Summer 2020 - PHIL 343 D100

Topics in the Philosophy of Mind (3)

The Emotions

Class Number: 4944

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 2:20 PM

    Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Either one of: PHIL 201 or 203; or both of PHIL 100W (or equivalent) and COGS 200.



A study of theories of the mind, consciousness, and human action. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic.


The Philosophy and Cognitive Science of Emotion/Affect

The emotions are a time-honoured subject in both philosophy and psychology. We see the emotions discussed in the written works of the Ancients and Eastern/Asian philosophy and, after a recent hiatus in philosophical and psychological interest, whole research journals devoted to their study. Despite this, the major questions about the emotions remain open. For example, there is that basic ontological question: What IS an emotion? Plus several not-so basic questions: What types of emotion are there? Where do they come from? Are they learned? What is the relation of emotions to their expression such as smiling, frowning, laughing? Then there are any number of epistemic questions. What access do we have to our own emotions? How do our emotions interact with our beliefs? What do emotions tell us about the world, if anything? How do they do so? (E.g. Talking to a person you’ve just met, you begin to feel strangely uncomfortable. Superficially, you’re just talking about what classes are being offered for the summer term, so hardly anything to disagree about. What’s the problem? IS there a problem or are you just yourself not in the mood for chatting?). In this class, we’ll be casting a wide net in our search for answers to these questions, from theories based upon introspection and the observation of human and animal behaviour, to some contemporary theories based upon neurophysiology and cognitive psychology. All readings will be appropriate to the 300 level and will not assume a background in the cognitive sciences.


This course may be repeated for credit if the topic is different.


  • Online participation in a variety of formats as announced in first class (all grading on written participation with a small percentage for attendance) 25%
  • Short Paper 20%
  • Science research project 20%
  • Final Paper 35%


Students must be available online during scheduled class time. Lectures will be a combination of short recorded lectures and in-person traditional lectures, with the precise format to be announced during the first lecture.



Remote learning for this semester requires a computer or tablet, camera, microphone, and internet access. Headsets are advisable but not necessary. There is one computer lab on campus for limited access. Students have access to free Office 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud found here It is recommended that students use broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE) internet connection, with bandwidth of at least 1.5Mbps (upload and download). If students do not have reliable access, they should inform their instructor and contact the IT desk to see if a loaner computer can be arranged.


 Reading materials will be supplied by instructor.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.


Please note that all teaching at SFU in summer term 2020 will be conducted through remote methods. Enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.