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What is consciousness? How does the brain generate consciousness and how can a science of the mind describe and explain it adequately? This unit will introduce you to the slippery phenomenon that is consciousness, as well as some of the difficulties consciousness presents to science and philosophy.
By the end of this unit you should:
- be able to discuss basic philosophical questions concerning the nature of consciousness;
- have enhanced your ability to understand problems concerning the nature of consciousness and to discuss them in a philosophical way
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Consciousness
- 2 Defining consciousness
- 3 The elusiveness of consciousness
- 4 The problem of consciousness
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 Further reading
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Consciousness is at once the most important and most baffling aspect of the mind. It is the very heart of our existence yet it is extraordinarily difficult to describe and explain. This unit introduces consciousness, and the ‘hard problem’ it presents for a science of the mind.
This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course AA308 Thought and experience: themes in the philosophy of mind, which is no longer taught by the University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Philosophy courses or view the range of currently available OU Philosophy courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 23rd June 2011
Last updated on: Wednesday, 19th October 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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