David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Atelier Phenomenologie Et Cognition: Theorie de la Cognition Et Necessité d'Une Investigation Phenomenologique (2000)
In recent years there has been some hard-won but still limited agreement that phenomenology may be of central importance to the cognitive sciences. This realization comes in the wake of dismissive gestures made by philosophers of mind like Dennett (1991), who mistakenly associates phenomenological method with the worst forms of introspection. For very different reasons, resistance can also be found on the phenomenological side of this issue. There are many thinkers well versed in the Husserlian tradition who do not even want to consider the usefulness of phenomenology for enlightening the sciences of the mind. For them cognitive science is simply too computational or too reductionistic to be seriously considered as capable of explaining experience or consciousness.  This is surprising in light of the fact that a highly respected phenomenologist like Merleau-Ponty was integrating phenomenological analyses with considerations drawn from the empirical sciences of psychology and neurology long before cognitive science was constructed as a framework to include just those aspects of psychology and neurology that focus on cognitive experience. Merleau-Ponty aside, philosophers on both sides of this issue have only gradually come to acknowledge the possibility that phenomenology may be directly relevant for a scientific understanding of cognition. Sometimes the empirical scientists themselves have arrived at this conclusion even before, and in spite of the philosophers. Francisco Varela's work on neurophenomenology provides an important example (Varela, 1996). Even the hardest of hard scientists have made peace offerings to phenomenology. Recently, for example, the neuroscientist Jean-Pierre Changeux declares that his purpose "is not to go to war against phenomenology; to the contrary, [he wants] to see what constructive contribution it can make to our knowledge of the psyche, acting in concert with the neurosciences" (Changeux and Ricoeur, 2000, p. 85)
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