Oct 31st 2016

What is a Mind? (FutureLearn)

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Explore the most pertinent scientific and philosophical concepts for understanding our own minds with this free online course. This free online course will bring together learners and practitioners interested in how the mind works. It aims to build bridges between traditionally antagonistic approaches to understanding the mind.

What is a mind?

This question has perplexed philosophers, scientists, historians and ordinary people across time and cultures.

While advances in the medical understanding of how the brain functions can shed light on neurological functions and disorders, the essential question of what the mind is speaks to a different problem.

This problem cannot be answered by a purely scientific understanding of the brain, nor by a purely philosophical or psychological approach. Many disciplines have attempted to address the question’, resulting in multiple and sometimes antithetical answers.

New understandings of the mind

On this course, Professor Mark Solms, Chair of Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town, will adopt a multidisciplinary approach.

He will bring in perspectives from a range of disciplines, to explore four specific aspects of the mind- subjectivity, intentionality, consciousness and agency. Together, these will help us think about the fundamental questions: what it is to be a mind, why we have a mind and what it feels like to have a mind.


This course is aimed at anyone with an interest in psychology and the mind. The course will also appeal to practitioners, students and researchers from a range of disciplines, whose work directly or indirectly looks at the mind and the brain. This includes, but is not limited to neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, psychiatry and neurology.