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Minds and Machines

An introduction to philosophy of mind, exploring consciousness, reality, AI, and more. The most in-depth philosophy course available online.

Minds and Machines
12 weeks
4-6 hours per week

About this course

What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Can computers think? Do we perceive reality as it is? Can there be a science of consciousness?

This course explores these questions and others. It is a thorough, rigorous introduction to contemporary philosophy of mind.

According to many scientists and philosophers, explaining the nature of consciousness is the deepest intellectual challenge of all. If you find consciousness at all puzzling, this is a great place to start learning more.

What you’ll learn

  • The basics of argumentation
  • Some central arguments for and against the view that a sufficiently powerful computer can think (AI)
  • The main theories of mental states and their relations to physical states
  • Some central arguments for and against the view that the world is not as we perceive it to be
  • What the "hard problem of consciousness" is

Meet your instructors

  • Alex Byrne

    Alex Byrne is Professor of Philosophy in MIT’s Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. He has written widely in philosophy of mind and epistemology, and recently co-edited The Norton Introduction to Philosophy.

  • David Balcarras

    David Balcarras is a Lecturer in philosophy and a Digital Learning Lab Fellow at MIT. He got his PhD in philosophy from MIT, and his MA and BA in philosophy from the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind and language.

Who can take this course?

Because of U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) restrictions and other U.S. federal regulations, learners residing in one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea and the Crimea, Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions of Ukraine.