Phil/Psych 447, 2010

Seminar in Cognitive Science: Mind and Society

Week 2: The Self

This paper grew out of my book, The Brain and the Meaning of Life.

The multilevel mechanisms view was advocated in my book on emotions, Hot Thought.

The co-author, Joanne Wood, is a leading researcher on self-esteem and self-comparison.

William Bechtel has done particularly valuable work on mechanisms.

Essay topics are now available.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is the nature of the self important for integrating the cognitive and social sciences?
  2. Are there alternatives to transcendental, deflationary, and systems accounts of the self?
  3. What other self-phenomena are important?
  4. Do representation, effecting, and changing cover all the self-phenomena?
  5. What are mechanistic explanations? What are their strengths and limitations? What other kinds of explanations are there?
  6. What are systems, and how do they organize into levels?
  7. What are self-representations and how do they lead to behavior?
  8. What do self-control and other kinds of self-effecting tell us about the self?
  9. How do people change as they get older? Can transcendental and deflationary views explain such changes?
  10. Does the idea of downward causation make sense?
  11. What are the major philosophical and psychological problems with the multlevel system view of the self?

Phil/Psych 447

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated Sept. 20, 2010