Pros:The material is intellectual; Good material on autism, comas, etc.
Cons:Very difficult to maintain focus; Lecturing too lengthy at times
The Bottom Line: This isn't the best Teaching Company lesson and it should not be listened to while driving- you just may fall asleep at the wheel.
What is consciousness? This sounds like a simple question, but there are many different ways to approach and answer it and philosophers have been contemplating consciousness and its significance for centuries. The definition of consciousness and its use in settling moral and ethical issues is the subject of Consciousness and its Implications, an educational lesson about awareness.
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Education Lesson Facts and Figures:
Consciousness and its Implications is a lesson brought to you by the Teaching Company. This lesson is in CD format with a total of six CDs with two, thirty minute lessons on each. Dr. Daniel Robinson, a distinguished professor from Georgetown University, presents this audio lesson.
Consciousness and its Implications begins with some hypothetical discussion on zombies. The lesson then discusses such topics as mental causation, physicalism, consciousness and physics, autism & obsession, and artificial intelligence. The lesson then ends with some talk about consciousness and the end of mental life.
Consciousness and its Implications is a philosophical/psychological education lesson from the Teaching Company and its Great Courses series. This lesson delves into a topic that is abstract and yet often loosely defined: The subject of consciousness. Many individuals have trouble defining what consciousness truly is and even once defined, it opens up all sorts of other ethical and moral questions.
I like to study different subjects and learn new things and through the Teaching Company and its great Courses, I have been introduced or re- introduced to many interesting subjects. This Teaching Company lesson caught my attention based on its CD title alone. The discussion of consciousness, what it means, and what it entails sounds like a fascinating subject. I obtained a copy of this lesson and prepared to learn something new and expand my horizons to a topic for which I have little prior education.
Consciousness and its Implications certainly sounds promising, but I could tell after listening to a few minutes of this lesson that this was not going to be the enjoyable educational experience I had hoped. The problem with this lesson is the material itself and the way it is presented. I was supposed to be learning about consciousness but I felt like I was losing my own consciousness as I attempted to pay attention and absorb the material.
This educational CD package includes twelve lessons total and each lesson is presented like it is being lectured to a group of people who are already philosophy students or at least have plenty of prior knowledge. This alone would make it difficult for most people to follow, but there are other problems too, like the fact that the delivery is not straightforward. It is offered in an ornate, lengthy manner that makes it difficult to follow- especially if you try to listen while driving, which is the way I have listened to all of my Teaching Company CD experiences thus far. As hard as I tried, I simply could not stay focused on the material and I noticed that my mind would quickly drift to something else going on around me, causing me miss important points completely. This is very unusual for me- I am usually able to concentrate on even the most boring subjects without any problem. But with Consciousness and its Implications, I found myself experiencing a temporary case of ADD. Even when I made a conscious effort to focus on what Professor Robinson was trying to say, my mind would still drift to something else. It was very weird and it really says a lot about this course.
So, Consciousness and its Implications isn't the best Teaching Company lesson but is it a total bomb? Not at all and I did find a few lessons that were useful and interesting. The best ones of all are near the end, when Professor Robinson is talking about computers playing chess, autism, obsession, and compulsion. This material is covered in lessons ten and eleven and it marks the only time in the twelve- lesson series that I was able to hold my level of attention for more than one minute. I like the thoughtful explanations and examples presented on these topics and I felt like the lesson was above average on these two tracks.
One fact that can make or break any audio lesson or in- person lecture is the man or woman behind the podium. In this instance, Dr. Daniel Robinson is the man of the hour and he does a reasonably effective job, at least speaking- wise, and his knowledge of the subject matter is high. One might assume that Dr. Robinson's lecturing style and/or voice is the reason for the inability to pay attention, but I don't feel that is the case. I agree that his lecturing takes some time to get used to, due to the constant inflections/emphasis on certain words and syllables, but Robinson isn't really the reason that this lesson rates below average overall. The way the material is presented is the real problem and a change in script is all that is needed to improve this educational experience.
Overall, I find Consciousness and its Implications a disappointment and it ranks as the only Teaching Company lesson so far that I have rated below average. Listening to this lesson while driving just doesn't work very well and it is very easy to lose focus and completely miss several minutes of the lecturing at a time without even realizing it. I like some of the material at the end of the lesson, but two memorable lessons out of twelve is simply not enough to rate this lesson better than two stars overall.