Selves, Non-Selves... and Cephalopods

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Summer 2018 quarter (Second Session)

Taught by

queer studies, philosophy, poetics

In this course, we'll explore the interrelated concepts of self, mind, and consciousness. Readings from recent philosophy of mind will challenge us to explain whether the phenomenon of consciousness implies self and mind, or if we can do without these ideas as we think through lucid dreaming, mind-altering drugs, and phantom limbs. We'll think through changes to the personality as a result of brain damage or trauma. But we won't limit our studies to the human realm: two provocative meditations on animal life, specifically octopi and vampire squids, will allow us to ask how to think about cephalopod consciousness and deep-sea minds, and what that might tell us about our own experiences. Finally, we'll briefly peer into the question of extraterrestrial intelligence. Throughout the course, our discussions will range from questions of knowledge and perception to their ethical and political consequences. Classroom time will be divided between succinct lectures situating philosophical terms and trajectories, leaving plenty of time for seminar conversations. Students can expect to write regular reading responses and two critical essays. The program is suitable for all levels; it can work as an introduction to philosophy, as well as for more advanced students wishing to deepen their knowledge of (for example) philosophy of mind, consciousness studies, or animal ethics.

Program Details

Fields of Study



Summer Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered

Day and Evening

Advertised Schedule

Mon/Wed 3:30-7:30pm

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning