Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology (PNP) is an interdisciplinary program that provides an opportunity to examine the mind from a variety of perspectives. In addition to philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, PNP draws from other disciplines whose investigations contribute to understanding the mind, including anthropology, biology, computer science, education, and linguistics. Each of the discipline employs different modes of inquiry to examine various aspects of the mind-brain.
- Neuroscience seeks to illuminate the workings of the mind by investigating the brain mechanisms that subserve them;
- Linguistics illuminates the mind by investigating one of its most complex products, language;
- Anthropology promotes insight into the mind by looking at the natural history and cultural diversity of humanity.
The goal of the major is to provide students with an appreciation of differences among approaches used by these and other disciplines that study human physiology, nature, and behavior, and an understanding of how they can provide converging perspectives on issues in cognition and action.
If you choose to major in PNP, you will learn to bring cutting edge work in the sciences to bear on some of the oldest questions in philosophy. At the same time, your studies will enable you to recognize the emergence of exciting new questions and how those might be answered. Examples include: Is the mind the same thing as the brain – are they a single biological entity? Or do minds contribute something distinctively non-biological? What is the nature of intelligence? Can a computer network ever be genuinely intelligent? What assumptions are made by cognitive psychologists when they divide mental activity into separate processes and use response times or other measures of task performance to describe those processes? What assumptions are made by neuroscientists when they use imaging techniques to determine where in the brain a cognitive process processes is carried out? What are we to make of Chomsky's claim that language is an innate 'mental organ' with a capacity to generate an infinite number of sentences? As a PNP major you will seek answers to questions such as these in courses offered by PNP and its affiliated departments.