Odyssey: Science, Fiction, and the Brain

Contemporary neuroscience claims to be closer than ever to figuring out what makes a person tick, but there's still a long way to go from the mapping of neuronal connections to an empirical account of consciousness, memory, and emotion. This course leaps into the ring where materialism and idealism, the mechanistic and the vitalistic, have wrangled for the past 200 years. We will trace the history of attempts to explain and control human consciousness, both in reality and in fiction. Through philosophy, ethics, neuroscience, and literature, students will explore what is at stake in efforts to reduce the mind to a series of electrical impulses in the brain. Sessions will be divided between lecture and discussion. Readings will focus on short representative selections from works that capture contrasting positions of each week's topic, not more than 40 pages per session.

910.771.01 Homewood campus Thursdays, Sept. 22 to Oct. 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Cost: $144 (6 sessions)

JHU full-time faculty/staff are eligible for 80% tuition remission. Spouse/same-sex domestic partners are eligible for 50% remission. Contact 410-516-8516 to register.