LC3 Philosophy of Mind, Body and Technology
November 13, 2023 - February 2, 2024
This course acquaints students with current theories and approaches to the relations between mind, body, and technology. Our entry point is the central role of the human mind in the European and Anglo-American tradition of Philosophy. Simply put, human beings are considered to have a specific kind of mind, that makes them human.
The centrality of the mind raises the question, how to do justice to the body and how to take into account the interplay between mind, body and technology. In our course, we will discuss and explore the current understanding of mind and body in view of various technologies like brain imaging, brain-machine interfaces, artificial intelligence, surveillance technologies, and medical technologies. Furthermore, we will consider alternative perspectives on the mind (e.g., extended mind theory) and the body (e.g., phenomenology of the body and feminist theory) and will ask, how such approaches allow us to deepen our understanding of human-technology relations and to answer the question, what does it mean to be human for human beings in contemporary times.
Additionally, in preparing the presentation and writing the paper, students will, in terms of research skills, be trained to
- Formulate a research question
- Reflexively answer the research question
- Select relevant literature and gradually zoom in
By preparing the presentation, students will practice summarizing and situate an academic paper / chapter. They will also be trained to explicitly formulate pro- and con-arguments in response to the paper. Finally, students will be trained to summarize the main line of arguments of an academic discussion.
Depending on the topic choice for the paper, students will also learn to
- Choose and account for relevant theoretical approaches (e.g., if students have to choose a fitting framework to analysis a specific technology)
- Interpret findings (e.g., by evaluating scientific literature on the mind/body)
The course has a seminar setting. There will be 8 sessions of 4 hours. The first meeting will offer a general introduction into the course topic. Three sessions will be dedicated Philosophy of the Mind and Philosophy of the Body each. The two parts of course will follow a common structure: The first meeting is dedicated to the question, what is a mind / body? The second meeting will address the interplay between technology and the mind / body. The third meeting will be focus on a current specific discussion in the Philosophy of the mind / body. While the general set-up of the course suggests a ‘body / mind’-split, the discussions in class will give emphasis on making connections between the two domains.
Aim / objective
This course connects to the final qualification K2, K5, K6, S6, S9 of the PSTS programme, according to the following learning objectives
At the end of the course the student has knowledge of:
- philosophy of mind,
- philosophy of the body,
- contemporary analyses of the relations between mind, body, and technology,
and is able to:
- write an academic paper, in which (s)he evaluates a technology by building on insights from philosophy of mind and/or philosophy of the body,
- formulate a research question,
- identify relevant literature within the scope of the course,
- situate contemporary approaches in broader discussion on the interplay between Mind, Body, and Technology.
Students in the 4TU.Ethics track and PhD candidates in the „Ethics of Technology“ programme can opt to specialize on either Philosophy of Mind and the Body.
In this case, the learning goals are as follows:
At the end of the course the student has:
- knowledge of philosophy of mind or philosophy of the body,
- Insights into contemporary analyses of the relation between mind, body, and technology
and is able to:
- write an academic paper, in which (s)he evaluates a technology from an ethical perspective while including insights from Philosophy of Mind or Philosophy of the Body,
- formulate a research question,
- identifying relevant literature within the scope of the assignment,
- situate contemporary approaches in broader discussion on the interplay between Mind, Body, and Technology
Students are asked to deliver a short presentation of 10 minutes on an assigned reading. The students will receive formative feedback.
Furthermore, they have to prepare a report on the presentation and the discussion of the text in class. By default, the student will prepare a report on the topic of the presentation. If there are more participants than topics for presentations, the student can decide about the topic of the report. (30% of the final grade)
Students will write a paper on a technology within the scope of the course. They are free to choose their own subject. (70% of the final grade).
To prepare for the paper, student will present an outline of the paper in the last meeting. The students will receive formative feedback on the presentation and the outline.
Each component of the final grade has to be graded sufficient or more (i.e. 5.5 or more). Participation in class is a condition for passing the course.
This course is offered to students in the 4TU E&T track. Students in this track will get additional support in form of a reading list / reader.
Students in the 4TU.Ethics track and PhD candidates from the 4TU.Ethics graduate programme will write a paper which focuses on the ethical aspects and implications. There will be one additional (individual) meeting on how to make a connection between Philosophy of the Mind / Body and Ethics of Technology. In addition, PhD candidates from the 4TU.Ethics programme can opt to limit their participation in the course to the first introduction and the meetings, which emphasis Philosophy of Mind or Philosophy of the Body.
Study load is the equivalent of: 5 ECTS.
This course is free for members of the 4TU.Ethics.