Philosophy of Cognition: Course Guide

From Wikiversity

A Brief Intro[edit]

The PHC course is developed and taught by Tallinn University (TLU) as a full-time e-course, i.e. all activities are carried out online (local students are of course permitted to contact the supervisor if they find it necessary).

The PHC covers a wide range of diverse issues which are grouped under two main themes: models of cognition and the evolution of cognition. Topics include but are not limited to

  • The computational theory of mind
  • Cognitive architecture
  • Distributed Cognition
  • The extended Mind Hypothesis
  • The role of chance in cognition
  • The theory of affordance
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Group selection
  • Meme/Gene analogy
  • Cognitive Niche Construction

Note: compared to some other courses with similar themes, the PHC will have a specific focus on the distributed aspects of cognition.

The course runs on the autumn semester and gives 3 ECTS credits. The course is supervised by Emanuele Bardone (see his webpage here)

Basic Instructions and the 7-1-2-2-1-2 format[edit]

The course will have a 7-1-2-2-2-2 format. Meaning that the course will be 7 weeks long, there will be 1 forum discussion and 2 topics per week, 2 questions and 1 task each topic, and 2 sets of literature.

7 Weeks[edit]

7 is our magic number. It will take us 7 times more than it took God to create the earth - that is, 7 weeks.

1 Weekly Forum Discussion[edit]

There will be a weekly forum discussion. The supervisor will submit a discussion topic at the beginning of each week, and everyone will be supposed to discuss the topic with the supervisor and with the other students.

2 Weekly Topics[edit]

Every week 2 topics will be introduced.

2 Question and 1 Task[edit]

For each topic there will be 2 questions and 1 tasks. The questions are meant for facilitating comprehension and, hopefully, they will provide food for thought. Answering to the questions and completing the task should be done in written form by blogging them. Students should let the supervisor keep track of their progress over newsfeed (RSS) or by email.

2 Sets of Literature[edit]

There will be two sets of literature: compulsory readings and a list of recommended ones, which can be helpful in case one would like to "know more" about a certain topic.

Necessary tools[edit]

All you need to have is...a blog. If you already have one, set up a specific subsection. Or, if you prefer, you can open up a new one. No preferences what concerns blogging services - whether wordpress, blogger, or blogspot, etc.

The only requirement is support for RSS syndication - that would enable the supervisor to follow your work. When you create your profile, please provide your blog address.

We need to register a user at Wikiversity (to be able to edit participant lists etc) and Nabble (for the forum). Please register to the forum with your full name.

What do we need[edit]

One needs: 1) a computer; 2) an internet connection (broadband connection is highly recommended, as students will be asked to watch clips available on the net); 3) a modern web browser.

What do we have to do[edit]

The main macro tasks to complete are the following:

1. Write an essay[edit]

The essay should be about 3000 words and cover any subject within the general limits of the course. Topic and title should be briefly discussed with the supervisor. The paper will give up to 60 points.

An essay is a short composition in which you try out ideas. That doesn't mean that you are supposed to write something 100% original. Not at all. Just show that you have tried to achieve a good understanding of the matter, and establish connections between different issues presented during the course. Good essays are those in which the student's ideas are presented in a "reader-focused" form - clearly presented. In a way, you should writes as if the evaluator - me - doesn't have any clue about you wrote. No jargon please.

So, originality and clarity are certainly two major goals to hold in mind when writing an essay. This is a good source to find valuable tips about how to write an essay: Feel free to read and follow it. Just remember a few things. 1) the basic structure of an essay contains: introduction (to give an overview), body (to get all of your points across to the reader), and conclusion (the final point(s) you have reached in your essay).

2. Complete the weekly tasks in written form[edit]

Tasks will be applied-oriented. Meaning that students may be asked to find and/or comment an article or a clip. These should be blogged and will result in up to 28 points (four per week). Weekly tasks should be accomplished by the beginning of the next week. "Next monday noon" will be the deadline for each weekly tasks. We don't fetishize deadlines. So, especially during the first weeks, a degree of flexibility will be applied. But, INDEED, Giving one an inch doesn't mean that he or she can take a mile.

Blogging is preferred, but e-mailing is ok too. The reason why blogging is a better solution is that it might create some extra discussion.

3. Participate in the weekly discussions[edit]

Everyone should actively participate in the weekly forum discussion by submitting comments, ideas, or remarks. Forum discussions are important to 1) develop argumentative skills, 2) come up with good ideas for writing the paper, and 3) consolidate understanding. it is important to note that surprisingly forum discussions are meant for...discussing. Showing up will not be enough - at least for getting a good score. Students can receive up to points 28 here (four per week). Each forum discussion will be closed by each Monday noon. So, the deadline will be the same with the blog tasks.

Course Schedule[edit]


In order to graduate from the course, one should collect at least 51 points. The exact graduation scale is quite a typical one:

  • 91 or more - "A"
  • 81-90 - "B"
  • 71-80 - "C"
  • 61-70 - "D"
  • 51-60 - "E"
  • 50 or less - "F"

Note that there will be no formal examination - you will get a grade based on your points reserve.

How to contact the supervisor[edit]

The supervisor can be contacted for any problem/issue/question related to the course. Students may contact the supervisor by email or by skype. Please rely on email if your problem is well-defined and needs a quick reply. Rely on skype for problems that need more than a simple answer.

A kind of Netiquette[edit]

We don't fetishize netiquette. But it's very good to know each other as the course will start off. So, better to write in your blog an introductory article about "you".