CLAS professor featured in online psychology and neuroscience lecture series produced by Duke University

Professor Carrie Figdor’s lecture is one of six in series, which is free to watch online. Figdor discusses the different ways humanity thinks about the mind and its relation to the brain.
Friday, March 1, 2024

By Charlotte Brookins 

Professor Carrie Figdor, who has joint appointments in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, was featured in a video lecture series on philosophy and neuroscience produced by Duke University. 

Figdor’s four-part lecture, “The Basics of Folk Psychology,” explores the different ways humanity thinks about the mind and how it is related to the brain. Figdor’s lecture is one of six in the free lecture series “A Beginner’s Guide To Neural Mechanisms." 

Carrie Figdor
Carrie Figdor

“Each person in the series is doing a separate issue within the topic of philosophy of neuroscience,” Figdor explains. “I look at the relationship between how we think about the mind and our discoveries in neuroscience. Essentially, I’m talking about the mind part of the mind-brain relationship.” 

In addition, Figdor discusses how we can understand and explain each other’s actions, how we are responsible for our actions, and the impact of neuroscience on folk psychology. 

Figdor’s lectures, along with the others in the series, can be watched online and are directed toward anyone seeking expert knowledge on neural mechanisms. The project was funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation via the Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy (SSNAP) program at Duke University. 

The goal is to make the information accessible to anyone, including college attendees looking for supplemental lessons, non-traditional students, and people who simply have an interest in the topic.  

“I was really happy to be asked to be a part of it,” Figdor says. “There are so many people working on folk psychology and the philosophy of neuroscience, so it’s gratifying to be professionally recognized.” 

Figdor also says she’s glad to have the University of Iowa represented among the other featured schools, which includes Duke University, Dartmouth College, University of Edinburgh, and more. 

“It’s nice to have this form of diversity within academia by including people from institutions that aren’t as wealthy or elite,” she continues. 

Figdor says her research and study of the philosophy of mind comes from a long-standing interest in the topic. Her focus on the mind and language is fostered from the perspective that science has the capability of telling us much about the mind, beyond our typical understanding of neuroscience. 

“There’s a lot of debate in philosophy of mind touching on the relationship between mind and the brain as a form of the mind-body problem, which has gotten me more into biology and evolution,” says Figdor. “In this way, my research at this point isn’t really conventional to the philosophy of neuroscience.” 

For more information on Figdor’s research and neural mechanisms, watch her lecture and the others on the Beginner’s Guide to Neural Mechanisms webpage. 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.