This course will be co-taught by Professor John Hunter from Comparative Humanities and Professor Joe Tranquillo from Biomedical and Electrical Engineering



This course will explore the contact points between humanistic and scientific thinking about the nature of the brain, the mind (is it “in” in the brain or does it consist of the brain and other things?), and culture (here used as an abbreviation for all the things that human beings make and experience together). Its central questions will include: to what extent does understanding how the brain works allow us to understand what it thinks and produces?  To what extent does culture determine the way we think (and vice versa)? Are thought and memory properties of our brains alone or of our interactions with the world? Has science found the neurological basis for aspects of human experience that have been considered beyond scientific explanation for centuries?

No prior knowledge of these debates is assumed and students from all majors are welcome. The course is being co-taught with a biomedical engineering seminar. Learning to integrate the goals and methods of both colleges will be an important course goal.



We will study novels, films, and online media to complement our readings in contemporary philosophy, art theory, cognitive science, and neuroscience



Seminar discussion with active student participation (both orally and in writing); oral presentations. The course is being taught in tandem with a bio-medical engineering course, and cooperation and discussion will make use of the techniques of both groups of students.