The Rationality of Mental Operations

Course Description

Our survival (and the good life) depends on effective gathering of huge amounts of information, adequate processing, fast learning, and controlling the environment to secure predictability and adjustment. Our brain selects what to attend to, categorize and integrate perceptual input, makes inferences, establishes emotional and physical reactions to environmental cues, and activating all other systems (affective, behavioral, and physiological) with staggering speed and efficiency. These cognitive feats are executed extremely quickly and accurately with the help of mental short-cuts called "heuristics."

The concept of cognitive heuristics has caught on fire recently, infiltrating areas such as economics, music, ethics, social behavior, perception, problem solving, legal reasoning, categorization, rationality, mental health, attention and learning, and even some self-help literature. This course presents students with an opportunity to investigate this relatively new and highly useful theoretical way of thinking, from its conceptual analysis to theoretical and practical applications of its models to self-awareness as a of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning.

  • Does this course count toward a General Education course? Yes
  • Course equivalent: COLL-S 105, Critical Approaches to Natural and Mathematical Sciences
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Course Instructor: Leah Savion

Leah Savion is a member of the Philosophy and the Cognitive Science departments at IU. She earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at CUNY. Her areas of interest range from analytic philosophy and formal logic, cognitive science, and the scholarship of teaching and learning, to international folkdance, gumboot dancing, singing, Zumba, and tennis.

Email: lsavion@indiana.edu