Nature of the Universe: Mind and Matter

Science tells us that everything in the universe is made of particles, waves, and so on. But what about minds and meaning? Could thoughts and feelings be made up of chemicals and electricity, or are they some other kind of thing? Does a scientific view of the world allow for the existence of free will? Of rationality? Of meaningful thoughts at all? In this colloquium we will examine these questions by thinking about recent work in philosophy and science.

Course materials:

For syllabus, assignments, readings, announcements, and other material please see the course page on TCU Online.

Philosophy/psychology/cognitive science in the news

Other content relevant to class

What is it like to be a bat?

Mind and language

Mechanisms and moral responsibility

Artificial intelligence

  • Have a conversation with a chatbot! The most famous are probably ELIZA (created in the 1960s) and ALICE (created in the 1990s).

  • In 2017 there was a popular news story that Facebook shut down an AI experiment because the chatbots became self-aware and developed their own secret language. But the story was very misleading—Snopes has a fact-check.



Based on this image, which is based on this article.