PHIL 502



A new course to be offered
Spring 1998
Varol Akman
Engineering Building, Room EA-503
Tel. 2664040 ext. 1537 (or leave a note with the secretary at 2664133)
Teaching Assistant
Course home page

Subject Matter

This  3-credit course (Bilkent course code 25502 section 01) serves as an introduction to the central problems in the philosophy of mind. Issues covered include (but are not limited to) whether a machine could think, thinking as symbol manipulation, the mind-brain identity theory, mental representation, and theories of consciousness. The aim is to furnish the student with a good understanding of the fundamental ideas of the philosophy of mind so that he or she might pursue them in detail in other philosophy courses. It is noted that Bilkent University is planning to offer graduate study opportunities and scholarships within the framework of a new Philosophy Department (to be established most probably Fall 1998).

Click here for a tentative list of contents. Follow the links to similar courses (cf. "Hot Links" below) to have some idea about the nature of this course. 

Course Schedule

You should be a graduating (i.e., fourth year, second semester) student in good standing (e.g., a cumulative GPA of 2.50 or better) in order to register. Students from all faculties (including science, engineering, humanities, and social sciences) are encouraged to take this course. Naturally, a strong interest in philosophy is required. On the other hand, a background in philosophy is not necessary. To quote John Perry, the most important prerequisites are "the ability to get excited about rather abstract issues about the nature of the [mind]" and "the willingness to read and reason carefully about these issues."

Since there will  be discussion  sessions in the classroom, numerous reading assignments, and frequent  essay-type homeworks, students are assumed to be reasonably competent in English. Here's a (tentative) breakdown of course components:

All documents should be produced by a text processor (e.g., TeX/LaTeX) and always submitted to the TA. Hand-written stuff will not be accepted. Observance of page limits -- which, by the way, should be understood as upper limits --  is a must. Points will be deduced for spelling/grammar mistakes. Cheating and plagiarism will be severely punished. Due dates will be strictly enforced: A late submission gets no credits whatsoever. Finally, participation in discussions may be taken into account in determining the letter grade.


Jaegwon Kim's Philosophy of Mind (Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado) will be used as a textbook. Another good volume is Brian Beakley and Peter Ludlow's The Philosophy of Mind: Classical Problems/Contemporary Issues (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts). Xeroxed copies of readings will be handed out in class for a nominal fee. On the other hand, a fair amount of reading material should be found on various web sites. These will be specified as we go along.

Important Note

METU and Hacettepe students are also welcome to take this course. They are kindly asked to contact me via email or phone so that we can discuss their case clearly.

Reminder: Spring classes at Bilkent will begin 19 January. The last day for adding this course is 27 January. The registration for classes will take place 15-16 January. I realize that this state of affairs may not be very convenient for students from METU and Hacettepe where the Spring semester starts later. However, this shouldn't discourage you; we may be able to fix your program through mutual cooperation.

Hot Links

Questions? Do not hesitate to email me at