By Brandon Towl
Being a newly minted (and still jobless) PhD, I’ve been doing some serious thinking about projects I want to tackle in the next five years or so. One idea was to write something– either a few papers or perhaps a book– on interesting puzzles or problems in the Philosophy of Mind that often get overlooked in anthologies and texts on the subject. This has lead to some rumination on just what the “classical” problems are, and which might deserve to be classical, given some attention.
So I’m appealing to Brains readers for their input. To start, I’ll list some of the problem areas that I’ve found dominate
intro texts to Phil of Mind:
- The Mind/ Body problem (and all the “isms” we learn about– accounted for 1/2 of my undegrad POM classes)
- Problems of Mental Causation (causal exclusion, projectibility, etc.)
- Consciousness (its nature, scientific study, etc.)
- Naturalizing content (I would include the nature of concepts here as well)
- The “architecture” of the mind (GOFAI vs. connectionism, vs. dyanmical systems vs….)
- The Self (its nature, representation, identity conditions, etc.)
- Folk Psychology (many interesting– and overworked– problems here)
And as runners up…
- Emotions (Their nature, content, etc.)
- Embedded/embodied cognition
- Possibility of animal thought/animal consciousness
Granted, these are more “problem areas” than specific problems. But I’m wondering what good, interesting problems there are that might be outside this net. A few thoughts:
- Interpretation of split brain data with regards to personal identity (there was a fury of activity in the 70s, and again in the 90s, but not much I’ve seen since then).
- Concept sharing and publicity (do we really “share” concepts, and do we really communicate competently?)
- How the posits of personality psychology (e.g., personality traits) square with philsophical ideas about the mind
- Cognitive basis (or perceptual, or whatever) for logic and logic learning
These are just some off-the-cuff ideas. So: What do Brains readers feel the newest, sexiest problems or areas are? What might students be reading in anthologies 20 or 50 years from now?