PSK 423 States of consciousness


Who in the world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle.

- Alice in the Wonderland

PSK 423 States of Consciousness
PSK 423 Bilinç Durumları

This is a dream course.
Not it’s a course about dreams but it’s course which I’ve dreamt about it for a long time.

Consciousness (or with its formal name States of Consciousness) is about:

sleep and dreams,
hypnosis, psychedelics, and hallucinations,
the Self (if it is really exist),
the existence, nonexistence, and being-in-the-world,
neurological characteristics of consciousness,
mediation, music, and trance,
so called free-will (if it is really exist),
quantum theory and subatomic particles,
… and other absurd topics.

PSK 423 States of Consciousness course may sound like a spiritual subject matter to you but actually it is not. There are growing body of experimental evidence about the nature of the states of consciousness. We, both psychologically and neurologically, know many things about awake and non-awake states of consciousness. In other words, there is almost nothing in the deeps of the secret forest of consciousness which is kept unknown. We know the basics of easy problem of consciousness, which means the mechanisms and underlying principles of human consciousness. The name should not misguide you, “easy” problems are very interesting to answer, too. There are many unexpected findings about the basic mechanisms of human consciousness.

On the other hand, the hard problem of consciousness is still unknown. By hard problem, philosophers are talking about the main, big question of consciousness: Why do we (people) have consciousness at all? What is the meaning and/or purpose of having a conscious self? Do we need consciousness (or a much provoking question: Who does need consciousness?).

Although the main emphasis will be given to the latter, in the PSK 423 States of Consciousness we are going to try to engage in both type of problems.

Reading List

Main Textbook and Reading Materials:

Alıcı, T. (2012). Gerçek bir yanılsama: Bilinç. İstanbul: Metis Bilim.
Reading Part 01
Reading Part 02
Reading Part 03

Primary Sources:
Chalmers, D. J. (1996). The conscious mind: In search of a fundamental theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dennett, D. C. (1991). Consciousness explained. Boston: Little, Brown.
New Scientist (2017). Your conscious mind. London: Carmelite.
Weisberg, J. (2014). Consciousness. Cambridge: Polity.

For other reading materials please check the Course Plan.

Final Exam (%30): The exam date will be announced later.
Mid-Term (%30): The exam date will be announced later.
Assignments (%30): In class assignments and/or homeworks.
Participation (%10): Active participation. (If you do not join 5 or more lectures you are going to receive F2 and will no be allowed to take the final exam.)

See you on Tuesdays (09:00 - 11:50) at G-404.


Course Plan

20 Feb 2018 - The Main Story
27 Feb 2018 - Bats, Zombies, and Us
06 Mar 2018 - I Love You Human
13 Mar 2018 - Stream of Consciousness
20 Mar 2018 - Altered States of Consciousness I
27 Mar 2018 - Altered States of Consciousness II
03 Apr 2018 - Intermezzo
24 Apr 2018 - The New Story
15 May 2018 - The Hard Problem of the Self
15 Mayı 2018 - The Evolution