PHI 122 W — The Nature of You: Exploring Individuality and Reality
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Instructor(s): Richie Kim
Class Recording Available: Yes
Flex Online(About Formats)
Apr 3—Jun 9
In this course, we will scrutinize some of the greatest Western classical and contemporary thinkers on fundamental metaphysical issues concerning identity and self. Starting with famous skeptical arguments given within Descartes’s view of substance dualism, that all things that exist are either material substance or immaterial substance, we will then move on to examine views about the nature of reality that assume physicalism, which holds that everything in the universe is essentially physical. We will then discuss reality and personhood, including questions raised by technology such as artificial intelligence and computer simulations: Is your aunt with severe dementia still your aunt? Can you live forever via cloning? Finally, we will look at our place in time given the existence of the spacetime manifold and a multiverse, and we will reflect on the premise that there are multiple universes. Readings will include excerpts from Descartes, J.J.C. Smart, and Peter van Inwagen, as well as articles such as Peter Unger’s “I Do Not Exist,” Nick Bostrom’s “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” and David Lewis’s “The Paradoxes of Time Travel.” Students will leave the course with an understanding of the leading historical and contemporary views on the nature of the mind and the self.
Richie Kim has taught philosophy at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco. In 2020, he received Stanford’s Centennial Teaching Assistant Award in philosophy and UC Berkeley’s Inspirational Instructors Award. He received a PhD in philosophy from Stanford.
Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, Stanford
Textbooks for this course:
There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.