Amherst College                 First-Year Seminar: Mind and Brain                            Fall, 2011

 Prof. Stephen George          E-mail        Office hours:  M9-11, Tu2-4, F2-4

Course expectations:

  • Attend and participate in all 26 scheduled classes, including the Thursday class in the week before Thanksgiving break.  The only acceptable reasons for missing class are (1) personal illness, and (2) family emergency.
  • Complete the assigned reading before class, bring the reading to class, and take part in class discussion
  • Submit at least 9 writing assignments as scheduled and described below.
  • Be sure you can promptly receive occasional e-mails from your prof. sent to your Amherst e-mail account - i.e. set up forwarding if you prefer to use a different e-mail account!


 You will do two kinds of writing in this course: four 2-page essays stating the key arguments in some of our readings, and five longer (4 - 6 page) papers that will include your own responses to the ideas in the readings and class discussion.   These are due by the beginning of class  as follows:

  • Sept. 13 – short essay on Theaetetus
  • Sept. 22 – longer paper on knowledge
  • Oct. 4 – longer paper on Descartes
  • Oct. 25 – short essay on Freud
  • Nov. 8 – longer paper on mind./brain
  • Nov. 15 – short essay on animal language
  • Dec. 6 – longer paper on free will
  • Dec. 13 – short essay on moral responsibility
  • End of finals – longer paper on negotiated topic (not "What I gained from this course" - that one is off limits, non-negotiably)

 Write these papers based on the course materials and class discussion for readers who have also read the course materials.  These are not "research papers" written from first principles and needing documenta-tion of sources.  This leads to some specific suggestions regarding the format of your papers:

  •  No extended quotes
  • Title optional
  • No footnotes
  • No bibliography
  • No dictionary definitions

 Grading of papers:

 First short essay will be counted only if it helps your final grade

  • If you submit more than 4 short essays (confirm that it’s OK to do so for a particular day) , the best 4 will be counted
  • Longer papers except the last one can be re-submitted to respond to comments if you wish.