This paper seeks to illuminate the nature of empathy by reflecting upon the phenomenology of depression. I propose that depression involves alteration of an aspect of experience that is seldom reflected upon or discussed, thus making it hard to understand. This alteration involves impairment or loss of a capacity for interpersonal relatedness that mutual empathy depends upon. The sufferer thus feels cut off from other people, and may remark on their indifference, hostility or inability to understand. Drawing upon the example (...) of depression, I argue that empathy is not principally a matter of ‘simulating’ another person’s experience. It is better conceived of as a perception-like exploration of others’ experiences that develops progressively through certain styles of interpersonal interaction. (shrink)
Phenomenologists such as Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty reject the kind of scientific naturalism or that takes empirical science to be epistemologically and metaphysically privileged over all other forms of enquiry. In this paper, I will consider one of their principal complaints against naturalism, that scientific accounts of things are oblivious to a that is presupposed by the intelligibility of science. Focusing mostly upon Husserl's work, I attempt to clarify the nature of this complaint and state it in the form of (...) an argument. I conclude that the argument is effective in exposing naturalism's reliance upon impoverished conceptions of human experience, and that it also weakens the more general case for naturalism. (shrink)
This paper addresses the phenomenology of hopelessness. I distinguish two broad kinds of predicament that are easily confused: ‘loss of hopes’ and ‘loss of hope’. I argue that not all hope can be characterised as an intentional state of the form ‘I hope that p’. It is possible to lose all hopes of that kind and yet retain another kind of hope. The hope that remains is not an intentional state or a non-intentional bodily feeling. Rather, it is a ‘pre-intentional’ (...) orientation or ‘existential feeling’, by which I mean something in the context of which certain kinds of intentional state, including intentional hope, are intelligible. I go on to discuss severe depression, lack of aspiration, demoralisation and loss of trust in the world, in order to distinguish some qualitatively different forms that loss of hope can take. (shrink)
People with depression often report alterations in their experience of time, a common complaint being that time has slowed down or stopped. In this paper, I argue that depression can involve a range of qualitatively different changes in the structure of temporal experience, some of which I proceed to describe. In addition, I suggest that current diagnostic categories such as "major depression" are insensitive to the differences between these changes. I conclude by briefly considering whether the kinds of temporal experience (...) associated with depression are specific to depression. (shrink)
Abstract This paper proposes that adopting a ?phenomenological stance? enables a distinctive kind of empathy, which is required in order to understand forms of experience that occur in psychiatric illness and elsewhere. For the most part, we interpret other people's experiences against the backdrop of a shared world. Hence our attempts to appreciate interpersonal differences do not call into question a deeper level of commonality. A phenomenological stance involves suspending our habitual acceptance of that world. It thus allows us to (...) contemplate the possibility of structurally different ways of ?finding oneself in the world?. Such a stance, I suggest, can be incorporated into an empathetic appreciation of others' experiences, amounting to what we might call ?radical empathy? (shrink)
This paper addresses the nature of touch or ?tactual perception?. I argue that touch encompasses a wide range of perceptual achievements, that treating it as a number of separate senses will not work, and that the permissive conception we are left with is so permissive that it is unclear how touch might be distinguished from the other senses. I conclude that no criteria will succeed in individuating touch. Although I do not rule out the possibility that this also applies to (...) other senses, I suggest that the heterogeneity of touch makes it both distinctive and particularly problematic. (shrink)
It is generally maintained that emotions consist of intentional states and /or bodily feelings. This paper offers a phenomenological analysis of guilt in severe depression, in order to illustrate how such conceptions fail to adequately accommodate a way in which some emotional experiences are said to be deeper than others. Many emotions are intentional states. However, I propose that the deepest emotions are not intentional but pre-intentional, meaning that they determine which kinds of intentional state are possible. I go on (...) to suggest that pre-intentional emotions are at the same time feelings. In so doing, I reject the distinction that is often made between bodily feelings and the world-oriented aspects of emotion. (shrink)
According to Louis Sass, Josef Parnas, and Dan Zahavi (2011), the account of current developments in "phenomenological clinical neuroscience" offered by Aaron Mishara (2007) is "not only confusing but highly inaccurate." Their critique is harsh, but I can find nothing to disagree with. Mishara's distinction between "neo-phenomenology" and "existential phenomenology" does not apply to current work in the field; I do not recognize the two camps he describes. Neither do I find it helpful to distinguish two separate historical traditions in (...) phenomenological psychiatry. As for allegedly conflicting phenomenological claims, Sass, Parnas, and Zahavi rightly point out that an emphasis on involuntary hyperreflexivity is .. (shrink)
This paper addresses Bas van Fraassen's claim that empiricism is a ' stance'. I begin by distinguishing two different kinds of stance: an explicit epistemic policy and an implicit way of ' finding oneself in a world'. At least some of van Fraassen's claims, I suggest, refer to the latter. In explicating his ordinarily implicit ' empirical stance', he assumes the stance of the phenomenologist, describing the structure of his commitment to empiricism without committing to it in the process. This (...) latter stance does not incorporate the attitude that van Fraassen takes to be characteristic of empiricism. Thus its possibility serves to illustrate that empiricism as an all-encompassing philosophical orientation is untenable. I conclude by discussing the part played by feelings in philosophical stances and propose that they contribute to philosophical conviction, commitment and critique. (shrink)
In their interesting and informative paper ‘From Szasz to Foucault: On the Role of Critical Psychiatry,’ Pat Bracken and Phil Thomas contrast, in a clear and helpful way, some central themes in the works of Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. They go on to endorse a form of critical psychiatry inspired by the latter. Szasz’s critique of psychiatry, they explain, is premised on binary oppositions, principally that between ‘mental’ and ‘bodily.’ Szasz begins by assuming the legitimacy of the distinction and (...) proceeds to argue that the term ‘illness’ can only be legitimately applied to what is ‘bodily.’ According to Szasz, there are medical pathologies, which are to be understood in naturalistic, biological terms, and .. (shrink)
Emotions and bodily feelings -- Existential feelings -- The phenomenology of touch -- Body and world -- Feeling and belief in the Capgras delusion -- Feelings of deadness and depersonalization -- Existential feeling in schizophrenia -- What William James really said -- Stance, feeling, and belief -- Pathologies of existential feeling.
This paper explores the phenomenology of touch and proposes that the structure of touch serves to cast light on the more general way in which we 'find ourselves in a world'. Recent philosophical work on perception tends to emphasize vision. This, I suggest, motivates the imposition of a distinction between externally directed perception of objects and internally directed perception of one's own body. In contrast, the phenomenology of touch involves neither firm boundaries between body and world nor perception of bodily (...) states in isolation from perception of everything else. I begin by arguing that touch does not involve two distinct feelings, a feeling of the body and a feeling of something external to the body. Rather, these are inextricable aspects of the same unitary experience, with one or the other occupying the experiential foreground. Then I suggest that tactile experience does not always respect a clear boundary between body and world. In touch, bodily and worldly aspects are experienced in a number of different ways and, in many instances, there is no clear experiential differentiation between the two. Finally, I draw these two points together in order to consider the contribution made by touch to our sense of being situated in a world. (shrink)
This paper draws on studies of the Capgras delusion in order to illuminate the phenomenological role of affect in interpersonal recognition. People with this delusion maintain that familiars, such as spouses, have been replaced by impostors. It is generally agreed that the delusion involves an anomalous experience, arising due to loss of affect. However, quite what this experience consists of remains unclear. I argue that recent accounts of the Capgras delusion incorporate an impoverished conception of experience, which fails to accommodate (...) the role played by ‘affective relatedness’ in constituting (a) a sense of who a particular person is and (b) a sense of others as people rather than impersonal objects. I draw on the phenomenological concept of horizon to offer an interpretation of the Capgras experience that shows how the content ‘this entity is not my spouse but an impostor’ can be part of the experience, rather than something that is inferred from a strange experience. (shrink)
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folk psychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folk psychology.
This book proposes a series of interconnected arguments against the view that interpersonal understanding involves the use of a 'folk' or 'commonsense' psychology. Ratcliffe suggests that folk psychology, construed as the attribution of internal mental states in order to predict and explain behaviour, is a theoretically motivated and misleading abstraction from social life. He draws on phenomenology, neuroscience and developmental psychology to offer an alternative account that emphasizes patterned interactions between people in shared social situations.
This paper disputes the claim that our understanding of others is enabled by a commonsense or ‘folk’ psychology, whose ‘core’ involves the attribution of intentional states in order to predict and explain behaviour. I argue that interpersonal understanding is seldom, if ever, a matter of two people assigning intentional states to each other but emerges out of a context of interaction between them. Self and other form a coupled system rather than two wholly separate entities equipped with an internalised capacity (...) to assign mental states to the other. This applies even in those instances where one might seem to adopt a ‘detached’ perspective towards others. Thus ‘folk psychology’, as commonly construed, is not folk psychology. (shrink)
This article draws out an epistemological tension implicit in Cosmides and Tooby's conception of evolutionary psychology. Cosmides and Tooby think of the mind as a collection of functionally individuated, domain-specific modules. Although they do not explicitly deny the existence of domain-general processes, it will be shown that their methodology commits them to the assumption that only domain-specific cognitive processes are capable of producing useful outputs. The resultant view limits the scope of biologically possible cognitive accomplishments and these limitations, it will (...) be argued, are such as to deny us epistemic capacities that evolutionary psychology presupposes in its pursuit of an objective, comprehensive account of human nature. (shrink)
William James's theory of emotion is often criticized for placing too much emphasis on bodily feelings and neglecting the cognitive aspects of emotion. This paper suggests that such criticisms are misplaced. Interpreting James's account of emotion in the light of his later philosophical writings, I argue that James does not emphasize bodily feelings at the expense of cognition. Rather, his view is that bodily feelings are part of the structure of intentionality. In reconceptualizing the relationship between cognition and affect, James (...) rejects a number of commonplace assumptions concerning the nature of our cognitive relationship with the world, assumptions that many of his critics take for granted. (shrink)
This paper explores the phenomenology of the Capgras and Cotard delusions. The former is generally characterised as the belief that relatives or friends have been replaced by impostors, and the latter as the conviction that one is dead or has ceased to exist. A commonly reported feature of these delusions is an experienced ''defamiliarisation'' or even ''derealisation'' of things, which is associated with an absence or distortion of affect. I suggest that the importance attributed to affect by current explanations of (...) delusional experience can serve to make explicit the manner in which we ordinarily experience the world under a taken-for-granted aspect of affective familiarity. This implicit feeling is, I argue, partly constitutive of our sense of reality. However, so-called ''folk psychology,'' which is generally adopted by philosophers as an initial interpretive backdrop for delusional beliefs and for beliefs more generally, fails to accommodate it. As a consequence, some pervasive philosophical assumptions concerning the manner in which we experience and understand the world, ourselves, and each other are called into question. (shrink)
John Searle claims that intentional states require a set of non-intentional background capacities in order to function. He insists that this 'Background' should be construed naturalistically, in terms of the causal properties of biological brains. This paper examines the relationship between Searle's conception of the Background and his commitment to biological naturalism. It is first observed that the arguments Searle ventures in support of the Background's existence do not entail a naturalistic interpretation. Searle's claim that external realism is part of (...) the Background is then addressed. It is shown that this claim implies an implicit understanding of reality, which is presupposed by the intelligibility of any objective, scientific description. As a consequence, Searle's account of the Background's role is incompatible with his insistence that it can be comprehensively characterized in terms of biological capacities. I conclude by showing that, if the tension is resolved by rejecting biological naturalism, Searle's position takes a substantial step in the direction of Heideggerian phenomenology, a move Searle has emphatically resisted in his various exchanges with Hubert Dreyfus. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider V. S. Ramachandran's in-principle agnosticism concerning whether neurological studies of religious experience can be taken as support for the claim that God really does communicate with people during religious experiences. Contra Ramachandran, I argue that it is by no means obvious that agnosticism is the proper scientific attitude to adopt in relation to this claim. I go on to show how the questions of whether it is (1) a scientifically testable claim and (2) a plausible (...) hypothesis, serve to open up some important philosophical issues concerning interpretive backgrounds that are presupposed in the assessment of scientific hypotheses. More specifically, I argue that naturalism or scientific objectivism in its various forms is not simply a neutral or default methodological backdrop for empirical inquiry but involves acceptance of a specific ontology, which functions as an implicit and unargued constitutive commitment. Hence, these neurological studies can be employed as a lever with which to disclose something of the ways in which different frameworks of interpretation, both theistic and atheistic, serve differently to structure and give meaning to empirical findings. (shrink)
I outline the early Heidegger's views on mood and emotion, and then relate his central claims to some recent finding in neuropsychology. These findings complement Heidegger in a number of important ways. More specifically, I suggest that, in order to make sense of certain neurological conditions that traditional assumptions concerning the mind are constitutionally incapable of accommodating, something very like Heidegger's account of mood and emotion needs to be adopted as an interpretive framework. I conclude by supporting Heidegger's insistence that (...) the sciences constitute a derivative means of disclosing the world and our place within it, as opposed to an ontologically and epistemologically privileged domain of inquiry. (shrink)
This essay begins with an outline of the early Heidegger's distinction between beings and the Being1 of those beings, followed by a discussion of Heideggerian teleology. It then turns to contemporary analytic metaphysics to suggest that analytic metaphysics concerns itself wholly with beings and does not recognize distinct forms of questioning concerning what Heidegger calls Being . This difference having been clarified, studies of identity and individuation in the analytic tradition are examined and it is demonstrated that such inquiries have (...) far more in common with Heidegger than one might initially suspect. Indeed, it turns out that much of what the early Heidegger says about Being is tacitly presupposed by the workings of certain being-centric metaphysical projects in the analytic tradition. The discussion concludes with the suggestion that the central difference between the two projects should be understood as one of emphasis and that Heidegger's discussion of Being and a realist metaphysics in the analytic tradition can complement each other as aspects of a broader, more unified philosophical inquiry. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel argues that the subjective character of mind inevitably eludes philosophical efforts to incorporate the mental into a single, complete, physically objective view of the world. Nagel sees contemporary philosophy as caught on the horns of a dilemma.