I missed anything.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable This is a very enjoyable and accessible course where the ideas are clearly explained. I would like to see more courses from Prof. Grim such as a 36 lecture course explaining all the ideas of the great philosophers. Having said that the best Prof. for explaining philosophical ideas is Prof. Phillip Cary. I would love a 48 lecture course by Cary he is that good.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! I have purchased many products from Great Courses and "Mind-Body Philosophy" is one of my favorite courses. Moreover, I have two other offerings by Professor Grim and rank him among my three favorite professors.
Date published: 2017-03-20
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