The origins of consciousness

Fall, 2018 & Spring, 2019

University of Pennsylvania

Course description:

We humans are conscious creatures. We experience the world in a particular way due to our sensory systems and our cognitive make-up. Lots of other creatures seem to experience the world too, using their own brand of consciousness. What is it like for them? Just how differently do we see things compared to something like an octopus? One way to answer these questions is to look at the biological and ecological changes that brought consciousness into play for different species. In this course we will explore the evolutionary origins of consciousness in numerous kinds of creatures—especially the octopus, but also the human. To do so, we'll turn to Peter Godfrey-Smith's recent book Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. Spoiler alert: the octopus's mind is a very strange thing.


The art of persuasion

Fall, 2018 & Spring, 2019

University of Pennsylvania

Course description:

We will begin by reading and analyzing Richard Toye's A Very Short Introduction to Rhetoric to learn about the art of informing and persuading others, an art that is at the very heart of all civil society and every walk of life, as Toye's examples underscore, from the rhetoric of modern cinema and Churchill's wartime speeches to Islamic preaching. This introduction to rhetoric will be followed by students' own explorations of rhetoric in a topic of their own choosing, which might include the rhetoric engineers use to explain a failed bridge; a fashion designer uses to promote a new collection; or politicians and marketing consultants use to convince us to subscribe to their views. Teachers, doctors, and bill collectors use rhetoric, and so too lovers. Visual rhetoric - the ability of images to wordlessly persuade and explain - can be the most powerful of all. In this course, students will learn to be artful producers and discriminating recipients of rhetoric.


music and the brain

Fall, 2017 & Spring, 2018

University of Pennsylvania

Course description:

Each of us takes for granted the place of music in our lives. It helps us to focus while studying, keeps us running at a steady pace, and even changes our moods. Most people can harness these features of music, but few can say with any conviction how they operate. In this course, we will explore some of the possible solutions to the question: how does music impact the human mind? In looking for solutions, we will be aided by This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, written by musician-cum-neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin. Through analyzing this text we will gain insights into the functions of human music from the perspectives of neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and biology.


Introduction to Philosophy

Summer, 2017

University of Pennsylvania

 

Course description:

We humans are curious creatures. We are driven by questions of all different kinds, many of which probe the depths of our consciences, our minds, and even reality. These deep questions often fall within the realm of philosophy.

This course is an introduction to philosophy: to its methods and issues, and particularly its questions. You can think of it like a kind of tasting menu, with each session offering one or two bites of wisdom to get you thinking about how best to answer each question. The questions we will explore are:

  1. How is philosophy practiced?

  2. What can we know about our minds?

  3. What can we know about the world?

  4. How should we interact with others?

View syllabus


topics in philosophy:
cognition & emotion

Spring, 2017

University of Pennsylvania

Course description:

In this course we will explore the philosophical concepts that motivate psychological investigations of cognition and emotion. These two features of human life seem to clash at times, both in terms of how they operate and how they cause our behavior. But what is the relationship between cognition and emotion? We will look at potential answers offered by theorists throughout the history of the discipline of psychology. Topics will include behaviorism, functionalism, embodiment, and appraisal theory. Readings will come from historical figures such as Descartes, Darwin, and James, along with plenty of contemporary theorists in both psychology and philosophy.

View syllabus


as teaching assistant

Biomedical Ethics

Fall, 2014

University of Pennsylvania
Instructor: Andrew McAninch

Introduction to
Philosophy

Fall, 2013

University of Pennsylvania
Instructors: Gresham Riley & Pamela Riley

Introduction to
Philosophy

Semester two, 2011

University of Notre Dame, Australia
Instructor: Patrick Yong

Theories of Human Nature

Semester one, 2009 & 2012

Australian Catholic University
Instructor: Stephen Buckle

Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics

Semester two, 2010

Macquarie University
Instructors: Robert Sinnerbrink,
Cynthia Townley, and Jeanette Kennett

English (various courses)

Summer-Fall, 2005-2006

Hijiyama University
Various instructors

Early Modern Philosophy

Spring, 2015

University of Pennsylvania
Instructor: Karen Detlefsen

Visual studies: Eye, Mind and Image

Spring, 2014

University of Pennsylvania
Instructors: Michael Leja & Gary Hatfield

Introduction to Philosophy and Ethics

Semester one, 2012

University of Notre Dame, Australia
Instructors: Patrick Yong & Sandra Lynch

Introduction to Ethics

Semester one, 2011

University of Notre Dame, Australia
Instructor: Patrick Yong

Theories of Human Nature

Semester one, 2011

Australian Catholic University
Instructor: John Quilter

Professional Ethics

Semester two, 2009

Australian Catholic University
Instructor: Drago Heler