Liberal Arts in Dingle
PS299 – Mind over Matter: Exploring the Origins of Animal Consciousness

This course will examine the problem of animal minds from both a biological and philosophical perspective. Beginning with a survey of the human-animal divide in Western philosophy and contemporary research in cognitive biology, the course will aim to investigate the following questions: What is a mind, and who or what can have one? What can we learn about animal minds from the scientists who study them? How do animals perceive the world? Do they have memories? Self-awareness? Language? Rationality? Pleasure and pain and emotion? By engaging in field research observing different sorts of animals native to the Dingle Peninsula, including both vertebrates and invertebrates, we will conclude by considering what animal minds might tell us about the nature, value, and meaning of human and nonhuman animal life.