We argue that phenomenology can be of central and positive importance to the cognitive sciences, and that it can also learn from the empirical research conducted in those sciences. We discuss the project of naturalizing phenomenology and how this can be best accomplished. We provide several examples of how phenomenology and the cognitive sciences can integrate their research. Specifically, we consider issues related to embodied cognition and intersubjectivity. We provide a detailed analysis of issues related to time-consciousness, with reference to (...) understanding schizophrenia and the loss of the sense of agency. We offer a positive proposal to address these issues based on a neurobiological dynamic-systems model. (shrink)
This paper responds to the issues raised by D. Chalmers by offering a research direction which is quite radical because of the way in which methodological principles are linked to scientific studies of consciousness. Neuro-phenomenology is the name I use here to designate a quest to marry modern cognitive science and a disciplined approach to human experience, thereby placing myself in the lineage of the continental tradition of Phenomenology. My claim is that the so-called hard problem that animates these Special (...) Issues can only be addressed productively by gathering a research community armed with new pragmatic tools for the development of a science of consciousness. I will claim that no piecemeal empirical correlates, nor purely theoretical principles, will really help us at this stage. We need to turn to a systematic exploration of the only link between mind and consciousness that seems both obvious and natural: the structure of human experience itself.In what follows I motivate my choice by briefly examining the current debate about consciousness at the light of Chalmer’s hard problem. Next, I outline the (neuro)phenomenological strategy. Finally I conclude by discussing some of the main difficulties and consequences of this strategy. (shrink)
This paper proposes a basic revision of the understanding of teleology in biological sciences. Since Kant, it has become customary to view purposiveness in organisms as a bias added by the observer; the recent notion of teleonomy expresses well this as-if character of natural purposes. In recent developments in science, however, notions such as self-organization (or complex systems) and the autopoiesis viewpoint, have displaced emergence and circular self-production as central features of life. Contrary to an often superficial reading, Kant gives (...) a multi-faceted account of the living, and anticipates this modern reading of the organism, even introducing the term self-organization for the first time. Our re-reading of Kant in this light is strengthened by a group of philosophers of biology, with Hans Jonas as the central figure, who put back on center stage an organism-centered view of the living, an autonomous center of concern capable of providing an interior perspective. Thus, what is present in nuce in Kant, finds a convergent development from this current of philosophy of biology and the scientific ideas around autopoeisis, two independent but parallel developments culminating in the 1970s. Instead of viewing meaning or value as artifacts or illusions, both agree on a new understanding of a form of immanent teleology as truly biological features, inevitably intertwined with the self-establishment of an identity which is the living process. (shrink)
The study of conscious experience per se has not kept pace with the dramatic advances in PET, fMRI and other brain-scanning technologies. If anything, the standard approaches to examining the 'view from within' involve little more than cataloguing its readily accessible components. Thus the study of lived subjective experience is still at the level of Aristotelian science, leading to a widespread scepticism over the possibility of a truly scientific study of conscious experience. Drawing on a wide range of approaches -- (...) from phenomenology to meditation -- The View From Within examines the possibility of a disciplined approach to the study of subjective states. The focus is on the practical issues involved. (shrink)
Lifelines provides a useful corrective to “ultra-Darwinism” but it is marred by its failure to cite its scientific predecessors. Rose's argument could have been strengthened by taking greater account of the theory of autopoiesis in biology and of enactive cognitive science.
How can science be brought to connect with experience? This book addresses two of the most challenging problems facing contemporary neurobiology and cognitive science. Firstly, understanding how we unconsciously execute habitual actions as a result of neurological and cognitive processes that are not formal actions of conscious judgment but part of a habitual nexus of systematic self-organization. Secondly, attempting to create an ethics adequate to our present awareness that there is no such thing as a transcendental self, a stable subject (...) or soul. The author combines researches in cognitive science and phenomenology with two representatives of what he calls the 'wisdom traditions': Confucianism and Buddhist epistemology. (shrink)
The target article concludes that it is essential to introduce the personal level in cognitive science. We propose to take this conclusion one step further. The personal level should consist of first-person accounts of specific, contextualized experiences, not abstract or imagined cases. Exploring first-person accounts at their own level of detail calls for the refinements of method that can link up with neural accounts.
"Knowing how we know" is the subject of this book. Its authors present a new view of cognition that has important social and ethical implications, for, they assert, the only world we humans can have is the one we create together through the actions of our coexistence. Written for a general audience as well as for students, scholars, and scientists and abundantly illustrated with examples from biology, linguistics, and new social and cultural phenomena, this revised edition includes a new afterword (...) by Dr. Varela, in which he discusses the effect the book has had in the years since its first publication. (shrink)
The phenomenon of size constancy is defined as the apparent perceptual invariance of the linear dimensions of a seen object as this approaches the eye or recedes from it. It has been interpreted as resulting from the application by the brain of a size correction, made possible by the subject's apprehension of distance cues present in the image. We present several observations which, by dissociating accommodation from distance of the seen object and by suppressing the optic effects of accommodation on (...) the visual image itself, show that this interpretation is incorrect, and that in fact the size correction of the visual image is a function of the central effort of accommodation, not of the distance of the seen object. (shrink)