The Rational Role of Cognitive Phenomenology

June 6, 2017 - June 7, 2017
Department of Philosophy, University of Bergen

Meeting Room, Ground Floor
Sydnesplassen 12-13
Bergen
Norway

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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Main speakers:

Elijah Chudnoff
University of Miami
Fabian Dorsch
University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Mette Kristine Hansen
Bergen University
Marta Jorba
University of Girona, Spain
Franz Knappik
University of Bergen
Ole Koksvik
University of Bergen
Joëlle Proust
Institut Jean Nicod

Organisers:

Franz Knappik
University of Bergen
Ole Koksvik
University of Bergen

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Previous orthodoxy in philosophy of mind held that there is something it is like to perceive—perceptual experiences have a phenomenal character—but there is no phenomenology associated with thought (e.g. Braddon-Mitchell & Jackson 2007). Over the past few decades, this orthodoxy has been powerfully challenged: a number of authors have argued that there is phenomenology of thought, or cognitive phenomenology (‘CP’) (Pitt 2004; Siewert 1998; Strawson 1994; Horgan & Tienson 2002; Peacocke 1998; Kriegel 2003; Smithies 2013).

Much research on CP has focused on the question of whether it is reducible (Smithies 2013). Few deny that when a person has a thought this is associated with phenomenal experience, but many think that this fact can be explained by occurrent, remembered, or imagined perceptual experiences which are associated with the thoughts (Chudnoff 2015; Koksvik 2011).

In this workshop, we bracket the reducibility question entirely, and focus instead on the question of what the rational role of cognitive phenomenology (whether reducible or not) is. We understand ‘cognitive phenomenology’ broadly: in addition to the phenomenology of thought contents and attitudes, metacognitive feelings such as feelings of certainty or doubt, feelings of relevance or irrelevance, the sense of a thought being supported, or not, by a previous one, the sense of agency or passivity for thoughts, and so on, all count as instances. Given that thought has phenomenal character, what can this tell us about our nature as rational agents? We take serious engagement with this question often to require careful description of the nature of CP’s relevant aspects, so we particularly encourage engagements with the topic that have a substantive descriptive component.

Relevant questions for the workshop include:

  • What are the role descriptions for 'work' that needs doing by a rational agent, and which CP is a good candidate to perform?
  • How (if at all) does CP help us keep track of relevance / irrelevance in a chain of thought? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • What role (if any) does CP play in determining which thoughts form part of a coherent line of thought, and which are external to that line? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • How (if at all) does CP help us keep track of confidence-assessments of our judgements? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • How (if at all) does CP help us keep track of relations between our present thoughts and our background attitudes? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • In what ways (if any) does CP contribute to reasoning and deliberation? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • What role (if any) does CP play in self-knowledge of thoughts and attitudes? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • What significance (if any) do experiences of activity/passivity about thoughts have for rationality? What contributions can the study of pathological phenomena like thought insertion and auditory verbal hallucinations make to an understanding of that significance?
  • Is there a phenomenology of relevance? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • What (if any) impact does verbal phenomenology related to our thoughts have on the structure of our thought-processes? How does this support our rationality, and how might this support break down?
  • Is it possible to bring the rationality-supporting aspects of cognitive phenomenology into a taxonomy? Can those aspects be analyzed in terms of a limited number of basic types of experience?

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May 1, 2017, 9:00am CET

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