Key Terms and Definitions

Definitions for key concepts in AOS 1 — Mind and Bodies.

1. Consciousness

  1. The Descriptive Question
  • What is consciousness? What are its features? and by what means can it be modeled, explained, or described?
  • How does consciousness come into existence? Is consciousness an aspect of reality (the spirit) or does it come from non-conscious entities (materialism)?
  • Why does consciousness exist? Does it have a function and what? Does it causally fit and if so what are its effects (free will)? Does it make a difference in the operations of a system (free will?

2. the Hard Problem

Notes from Aristotle on Ethics


  • Aristotle is one of the most famous Greek philosophers, along with Plato and Socrates born in 384 BC
  • In Book 1 and 2 Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle lays out his theory of what is the good for man and what is moral virtue?

Book 1: The Good For Man

All actions are done for some good, those goods are subordinate to another good, therefore there is a chief good to which we all aim.

  • Some arts are subordinate to master arts, and therefore all goods are subordinate to the chief good.
  • Aristotle strengthens his point by saying if we do not choose everything for the sake…

Notes from Michaels Meredith On Personal Identity


  • Through the Schwanda and Wanda example she reevaluated Locke’s Memory Theory
  • And through her Dr.Nefarious example brings arguments to support the body theory of personal identity
  • However her conclusion is that personal identity is not ‘all-or-nothing’ but more questions of degrees

Wanda and Schwanda Example

  • Your friend Wanda has her body destroyed via an unfortunate steamroller accident
  • You have a stroke
  • A famous neurosurgeon is able to put Wanda’s brain into your…

Notes from David Hume on Personal Identity


  • David Hume is an empiricist and a skeptic but also an atheist writing this famous meditation on personal identity in 1739.
  • This text comes in three parts:
  1. the first laying out the problem and the bundle theory of identity,
  2. the second identifying why people usually believe in identity even though there is a change,
  3. and the last is why we believe in identity and simplicity of mind.

Laying out the problem

  • feeling that its’ existence is certain of perfect identity and simplicity

Notes from John Locke on Principle of Individuation

  • John Locke’s philosophy belongs to the traditions of scholastic, in an attempt to merge Christianity with Greek philosophy
  • In this case, Locke is not doing philosophy purely for philosophy sakes, but his question of personal identity serves a forensic aim (to lay a basis for legal practices).

Laying out the problem of identity

  • It is self-evident that two things of the same…

Notes from Smart’s Essay on Philosophy of Mind (Physicalism)


  1. This paper was published in the 1950s and brings light to the theory of mind-brain identity theory, also known as ‘Australian materialism’

Yellowish-orange After Image Example

Notes from Thomas Nagel’s Essay On Consciousness


  • This article was written in the 1970s and has become a very famous article on the topic of philosophy of the mind.
  • In this article, Nagel launches an attack on physicalism as an adequate explanation for the mind-body problem making the claim that most theories fail to explain one of the most important parts of the problem; the fact of conscious experience.

Attack on Reductionism

Notes on Descartes 1st, 2nd & 6th Meditation


  1. Descartes was writing in the 16th century where witnessing other thinkers such as Copernicus and Galileo… being exiled and killed by the church Descartes in his writing consciously made efforts to not pose arguments that might have gone against the will of the church.
  2. Descartes’s main mission is to bring the certainty that he found through the pursuits of mathematics to the field of philosophy. Trying to unquestionably find a method to philosophy that would bring out the truth, not unlike mathematics with formulas.

First Meditation (radical skepticism)

Khoi Nguyen


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