The course of History of contemporary philosophical and scientific thought is part of the program in Philosophical sciences (MA level) and is included among the complementary training activities, belonging to the activities in English language. The objective of the course is to provide an in-depth understanding of some aspects of contemporary philosophy and its intrinsic interdisciplinary connections with different scientific fields. Students will read through a number of scholarly papers and they will acquire in-depth understanding of the issues and debates connected to them, with the help of an introductory monography. Students will be able to apply the acquired knowledge to discuss and to develop arguments both in a theoretic and in a historic perspective. Upon completion of the course students are expected to acquire the following skills: Advanced critical thinking on contemporary philosophy and on its relation to particular fields of contemporary science (in historical and in philosophical perspective); Advanced language and argumentation skills required for reading contemporary papers in philosophy and discussing about them and their interdisciplinary connections; Capacity to read and analyse contemporary philosophical sources and the relevant critical debate (in English); Oral and written presentation (Italian and English)
teacher profile | teaching materials


We will read a number of texts on the relation between brain and consciousness.
The interpretation and comment of the texts will focus on the following points:
1) Concepts of mind in Cartesian philosophy and post-Cartesian debates on the soul of beasts (Bayle, Leibniz)
2) The revival of the problem of consciousness in contemporary cognitive science, with special regards to the problem of the mind of other animals

Core Documentation

1) P. Godfrey-Smith, Metazoa. Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York 2020
2) P. Pecere, Soul, Mind and Brain from Descartes to Cognitive Science. A Critical History, Springer, Cham 2020
3) D. Jamieson, What do Animals Think? In: Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 15-34 (2009)

Type of delivery of the course

Traditional class; Discussions with students and debates; At least a seminar on topics related to classes; Students’ presentations. (Exceptional health issues may require the transition to distance learning).

Type of evaluation

Oral exam, starting from the discussion of a (ca.) 3000 words paper in english. The paper has to be sent to the teacher in pdf format within 7 days before the day of the exam. The file must be named with the name of the student in capital letters (e.g. ROSSI.pdf). Format and norms: follow the guidelines at the following link: https://www.academia.edu/9319345/Norme_di_redazione_per_un_saggio_breve. The linguistic and redactional care is an element of the final evaluation. Each student will devote the paper to the analysis and critical discussion of one or two of the articles presented by the teacher, by putting them into a wider philosophical context. The choice of topics and articles has to be made under the supervision of the teacher. Evaluation: Paper 50% (main criteria: knowledge and comprehension of the text and problems; argumentative clarity and synthetic exposition; linguistic and redactional care; originality of claims). Oral discussion 50%