The aim of this paper is to discuss a seemingly straightforward argument against physicalism which, despite being implicit in much of the philosophical debate about consciousness, has not received the attention it deserves (compared to other, better-known “epistemic”, “modal”, and “conceivability” arguments). This is the argument from the non-supervenience of the first-personal (and indexical) facts on the third-personal (and non-indexical) ones. This non-supervenience, together with the assumption that the physical facts (at least as conventionally understood) are third-personal, entails that some (...) facts – namely, first-personal, phenomenal ones – do not supervene on the physical facts. Interestingly, unlike other arguments against physicalism, the first-personal argument, if successful, refutes not only physicalism but also other purely third-personal metaphysical pictures. (shrink)
Unprecedented advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with disorders of consciousness (DoC) have given rise to ethical questions about how to recognize and respect autonomy and a sense of agency of the personhood when those capacities are themselves disordered, as they typically are in patients with DoC. At the intersection of these questions rests the distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness. Indeed, evaluations of consciousness levels and capacity for recovery have a significant impact on decisions regarding whether to discontinue (...) or prolong life-sustaining therapy for DoC patients. However, in the unconsciousness domain, there is the confusing array of terms that are regularly used interchangeably, making it quite challenging to comprehend what unconsciousness is and how it might be empirically grounded. In this opinion paper, we will provide a brief overview of the state of the field of unconsciousness and show how a rapidly evolving electroencephalogram (EEG) neuroimaging technique may offer empirical, theoretical, and practical tools to approach unconsciousness and to improve our ability to distinguish consciousness from unconsciousness and also nonconsciousness with greater precision, particularly in cases that are borderline (as is typical in patients with DoC). Furthermore, we will provide a clear description of three distant notions of (un)consciousness (unconsciousness, nonconsciousness, and subconsciousness) and discuss how they relate to the experiential selfhood which is essential for comprehending the moral significance of what makes life worth living. (shrink)
Volume 1. The Origins of psychology and the study of consciousness -- Volume 2. Cognitive and neuropsychological approaches to the study of consciousness Part 1 -- Volume 3. Cognitive and neuropsychological approaches to the study of consciousness Part 2 -- Volume 4. New directions: psychogenesis, transformations of consciousness and non-reductive, integrative theories.
Recent research into the nature of self in artificial and biological systems raises interest in a uniquely determining immutable sense of self, a “metaphysical ‘I’” associated with inviolable personal values and moral convictions that remain constant in the face of environmental change, distinguished from an object “me” that changes with its environment. Complementary research portrays processes associated with self as multimodal routines selectively enacted on the basis of contextual cues informing predictive self or world models, with the notion of the (...) constant, per-vasive and invariant sense of self associated with a multistable attractor set aiming to ensure personal integrity against threat of disintegrative change. This paper proposes that an immutable sense of self emerges as a global attractor which can be described as a project ideal self-situation embodied in frontal medial processes during more or less normal adolescent development, and that thereafter serves to orient agency in the more or less free development of embodied potentials over the life course in effort to realize project conditions, phenomenally identified with the felt pull towards this end as purpose of and source of meaning in life. So oriented, life-long self-development aims to embody solutions to problems at different timescales depending on this embodied purpose, ultimately in the service of evolutionary processes securing organism populations against threats of disintegrative change over timespans far beyond that of the individual. After characterizing the target sense of self, research circling this target is briefly surveyed. Self as global project and developmental neural correlates are proposed. Then, the paper discusses some implications for research in biological and artificial systems. Building from earlier work in cognitive neurorobotics, discussion affirms the value of reinforcement rituals including prayer in metaphysical self-development, considers implications for value alignment and rights associated with free will in the context of artificial intelligence and robot religion, and concludes by emphasizing the importance of self-development toward project ideals as source of meaning in life in the current social-political environment. (shrink)
This paper outlines several of the challenges that are inherent in any attempt to communicate subjective experience to others, particularly in the context of a clinical interview. It presents the phenomenological interview as a way of effectively responding to these challenges, which may be especially important when attempting to understand the profound experiential transformations that take place in schizophrenia. Features of language experience in schizophrenia—including changes in interpersonal orientation, a sense of the arbitrariness of language, and a desire for faithful (...) communication of experience —are described, together with discussion of their relevance for the interview context. Furthermore, the interview presents a unique context in which both intersubjective and interpersonal aspects of experience will be described as well as evoked. It is proposed that phenomenological interviewers should not only be familiar with these and other experiences that can occur in schizophrenia, but also capable of applying the techniques of phenomenological and hermeneutic methods in order to understand the descriptions of interviewees with sensitivity and accuracy. (shrink)
I argue that Hubert Dreyfus’ work on embodied coping, the intentional arc, solicitations and the background as well as his anti-representationalism rest on introspection. I denote with ‘introspection’ the methodological malpractice of formulating ontological statements about the conditions of possibility of phenomena merely based on descriptions. In order to illustrate the insufficiencies of Dreyfus’ methodological strategy in particular and introspection in general, I show that Heidegger, to whom Dreyfus constantly refers as the foundation of his own work, derives ontological statements (...) about the conditions of possibility of phenomena not merely from descriptions, but also from analyses. I further show that deriving ontological statements directly from descriptions entails implausible results. I do so by discussing representative cases. Based on these general methodological considerations, I show that Dreyfus’ work on action, skill and understanding is introspective. First, I demonstrate that Dreyfus’ influential claim that rules and representations do not govern skillful actions is the result of introspection, because it is merely founded on the absence of rules and representations in representative descriptions of skillful actions. Second, I show that Dreyfus’ work on embodied coping, the intentional arc, solicitations and the background is also based on introspection. These ontological structures are merely reifications of descriptions and are not further substantiated by analyses. (shrink)
Likert scales are useful for collecting data on attitudes and perceptions from large samples of people. In particular, they have become a well-established tool in soundscape studies for conducting in situ surveys to determine how people experience urban public spaces. However, it is still unclear whether the metrics of the scales are consistently interpreted during a typical assessment task. The current work aims at identifying some general trends in the interpretation of Likert scale metrics and introducing a procedure for the (...) derivation of metric corrections by analyzing a case study dataset of 984 soundscape assessments across 11 urban locations in London. According to ISO/TS 12913-2:2018, soundscapes can be assessed through the scaling of 8 dimensions: pleasant, annoying, vibrant, monotonous, eventful, uneventful, calm, and chaotic. The hypothesis underlying this study is that a link exists between correlations across the percentage of assessments falling in each Likert scale category and a dilation/compression factor affecting the interpretation of the scales metric. The outcome of this metric correction value derivation is introduced for soundscape, and a new projection of the London soundscapes according to the corrected circumplex space is compared with the initial ISO circumplex space. The overall results show a general non-equidistant interpretation of the scales, particularly on the vibrant-monotonous direction. The implications of this correction have been demonstrated through a Linear Ridge Classifier task for predicting the London soundscape responses using objective acoustic parameters, which shows significant improvement when applied to the corrected data. The results suggest that the corrected values account for the non-equidistant interpretation of the Likert metrics, thereby allowing mathematical operations to be viable when applied to the data. (shrink)
The concept of narrativity and narrative identity has two birth certificates: it is linked to the phenomenological tradition—beginning with Arendt’s “political phenomenology” —and to the tradition of German Idealism gradually slipping into existentialism. In this article, the author focuses on the latter tradition that helped to pave the way of the concept of narrative self. Key among the thinkers of Classical German Idealism has been Hegel, often considered the philosophical storyteller. Yet the author argues that Hegel’s concept of narrativity is (...) not exclusively applied to the self and has hardly any role in the constitution of consciousness. This is the reason why Hegel has the means to formulate a more convincing concept of the self and personal identity. The author does not deny that narrativity is seminal, both for leading a life as a human being and as a concrete person; however, originally consciousness and self-hood are born out of negativity. One enacts one’s selfhood, once one realizes that one has to interrupt narrativity, step in, refuse to live by it, or just ordinarily rephrase it consciously and by this appropriate it. (shrink)
Psychiatry has witnessed a new wave of approaches to clinical phenotyping and the study of psychopathology, including the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria, clinical staging, network approaches, the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology, and the general psychopathology factor, as well as a revival of interest in phenomenological psychopathology. The question naturally emerges as to what the relationship between these new approaches is – are they mutually exclusive, competing approaches, or can they be integrated in some way and used (...) to enrich each other? In this opinion piece, we propose a possible integration between clinical staging and phenomenological psychopathology. Domains identified in phenomenological psychopathology, such as selfhood, embodiment, affectivity, etc., can be overlaid on clinical stages in order to enrich and deepen the phenotypes captured in clinical staging (‘high resolution’ clinical phenotypes). This approach may be useful both ideographically and nomothetically, in that it could complement diagnosis, enrich clinical formulation, and inform treatment of individual patients, as well as help guide aetiological, prediction, and treatment research. The overlaying of phenomenological domains on clinical stages may require that these domains are reformulated in dimensional rather than categorial terms. This integrative project requires assessment tools, some of which are already available, that are sensitive and thorough enough to pick up on the range of relevant psychopathology. The proposed approach offers opportunities for mutual enrichment: clinical staging may be enriched by introducing greater depth to phenotypes; phenomenological psychopathology may be enriched by introducing stages of severity and disorder progression to phenomenological analysis. (shrink)
Context: Philosophical and - more recently - empirical approaches to the study of mind have recognized the research of lived experience as crucial for the understanding of their subject matter. Such research is faced with self-referentiality: every attempt at examining the experience seems to change the experience in question. This so-called “excavation fallacy” has been taken by many to undermine the possibility of first-person inquiry as a form of scientific practice. Problem: What is the epistemic character and value of reflectively (...) acquired phenomenological data? Can the study of experience, despite the excavation fallacy, rely on the act of reflection on lived experience and make sense and use of its results? Method: Through a philosophical discourse, informed by empirical first-person inquiry, we explore the experiential structure of the act of reflection and the formation of the corresponding belief about past experience. Results: We present a provisional first-person model of the experiential dynamics of retrospective reflection, in which the reflective act is characterized as enaction of belief about past experience that co-determines - rather than distorts - its results. From a constructivist perspective on the inevitable interdependence between the act of observing and the observed, the excavation “fallacy” is recognized as an intrinsic characteristic of reflection. Reflection is described as an iterative, self-referential process, guided by a context- and subject-specific horizon of expectations. Implications: Knowing the characteristics of the formation of beliefs about experience is essential for understanding first-person data and for the possibility of their acquisition and use in scientific practice, particularly in the context of second-person approaches to the study of experience. Constructivist content: We relate the proposed understanding of reflection to constructivist epistemology and argue that constructivism provides an epistemological foundation for the empirical study of experience more suitable than the traditional epistemological objectivism of cognitive science. We suggest that the constructive nature of the process of reflection calls for a collaboration between the fields of constructivism, phenomenology, and first-person research, and points towards the potential for their mutual enrichment. (shrink)
The present article discusses shared epistemological characteristics of two distinct areas of research: the field of first-person inquiry and the field of quantum mechanics. We outline certain philosophical challenges that arise in each of the two lines of inquiry, and point towards the central similarity of their observational situation: the impossibility of disregarding the interrelatedness of the observed phenomena with the act of observation. We argue that this observational feature delineates a specific category of research that we call the non-trivial (...) domain. Unlike the trivial domain, non-trivial research cannot assume the view from nowhere on which the observed phenomena could be regarded as existing independently of the process of observation. Presenting first-person inquiry and quantum mechanics as two of its examples, we show that non-trivial research violates several fundamental observational presuppositions of the trivial domain, exemplified in the principles of classical physics. Drawing on Niels Bohr’s philosophy of quantum mechanics and the constructivist notion of enaction, we stress the constructive, participatory, and irreversible nature of observation in the non-trivial domain. We discuss the possibility of developing a non-representationalist epistemology of the non-trivial, and consider the implications of our discussion for research in the non-trivial domain, as well as for the general understanding of the scientific inquiry. (shrink)
The human mind is constituted by inner, subjective, private, first-person conscious experiences that cannot be measured with physical devices or observed from an external, objective, public, third-person perspective. The qualitative, phenomenal nature of conscious experiences also cannot be communicated to others in the form of a message composed of classical bits of information. Because in a classical world everything physical is observable and communicable, it is a daunting task to explain how an empirically unobservable, incommunicable consciousness could have any physical (...) substrates such as neurons composed of biochemical molecules, water, and electrolytes. The challenges encountered by classical physics are exemplified by a number of thought experiments including the inverted qualia argument, the private language argument, the beetle in the box argument and the knowledge argument. These thought experiments, however, do not imply that our consciousness is nonphysical and our introspective conscious testimonies are untrustworthy. The principles of classical physics have been superseded by modern quantum physics, which contains two fundamentally different kinds of physical objects: unobservable quantum state vectors, which define what physically exists, and quantum operators (observables), which define what can physically be observed. Identifying consciousness with the unobservable quantum information contained by quantum physical brain states allows for application of quantum information theorems to resolve possible paradoxes created by the inner privacy of conscious experiences, and explains how the observable brain is constructed by accessible bits of classical information that are bound by Holevo's theorem and extracted from the physically existing quantum brain upon measurement with physical devices. (shrink)
The article explores meditation-based examination of experience as a means for developing a contemplative, nonnaturalized, and existentially meaningful empirical research of consciousness in which the experiencing person is regarded as the primary investigator. As the first phase of a broader project, a group of seven researchers carried out a series of five meditation retreats. We sampled the ongoing experience of the researchers at the same random moments during meditation practice. The acquired data, consisting of more than 500 journal entries, interview (...) transcripts, and participatory analysis records, set the ground for three lines of enquiry: (1) What, if any, kind of meditative practice is suitable for researching experience? How can it be cultivated? (2) Can a group of researchers skilled in meditation systematically investigate selected experiential phenomena? (3) What is the actual lived experience of a group of researchers engaged in a continuous meditation-based examination of experience? In this report, we primarily focus on the third question, offering a concrete ethnographic overview of our research enterprise. We conclude by relating our findings to the discussion of the phenomenological practice of the epoché as an empirical tool for the study of consciousness. (shrink)
In conveying experiences of meditation, the question of what exceeds or should resist description has been a recurrent topic of commentary in a wide array of literature -- including religious doctrine, meditation guides, and contextual accounts written by historians and social scientists. Yet, to date, this question has not significantly informed neuroscientific studies on the effects of meditation on brain and behaviour, in large part -- but not wholly -- because of the disregard for first-person accounts of experience that still (...) characterizes neuroscience in general. By juxtaposing perspectives from non-neuroscientific accounts on the tensions and questions raised by what is and is not expressed or expressible in words, this article paves the way for a new set of possibilities in experimental contemplative neuroscience. (shrink)
Frankish's argument for illusionism -- the view that there are no real instances of phenomenal consciousness -- depends on the claim that phenomenal consciousness is an 'anomalous phenomenon', at odds with our scientific picture of the world. I distinguish two senses in which a phenomenon might be 'anomalous': its reality is inconsistent with what science gives us reason to believe, its reality adds to what science gives us reason to believe. I then argue that phenomenal consciousness is not anomalous in (...) the first sense, and the fact that phenomenal consciousness is plausibly anomalous in the second sense is only problematic if it can be shown that our introspectively-based reasons for believing in consciousness are epistemically problematic. I finish by suggesting that Frankish might be motivated to adopt radical naturalism because he takes doing so to be the appropriate response to the incredible success of natural science. I outline a way of thinking about the history of science which undermines this motivation. (shrink)
Although recent cognitive science and traditional phenomenology has placed great importance on first-person descriptions, exactly what this entails goes undefined. I will seek to answer what's involved in phenomenological description, with reference to Husserl. I define phenomenological description according to its genus and differentia. I compare description in the natural sciences with description in phenomenology. I discuss how the basic particulars for Husserlian phenomenological description stem from the intentional relation -- particularly the distinction between noesis and noema. I discuss the (...) pivotal role of reflection in phenomenological description. I further argue that a phenomenological description is more than a statement which utilizes the 'I-[verb]' template. The final section analyses the difficulties inherent in describing intersubjectivity and argues these difficulties may have influenced Husserl's early, descriptive account of this topic. (shrink)
Consciousness is arguably the greatest mystery in science, still being unsolved after millennia of thinking. This book is one further attempt at trying to bring new insights regarding consciousness. While certainly the mystery will continue, the ideas in this book will raise awareness regarding an aspect of the phenomenology of consciousness that has been overlooked by past thinkers, and that is the emergent structure of consciousness, which in the end will be shown to be realized by the nature of self-reference (...) of looking-back-at-itself. The great take-away from appreciating the true nature of self-refence would be the need to switch to an unformal way of thinking in doing science if the problem of consciousness is to be resolved. To unformal way of thinking means abandoning the desire to have clearly defined entities in our theories, like “energy” or “space-time” or “spin”, and instead allow for entities that cannot be formalized, to be responsible for the workings of the world. We will slowly see as the book unfolds why the need for unformal way of thinking arises. -/- Regarding the presentation style, the book is both a popular book and a rigorous presentation that goes into thorough phenomenological analyses of consciousness. The reason is that our lives themselves are both familiar and the very nature of existence. As opposed to other writings that use a more technical approach, the philosophy of this book is that a theory of consciousness should focus more on the most mundane manifestations of consciousness, like the redness of an apple or the warmish feeling of cup of hot chocolate, in order to give a clearer understanding of consciousness. Therefore, the book is full of everyday examples of conscious experiences that the reader can relate to and use them to gain deeper insights into the workings of consciousness. In the same way that LHC is the laboratory of physicists, introspection is our own laboratory, the advantage of introspection over LHC being that it is accessible to anyone. Every person can gain a deep knowledge of consciousness by simply paying close attention to his own experiences. Of course, the difficulty arises because of the huge diversity of our experiences and this might raise an apparent initial obstacle of where one is to begin his understanding of consciousness. The book is designed as a guide through the complexities of everyday experiences in the direction of sorting them out in general and clear ways of thinking, showing that consciousness needs not be something that difficult to understand if only the proper attention is given to our experiences. -/- Therefore, the book starts with a chapter about qualia, where through many examples it is shown to be a form of meaning. Then the reader is familiarized with the Self through simple thought experiments that lead to the conclusion of the unicity of the Self, and then a further logical analysis that shows the eternal existence of the Self. After these initial familiarizations with consciousness, the book goes into its core subject, that being the emergent phenomenology, in which it will be shown how consciousness is structured on a holarchy of levels and how ultimately this structuring is a result of self-reference looking-back-at-itself, consciousness being shown to be possible only because of the unformalizable nature of self-reference. (shrink)
This is a 2020 revision of my 1988 dissertation "The Choreography of the Soul" with a new Foreword, a new Conclusion, a substantially revised Preface and Introduction, and many improvements to the body of the work. However, the thesis remains the same. A theory of consciousness and trance states--including psychedelic experience--is developed. Consciousness can be analyzed into two distinct but generally interrelated systems, which I call System X and System Y. System X is the emotional-visceral-kinaesthetic body. System X is a (...) harmonic system of "endokinetic" (internal bodily) and "ectokinetic" (emotionally expressive) movement. System Y is a "teleokinetic" (goal directed) system that includes language, cognition, perception, voluntary motor control, manipulation of the environment, etc. Contrary to theories of consciousness prevalent in the Western philosophical traditions that begin with Plato, I argue that System Y is secondary to and dependent upon System X, not the reverse. In building my thesis I draw upon the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, psychoanalysis, Jungian depth psychology, political anthropology, modern neuroscience, Pythagorean music theory, and the mathematical theory of harmonic systems. (shrink)
“On the Subject Matter of Phenomenological Psychopathology” provides a framework for the phenomenological study of mental disorders. The framework relies on a distinction between (ontological) existentials and (ontic) modes. Existentials are the categorial structures of human existence, such as intentionality, temporality, selfhood, and affective situatedness. Modes are the particular, concrete phenomena that belong to these categorial structures, with each existential having its own set of modes. In the first section, we articulate this distinction by drawing primarily on the work of (...) Martin Heidegger—especially his study of the ontological structure of affective situatedness (Befindlichkeit) and its particular, ontic modes, which he calls moods (Stimmungen). In the second section, we draw on a study of grief to demonstrate how this framework can be used when conducting phenomenological interviews and analyses. In the concluding section, we explain how this framework can be guide phenomenological studies across a broad range of existential structures. (shrink)
As for most measurement procedures in the course of their development, measures of consciousness face the problem of coordination, i.e., the problem of knowing whether a measurement procedure actually measures what it is intended to measure. I focus on the case of the Perceptual Awareness Scale to illustrate how ignoring this problem leads to ambiguous interpretations of subjective reports in consciousness science. In turn, I show that empirical results based on this measurement procedure might be systematically misinterpreted.
Perception is a continuous experience that exists at every instant, across a set of simultaneous events in the brain. Special relativity physics states that there can be nothing physical, that connect simultaneous events. As such perception cannot be a physical but non- physical or dualistic. This argument is analysed further and a new concept called Concept A is introduce. With the aid of concept A, free will is explained.
Within psychology and the brain sciences, the study of consciousness and its relation to human information processing is once more a focus for productive research. However, some ancient puzzles about the nature of consciousness appear to be resistant to current empirical investigations, suggesting the need for a fundamentally different approach. In Velmans I have argued that functional accounts of the mind do not `contain' consciousness within their workings. Investigations of information processing are not investigations of consciousness as such. Given this, (...) first-person investigations of experience need to be related nonreductively to third-person investigations of processing. For example, conscious contents may be related to neural/physical representations via a dual-aspect theory of information. Chalmers arrives at similar conclusions. But there are also theoretical differences. Unlike Chalmers I argue for the use of neutral information processing language for functional accounts rather than the term `awareness'. I do not agree that functionalctional equivalence cannot be extricated from phenomenal equivalence, and suggest a hypothetical experiment for doing so - using a cortical implant for blindsight. I argue that not all information has phenomenal accompaniments, and introduce a different form of dual-aspect theory involving `psychological complementarity'. I also suggest that the hard problem posed by `qualia' has its origin in a misdescription of everyday experience implicit in dualism. (shrink)
The number of studies examining visual perspective during retrieval has recently grown. However, the way in which perspective has been conceptualized differs across studies. Some studies have suggested perspective is experienced as either a first-person or a third-person perspective, whereas others have suggested both perspectives can be experienced during a single retrieval attempt. This aspect of perspective was examined across three studies, which used different measurement techniques commonly used in studies of perspective. Results suggest that individuals can experience more than (...) one perspective when recalling events. Furthermore, the experience of the two perspectives correlated differentially with ratings of vividness, suggesting that the two perspectives should not be considered in opposition of one another. We also found evidence of a gender effect in the experience of perspective, with females experiencing third-person perspectives more often than males. Future studies should allow for the experience of more than one perspective during retrieval. (shrink)
Moral perception, as the term is used in moral theory, is the perception of normatively contoured objects and states of affairs, where that perception enables us to engage in practical reason and judgment concerning these particulars. The idea that our capacity for moral perception is a crucial component of our capacity for moral reasoning and agency finds its most explicit origin in Aristotle, for whom virtue begins with the quality of perception. The focus on moral perception within moral theory has (...) made a comeback in the last few decades, especially in the hands of self-proclaimed neo-Aristotelians such as John McDowell, Martha Nussbaum, and Nancy Sherman. For these writers, our perceptual capacities are not static, and the laborious honing of our perceptual skills is a crucial moral task. On this picture, as Nancy Sherman puts it, “How to see becomes as much a matter of inquiry as what to do.”Moral particularists—including but not restricted to the neo-Aristotelians—have emphasized the centrality of moral perception to moral agency and judgment, as a corrective to moral theories that treat deliberation in terms of universal principles as the privileged keystone of moral agency. (shrink)
If we are material beings living in a material world -- and all the scientific evidence suggests that we are -- then we must find existential meaning, if there is such a thing, in this physical world. We must cast our lot with the natural rather than the supernatural. Many Westerners with spiritual inclinations are attracted to Buddhism -- almost as a kind of moral-mental hygiene. But, as Owen Flanagan points out in The Bodhisattva's Brain, Buddhism is hardly naturalistic. In (...) _The Bodhisattva's Brain_, Flanagan argues that it is possible to discover in Buddhism a rich, empirically responsible philosophy that could point us to one path of human flourishing. Some claim that neuroscience is in the process of validating Buddhism empirically, but Flanagan's naturalized Buddhism does not reduce itself to a brain scan showing happiness patterns. "Buddhism naturalized," as Flanagan constructs it, offers instead a fully naturalistic and comprehensive philosophy, compatible with the rest of knowledge -- a way of conceiving of the human predicament, of thinking about meaning for finite material beings living in a material world. (shrink)
While introspective methods went out of favour with the decline of Titchener’s analytic school, many important questions concern the rehabilitation of introspection in contemporary psychology. Hatfield rightly points out that introspective methods should not be confused with analytic ones, and goes on to describe their “ineliminable role” in perceptual psychology. Here I argue that certain methodological conventions within psychophysics reflect a continued uncertainty over appropriate use of subjects’ perceptual observations and the reliability of their introspective judgements. My first claim is (...) that different psychophysical methods do not rely equally on the introspective capabilities of experimental subjects. I contrast “minimally-introspective” tasks with “introspection-heavy” ones. It is only in the latter, I argue, that introspection can be said to have a non-trivial role in the subjects’ performance. My second claim is that my rough-and-ready distinction maps onto a number of important “dichotomies” in vision science. Not coincidentally, the introspection-heavy categorisation captures many of the tasks typically considered less able to yield useful information regarding the processes underlying visual sensation. (shrink)
(From the book cover in 2007) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness is the most thorough and comprehensive survey of contemporary scientific research and philosophical thought on consciousness currently available. Its 55 newly commissioned, peer-reviewed chapters combine state-of-the-art surveys with cutting edge research. Taken as a whole, these essays by leading lights in the philosophy and science of consciousness create an engaging dialog and unparalleled source of information regarding this most fascinating and mysterious subject.
We begin by accepting that introspective evidence is important to cognitive science. However, as its history shows, introspection is risky, so methods should be used that minimize those risks. We argue that there are 13 ways that a beeper can reduce those risks, dividing those ways into three categories: time sampling per se, minimizing the reactive disturbance of evanescent phenomena, and aiding phenomenological fidelity. We turn aside six criticisms of beeper-based research, and describe five characteristics of a good beep.
The dissertation investigates some linguistic data associated with the first person. It is argued that the data may be successfully treated within a semantic framework which focuses on the relation between linguistic expressions and intermediate cognitive constructions. The dissertation also defends the sub-claim that approaches which proceed within a model-theoretic framework are incapable of accounting for the data. This incapacity is traced to the model-theoretic assumption that the relation between linguistic expressions and extralinguistic reality constitutes the appropriate domain of study. (...) Against the model-theoretic assumption that cognitive considerations may be excluded from investigation of the relation studied by semantics, I claim that appeal to mental representations is required if an account of the data is to be provided. ;Chapter I canvasses the philosophical literature in order to generate a set of first-person linguistic data. It is then shown in Chapter II that total and partial model-theoretic approaches fail to explain the data. Moreover, I argue that the assumptions which underlie both approaches in principle preclude successful treatment of the relevant phenomena. An alternative framework developed in Chapter III begins from the assumption that a central role must be accorded the mind by any semantic theory purporting to treat the data. A specific variant of the approach is outlined informally; ST employs families of partial structures to model the states of affairs described by multi-sentence texts. The chapter concludes with a preliminary formalization of ST, along with a proposal for a semantic rule specifying how the pronoun I sets up elements within the ST-structures. It is shown in chapter IV that, once appropriately supplemented by auxiliary rules, ST successfully treats the data. A summary of the treatment accorded first-person phenomena by ST is provided in Chapter V, along with some discussion of the referential status of the pronoun I. (shrink)
First person methodologies on the study of consciousness have a great relevance in Francisco Varela´s thought which this essay aims to highlight. Firstly, describing some philosopher's remarks on the irreducible character of consciousness, followed by a presentation of three ways to access it in the first person mode: introspection, phenomenology, and some Madhyamika Buddhist practices; subsequently, through an enquiry into the implementation of these methods and their validity and finally, reflecting on some existential and theoretical consequences these practices have for (...) cognitive sciences and the philosophy of the mind. (shrink)
The belief in free will has been frequently challenged since Benjamin Libet published his famous experiment in 1983. Although Libet’s experiment is highly dependent upon subjective reports, no study has been conducted that focused on a first-person or introspective perspective of the task. We took a neurophenomenological approach in an N = 1 study providing reliable and valid measures of the first-person perspective in conjunction with brain dynamics. We found that a larger readiness potential is attributable to more frequent occurrences (...) of self-initiated movements during negative deflections of the slow cortical potentials . These negative deflections occur in parallel with an inner impulse reported by an expert meditator which may in turn lead to a voluntary act. We demonstrate in this proof-of-principle approach that the first-person perspective obtained by an expert meditator in conjunction with neural signal analysis can contribute to our understanding of the neural underpinnings of voluntary acts. (shrink)
This article presents a conceptual discussion on the phenomenon of incorporation of tools and other objects in the light of Maine de Biran’s philosophy of the relation between the body and the motor will. Drawing on Maine de Biran’s view of the body as that portion of the material world which directly obeys one’s motor will, as well as on his view (supported by studies in contemporary cognitive science) of active touch as the perceptual modality that is sensitive to objects (...) as fields of forces resisting the perceiver’s movements, we discuss the phenomena of motor incorporation and haptic incorporation, as well as the relation between them. Motor incorporation occurs when something is integrated into the motor system, i.e. when practice enables one to animate an object as directly, effortlessly and fluently as one is able to animate one’s own body. The subject then has the experience of acting there, where the object is located, not at the body–object interface. In order to better understand the phenomenon of motor incorporation, we highlight the phenomenological difference between directly and indirectly moving something. Haptic incorporation occurs when something is integrated into the haptic system, i.e. when an object is used as an instrument for the haptic perception of other objects. Finally, we seek to shed light on the phenomenon of transparency, understanding the transparency acquired by the incorporated object as both a relational property and a matter of degrees. (shrink)
The paper first gives a conceptual distinction of the first, second and third person perspectives in social cognition research and connects them to the major present theories of understanding others (simulation, interaction and theory theory). It then argues for a foundational role of second person interactions for the development of social perspectives. To support this thesis, the paper analyzes in detail how infants, in particular through triangular interactions with persons and objects, expand their understanding of perspectives and arrive at a (...) self–other metaperspective. This allows them to grasp the other’s as well as their own perspective as such, which is equivalent to an explicit third person perspective and to an explicit first person perspective or self-consciousness. The paper describes the major steps towards these perspectives, pointing to a close interdependence of both developments. It argues that embodied second person interactions are not only an enabling, but the constitutive condition for the development of an explicit first and third person perspective. (shrink)
The well-known experiments of Nisbett and Wilson lead to the conclusion that we have no introspective access to our decision-making processes. Johansson et al. have recently developed an original protocol consisting in manipulating covertly the relationship between the subjects’ intended choice and the outcome they were presented with: in 79.6% of cases, they do not detect the manipulation and provide an explanation of the choice they did not make, confirming the findings of Nisbett and Wilson. We have reproduced this protocol, (...) while introducing for some choices an expert guidance to the description of this choice. The subjects who were assisted detected the manipulation in 80% of cases. Our experiment confirms Nisbett and Wilson’s findings that we are usually unaware of our decision processes, but goes further by showing that we can access them through specific mental acts. (shrink)