Spring for 2013-2014
We all make mistakes. We all sometimes remember things that didn't really happen and sometimes forget things that really did. We all get confused by optical illusions, and phantom pains and itches. We all sometimes believe false things other people tell us. We all sometimes confuse our dreams for reality. We all sometimes believe things because we really want them to be, even though we have good reasons for thinking they aren't. And sometimes we're just plain hallucinating.
How can we be sure that we're not mistaken about everything? What kinds of thing can we know for sure? What is knowledge anyway?
We'll look at some old, not so old, and even less old answers to and ways of thinking about these questions. Some of these will come from philosophers. But some will come as well from science, science fiction, literature, film, art, etc. The views we come across will be very different, and we'll spend a lot of time trying to sort out our own reactions to these questions. We'll all probably end up with different answers ourselves---but at least they'll be our own answers, and we'll have good reasons for them. (That's the philosophy part.)
Here are just a few of the things we'll be looking at:
* The films The Matrix and Existenz
* Kafka's ``The Metamorphosis"; Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas; Burroughs' Naked Lunch; Ellison's The Invisible Man; etc.
* Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature (parts)
* Recent research in cognitive science and psychology (of individuals and groups)
* Some selections from Stanislaw Lem (the good stuff)
* The Star Trek pilot episode, ``The Cage"
* Some more philosophy stuff
* Parts of Don Quixote
* Religion and other mass delusions.
Other academic years
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